View some of the frequently asked questions about CPA Australia foundation exams, including eligibility, enrolment, scheduling, study requirements and information about each exam format.

ELIGIBILITY

Am I eligible to commence foundation exams?

Depending on what you have already studied with a higher education provider, you may be required to study a foundation exam subject or be eligible for entry straight into the CPA Program.

Are foundation exams conducted in English?

Yes. All learning materials, instructions and exams are conducted and written in English.

I have had a migration assessment. Will I also need an assessment to determine my eligibility for membership?

Yes. The migration assessment and CPA Australia membership assessment are two separate assessments. Even though your qualifications have been assessed for migration purposes, our membership requirements are different. Therefore, for anyone who would like to enrol into the CPA Program, an assessment is compulsory.

I previously completed a CPA Australia bridging unit. What credits will I receive for the foundation exams?

If you have completed any of the following bridging units, you will receive an exemption for the corresponding foundation exams when you apply for your assessment. Ensure you quote your original reference number on your application to gain these exemptions.

BUP001: Introduction to Financial Accounting
The corresponding foundation exam is Financial Accounting and Reporting.

BUP002: Introduction to Management Accounting
The corresponding foundation exam is Management Accounting.

BUP003: Introduction to Business Finance
The corresponding foundation exam is Business Finance.

I used to be enrolled into a bridging unit. What should I do now?

CPA Australia’s membership entry changed in 2010. As a result, we no longer offer bridging units. You will need to complete an assessment to determine your entry point.

Can I get recognition of previous study?

Yes. However, you will still be required to complete an assessment, so we can determine your knowledge areas and strengths. You may still be required to complete some foundation exams after your assessment. To have your prior study assessed and determine your pathway to become a CPA, start a membership assessment.

If additional knowledge is required after my assessment, is there an alternative to doing the foundation exam?

Yes. Applicants can choose to complete the required knowledge areas through a higher education provider.

Auditing and Taxation Law can be completed as part of the CPA Program if not previously satisfied.

Can I take a foundation exam for continuing professional development (CPD) purposes?

No. The foundation exams are a series of exams to demonstrate the knowledge areas required to commence the CPA Program and are not suitable for CPD purposes.

If I fail an exam, how long before I can sit the exam again?

You need to wait a minimum of 30 days before you can sit the exam again.

How many times can I repeat a foundation exam?

Your enrolment fee covers one Foundation exam attempt, and you can enrol in/attempt any one Foundation exam a maximum of four times. You will be unable to enrol for a fifth attempt at the exam. We recommend that if you fail an exam repeatedly you contact us to discuss further study options before you sit a fourth and final attempt.

Can I continue to complete my other foundation exam requirements with CPA Australia if I have failed an exam four times?

Yes. We recommend that if you fail an exam repeatedly that you contact us to discuss further study options before you sit a fourth attempt.

What options do I have if I am unable to enrol again to complete a required exam?

You can enrol in a similar exam with a higher education provider.

What happens when I pass the exam I completed at a higher education provider?

You can apply for an exemption of this foundation exam requirement. There will be no charge for the additional assessment of your qualifications.

Enrolment and exam scheduling

When can I schedule a foundation exam?

CPA Australia strongly advises you to schedule your exam appointment as soon as possible to secure your preferred date, time and location. You can schedule a Foundation exam any time via My CPA Program. You must schedule your exam appointment within your enrolment period.

How will I know when my enrolment is about to expire?

You will need to log into My CPA Program, which will list the date you enrolled, and the expiry date of your enrolment.

Can I extend my enrolment beyond the 12-month deadline?

If you are unable to sit your exam within 12 months of your enrolment, you may extend your enrolment on a month-by-month basis, up to a maximum of six (6) months. A fee will be applicable, which will be calculated monthly. Extending your enrolment will not automatically reschedule your exam booking. You must reschedule your exam appointment accordingly. Failure to do so will result in a 'Did Not Sit' result.

Can I cancel my enrolment?

Yes. You can cancel your subject enrolment up to five (5) days prior to your scheduled exam appointment without the cancellation appearing on your foundation exams program history. However, no refunds will be issued for a cancellation.

How do I schedule my exam appointment?

You can schedule your appointment via My CPA Program.

Am I guaranteed a seat in my preferred test-centre exam location?

No. There is limited capacity in some exam centres. You are encouraged to schedule your exam appointment at the time of enrolment, or as early as possible. If your first preference is not available, you should try another date or be prepared to travel to the next closest exam centre.

What should I do if there are no appointments available in the town or city where I’d like to sit my exam?

