CPHQ Exam Content Outline: 2015 vs 2016 vs 2017 (Plus 2018 Update)

CPHQ Tutor, not to mention its parent company Teh & Associates, provides outstanding CPHQ exam preparation services and products that are current with the latest CPHQ exam content outline.

September 29, 2020 Update

As at the time of updating this post, on August 29, 2020, the Healthcare Quality Certification Commission (HQCC) had not updated the CPHQ exam content outline since January 1, 2018. In other words, the current CPHQ exam content outline is nearly 2 years and 9 months old.

Our last update on this issue was on January 5, 2018 – see the bottom of this post.

Before the HQCC’s last update of the exam content outline, i.e. the one that was/is effective since January 1, 2018, it was revised every two (2) years. It now appears the CPHQ exam content outline will be revised every three (3) years, with the next update only in 2021. We make this inference because it seems unlikely the HQCC will change the CPHQ exam content outline in Q4 2020. For at least the past 15 years, the HQCC/HQCB (the Healthcare Quality Certification Commission was previously called the Healthcare Quality Certification Board) has made any updates of the CPHQ exam content outline effective from the first quarter of the year, usually the month of January.

Although it is quite obvious, it might be worth mentioning the content of the CPHQ Tutor website addresses the latest CPHQ exam content outline, i.e. the one effective since January 1, 2018.

Please do not be deceived by parties purporting to have their content updated for the “2020 version” of the CPHQ exam content outline – there is no such thing. What snake oil salesmen!

If you have questions or want more information regarding anything I’ve written above, please feel free to add a comment at the bottom of this post or shoot me an email. In most instances, I’ll get back to you in less than 24 hours.

The 2016 CPHQ Exam Content Outline is identical to the 2015 one. The 2017 outline is expected to be announced only in January 2017.

“Do your practice questions follow the 2017 CPHQ exam content outline?

Does CPHQ Tutor have up-to-date information, test questions, and prep material for the 2016 CPHQ exam content outline?”

“Is the content of CPHQ Tutor updated for 2017?”

We get a question such as the ones above once in a while.

CPHQ candidates understandably want to be sure they are preparing for the current exam content outline, also sometimes known as the CPHQ exam specifications. After all, how would practice exam questions irrelevant to the current outline help?

The short answer to any question identical or similar to the ones at the top of this post is:

The material, including the practice questions, on the CPHQ Tutor website and that used during our live training programs, is updated to reflect the most current CPHQ exam content outline. Period.

We explain why and how below.

How Frequently Is the CPHQ Exam Content Outline Updated?

The CPHQ content outline is revised, i.e. updated, about every two years. (August 29, 2020 update: this has probably changed to every three years, as stated in the addendum at the top of this post.)

The last revision occurred in mid-2014, but was effective only from January 1, 2015. Hence, the reference to this date in the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ)/Healthcare Quality Certification Commission (HQCC) materials, e.g. the 2016 CPHQ Exam Content Outline [93 kB, accessed November 14, 2016] and the NAHQ website – see below.

Screenshot of NAHQ website taken on November 14, 2016, indicates that the effective date of the CPHQ exam content outline had not changed since January 1, 2015.

The next revision (or “update”) of the CPHQ exam content outline is expected in early 2017, i.e. approximately 2 years after the last.

Although we have heard some information about the revised content outline, no official announcement has yet been made.

Based on our experience with the NAHQ/HQCC (spanning over a decade), we expect them to announce the 2017 exam content outline only sometime in January 2017.

We know the HQCC is actively developing and testing new questions. In fact, I participated in the biennial NAHQ’s 2016 CPHQ Practice Analysis Survey only in July. We look forward to contributing further in the development of questions for the pool to be used from 2017.

Are the 2016 and 2015 CPHQ Exam Content Outlines the Same?

Since the last revision of the exam content outline was in January 2015 and updates occur only every 2 years, you might be wondering if the 2016 (current as at the time of writing) CPHQ exam content outline the same as the 2015 one.

In a word: Yes.

