Preparing for the APA® Exam
What Content is Covered in the APA® Exam?
The exam content outline for the APA® certification program is updated each time that the APA® Board of Examiners conducts a job analysis study for the certification program, which typically occurs every 3-5 years. Conducting an analysis of the petroleum accounting profession ensures that the examination stays current and relevant and reflects the key knowledge required for the job of a petroleum accountant as it is being practiced in the field.
The APA® exam content outline is the blueprint for the construction of the APA® certification exam, and is divided into major categories of knowledge called domains. Each of these content domains is divided into more focused areas of knowledge called subdomains, and each subdomain has very specific pieces of knowledge associated with it. This content outline is based on a national study of petroleum accounting professionals and delineates all of the key knowledge required for competent performance as an APA®. It also provides information about which content domains are most important for the overall job performance of an APA® and are therefore weighted the most heavily on the exam.
The overview of the APA® exam content outline that appears below includes the content domains and subdomains, as well as the percentage exam questions devoted to each domain. A more detailed APA® exam content outline that includes knowledge statements can be found in Exhibit A.
Domain I: Fundamentals of Oil and Gas Accounting – 13%
- Value Chain
- Industry Sectors
- Health, Safety, Environmental
Domain II: General Accounting (Upstream, Midstream, Downstream) – 22%
- Fixed Assets
- Asset Retirement Obligation (ARO)
- Acquisition and Divestitures
- Key Industry Metrics
Domain III: Upstream – 38%
- Successful Efforts vs Full Cost
- Land and Leasing
- Upstream Revenue
- Joint Interest
Domain IV: Midstream – 17%
- Types of Revenue Streams
- Natural Gas
Domain V: Downstream – 10%
- Hydrocarbons Inventory Management
- Marketing (Wholesale/Retail)
Is there an APA® Certification Exam Resource List?
The list of resources for the APA® certification exam is provided below. These resources are intended to help candidates prepare for professions in petroleum accounting. While these materials help candidates prepare for the APA® certification exam, it is critical that candidates view these materials as helpful resources rather than the sole authority for a particular profession or examination. Please check on the COPAS website (www.copas.org) for current pricing.
Commercially Published Resources
- Fundamentals of Petroleum, Edited by Debby Denehy, University of Texas, Austin, 5th Ed., 2011
- Oil and Gas Law in a Nutshell, John S. Lowe, West Group, 6th Ed., 2014
- Petroleum Accounting Principles, Procedures, and Issues, Brady, etal, PDI, 7th Ed., 2011
- Petroleum Refining in Nontechnical Language, William Leffler, Pennwell, 4th Ed., 2008
COPAS Published Resources
- AG-6 Oil Accounting Manual
- AG-9 Vendor Audits
- AG-10 Investigation of Suspected Irregularities
- AG-11 Internal Audits of Exploration and Producing Divisions
- AG-12 Determining Finding, Development, and Acquisition Costs
- AG-13 Accounting for Farmouts/Farmins, Net Profits Interest and Carried Interests
- AG-15 Gas Accounting Manual
- AG-16 Internal Audits of Gas Plants
- AG-17 Refining and Marketing Exchange Accounting
- AG-18 Revenue Variance Analysis
- AG-19 Expenditure Audit Protocols
- AG-21 Revenue Audit Protocols
- MFI-17 COPAS 1984 Model Form Accounting Procedure Interpretation
- MFI-21 Overhead Principles MFI-38 Materials Manual
- MFI-51 COPAS 2005 Model Form Accounting Procedure Interpretation
- TR-9 Petroleum Industry Accounting Educational Training Guide
- TR-34 Managerial Accounting and Economics Study Guide
Taking the APA® Exam
Who is the APA® Exam Testing Service Provider?
The APA® Board of Examiners utilizes the services of Scantron Corporation (Scantron), formerly Castle Worldwide, Inc., to develop, administer, score, and provide statistical and psychometric consultation and reporting for the APA® certification exam. Scantron is located at the following address:
What is the APA® Exam Retake Policy?
Candidates who do not pass a certification examination are eligible to sit for the exam during subsequent testing windows for the retake fee of $375 for a period of one year after the date of the failed examination. After this one-year period, the candidate must submit the first-time candidate exam fee. Candidates who do not pass may NOT retake the exam within the same testing window as the failed examination.
What is the APA® Exam No Show Policy?
A candidate who does not appear for the scheduled testing appointment and has not contacted Scantron to cancel or to reschedule with at least four (4) business days’ notice will be considered a no-show. No refunds will be given.
Accessibility Questions and the APA® Exam
Can I Get Special Accommodations for My APA® Exam?