You may need to travel to a suitable exam location if your preferred location is fully booked. 
Alternatively, you may choose to sit an online proctored exam, if available in your region.

What should I do if I haven’t received a confirmation email for my exam?

If you have scheduled an exam appointment but have not yet received a confirmation email it could be because:
  • the email is on its way (please allow 24 hours)
  • the email has been trapped in your junk or spam mail filter
  • the email address recorded with CPA Australia needs to be updated.
If you didn’t receive or have lost your confirmation email, you can also print a copy of your appointment details from My CPA Program.

Who can I contact if I want to take my exam in a location that is not available?

Based on demand, CPA Australia may consider opening additional centres for future exam periods. If you would like to suggest a test centre location for our future consideration, email your suggestions to [email protected]

Can I pay in my local currency?

Local currency options are available for some locations.

Does the exam fee include Associate membership?

Students undertaking foundation exams are not eligible for Associate membership. You will only pay your Associate membership fees once you are eligible for the CPA Program and activate an Associate membership.

What do I get for the cost of each enrolment?

Your enrolment fee includes:

  • access to a study guide to prepare you for the exam
  • exam, marking and administration fees.

Why do I have to pay to extend my enrolment expiry date/exam window?

There is a nominal cost to extend your enrolment expiry date/exam window on a month-by-month basis, up to a maximum of six months. This covers the administrative costs associated with changing your enrolment.

Can I reschedule my exam appointment?

You can reschedule your exam appointment to a different date, start time or a different location, subject to availability.

If you reschedule your appointment up to 72 hours before your exam, no fee applies.

If you reschedule your appointment from 24 to 72 hours before your exam, a $44 fee will apply.

Can I reschedule my exam appointment on the day of the exam?

No changes can be made to your exam appointment within 24 hours of your exam start time.

Can I get a refund if I can’t attend my exam appointment on the day of the exam?

No refunds will be issued for students who cancel their subject enrolment or who otherwise do not attend their scheduled exam appointment. To avoid a 'Did Not Sit' result, you must reschedule your exam at least 24 hours before the exam.

Students who do not attend their scheduled exam will receive a 'Did Not Sit' result.

Will I get another confirmation email after I reschedule my exam appointment?

Yes. 

How can I reschedule my exam appointment?

You can reschedule your exam appointment via My CPA Program.

Studying

How many hours of study on average are required to complete a unit?

There are no recommended hours. Each student brings their own level of experience and knowledge to each of the foundation exams. It is entirely dependent on the student’s prior knowledge of the subject. Students will need to develop their own study plans.

Can I join a study group?

We do not have study groups available for foundation exams. You will need to arrange your own study group.

What if my study guide is updated? How will I know I am using the correct version?

Your study guide will occasionally be updated to ensure technical accuracy, currency and relevance. If this occurs, we will notify you by email well in advance of the change occurring allowing you to make the decision as to whether you intend to be examined on the current or the new content. If you are unsure if you are using the most updated version of the study guide, you can check My Online Learning for clarification.

Do I have to study using the CPA Australia provided study material?

No. If you feel you have sufficient knowledge and skills as outlined in the foundation exam learning objectives, you can elect not to use the study material. The study material is provided to assist in your studies and to help you determine whether you have the required knowledge and skills to successfully pass the foundation exams.

Do I require any additional resources to the study guide?

All of the content in the study guide is examinable. Based on your prior knowledge at the point of enrolment, you may wish to use further resources to assist you in consolidating your learning.

General Exam Information

What is the difference between an Online-Proctored exam and a Test-Centre exam?

The content, length, structure and exam environment are the same for both exam options – the main difference will be where you sit your exam. For Test-Centre exams, you are required to travel to the test-centre location, while Online-Proctored exams can be completed in any location which meets the environment requirements. Candidates will be supervised in-person at a test centre, while an online proctor will supervise online exam candidates via their webcam. The only other difference is note-taking – while candidates sitting a Test-Centre exam will have access to an erasable whiteboard, candidates sitting an Online-Proctored exam will be required to use an online whiteboard. In addition, due to varying health regulations across the globe, candidates opting for a Test-Centre exam may need to abide by local safety requirements throughout their exam. Please view the location-specific information at the bottom of this page to understand your local requirements.

New restrictions have been enforced in my region and I am unable to attend my test-centre exam appointment. What do I do now?

Please be reassured that multiple options will be available to you should you no longer be able to attend your test-centre exam – including a guaranteed online-proctored exam appointment if available. We are monitoring all locations closely and will provide timely updates to any candidates impacted by changing restrictions.

