Test centre computer-based exam

Content Summary

In this format, you must travel to a test centre to undertake your exam, where you'll be supervised in-person by an exam invigilator.

On this page


What to expect on the day of your exam

Please watch this video to gain an understanding of the test centre computer-based exam experience, and your responsibilities as a CPA Program candidate.

Video quick links:

Health and safety

To ensure the health and safety of you and our staff, test centres across the globe follow the requirements set out by local health authorities. They comply with social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC and World Health Organisation. We recommend you visit the Pearson VUE website for up-to-date safety precautions at Pearson VUE test centres.

Before your exam, you must review your personal health and safety requirements. These can be found on the Pearson VUE website, and are based on the recommendations of health authorities in your region.

ID requirements

You must provide two original forms of valid and current identification, including:

  • your primary ID, which must be government-issued and must contain your photograph and signature
  • your secondary ID, which must contain either your photograph or signature.

If your ID has expired, it will not be accepted. The name on your ID must exactly match the name on your member profile with CPA Australia. If this does not match, please contact us at least five business days before your scheduled exam appointment to update your profile.

Primary ID Secondary ID
driver's licence debit (ATM) card
learner's permit (plastic card only, with photo and signature) credit cards
national / state / country identification card social security card
passport any form of primary ID
passport cards  
military ID  
military ID for spouses and dependents  
alien registration card (green card, permanent resident visa)  
government-issued local language ID (plastic card only, with photo and signature).  

Note. If you're sitting an exam in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore or Vietnam, you can use your national ID card.

What you can and can't bring to your exam

Open book exams

All CPA Program exams, except Singapore Taxation, are open book. This means you can bring your study guide and any additional study materials with you to your exam appointment.

Singapore Taxation is a closed book exam, except for approved Tax Acts, as explained under the recommended texts section of your study guide.


You can bring your own calculator to your test-centre exam, however we have rules about what type of calculator you can and cannot bring in with you.

Your calculator can be:

  • scientific
  • standard
  • financial
  • able to store and recall the last performed calculation only.

Your calculator can't be:

  • programmable – it must not be able to store and replay a sequence of operations or capable of external programming
  • capable of text storage
  • equipped with an alphanumeric keyboard (all letters from A to Z)
  • a graphing calculator
  • wired or include wireless communication capabilities
  • equipped with a camera or video recording functionality
  • powered by anything other than internal batteries and/or solar power
  • able to produce a sound which cannot be turned off.

An online calculator will also be available if you don't have access to a suitable one.

Note taking

Before entering your exam room, you'll be given an erasable whiteboard for any notetaking during your exam. To make sure exam questions and answers are not recorded or shared, this whiteboard will be collected and cleaned after you've finished the exam.

You'll also have access to an online scratch pad for quick calculations during the exam.

Personal items

What you can bring:

  • your two forms of ID
  • your study guide and any additional notes
  • your calculator.

What you can't bring:

  • any electronic devices, aside from your calculator
  • a watch of any kind
  • large, external clothing, such as a coat, scarf or hat, unless worn for religious purposes
  • any food or drink.

It's at the supervisor's discretion to decide whether an item is acceptable to take into your exam room. You'll be able to store any prohibited items at your test centre before your exam begins. For a full list of what you can and can't bring with you, please review your confirmation email from Pearson VUE prior to your appointment.

Your exam

All CPA Program exams are 195 minutes long (3 hours and 15 minutes).

When you begin your exam, you will be led through a short tutorial. If this is your first computer-based exam with us, we recommend you take the time to work through this tutorial. This won't impact your overall exam time, as the timer won't start until you begin the exam.

Once you've finished all the questions in your exam and clicked ‘End exam’, you will be guided through a short survey. This won't impact your exam time.

You will also have one unscheduled break, which you can take at any time during your exam. When you're ready to take your break, raise your hand and advise your exam supervisor before clicking the ‘Pause exam’ button. Then you need to click the ‘Pause exam’ button in the pop-up window to confirm. Your exam timer will stop for five minutes.

Preparing for your exam

Once you have scheduled a test centre computer-based exam, the best way to prepare is to read your study guide and use your Guided Learning resources. In addition, we recommend you work through the following checkpoints before your exam appointment.

5 weeks before exam period

Read our exam policies to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities when undertaking a CPA Program exam. These include:

4 weeks before exam period

Check that your ID matches your profile with CPA Australia, if it doesn't, contact us to make sure your profile is updated in time for your exam.

3 weeks before exam period

Check the Pearson VUE website for your personal health and safety requirements, for example, you may be required to bring your own face mask.

1 week before exam period

Read the exam confirmation email from Pearson VUE that was sent when you scheduled the exam. Please check your spam folder if you can't find it. You will also receive a reminder email seven days before your appointment.

Double-check your appointment date and time, including the time zone, and your test centre location. Work out how you'll travel to the exam and plan to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment begins.

Check your calculator against the guidelines above and keep your eyes peeled for our Exam Checklist email.


Have questions about exams?

Visit our CPA Program Exam Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.