How to Study for the CPHQ Exam? Tips and Resources

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CPHQ (Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality) is a credential that certifies healthcare professionals who have demonstrated their knowledge of quality improvement, patient safety, risk management, and other related topics.


There aren't any specific eligibility requirements for taking the CPHQ certification examination, but you should be aware that the examination isn't meant to test people at the entry-level.

If you have been working in the field for less than two years, have no prior experience in the health care industry, or if their previous experience was not specific to the health care industry, please be aware that you may not be prepared to take the exam.

Before going any further, please complete this brief assessment test to see if this exam is right for you.

Exam Details:

You can take this exam online or at specific centers in the United States and multiple international locations.

Three hours computer-based CPHQ examination consisting of 140 multiple-choice questions is offered in English only. Out of 140 questions, 125 multiple-choice questions are scored, and 15 are unscored. You will not know whether a question is scored or not scored.

The breakup for the type of questions is: 23% recall, 57% application, and 20% analysis.As you could see a large number of questions are focused on the application of concepts and analysis of situation. These come with experience.

It is the CLOSED BOOK exam. You can NOT take any book or binder in the exam.

Exam Pass Rate:

For the year 2020, the pass rate for US candidates was 71%, and it was just 40% for international students.


Passing Score:

There is no direct answer to this question. For each exam, the questions are presented randomly. As I understand, experts review these random questions and based on the difficulty level define the passing score. Our best guess is that the passing score is 88 to 96 correct answers, out of 125 scored questions. This number is not a fixed number and  might be vary.


When will I know my result?

Candidates in the United States receive unofficial score card immediately after completing the exam. They will receive a formal confirmation of the result around 2 to 3 months after taking the exam.

However international candidates do not receive unofficial score card. They will only receive the formal score card 2 to 3 months after taking the exam. This could be frustrating, but you will not know the result for 2 to 3 months. Be patient!

Body of Knowledge:

As per the body of knowledge defined in January 2018, the exam consists of 4 sections:

1. Organizational Leadership (35 questions)

2. Health Data Analytics (30 questions)

3. Performance and Process Improvement (40 questions)

4. Patient Safety (20 questions)


Updated Body of Knowledge (Effective 15 March 2023):

The above exam structure has been updated, and effective 15 March 2023, the exam will cover the following 7 sections:

1. Quality Leadership and Integration (19 questions)

2. Performance and Process Improvement (27 questions)

3. Population Health and Care Transitions (11 questions)

4. Health Data Analysis (26 questions)

5. Patient Safety (18 questions)

6. Quality Review and Accountability (16 questions)

7. Regulatory and Accreditation (8 questions)


Suggested Study Material:

Even though NAHQ Handbook provides a list of resources, here is our recommendation.

1. HQ Solutions: Resource for the Healthcare Quality Professional (A Must Use Resource)

2. The Janet A. Brown Healthcare Quality Handbook: A Professional Resource and Study Guide (Strongly Suggested)

3. CPHQ Practice Exam (Optional)

4. We offer following online courses, that explain quality management concepts in plain and simple terms. Using below links you can buy them with up to 85% discount.

a) Seven Basic Quality Tools

b) Lean Management for Non-manufacturing Environment

c) Enterprise Risk Management

d) Root Cause Analysis

e) Certified Quality Improvement Associate

f) Six Sigma White Belt


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