And in case you are skeptical, I invite you to compare and contrast the CPHQ exam content outline used on the CPHQ Tutor membership site since January 2015, with that available from the NAHQ website. Apart from the formatting issue on the HQCC’s list on Pages 24–25 of the 2016 CPHQ Candidate Examination Handbook, I cannot find any difference in the 2 outlines. (Sidenote: I compared the two at least 10 times!)

By now, you’ve probably worked out the exam content outline does not change every calendar year.

We are aware of at least one (unfortunately, quite prominent) CPHQ exam prep service provider who makes it appear the outline is refreshed annually, which coincidentally is the same frequency in which they “update” their product.

In contrast, we develop new practice/study questions and improve existing questions in our database continuously, i.e. all year round, to address the various tasks on the latest CPHQ exam content outline, irrespective of which part of the revision cycle we’re at.

Another fallacy is that independent CPHQ exam prep providers know the coming exam content outline ahead of candidates, e.g. the 2017 outline before the end of 2016. (Some might have the false impression CPHQ exam prep providers are like iOS or Android app developers, who have early access to the operating systems before the latter are released to the general public – in reality, this doesn’t happen!)

The truth is none of us really knows the tasks on the coming exam content outline until they are announced by the NAHQ/HQCC, though there are hints dropped every now and then.

For the 2017 exam content outline, we anticipate the announcement to be in January 2017, consistent will previous announcements of this nature.


The CPHQ exam content outline in 2016 is identical to that in 2015.

Since January 2015, the content of the CPHQ Tutor website, including our practice questions, has followed the 2015/2016 CPHQ exam content outline and is therefore up-to-date, i.e. current.

  • 2016 CPHQ Exam Content Outline = 2015 CPHQ Exam Content Outline (no difference)
  • 2017 CPHQ Exam Content Outline = To be announced in 2017 (but you can be sure we will be the first to update our content, way before anyone else purporting to help people prepare for the exam)

In addition, yours truly continues to be an active and busy healthcare quality professional (some may say too busy, but I love challenging engagements!) and continues to contribute to the development of new questions on the actual CPHQ examination.

Finally, our highly-acclaimed CPHQ live training programs and CPHQ Tutor, as a leading the leading online resource for anyone preparing for the CPHQ exam, will always have content that is aligned with the most current version of the CPHQ exam content outline.

Update on April 23, 2017: The current CPHQ exam content outline, available from the NAHQ website, indicates it remains unchanged, i.e. the CPHQ exam content outline of January 1, 2015 is still effective.

Update on January 5, 2018: The CPHQ exam content outline 2018, effective January 1, 2018, was announced on the NAHQ website on December 16, 2017. CPHQ exam preparation resources we provide, including those on the CPHQ Tutor website, will be updated to follow the 2018 CPHQ exam content outline by January 15, 2018. This time lag was/is necessary to afford time for updating the content, where necessary, to reflect the latest changes made to the CPHQ exam content outline. To maintain currency in our content, we refrained from making any changes before January 1, 2018.

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  1. Hi!
    Would you be kind to let me know for any announced update (CPHQ Exam Content for 2017.).

    1. @Sohail Malik – As at March 26, 2017 @ 02:13 hrs GMT, the current CPHQ exam content outline is the same as that published in January 2015. In other words, it hasn’t been revised yet in 2017, though we expected the change to have occurred by late January. Click on the following link for the 2017 CPHQ exam content outline (accessed March 26, 2017 @ 02:13 hrs GMT), which is effective today. We’ll know of any revision in the CPHQ exam content outline at the same time as everybody else, i.e. when the NAHQ/HQCC makes the announcement. At that time, we’ll update our materials to reflect the changes. I suggest you check back on this page for updates on the CPHQ exam content outline.

  2. I want to give the exam but before exam I want to go for refreshment preparation.
    please guide me to do in a better way.


    Unsa Ahmed

    1. @Unsa Ahmed – Our CPHQ exam preparation workshops scheduled for 2017 have sold out (and their waiting lists are quite long!). Our workshops are usually announced around October, or sometimes November, for the following year. These events sell out fast, so I suggest those interested look out for the announcement and reserve their place as soon as possible.

