By DeVry University
Employment of medical records and health information technicians is projected to grow 8% by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average for all occupations as the demand for health services is expected to increase as the population ages.
If you’re looking to break into this growing field, a common next step after earning your degree in Health Information Technology is to tackle AHIMA's Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam. But before you can earn your RHIT certification, you’ll want to learn a little more about the exam itself.
Here are five RHIT exam prep tips that Gregory Zaleski, Associate Professor and College of Health Sciences National Faculty Chair at DeVry University, recommends for success:
1. Understanding the Format
You'll have 3.5 hours to complete the exam, which is comprised of 150 randomly ordered multiple-choice questions covering these six topics:
- Data content, Structure, and Information Governance
- Access, Disclosure, Privacy and Security
- Data Analytics and Use
- Revenue Cycle Management
"Those three hours on the exam can feel very long, you don't get any breaks and the exam runs the gamut of topics, so it’s good to be ready for anything," Zaleski says. "I recommend using AHIMA-certified test prep materials and questions. Sometimes half the battle is understanding what the questions mean and that's what good test prep helps you identify."
2. Don't Focus on Memorizing Formulas
Throughout the exam, you’ll answer statistics-based questions that require applying formulas.
"Most students want to know if they need to memorize the formulas, but they're provided for you on the exam," Zaleski says. "The goal of the exam isn't for you to regurgitate formulas – it's for you to show how well you can apply formulas to solving problems in real-life scenarios."
For instance, previous exams have required test takers to use formulas to calculate the number of beds – or inpatient occupancy rate – that a hospital may have available based on its given resources.
"You’ll be given a sheet of paper or dry erase board where you can complete any required math," Zaleski says. "So when you’re studying, give yourself the same simple tools to practice working through the math for practice questions. Try to make your test prep scenario as similar to the exam as possible. As you become more comfortable with the formulas, maybe even time yourself to see how long certain questions take you. This can build your confidence and let you know which questions you need to focus on."
3. Study All Cases, Laws and Dates
Many students wonder whether there are certain cases, laws or dates that tend to show up more often than others on the exam. Zaleski says it's best to study it all.
"No two tests are entirely the same. While it's good to familiarize yourself with sample questions, just because your friend was tested on HIPPA or the Affordable Care Act, doesn't mean you will be," Zaleski says. "The key is to instead study every topic that's covered in each of the exam categories. Be ready for anything and give yourself the time you need, so you won’t feel like you’re cramming."
4. Leverage RHIT Exam Prep Materials
To properly prepare for the exam, Zaleski encourages his students to start studying at least 3 months before test day, for about 8 hours per week. "For the first couple of months, review each domain in order. The last month should be spent reviewing the domains you feel the least confident in," he adds. "The key is to make it part of your schedule, an hour each day for example. Cramming during the last week is not advised."
If you need help staying accountable as you prepare, a good course may provide the right structure. "Prep is a process," Zaleski says. "That's why many of the courses we teach at DeVry move beyond basic concepts to analyzing actual test questions. Our curriculum offers built-in preparation for the RHIT Exam which can help students stay on track."
Self-guided test prep can build your RHIT-skills as well, he adds. A list of recommended study resources can be found on AHIMA’s website.
5. Understand the Scoring
While the exam has 150 questions, only 130 of them are graded. AHIMA add 20 pre-test questions throughout the exam to see if those questions are viable options for future tests. You don’t know which questions fall into this category, so you'll have to work through the entire test as if each one is graded.
You'll receive your score immediately after taking the exam. Your scoring report will indicate whether you’ve passed or failed. The current passing scale for the RHIT exam is 300 out of 400.
"Earning your RHIT certification may seem like a big task, but with the right preparation you can succeed," Zaleski says. "Practice the exam, learn the information and break each test section into smaller steps. And remember to stay patient with yourself – exam prep takes time"
Interested in pursuing a health IT career? Learn more about DeVry University's Health Information Technology associate degree program, including our built-in RHIT exam prep.