2022 In Person Exam FAQ

COVID 19 Protocols 

As public health measures associated with Covid-19 move from being mandated to personal choice, and as part of our ongoing commitment to reviewing exam policies and procedures, CPA exam writers and staff working at exam centres in Western Canada are no longer required to wear masks, attest to their vaccination status, or provide proof of a negative Covid test to attend the exam centre, unless required by the venue.  

In line with public health guidance, CPAWSB encourages vaccination and mask wearing to minimize risks associated with Covid-19.  

In line with public health guidance, CPAWSB encourages vaccination and mask wearing to minimize risks associated with Covid-19. Writers who have symptoms of illness when they arrive at the exam centre may be required to defer their exam.  

In addition, all writers and exam staff will be required to: 

  • Answer health screening questions before entering the exam centre.
  • Adhere to capacity limits.
  • Adhere to any safety measures in place at venues.

Individuals choosing to wear a mask are encouraged to bring their own masks. 

For more information about protecting yourself against Covid-19, visit the following sites:

If you exhibit symptoms of illness before your exam, please contact cpamodule@cpawsb.ca for CFE/PEP exams and prepexams@cpawsb.ca for preparatory course exams to discuss options available to you to withdraw from or postpone your exam. Please do not arrive at an exam centre if you have symptoms of illness, as you will be sent home and told to contact your health region for further instructions. Supporting medical documentation will need to be provided to waive exam withdrawal/deferral fees.  

How to register for an in-person exam

When you register for your module or exam, you will choose from the available exam cities. Only cities listed in the drop-down menu are available as in-person exam centres.

No. All writers registered for an in-person exam are required to be in-person at exam centres to write their CPA exams. 

Information will be sent out to all exam writers with specific details of the exam location in each city. Requests to change your exam centre to a different city must be made at least six weeks in advance of the scheduled exam dates and changes are subject to availability.

All writers are required to attend the in-person exam at their approved exam location in Canada. Accommodation is not made for candidates to write outside Canada.

Anyone living over 150 km away from one of the approved exam locations can submit an Alternate Exam Location request through My CPA Portal. Requests must be made at least six weeks before the exam date. Late requests will not be accepted. 

Please review the information available on exam accommodations. All requests for accommodation must be made at least 10 weeks before your exam date. 

What to expect at an in-person exam centre

You will be required to arrive at least one hour before your exam start time. In some large locations such as Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, you may be required to arrive more than one hour before your exam to facilitate the sign-in and seating process. Arrival times for each exam centre will be communicated with the exam location details. You will be assigned a seat when you arrive at the centre and must follow all instructions from the CPA staff and contractors on-site. Once you are seated, you will be provided with an exam booklet, a laptop, and depending on the exam, a calculator (students writing a CPA preparatory course exam in the West must bring their own Texas Instrument BA II Plus calculators). Please review the start time for your exam, and the information on the length of each exam is available on the exam blueprints

Based on the schedule for the exam day, we suggest that writers do not schedule appointments or travel immediately before or after the exam as there could be delays. Food and beverages are not provided at the exam centres. If you are writing two CPA preparatory course exams in one day, we suggest that you prepare a lunch should there be delays.

The CPA profession has intentionally set very strict exam regulations for the CPA exams. The intention with these regulations is to maintain the structure of the CPA exam process and confidentiality of the CPA exam questions. All exam regulations must be followed at all times before, during, and after the examination. You must be familiar with the regulations before arriving at your exam centre. Please review the exam regulations.

You will be required to meet the health and safety requirements set out by the region or province you are writing your exam in. You will be contacted by that region directly to confirm the requirements and any applicable processes prior to the exam.

At sign-in, writers will be asked to answer a series of COVID-19 screening questions and to provide a valid piece of government issued photo ID for identity verification.

The exam schedule is set nationally by CPA Canada each year. Exam dates cannot be moved or rescheduled as outlined in the Harmonized Education Policies. If you are unable to attend your exam, please contact prepexams@cpawsb.ca about CPA preparatory courses exams or cpamodule@cpawsb.ca about CPA PEP exams and for information on what your options are.

The duration of exams varies by module and course. Typically CPA exams are between 3-5 hours. Please reference the exam blueprints to note the length of the exam you are registered for. 