    1. @VIOLET MAKOKHA – As I see it, your question has two parts: a) How to apply for the CPHQ exam; and b) How to prepare for the exam so that you achieve a passing score. For information on how to apply for the CPHQ exam, I suggest you read the CPHQ Candidate Examination Handbook for International (Non-US) Candidates. The second part of your question is a bit trickier to answer. You may like to read our article “What Is the Best Way for Me to Pass the CPHQ Exam?”. The CPHQ exam entails quite an investment in resources, especially time and money. For this reason, I think most candidates ought to figure out how they are going to prepare for and pass the CPHQ exam first, i.e. assess their current ability to pass the exam if they sat it today, identify their gaps in knowledge and skills relative to the tasks on CPHQ exam content outline, formulate a realistic game plan to close those gaps, reassess their likelihood of attaining a satisfactory score on the exam, etc. When they are ready, or nearly ready, to take the exam, they can apply. This approach is conservative, but it avoids the common problem of discovering knowledge gaps late in the candidate’s preparation, not having sufficient time to remedy those issues, and entering the testing room less than fully prepared!

  3. Dear Andy, would you let us know if your exam prep resources have been updated with 2018 changes and ready for purchase? Thanks!

    1. @Paopao Huang – Have our CPHQ exam prep resources been updated to follow the 2018 CPHQ exam content outline? YES! Candidates who sign up on or after January 15, 2018 will see our content following the 2018 CPHQ exam content outline. This is reflected in a number of ways, e.g. categorization of the articles and the items/tasks on the 2018 CPHQ exam content outline to which our practice questions are related. We’ll provide some guidance on the new (2018) CPHQ exam content outline, especially for those candidates who were/are preparing for their test in early 2018 but who were affected by the late (i.e., December 16, 2017) announcement of the new changes, in an article to be published in our blog within the next week.

      Are our (online, aligned-with-the-2018-CPHQ-exam-content-outline) CPHQ exam prep resources ready for purchase? YES! Select the option that best suits your needs from this page.

      Needless to say, if you have any further questions, please feel free to ask!

    1. @AC – Membership to the NAHQ per se will not improve your chances of passing the CPHQ exam. I would regard any claim that NAHQ membership per se will help you become CPHQ certified as spurious. The purported benefits of membership to the NAHQ include discounts on educational products published by the NAHQ, opportunities for career advancement (via NAHQ’s Career Center), networking opportunities, and free CPHQ CE credit. The educational resources offered by the NAHQ are accessible by non-members, albeit at prices higher than member prices, and their value is dependent on the individual candidate (i.e., some candidates find the material helpful while others don’t, and this in turn depends on prior education and training, experience, and access to comparable or superior resources). The other benefits mentioned above are not relevant to someone preparing for the CPHQ exam. Unless you’re spending a lot of money on the products the NAHQ is offering, it would be difficult to justify the $199 annual membership fee. By the way, I’m a NAHQ member and have been for more than 10 years. My reasons for being a members are two-fold: firstly, I can earn CE credit to maintain my CPHQ certification quite easily, and, secondly, I get to keep abreast with the latest happenings in the NAHQ. Neither applies to your situation.

  4. To whom it may concern,

    I have read the testimonials. I recently took the exam and have purchased study materials; well I did not pass. I would like to know if your program would provide more information. The study material did not really have any relevant to the exam. I was disappointed and I really want the certification what best way forward. I want to take in August once my 90 days is up to re-take.

    1. @Eddie hanson – We offer a range of programs to help people become CPHQ certified. If you could tell us which program you’re referring to (e.g. CPHQ private coaching, CPHQ exam prep workshop, CPHQ Tutor – CPHQ Exam Preparation Resources) and exactly what information you would like to know, we’d be pleased to assist! I am aware that many CPHQ exam prep products on the market do not address the current (2018) CPHQ exam content outline. On the other hand, ALL our CPHQ exam prep programs address the current CPHQ exam content outline!

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