Foundation exams

Your pathway to the CPA Program

Many CPA Program candidates follow a traditional entry pathway by completing an accredited degree, but we also welcome applicants with diverse educational backgrounds.

Foundation exams offer a flexible, self-paced study program – you can enrol any time and choose where and when you will sit your exam.

Foundation exams are:

  • flexible - complete the subjects in any order
  • on-demand - unlike returning to university, a benefit of foundation exam study is that you can enrol, study and sit your exam at a time that suits you
  • self-paced - from the moment you enrol, you have 12 months to sit the exam and can set your own study schedule
  • practical - online and on-demand means foundation exams may be a more practical and cost-effective option for you

Apply now to sit foundation exams

Complete an application and we’ll assess your qualifications against our key knowledge areas to determine if you’re ready to start the CPA Program. We’ll also identify if you’re eligible for any exemptions.

Competency requirements

If you require further competency in any key knowledge area, your application outcome will outline the foundation exams you need to pass in order to begin the CPA Program.

Competency requirement Foundation exam
Accounting Systems and Processes
Foundations of Accounting
Economics, Quantitative methods Economics and Markets
Business Law: comprised of Commercial Law and Corporations Law Fundamentals of Business Law
Finance and Financial Management Business Finance
Financial Accounting and Reporting: comprised of Financial Accounting and Accounting Theory Financial Accounting and Reporting
Management Accounting Management Accounting

If you've satisfied all of the above competencies but haven’t met the competency requirement for Auditing or Taxation Law, then you are ready to start the CPA Program and need to complete the relevant elective in your studies.

Competency requirement CPA Program requirement
Auditing Advance Audit and Assurance
Taxation Law Australia Taxation, or your local taxation variant

The foundation exams

These cover the knowledge you’ll need to become an Associate member of CPA Australia. The exams can be taken in any order, at your choice of location and time.

Registration no. 310005

This is a registered course under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance in Hong Kong.

It is a matter of discretion for individual employers to recongise any qualification to which this course may lead.

The next step

When you’ve successfully passed all required foundation exams, as per your individual assessment outcome, you may then be eligible to commence the CPA Program.

Foundation exam structure and scoring

Foundation exams are offered as test centre computer-based exams and online proctored exams across most locations worldwide (online proctored exams can't be delivered in Mainland China, Slovenia, Japan and South Korea). The exams are multiple choice, in a closed-book environment, of three hours and fifteen minutes duration.

Find out details of the exam structure and results scoring here

Scheduling your exams

The foundation exams offer flexible dates for enrolment, so you can enrol any time and choose when you sit your exam. However, you must ensure you self-schedule and sit your exam within 12 months (365 days) of your enrolment. For enrolment occurring over a leap year, your exam deadline will pass two days prior to your enrolment anniversary.

Foundation exams are offered across a variety of locations, dates and times, although availability of exam sessions may be limited in some regions.

Find out about enrolling in and scheduling your exams


Foundation exams enrolment fee includes access to your study guide, resources within My Online Learning and your exam.

The fees also cover the cost of exam marking and administration. Local currency options are available for some locations.

Find out about the foundation exams enrolment fee

My Online Learning

My Online Learning gives you access to your study guides and additional resources to assist you with your studies.

Access to My Online Learning is available upon confirmation of enrolment and closes the day after your exam.

Access My Online Learning