Please review all exam regulations, including allowable and prohibited items. Any prohibited items brought into the exam centre will be confiscated. The CPA profession has intentionally set very strict exam regulations for CPA exams. The intention with these regulations is to maintain the structure of the CPA exam process and confidentiality of the CPA exam questions. All exam regulations must be followed at all times before, during, and after the examination. You must be familiar with the regulations before arriving at your exam centre.

What to expect when writing your in-person exam

You will receive a laptop pre-loaded with the Surpass (SecureClient) software at the exam centre to write your exam on. The laptop is locked down to restrict access to everything other than the exam software and CPA profession provided reference materials. Within the software, you will have access to a word processor and spreadsheet software to capture your responses. The word processor and spreadsheet software may not have the full functionality of Microsoft Word and Excel.

Click here to learn more about the software.

SecureClient uses an emulated version of Microsoft Excel so some features from those that you would typically see in Microsoft Excel have been either changed or removed for security purposes. Below are some differences you should be aware of: 

  • AUTOSUM Function: the AUTOSUM function within SecureClient does not highlight the likely range to create a final number. You need to use your wired mouse / track pad to highlight the range you wish to generate a sum for and then click Enter. 
  • SORT Function: the SORT function within Secureclient does not allow you to specify a range of columns. To SORT in SecureClient, you must create a table of data. Highlight the data in the table, click Format as Table in the navigation bar, specify the type of table appearance, and click OK.  
  • Equal Sign: within SecureClient, the arrow keys will not allow you to specify a range to calculate. Once you create ‘=SUM’, you need to use your wired mouse / track pad to highlight a range to calculate. 
  • Dollar Sign ($): within SecureClient, if you wish to format a range of data as Canadian dollars, you must highlight the range of data you wish to format, right click the highlighted range and select Format Cells. Choose the CURRENCY option under Category, select $ENGLISH (CANADA) in the Symbol field and click OK. 
  • PLUS and MINUS: within SecureClient, the ‘=’ sign is not automatically added. You must use the ‘=’ sign to start any formula or calculations. 
  • Format Painter: the format painter tool is unavailable within SecureClient. You need to use the format function. Please avoid trying to format large amounts of data at once as it may cause the laptop to freeze. 
  • ALT-Tab Function: this does not work if you want to navigate between the word processor, spreadsheet, or reference materials. Learners should instead resize the window. 

Click here to learn more about the software.

Your exam booklet will give a suggested time allotment for each section of the exam. This is a guideline only and you are expected to manage your own time while writing the exam. The exam centre staff and contractors will start the exam for all writers at the same time and will give time updates throughout the exam at each hour and when there are 30 minutes and 5 minutes remaining in the exam.

No. Once the exam time starts, it runs continuously until time is up. You can request to use the washroom facilities by raising your hand and advising an invigilator before leaving the exam room. The exam clock is not stopped for any time spent away from your exam.

Depending on which exam you are writing, you could have a combination of multiple choice (objective format), constructed response questions, or case-based questions. Please reference the exam blueprints to note the assessment details for the exam(s) you are registered for. 

No. You will not have access to any materials at the exam centre, other than the profession-supplied laptop and the profession-supplied reference materials. Any prohibited items brought into the exam centre will be confiscated. 

No, you are not permitted to bring your own laptop to the exam centre. All writers will receive a CPA profession-supplied laptop with the exam software pre-loaded.

No. Please reference all exam regulations, including allowable and prohibited items. Any prohibited items brought into the exam centre, such as an external monitor, will be confiscated. The CPA profession has intentionally set very strict exam regulations for the CPA exams. The intention with these regulations is to maintain the structure of the CPA exam process and confidentiality of the CPA exam questions. All exam regulations must be followed at all times before, during, and after the examination. You must be familiar with the regulations prior to arriving at your exam centre. 

Yes, most exam centres will have on-site IT proctors available to support any technical issues that may arise. Some secondary or remote centres are supported with an on-call IT proctor in the event they are needed. Please reference the list of primary and secondary centres in the west.

For applicable exams, you will be able to access the CPA Handbook, Canadian Income Tax Act, and the Excise Tax Act in Knotia. Access to the e-books is not available during the exam.

For preparatory courses, reference materials will only be available on Introductory Financial Accounting, Intermediate Financial Reporting 1 and 2, Advanced Financial Reporting, and Audit and Assurance exams.