What types of exam questions are there?

There will be 100 Multiple-Choice questions in the exam. Each question has four options with only one correct answer.

How long are Foundation exams?

Exams are 195 minutes long (3 hours 15 minutes) plus your additional 5-minute unscheduled break All computer-based exams (in both test-centres and online) will include a tutorial at the beginning and survey at the end, meaning your total time at the computer will be 220 minutes – the tutorial and survey do not impact your actual exam time.

Am I able to take a break? What is ‘Pause Exam'?

This semester, we have introduced a new ‘Pause Exam’ function to both online-proctored and test-centre computer-based exams, which allows you to take one 5-minute unscheduled break with your exam clock paused. For test-centre exams, you are able to raise your hand and request additional bathroom breaks, however your exam clock will not be paused. For online proctored exams, you are only able to leave your exam desk/screen during your 5-minute ‘pause the clock’ break. Due to the associated risks to exam security, additional breaks are not permitted during online proctored exams.

What if I accidentally take a break longer than 5 minutes?

The exam timer will recommence and will continue to count down once the 5 minutes have passed. Please ensure you have reviewed your computer lock settings to allow for a 5-minute break or longer - if your computer locks, your exam will be terminated.

I’ve never taken an exam on a computer before. How will I know what I need to do?

To aid you in your preparation for your Foundation exam, there is a complimentary tutorial that you can take to familiarise yourself with the software that you will use when you take your exam. You can take this tutorial whenever you wish, and as many times as you like. On the day of the exam, there will be a ten-minute tutorial showing you how to navigate the exam. These ten minutes are not included in your total exam time.

Is my exam open-book?

No. All foundation exams are closed-book exams, meaning you are not allowed to refer to any materials other than what is provided to you during the exam.

Will my exam have on-screen tools?

All exams have an online calculator available, in both standard and scientific format. Online proctored exams also have an online whiteboard for note taking. A physical whiteboard is available to exams within a test centre. The following exams will have on-screen tools specific to the subject:

  • Business Finance – discount tables and formulae
  • Economic and Markets – formulae
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting – formulae

Examples and more information can be found in My Online Learning.

TEST-CENTRE EXAMS

I am anxious about visiting a test centre – what is in place to protect me?

Rigorous measures are being taken within test centres across the globe to ensure the health and safety of members who choose to sit in a test-centre environment. Please visit the Pearson VUE website for up-to-date safety precautions in your region, as these will vary between countries in compliance with the local health authority.

Can I bring my own equipment (such as a mouse or keyboard) to my test-centre exam to avoid shared equipment?

No, you must use the equipment provided at the test centre. However, please be reassured that extensive health and safety measures are in place to ensure your safety and security at all test centres. Please refer to the Pearson VUE website for up-to-date information regarding your local measures.

What do I do if I feel unwell on the day of my test-centre exam?

If you do happen to feel unwell on the day, it is important that you do not attend your appointment – please contact us, and we will work through the options available to you.

What happens if I am running late on the day of my exam?

You are not able to enter the exam room more than 30 minutes after the commencement of the exam - this is to ensure minimal disruption to other candidates. We recommend you aim to arrive at your test centre at least 30 minutes prior to your exam appointment start time.

What can I bring to my test-centre exam?

All Foundation exams are closed book, so you will not be able to refer to your Study Guide or any other materials during the exam.
You are unable to have a pen and paper for note-taking in either exam format. A physical, erasable whiteboard is available at test centres for note-taking.
You may have a calculator with you, so long as it aligns with the requirements outlined on this page.
You must have two original forms of valid and current identification documentation (ID): 
i. your primary ID must be government issued and it must contain your photograph and signature
ii. your secondary ID must contain either your photograph or signature
iii. Full details about your ID requirements can be found on this page

For a full list of what you can and can’t bring with you to your exam, please review your confirmation email from Pearson VUE.

 

What can’t I bring to my test-centre exam?

  • You cannot bring any electronic devices; including mobile telephones, smart phones, pagers, USBs, electronic tablets, laptop computers, electronic dictionaries, personal communication devices such as, and similar to, a Palm® device, electronic scanners or headphones.
  • You cannot bring a wristwatch or handheld watch. Advances in watch technologies, such as the introduction of smart watches, have led to new exam rules - no wrist or handheld watches are allowed into the exam room. Clocks will be available in the exam room or the supervisor will note elapsed time on a white board.
  • You cannot bring a coat, scarf, headwear or other clothing accessory, unless worn for religious purposes, to your examination desk. Coats that are pocket-free and are not bulky may be permitted to be worn. It is at the supervisor's discretion to decide whether an item is acceptable to wear at an examination desk and pockets may be checked.
  • Personal tissues are not permitted into the exam room. There will be tissues available at the venue if required.
  • Food and drink are not permitted into the exam room.