Americans With Disability Act And Special Accommodations
COPAS, Scantron, and any contracted testing center will make every effort possible to offer special accommodation for candidates with visual, sensory, physical, or other disabilities that would prevent a candidate from taking the examination under standard conditions. According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), documentation of the disability must be submitted by a professional qualified to diagnose the disability. Requests for special accommodations, including the description of the accommodation desired, must be included with the required registration information. COPAS, Scantron and/or the testing facility reserves the right to determine if the requested accommodation is reasonable.
Candidates requesting special testing accommodations should contact the APA® Administrator directly for assistance in the registration process no later than sixty (60) days prior to the preferred examination date because the special accommodation request will require the approval through the contracted testing facility. The confirmation process for special accommodation registrations may result in the confirmation email to candidates being received within three (3) business days after the registration is initially processed. On occasion, special accommodations cannot be made on the requested exam date or at the requested location. In this instance, the APA® Administrator will contact the candidate directly for alternate testing locations, dates or times. NOTE: The APA® Certification Examination is currently offered in English only. If English is not a first language, no special accommodations will be made.Are There APA® International Certification Exams?
APA® Exam Fees and Policies
What are the APA® Certification Exam Fees?
All exam fees will be received by COPAS through the registration process for the certification exam, except for the Practice Exam Fee. The Practice Exam Fee will be received by Scantron.
Retail Exam Pricing – Us And Canada
|First Time (COPAS)||$425.00|
|Administrative Fee (ineligibility or failure to schedule)||$50.00|
|Reschedule/Cancellation Fee (minimum of 4 days in advance) (Scantron)||$50.00|
|Retake (COPAS) within one year of first testing window if failed; cannot retake within same window||$375.00|
|Practice Exam (Scantron)||$75.00|
|Late Registration Fee (within 30 days of testing window) (COPAS)||$75.00|
|No Show Fee (no reschedule or cancellation of appointment)||$425.00|
Retail Exam Pricing – International
|First Time (COPAS)||$425.00|
|Administrative Fee (ineligibility or failure to schedule)||$50.00|
|International Surcharge (Scantron)||$150.00|
|Reschedule (Scantron) intl to intl||$50.00|
|Reschedule (Scantron) intl to domestic, refund 50% of intl surcharge||$75.00|
|Reschedule (Scantron) domestic to Intl ($50 reschedule + $150 Intl surcharge)||$200.00|
|International Cancellation Fee (minimum of 4 days in advance) (Scantron)||$75.00|
|Retake International Surcharge (Scantron)||$150.00|
What is the Policy for Cancellations, Rescheduling, And No-shows?
If a candidate is unable to sit for an examination on the date for which they registered, the candidate may cancel or reschedule a testing session up to four (4) business days in advance of the testing appointment. The candidate must submit the request through Scantron’s online scheduling system to cancel or reschedule the session. The fee to reschedule an exam is $50 in the U.S. and Canada, and $50 from country to country. If the original testing site was scheduled in the US or Canada and the request is made to move to an international test site, a rescheduling fee of $50 will be charged AND the $150 International Surcharge will apply. If the original test site was scheduled as an international site and the request for, reschedule is made for a US or Canada testing site, a reimbursement of one half of the International Surcharge, or $75, will be refunded to the candidate.
Candidates may only reschedule their examination appointment once. Candidates rescheduling to a later date will receive an approval or unavailability email notification within 2–3 business days of submitting a request for a new testing session. If the candidate’s preferred date/location is unavailable, the candidate will be prompted to make a new selection.
Exceptions to the reschedule fee will be considered on a case-by-case basis only for documented cases of serious illness, bereavement, natural disasters, and other true emergencies. In these instances, candidates must contact the APA® Administrator prior to or the day of the exam date. Candidates must then provide proper documentation verifying the reason for missing the scheduled APA® examination. Candidates must work with the APA® Administrator for assistance in rescheduling their exam date.
If a cancellation or rescheduling request is made fewer than four (4) business days in advance of the scheduled testing appointment, no refunds will be provided and the No Show Policy will apply.
What is the APA® Exam Refund Policy?
Exam refunds will be considered on a case-by-case basis for documented cases of serious illness, bereavement, natural disasters, and other emergencies. In these instances, candidates must electronically date-stamp or postmark their request no later than 30 days after their examination date and provide any and all supporting documentation. With proper documentation, candidates will be offered the option to apply their examination fee towards a future registration to be scheduled within the next testing window or request a refund less the Administrative Fee. If a candidate fails to select a testing appointment after the initial registration process and requests a refund, a refund will be given less the Administrative Fee.
Appeals and Disciplinary Action
What are the APA® Professional Practices And Disciplinary Procedures?
