What to Expect When Writing an In-Person Exam in Surpass (SecureClient) Software

Jun 6, 2022
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Starting with the June 2022 CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) and CPA preparatory course examinations, all CPA learners will receive CPA-issued laptops at the examination writing centres to write their exams. These laptops will be pre-loaded with the Surpass (SecureClient) software.

Surpass (SecureClient) is an application that locks down computers so that no other programs or files can be accessed during an examination.

The examination software enables you to:
  1. answer multiple-choice questions (MCQs) on screen.
  2. input your case/constructed responses using a word processor (similar to Word) and a spreadsheet (similar to Excel).
  3. use Knotia to access reference material to search the CPA Canada Handbook and the Income Tax Act (for applicable examinations). Access to ebooks is not available during the exam.
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 / trackpad 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 / trackpad 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. 
Please review the CPA examination software for more information.