Can I bring a calculator to a test centre?

Yes, you are able to bring a personal calculator to your Test-Centre exam, however it must align to the requirements outlined on this page.

I have an issue with my experience at the test centre, what should I do?

Students who experience exam irregularities at the test centre must register their concerns with the test centre administrator on the day of the exam. All exam irregularities are formally logged and addressed by Pearson VUE and CPA Australia program managers. Note: This information is supplementary to the Foundation Enrolment Rules and Regulations. The Foundation Enrolment Rules and Regulations from time to time will apply to the extent of any inconsistency.

ONLINE PROCTORED EXAMS

Why are online exams not available in my region?

Online exams are delivered by Pearson VUE, our long-term exam delivery partner. Due to a variety of factors, Pearson VUE is unable to offer online exams in all locations globally - meaning candidates in Mainland China, Japan, South Korea and Slovenia must sit a Test-Centre exam.

What is a proctor and why do Foundations exams have them?

  • A 'proctor' is an individual who supervises the completion of an exam via webcam. This has been introduced to ensure a similar experience across both exam formats - as test-centre exams are supervised by an individual at the centre.
  • You will not be able to see your proctor; however, you will be able to communicate with them via a chat function.
  • You proctor may interrupt you, if warranted. It may be to offer a reminder (no talking) or to investigate an incident (please show me your room, your desk, etc.).

How should I prepare for my online exam?

  • Ensure you have access to a suitable environment to undertake an online exam. Your environment must:
    i. be walled, have a closed door, and be free from disruptions
    ii. be clear within arm’s reach – in that you cannot reach anything but your desk and computer
    iii. include no other plugged in monitor beyond the one used for your exam
    iv. be closed to any other individual - no one else can be in or enter the room
  • Select your exam day device - we recommend you do not use a work computer, which may be equipped with strict Firewall software which could prevent the launch of your exam.
  • Check your device is ready using the criteria within this checklist.
  • Undertake this systems test to troubleshoot any technical issues.

What computer or device should I use for my online exam?

 

  • We recommend you do not use a work computer, which may be equipped with strict Firewall software which could prevent the launch of your exam.
  • An Apple Mac or PC is acceptable, in either a desktop or laptop form, and you may connect an external mouse or keyboard if that is your preference (wired, wireless or Bluetooth). Tablets and touchscreen devices are not permitted, nor is a second monitor.
  • Please ensure you have checked your device against the criteria in this list before attempting to launch your exam.

I’m worried my exam environment won’t be acceptable for an online exam – how can I be sure?

  • During the check-in process, you will be asked to take photos of your work area, which will be checked by a ‘greeter’ prior to exam launch. Your greeter will work with you to remedy any concerns on exam day during the check-in process.
  • Before your exam, ensure that your desktop is clean and that you are not within arm’s reach of books, notepads, sticky notes, papers, pens, pencils, and other writing instruments/objects. Additional monitors and computers must be unplugged and turned off. Items on the wall with writing on them, such as whiteboards, will be inspected.
  • A studio apartment will be acceptable as long as it’s quiet and aligns with all the other criteria listed above.

What happens if I fail the room scan/environment check during the online exam check-in process?

A proctor will review your testing environment photos. If they identify any anomalies, such as an additional monitor or a camera, they will ask you to complete a live room scan and will work with to amend any issues. If the issues can’t be resolved and you do not pass the room scan, you will unfortunately not be permitted to proceed with the exam.

What can I have with me during my online exam?

  • All Foundation exams are closed book, so you will not be able to refer to your Study Guide or any other materials during the exam.
  • You are unable to have a pen and paper for note-taking in either exam format. An online whiteboard will be available throughout your exam for note-taking.
  • You may have a calculator with you, so long as it aligns with the requirements outlined on this page.
  • You must have one form of valid and current identification documentation (ID), which is government issued and contains your photograph and signature. Full details about your ID requirements can be found on this page.
 

What can’t I have with me during my online-proctored exam?

  • For a full list of what you can and can’t have with you during your exam, please review your confirmation email from Pearson VUE.
  • You cannot have any electronic devices with you during your exam; pagers, USBs, electronic tablets, laptop computers, electronic dictionaries, personal communication devices such as, and similar to, a Palm® device, electronic scanners, headsets or headphones. You will be able to have your mobile phone with you throughout your exam check-in process, however, once you have completed this process, you will need to move your phone out of reach.
  • Watches must be removed and placed out of sight/reach during the exam.
  • You cannot wear a coat, scarf, headwear or other clothing accessory, unless worn for religious purposes, to your examination desk.
 

