CPA PEP – What To Expect When You Write Your Exam At Home

I wrote a post about my experience after I wrote my CPA Core 2 exam at home in June. Fast-forward 5 months, I am writing my Finance exam at home again in less than 3 weeks. I got an email from CPAWSB yesterday detailing what the procedures will be for the December exams and thought I will share the information here with you.

For the scheduled start time for your exam from Dec 15 to 22, check out the CPA Canada’s document here. Note, exam times are in EDT so make sure you convert the time to your local time zone.

What Do You Need To Do Days Before The Exam?

Candidates should have access to a completely separate module on CPA D2L in the first week of December. The module will be named December 2020 – [Module Name] Exam Module (WS). For example, for Finance, mine will be called December 2020 Finance Exam Module (WS). Click around the module to get familiar with the layout as your cases will be available for download in the module on your exam day.


There will also be a number of documents for you to review and download. They are:

Policy Statement and Agreement Regarding Examination Confidentiality: this is something candidates need to sign electronically and upload to the Dropbox under the exam module at least one week before your exam; I strongly recommend you reading, signing and uploading the document ASAP so you have one less thing to worry about as we get closer to exam day

Reference Schedule (if applicable): this is the “formula sheet” candidates were given when they wrote the exam in-person; depending on your module, you may or may not end up using it. However, I strongly recommend you print it out as it was quite handy for me when I needed the CCA formula for my Core 2 exam (instead of opening up the PDF on my computer screen)

Examination Regulations: rules related to the exam – read it a couple of times to make sure you are aware of the rules; there is no further action required

Exam Instructions: detailed instructions related to your exam including contact for IT issues during the exam; last time, a detailed time table was also provided which I thought would be very useful for candidates as the exam is self-monitored (meaning, no one will tell you when time is up); I suggest you to revise the provided version to include relevant times for only your exam (as modules have different cases’ lengths).

~ More CPA Posts ~
CPA PEP Core 1 – How to Study for the Module and the Exam
CPA PERT – Ultimate Guide on How to Get Your First Experience Report via EVR Approved
CPA PERT – Enabling Competencies Examples
Densmore for CPA PEP – Are The PEP Essentials Packages Worth It?
CPA PEP Module – Regular Module or Extended Module?

What Is The Exam Day Like?

All modules have the same 9 AM PST start time. However, the end times vary. For Core modules, the exam finishes at 11:30 AM PST; for elective, the exam finishes at 12:50 PM PST.

I woke up about 3 hours before my Core 2 exam in June and had breakfast. I then showered and got dressed to wake myself up fully. If you read my previous post, you would know that I actually had a hard time sitting still waiting for the exam to start. I mentioned how I was anxious even though I don’t normally get anxious on exam days. That was because there was literally nothing better to do other than waiting for the exam to start. Therefore, my suggestion is to plan out your morning before the exam so you aren’t just sitting there.

Then, check your internet and have back up internet (e.g., hotspot with your phone’s data) ready just in case. For Android users, check out this guide; Apple users, here. If you are paranoid (like me), try to have an extra computer ready too.

The PDF to the first case will be ready 5 minutes before the exam’s start time. You might encounter internet traffic when that happens because all candidates will be trying to download at once. Don’t panic and just keep loading. It took me the full 5 minutes to download the first case last time (second case was much faster).

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Remember to note the IT contact found in the Exam Instructions beforehand so you know who to contact if something goes wrong. At the same time, if Knotia or something else isn’t working during the exam (this happened in June 2020 to Core 1 writers), remain calm and try not to spend too much time figuring it out. This is because it is likely an issue everyone is experiencing and your best course of action is to move forward without whatever it is. CPA assessed the exam with the issue into consideration so you will not be at a disadvantage.

After you submit your first case, you will have a 25-minute break. I suggest taking this time for a quick bite (especially for elective exam writers as the exam doesn’t end until 1 PM) and stretch. Don’t go too far as you will want to be ready 5 minutes before your second case’s start time to download your next case.

Once time is up, submit your second case and start partying (safely in a social distanced manner)! Since all exams are on a weekday except for Assurance, I guess the celebration might have to wait until the weekend.

What Happens After The Exam?

Christmas 🎅🎄🎁

In fact, my last company held our department holiday party on the same day as my in-person Core 1 exam. I planned on attending (as I also helped plan) until it hit me after the exam how exhausted I was. I took Core 1 at regular pace (8 weeks) and I did nothing but working and studying for 2 months. For Core 2, since I took the extended version, I did not feel remotely the same exhaustion as I did for Core 1. However, depending on your situation, you might not experience fatigue until after the exam as all your adrenaline is gone.

RELATED – What Is The Extended Module And How Does It Work Exactly?

Therefore, my suggestion to you is to avoid planning anything immediately after the exam. If you normally cook, order take-out as a treat. If you plan on going back to work, consider taking the entire day off. Regardless of the pace you did the module in, you deserve a break after all the hard work.

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