The disciplinary procedures of the APA® Board of Examiners are intended to ensure that APA® Certified Professionals and candidates for certification uphold the principles of professional conduct set forth in the APA® Code of Ethics. The discovery or report of the following actions by a certificate holder or candidate will initiate disciplinary proceedings by the APA® Board of Examiners. This list is not all-inclusive and other actions may also be considered appropriate for investigation.
- Falsely claiming eligibility for certification.
- Irregularity in connection with any certification examination.
- Unauthorized possession, use, access, or distribution of certification examinations, examination items or questions, score reports, trademarks, logos, written materials, answer sheets, certificates, certificate holder or applicant files, or other confidential or proprietary APA® documents or materials (registered or otherwise).
- Material misrepresentation or fraud in any statement to the APA® Board of Examiners or to the public, including but not limited to statements made to assist the applicant, certificate holder, or another to apply for, obtain, or retain certification.
- Negligent and/or intentional misconduct in professional work, including, but not limited to, a breach of ethical standards or the APA® Code of Ethics or the unauthorized release of confidential information.
- The timely conviction, plea of guilty, or plea of nolo contendere in connection with a felony or misdemeanor.
What is the Punishment for an Eligibility Infraction?
Candidates are expected to provide accurate and verifiable information regarding eligibility to register for and take the APA® Examination for Certification. Any person who applies to sit for the APA® Exam using fraudulent information will be subjected to denial or suspension of eligibility to sit for the examination.
What are the Punishments for Confidentiality Policy, Cheating And Other Testing Violations?
All APA® examinations are legally defensible, proctored examinations ensuring candidates the most valid test experience. A candidate may be disqualified from taking or continuing in the examination process, or from receiving exam results, if APA® Board of Examiners, Scantron, Scantron proctors, or personnel at the contracted testing center have determined at any time during the exam registration, administration, or scoring process, through examiner observation or statistical analysis that a candidate was engaged in collaborative, disruptive, or other unacceptable behavior before, during, or following the administration of the APA® exam. This includes irregular behavior associated with any aspect of the examination and violations of the APA ® Code of Ethics. Any irregularity could result in denial of eligibility and/or revocation of an earned certificate.
The purpose of the APA® examination is to protect the public and other stakeholders against ineffective practices and procedures. The examination is intended to ensure minimal entry-level competency of professional petroleum accountants. Sharing of examination information with and between candidates, compromises the validity of the examination. Consequently, in order to maintain the integrity and security of the APA® examination, examination questions, answer sheets, answers, or other source materials are never released to candidates under any circumstance.
Candidates are expected to prepare and pass the examination on their own merit. Candidates who intentionally pursue examination information beyond what is legally and ethically shared by COPAS, COPAS employees, and/ or the Board of Examiners including pursuit of previous examination candidates, are considered to be engaging in unethical acts and will be disqualified from eligibility. Previous exam candidates who share exam information with future exam candidates undermine the very purpose of the exam. This action would constitute cheating and be subject to revocation and non-renewal of the certificate.
All candidates who take the APA® examination voluntarily agree to maintain examination confidentiality and are contractually obligated to uphold this agreement. Should any confidentiality agreement be violated, the culpable person or persons will be subject to the disciplinary actions noted above.
How are APA® Disciplinary Proceedings Handled?
If a complaint is filed or discovery is made regarding any activity, infraction, or violation against any policy in this Handbook or against the APA® Code of Ethics, the APA® Administrator will review the accusation, infraction, or violation to determine merit. If the complaint, irregularity, or discovery appears to have merit, an investigation of the matter will be made by the APA® Administrator and the COPAS Executive Director and the accused party will be notified in writing of the accusation. The accused will have fifteen (15) business days to respond to the accusation.
Once the response is received from the accused, the information will be reviewed by the APA® Board of Examiners, including a liaison to the COPAS Board of Directors. If the investigation confirms the accusation, there will be a hearing of the complainant and the accused before the APA® Board of Examiners and COPAS Board of Directors. Failure of either the complainant or the accused to attend the meeting shall not prevent the hearing from being held, reviewing the matter and making a decision based on the evidence available at the meeting.
At the hearing, a vote shall be taken to:
- Dismiss the complaint
- Censure the credential holder or
- Suspension of the certification and rights to use the credential designation
A vote to censure a certificate holder shall require a vote of 2/3 of the members of the APA® Board of Examiners and COPAS Board of Directors, jointly. A vote to suspend the certification shall require a vote of 3/4 of the members of the APA® Board of Examiners and COPAS Board of Directors, jointly. The decision of the APA® Board of Directors and COPAS Board of Directors will be final and the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
A certificate holder who has had the credential suspended shall be eligible to have the credential and right to use the designation reinstated three years after the date of the decision to have the credential suspended under the following conditions:
- The individual is employed in the petroleum industry as evidenced by a letter from their employer
- Evidence of Continued Professional Education (CPE) Hours achieved as established above during the suspension period is provided, and
- Renewal Fees are paid during the suspension period
How Can I Appeal For Denied Eligibility?
