We understand that exams can be stressful. You’ve studied hard, so it’s important that you prepare yourself, know what to expect on exam day, and what your exam results mean for you.

Getting to the exam venue

Get off to a good start by making sure that you know exactly how to get to your exam venue. Plan to arrive at the test centre at least 15 minutes before your exam and allow for possible delays with public transport or traffic.

Key information about your exam location can be found in the appointment confirmation email that was sent to you after you scheduled your exam. This information will also be included in the reminder email that you receive seven (7) days prior to your appointment.

What to expect on exam day

Upon your arrival to the test centre:

  • your ID will be checked to ensure it is valid. That is, not expired and matches your enrolment and scheduling data in the Pearson VUE system
  • you will provide your signature on a digital signature pad, or a back-up signature sheet, and the test centre employees will check that the signature matches your ID
  • your photograph may be taken by a digital camera and stored for any future verification purposes
  • the test centre employees will show you where to store your belongings. No personal items are permitted to be taken into the testing room
  • you will be given an erasable whiteboard and pen to use for any rough work
  • you will be admitted to the testing room.

You will not be permitted to waive the digital signature or photograph requirement.

Steps Max.time allowed

1. Admission to the test centre and exam room

When you arrive at the test centre, you’ll be taken through the admissions process.

15 minutes

2. Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

You must accept the NDA to take your exam. If you decline the NDA, your exam will end, and you will need to re-enrol and pay to take the exam again.

5 minutes

3. Exam tutorial

A short tutorial showing you how to navigate your way through the exam will be presented before your exam commences.

10 minutes

4. Exam

When you’ve been admitted to the testing room, the Test Administrator will start your exam. Don’t worry if other students are starting their exam at a different time to you as all students will get the same amount of time to complete their exam.

3 hours and 15 minutes

5. Survey

After completing your exam, an online survey will appear on your screen, this should only take a few minutes to complete.

15 minutes

6. Candidate exam report

After completing your exam, you will receive a printed student feedback report at the test centre. This report will give you your score in relation to the passing score and provide further detail about your performance under each learning objective.

5 minutes

Identification requirements

You must provide two original forms of valid and current identification (ID) to enter the venue for the exam.

  1. Primary ID – must be government issued and it must contain your photograph and signature
  2. Secondary ID – must contain either your photograph or signature

The name on your ID must exactly match the name on your member profile with CPA Australia. If you need to update your profile, you must contact us at least five business days before your scheduled exam appointment.

Primary ID

  • Driver’s license
  • Learner’s permit (plastic card with photo and signature)
  • National, state, or country identification card
  • Passport
  • Passport cards
  • Military identification
  • Military identification for spouses and dependent
  • Alien registration card (green card, permanent resident visa)
  • Government-issued local language identification (plastic card with photo and signature)

Secondary ID 

  • Debit (ATM) card
  • Credit card
  • Any form of primary ID

Note: Students in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore or Vietnam are permitted to use their national ID card, even though no signature is present.

Personal items

You will not be allowed to take personal belongings into the testing room, other than a calculator if required. Personal belongings include, but are not limited to:

  • some items of clothing and jewellery – for example, jackets, large pieces of jewellery, or jewellery that could disturb others by making a noise
  • food and drink, including water
  • paper and pens – an erasable whiteboard and pen is available for rough work
  • mobile phones, tablets, iPads and PDAs
  • purses and wallets
  • watches
  • bags.

If you need to access water or medicines during the exam, you can take an unscheduled break by raising your hand to get the attention of the test administrator. The exam timer will not stop during unscheduled breaks.

What to expect on exam day

What to expect on the day of your exam

View transcript (PDF)

About your exam

Your foundation exam will be:

  • offered by computer-based testing
  • a multiple-choice, with 100 questions. Each question has four options with only one correct answer
  • three (3) hours and fifteen (15) minutes in duration, with no reading time
  • in a closed-book environment
  • delivered with a random order of exam questions for each student.

Each foundation exam has an on-screen scientific calculator available to view at any time during your exam. If you wish, you are permitted to bring your own calculator (a device with the sole purpose of calculation) into your exam.

Some exams may have on screen tools to assist you, such as formula and discount tables. You can familiarise yourself with the tools available for your subject under “Learning Support Resources” in My Online Learning.

If you’d like to take a break during your exam, the timer will not stop, and you will not be able to have time added. If you need to leave the testing room, you should remain seated and raise your hand to get the attention of the test administrator who will assist and accompany you. You are not allowed to access any study materials, mobile phone or other personal belongings during your exam.

How your foundation exam is developed

How your foundation exam is developed
Find out how your CPA Australia foundation exam is put together.

View transcript (PDF)

Tips for exam day

Watch your time

As soon as you begin the exam, the clock in the top right-hand corner of the screen begins to count down. Watch your time carefully. We recommend you develop an exam time management technique, calculating how long to spend on each question and allow for 10 minutes of review time before your exam concludes.

Attempt all questions

Attempt every question – marks are not deducted for incomplete answers. You can flag questions and return to them easily once you have viewed all exam questions.

Read questions carefully

  • Read each question carefully and attempt to calculate the answer before you read the multiple-choice answers provided, as referring to these first may confuse you.
  • Take note of important terms and dates in the question to ensure that you focus on exactly what is being asked.
  • Be careful with numerical questions, as the distractors are designed to match answers that incorporate common errors.
  • Check that your calculation is correct. Have you followed the requirement exactly? Have you included every stage of the calculation?
  • You may find that none of the options matches your answer:
    • re-read the question to ensure that you understand it and are answering the requirement
    • eliminate any obviously wrong answers.
    • consider which of the remaining answers is the most likely to be correct and select that option.

Revisit unanswered questions

When you come back to a question after a break, you often find you are able to answer it correctly straight away. If you are still unsure, have a guess – you are not penalised for incorrect answers, so never leave a question unanswered.

Marking your foundation exam 

Our video demystifies the exam process and introduces you to the people and processes responsible for ensuring the accuracy, integrity and security of the foundation exams. 

Marking your foundation exam

View transcript (PDF)

Understanding your exam results

After completing your exam, you will receive a printed student feedback report at the test centre. This report will give you your score in relation to the passing score and provide further detail about your performance under each learning objective. Your results can also be accessed online.

Access your results

Your scaled score

At CPA Australia we use a scaled score assessment model to assess exams. The scaled score range is 100 – 900 across all subjects, with the pass mark set at 540.

Understanding scaled scoring

Understanding your score
At CPA Australia, we use scaled scoring to make sure everyone is given the same opportunity to succeed in their exam. Our new video explains how scaled scoring works, and shows you how to interpret your Candidate Exam Report. Watch it today.

View transcript (PDF)

What to do if you’re disappointed with your result

Though it can be unsettling when you've not performed as well as you had intended, it’s important to remember that a scaled score indicates your exam performance more accurately, regardless of the exam version you sat.

Due to the rigorous procedures outlined above, we have a firm policy that we do not re-mark our exams.

If you have failed an exam, your exam report will demonstrate your performance against each of the learning objectives tested. This will help you focus your study next time you attempt your exam. We also have extra resources available from our registered tuition partners to improve the probability of an improved exam result the next time you sit.