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RHIA and RHIT Exam Preparation Tips

RHIA and RHIT Exam Preparation Tips

Page 20


RHIT b/w

(PART 2)

By Patricia Schnering, RHIA, CCS

(Editor's note: This is part 2 of a three-part article on preparing for the registered health information administrator [RHIA] or registered health information technician [RHIT] certification examination. The purpose of part 2 is to explain the basis behind the development of the RHIA and RHIT examinations and to provide background information on test question formation. Part 1 presented preparation tips and recommendations to guide you through the examination process. Part three will have some general notes about differences between the exams and sample questions for review exercises.)

When faced with preparing for the certification examination, applicants are understandably overwhelmed at trying to decide where to start. The best way to begin is to look at the content covered in the test. In class, a student is given a syllabus that relates the contents of the course and what is covered on specific tests or quizzes. Like the class syllabi, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Certification Guidebook provides the applicant with specifics about the certification examination for the RHIA and RHIT candidate.

The certification examinations for the RHIA and RHIT credentials are based on entry-level competencies. The Counsel on Certification has formulated the competencies based on the result of research into what entry-level tasks the RHIAs and RHITs need to be able to perform in the workplace. These entry-level tasks have been grouped into five major areas called Domains, which are further divided into Subdomains. Task Statements then modify the Subdomains. The Task Statements reflect the entry-level skills for a health information management (HIM) professional. There are 71 Task statements for the RHIA and 46 Task statements for the RHIT. The certification examination tests your competency pertaining to these task statements

Weights for each Domain and Subdomain are assigned. The weight assigned correlates to the degree of emphasis given to each Domain and Subdomain statement as it relates to HIM practice. Table 1 displays the weights that were assigned to each of the Domains and Subdomains for both the RHIA and RHIT examinations. Additionally, the table provides a comparison of the number of questions assigned to each Domain and Subdomain. In a cursory comparison of the number of questions and the weights between RHIA and RHIT, there are more than three times as many questions for Domain V for the RHIA and there is a higher percentage of weight in Domain I for the RHIT.

In addition to weights assigned to each of the Domains and Subdomains, cognitive levels were also assigned to the questions in the examination. The examination consists of multiple-choice questions that test at three cognitive levels. The cognitive levels applied to the test questions are recall, application and analysis. Each cognitive level relates to a corresponding ability to think and reason. Recall questions simply measure memory and require you to identify terms, remember specific facts, basic theories, principles and processes.

The application level goes beyond recall. Application questions require an ability to be able to interpret the data and information given and to apply the information given to various situations.

The third and highest cognitive level is the analysis level. At this level you are expected to demonstrate the ability to analyze information and to use critical thinking in solving problems. Both RHIA and RHIT examinations require the test taker to answer questions in all three cognitive levels. The cognitive level of questions on the RHIA and RHIT examinations has been increasingly skewed toward application and analysis level of question difficulty. Questions on the examination may combine several concepts into one question. For example, in a systems analysis question, you may need to know about record content and use to be able to correctly answer the question. Many of the questions are designed to require translation of materials learned to an application or analysis in a specific situation. The test specifications in the Certification Guidebook outline the number of questions by cognitive level. In reviewing the Certification Guidebook from AHIMA, it is apparent that at least 70 percent of the questions in both RHIA and RHIT exams are at the application or analysis level of testing.

Now that we have discussed the exam content and format, it may help you understand and work with the Domains, Subdomains and Task Statements by comparing them to a more traditional content area approach. The following is a simplistic listing of content areas generally associated with HIM curriculum:

* Health Records

* Information Retention and Retrieval

* Classification and Indexing Systems

* Coding

* Medical Sciences

* Statistics and Research

* Quality Assessment and Improvement

* Health Law

* Information Systems

* Management

* Human Resources

* Financial Management

As HIM roles are continuing to evolve, it becomes increasingly difficult to simply associate a job task with a particular content area, thus AHIMA has not published a crosswalk between content areas and Task State-ments. As you work through each Domain and Subdomain, your study plan should include concentration on and understanding of each associated Task Statement (listed in the AHIMA Certification Guide). With this in mind, Table 2, which can be found on our Web site at, was developed to serve as a beginning place to start your review process. The content areas have been assigned to Domains and Subdomains as a general rule of thumb. You may find that there are other content areas that cross over into a Domain and Subdomain as well as the ones listed.


Schnering, Patricia, RHIA, CCS, et al Professional Review Guide for the RHIA and RHIT Examinations, 2000 Edition. PRG Publishing, 2000.

Leroy, Ruth, MHS, RHIA, Preparation Guide for the RHIA and RHIT Examinations. PRG Publishing, 2000.

2000 Certification Guide Registered Health Information Administrator, AHIMA.

2000 Certification Guide Registered Health Information Technician, AHIMA.

Patricia Schnering is president of PRG Publishing Inc., St. Petersburg, FL.


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