Preparing for an Exam

Mar 1, 2017

UPDATE: November 2018

CPA examinations are now written in a new examination software called Surpass (Secureclient).  

Each CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) module, CPA preparatory course, and applied course in the Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance (ACAF) concludes with an exam written at a CPA exam centre. Below are five tips for a smooth exam centre experience.

  1. Find out where to write your exam

CPAWSB publishes exam locations approximately two weeks before exams. For CPA PEP, locations are posted on and for CPA preparatory courses, locations are posted in Desire2Learn. Students in ACAF courses receive an email with exam information. Room locations may be different from one day to the next, so if you’re writing two exams in one session, double-check each exam’s location.

  1. Know where you’re going and how you’re getting there

In larger cities, exam centres might be located in a hotel, conference centre, or post-secondary institution. In smaller communities, exam centres might be located in CPA offices. Spend a little time before exam day figuring out where you are going and how you are getting there, especially if it is the first time you are writing an exam at that location. If you are driving, where will you park? Do you have a back-up parking location in case your first choice is unavailable?

  1. Read the exam rules

CPA exam centres are governed by strict rules to protect the integrity of exams. The rules limit what you can bring into a writing centre and are updated regularly so be sure to review them before each exam you write.

  1. Prepare your laptop for Securexam

All CPA exams are written on PC-based laptops using Securexam, software that limits what you have access to on your computer during the exam. Read the specific computer requirements here. Before the exam, as part of your weekly course work, you will be required to download and/or test the latest version of Securexam on your machine. If you use a work-issued laptop, you might need the assistance of your IT department to complete this. Larger exam centres have on-site IT proctors to assist with Securexam issues that arise during the exam; however, if you arrive without having downloaded Securexam, it will delay the start of the exam for everyone and the IT proctors may not be able to help you.

  1. Plan to arrive early and (possibly) stay late

Plan to arrive about an hour before the exam start time to allow for enough time for you to sign in and set up. Similarly, the unexpected can happen on exam day, and technical difficulties can cause delays to the exam start. While IT proctors and other exam staff will do their best to minimize these delays, they can be unavoidable. Consider the possibility of delay when paying for parking or planning the rest of your day.

If you have any questions, please contact about CPA preparatory course or ACAF exams and about CPA PEP exams.