The APA® Board of Examiners reserves the right to reject any registration application that does not meet the specified eligibility requirements. If a registration application for the APA® certification exam is not accepted, an individual can appeal and request the application be reviewed again. The appeal must include a detailed explanation of the reason(s) why the individual believes they should be eligible, plus all supporting documentation. Submit all eligibility appeals for review via mail or email to:
APA® Exam Administrator
PO Box 21272
Wichita, KS 67208
Eligibility appeals will be reviewed by the BOE and responded to within thirty (30) working days of their receipt. Individuals submitting the appeal will receive notice that their eligibility appeal was either “approved” with instructions for moving forward with exam registration, or “denied” with notification of the reason for the denial. Individuals who have an eligibility appeal “denied” can submit a new eligibility appeal if they have additional supporting documentation that meets the requirements noted in the denial.
Data and Privacy Policies
No individual, either under employment, contractual agreement, or volunteering to COPAS shall dispense candidate or professional information without the express written consent from the candidate or certified professional. Individuals requesting their information be released to third parties must submit a signed letter of consent to permit information release or include this information on the Application for Certification, Assessment Forms, etc. Individuals, either under employment, contractual agreement, or volunteering to COPAS must sign non-disclosure agreements before commencing service. The APA® credentialing program does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, age, national origin, or physical disability.
Confidential information will be made available to the appropriate parties if subpoenaed by a court of law or if the candidate or professional violates the APA® Code of Ethics whereby the appropriate authorities must be notified.
Certain information is not considered confidential, as it is accessible within the public domain. This information includes the following:
- State of residence
- Personal information that the professional willingly permits to be posted on the COPAS search engine on the COPAS website
COPAS requests only the information needed in order to provide the highest level of service to individuals using the COPAS website or contacting COPAS via email or phone. The types of personal information collected may include:
- Phone number
- Company information
- Email address
- Credit/Debit Card Information (for purchases only – credit card information is encrypted)
Our Site logs IP addresses and browser types for the purposes of system administration and user functionality. These logs will be analyzed to improve the value of the materials available on our website. While user sessions are tracked, users remain anonymous. We do not link IP addresses to any personally identifiable information. We use non-identifying and aggregate information to better design our website.
COPAS may use the information candidates provide when placing an order or making a request only to the extent necessary to complete that order or request.
COPAS will not sell the candidate’s email address or any other personal information. From time to time, COPAS may send information about its services, including events and COPAS Energy Education offerings to the email or mailing address provided at registration. COPAS’ use of email and the mailing address provided by the candidate is done in such a manner as to promote responsible use of email and mailing practices. Please notify the COPAS office at email@example.com if inappropriate email messages are being received or should mailing list removal be desired.
To be removed from receiving any mailings, please contact the COPAS office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 992-6727. Unless such action is necessary to comply with the law or legal process or to protect the interests of COPAS or others, COPAS will not release personal information without direct consent.
Individuals can access or correct the personally identifiable information that COPAS maintains by contacting the COPAS office at email@example.com or by visiting the COPAS website and logging in to the User Account.
COPAS website users are responsible for keeping their password secret and are encouraged never to give their password to anyone. The COPAS website may link to other websites that may collect user information or solicit personal information. COPAS does not control these sites, therefore, COPAS is not responsible or liable for the privacy practices or content of such sites.
Any candidate, consumer, or current or former APA® certified professional who has questions about information on file and COPAS policies for the protection of private information should contact the APA® Administrator at APAAdministrator@copas.orgor (877) 992-6727 or (303) 300-1131.
How Long is the Records Retention Policy?
COPAS, as custodian of records for the APA® Board of Examiners, shall indefinitely retain records of all candidates and current and former APA ® Certified Professionals as long as they remain affiliated with the APA® program as an organization or until they request (in writing) that the information be removed from public record, should COPAS have prior permission to publish. While public record of their information will then be removed, COPAS will continue to retain the member’s records in a secured environment indefinitely per the Retention Policy as set forth in Section 7 of the COPAS Leadership Handbook. Professionals holding the APA® credential are encouraged to retain certification and continuing education information for a period of five years.
What Level of Security is Present to Secure My Information?
COPAS maintains information in secure databases which are archived electronically to a secure local network. If the individual is a member of COPAS, their personal information is accessible only via that person’s COPAS web account protected by the individual’s established username and password. Any hardcopy records are stored in locked, fireproof filing cabinets in secure areas within the COPAS office.