Certified Payroll Professional Practice Test
The American Payroll Association (APA) administers the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) exam as a credential to certify the competence and integrity of payroll specialists. The CPP exam assesses the test taker’s knowledge of applicable federal statutes, taxes, and regulations related to workplace payroll preparation.
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To be eligible to take the exam, you must meet at least ONE of the following requirements:
- You must have at least three years of payroll practice within the last five years.
- You must have been employed in the practice of payroll for at least the last 24 months and completed all of the courses within one of the three options provided by the APA.
- You must have been employed in the practice of payroll for at least the last 18 months, obtained the FPC designation, and completed all of the courses within one of the three options provided by the APA.
Exam Outline Review
The Certified Payroll Professional exam contains 190 multiple-choice questions, 25 of which are unscored, and you are given a four-hour time limit. The unscored questions, which are called “pretest” questions, are used for statistical purposes only and are scattered at random throughout the exam.
The exam is split into seven sections:
- Core Payroll Concepts (24%)
- Compliance/Research and Resources (16%)
- Calculation of the Paycheck (20%)
- Payroll Process and Supporting Systems and Administration (12%)
- Payroll Administration and Management (10%)
- Audits (9%)
- Accounting (9%)
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To register to take the exam, you must first submit an application to the APA online (preferred), via email, via fax, or via US mail.
Once your application has been approved, you will have one year to schedule and take the exam. During this process, you will need to pay the examination fee, which is $380 for APA members and $550 for non-members.
You should arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled exam time to allow enough time for the check-in process. Once you arrive, you will be asked to provide two forms of valid identification, one of which must be a government-issued photo ID. Once your identification has been verified, your digital signature, palm vein scan, and photograph will be taken.
The only personal item you will be allowed to take with you to the testing area is a calculator, whether your own or one provided by the testing center. All other personal items and study materials must be left outside of the testing area.
Before the exam begins, you will be given a practice exam to ensure you are familiar with the exam format and the computer system used for the exam. The real exam will begin once the tutorial is complete.
Before the day of the exam, you should run the system test provided by Pearson VUE to ensure that your computer setup is compatible and suitable for testing.
You should log in to your APA account 15-30 minutes before your exam is scheduled to begin. A greeter will ask you to provide two forms of valid identification, one of which must be a government-issued photo ID, and you will need to use your webcam to scan your testing area.
Once you are ready, the proctor will instruct you on how to proceed.
How the Exam is Scored
The scores for the Certified Payroll Professional exam are determined by using the Bookmark standard-setting method. This method takes the difficulty levels of each question into account and the fact that each administration of the CPP exam is slightly different.
Your raw score (the number of questions you answered correctly) is converted to a scaled score. You must achieve a scaled score of at least 300 to pass.
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How many questions are on the Certified Payroll Professional exam?
There are 190 multiple-choice questions on the exam, 25 of which are unscored.
How long is the Certified Payroll Professional exam?
The time limit for this exam is four hours.
What is the passing score for the Certified Payroll Professional exam?
To pass the exam, you must achieve a scaled score of at least 300.
How much does the Certified Payroll Professional exam cost?
The examination fee is $380 for APA members and $550 for non-members.
How difficult is the Certified Payroll Professional exam?
This exam is considered to be moderately difficult. The APA recommends studying for at least a few months before you take the exam.
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