The CPA Exam is administered by Prometric testing centers. These centers are very structured and rigidly consistent in their testing approach, so there shouldn’t be any surprises when you show up. So what can you expect and what do you need to know before test day during COVID-19?
When you arrive, you will check-in at the front desk. A staff member will compare your notice to schedule (NTS) to your ID and against your Prometric registration form. (Note: You would have registered online ahead of time.) Then he or she will give you a key so you can store any items you brought in your assigned locker. The only items permitted in the testing room with you are your locker key, ID, and the pencils and scratch paper provided by Prometric; everything else must be stored in a small locker. After you place everything in your locker, there may be a brief wait before you are called up for your biometric testing. At this point, a staff member will take a picture, obtain your fingerprints, and have you empty your pockets, roll up your sleeves, and otherwise ensure you are not hiding anything. Before you enter the testing room, they will remind you of your testing breaks, as well as the relevant policies and procedures, and give you a chance to ask any questions. You will be directed to your assigned computer station, at which point you will enter your exam code and begin. The first few screens will be administrative. As you progress through the exam, if you need to take a break or need a new scratch paper or pencils, the center will typically have you raise your hand and a staff member will assist you accordingly. As you may expect, there is no talking in the testing area!
To bring and not to bring
- Your ID – specifically a valid, unexpired (unless expired after February 1, 2020) and original government-issued photo ID with a signature; DO NOT FORGET THIS.
- Your NTS; DO NOT FORGET THIS. Also, the name on your NTS must match the name on your ID exactly.
- Water and snacks, just realize that you can only access those on your breaks; you cannot take them into the testing room with you
- Glasses, if you wear glasses. But just know that they will be inspected each time you enter and re-enter the testing room
- A mask
- Anything in your pockets. You’ll be required to empty your pockets of anything and everything
- Jewelry other than a wedding ring and/or engagement ring
- Your calculator, pen, pencil, paper, or anything like that. If you do, you’ll just be required to leave them in your locker
e would highly recommend you arrive at the testing center early, including mapping out your route ahead of time and checking traffic well before you leave. For one thing, it is less stressful to arrive early and have plenty of time to get checked in rather than cutting it close. But also, many testing sites will let you begin your test early as well.
Arriving early doesn’t mean you will be sitting around wasting time; you’ll likely be able to begin your exam earlier and, therefore, finish earlier too.
The clock only stops ticking during your one allotted break halfway through the exam, so while it’s a good idea to stay hydrated and eat a healthy meal beforehand, don’t overdo the liquid intake or eat anything that might upset your stomach. You can take other breaks, but the clock will keep ticking. On an aside, we highly recommend you do take this one break; your brain needs it!
If you trade in a used up piece of scratch paper for a new one, make sure to write your exam code on the new one too. If you take a break, you are required to re-enter your exam code before beginning again, and the last thing you want is to not have that code with you.
Don’t check your phone or notes or anything during your break. If caught doing so, your score will be voided. Don’t compromise your score because you want to check something; whatever it is can wait! Use your breaks for what they are intended for: to get food or water, use the restroom, and relax for a few minutes.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes to various Prometric testing center procedures. Prometric testing centers were shut down for some time starting in mid-March. While testing centers are now re-opened, not all sites are open nor are all sites operating at full capacity. If your test was canceled or rescheduled, you may have had your exam rescheduled by Prometric. You are permitted to change your testing slot one time without paying the usual rescheduling fee. In addition, if you cannot take your exam due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, you can fill out a refund request form on the Prometric website.
Prometric is following government mandates on the federal, state, and local levels and all test takers are, similarly, expected to follow all government mandates. Therefore, candidates:
- Must wear a mask the entire time they are in the Prometric building or their test will be terminated (Note: Masks cannot have valves.)
- Cannot sit for the exam if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, exposed to someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, recently returned from a high infection area, or have flu or cold-like symptoms
- Are asked to practice good hygiene and wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
Prometric employees will be wearing masks at all times and all Prometric facility high-touch areas are cleaned each morning, evening, and between each test. Also, all monitoring will be done via DVR, test takers will be seated far apart from one another, and the staff will record when test-takers come in and out of the testing room for breaks rather than having test-takers sign themselves in and out.
To read more on Prometric policies and procedures, contact Prometric, access forms, or view a list of open sites, click here.
The other people testing at the Prometric center are testing for multiple different exams, not just the CPA exam. So other people will have different schedules, breaks, requirements, etc. then you do. Don’t let that throw you off! Just do your own thing and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. They may finish hours before you because they’re taking a much shorter exam.
Prometric will send you very detailed instructions before your test. Please read and follow those carefully. But before you even reach Prometric, you need to be thoroughly equipped with knowledge of the CPA Exam material, and we’d love to help with that. See Yaeger’s top-rated and competitively-priced CPA review course here.