What should I do with my mobile phone during my online exam?

  • During the check-in process:
    You may use your mobile phone during the check in process to take photos of yourself, your ID and your testing environment. After you have completed the check-in process, turn your phone on silent or vibrate to minimise disruptions and move it out of reach.
  • After the check-in process:
    If you lose connection during your exam, your proctor may need to contact you. This will only occur if you cannot be reached via the online exam chat function. Only then are you allowed to leave your desk and answer your phone. If your phone starts vibrating during your exam and you are not experiencing technical issues, you must ignore the call.
 

Can I eat or drink during my online proctored exam?

Only water in a clear glass is allowed during your online proctored exam.
 

Can I wear earplugs during my online proctored exam?

No, earplugs or headphones of any kind are not permitted in an online proctored exam.
 

How do I ask for help if something goes wrong during my online proctored exam?

If you encounter technical issues or have other concerns during your exam you can contact your proctor via the exam chat function. You may not leave the room to call CPA Australia. You may not allow another person into your exam space while you are undertaking your exam.

What do I do if I lose connection during my exam or my internet drops out?

  • We strongly recommend a wired internet connection for online proctored exams, to minimise the risk of internet connectivity issues. 
  • Before scheduling or undertaking an online proctored exam, make sure to complete this systems test – this will advise if your internet is stable and will be acceptable for an online proctored exam.
  • If you do happen to lose connection to your exam momentarily – whether due to internet issues or a loss of power, your exam will temporarily shut down. Once you regain internet or power, you will be able to relaunch your exam from where you left off – your progress will have been saved.
  • Once you click ‘Relaunch’, a proctor may contact you via your computer to help you recommence your exam. 
  • You will have unlimited opportunities to relaunch your exam if you encounter any issues, and your exam timer will only restart once you have relaunched your exam.

How do I access and check-in to my online proctored exam on the day?

  • You will be able to start checking in for your exam 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
  • To access your exam, go to My CPA Program, and select ‘Manage Exam’ for the subject for which you have an appointment. You will be taken to the exam delivery website.
  • The exam you are scheduled to take will appear once you log in to your account. Select the exam link and then select “Check In.” If the “Check In” button is not visible, you are either too early or too late for your exam. Please check your appointment details to make sure you’re trying to start at the proper time.
  • You will be asked to download OnVUE, the online proctoring software, if you haven’t before. Follow the prompts in the application to complete the required check-in steps.
  • Have your acceptable ID available so that the proctor can verify your identity.
  • Shut down any non‐essential applications such as email, chat, Facebook, and Skype.
  • The check-in process takes approximately 15 minutes for candidates who have previously completed a system test, and will include the following steps:
    i. An abbreviated systems test will be undertaken, to verify that your microphone is working, that you have a stable internet connection, and that your webcam can stream video.
    ii. The OnVUE software will then guide you to use your phone or webcam to take photos of your government-issued ID and your testing environment, as well as a headshot. This will include a photo of your desk with your personal calculator visible (if using); a photo of the area to the left of your screen; a photo of the area to the right of your screen; and a photo of the area behind you
    iii. Your photos will be reviewed, and your exam will be queued up.
    iv. If your pictures don’t pass review, you’ll be joined by a greeter as soon as possible to help you troubleshoot.
    v. If you pass the check-in process, the secure browser and exam will launch.
  • You will be placed in a queue and connected with the next available proctor to begin your exam. The proctor will monitor you remotely throughout the entire exam to ensure you abide by the exam rules, to document any security concerns, and to assist you if you encounter any technical issues. The proctor will also ‘dismiss’ you once you finish your exam.

Can I have a calculator with me during my online proctored exam?

Yes, you are able to have a single personal calculator with you during your online exam, however it must meet the requirements outlined on this page.

How should I take notes or do workings?

An online whiteboard will be available for note-taking and workings during your online-proctored exam.

How will I know my exam has been submitted in the online-proctored environment?

Each answer is recorded as it is completed, once you move on to the next (or another) question. Once you are happy with your exam and you are ready to finish, click ‘End Exam’, and your answers will be submitted for scoring. If you run out of time to complete your exam, you will receive a message indicating that time has run out. After clicking OK, you will be taken to a screen to end your exam. Once you have completed your exam, you can commence the exam survey.