Taking the Accredited Petroleum Accountant® Exam

Exam Delivery And Security

Computer-based examinations are administered in facilities with rooms that have closeable doors to minimize potential distractions to the candidates. Many testing sites have rooms with more than one testing station per examination room, with adequate space, or partitions between testing stations. The proctor will monitor activity from within the examination room via direct observation, through an unobstructed window view, or via video surveillance.

Computer-based testing centers provide exam administration services for a variety of different credentialing exams. These exams can be of different lengths, have different start times, and have different rules than the APA® certification exam. All attempts will be made by the testing center to provide a calm, quiet, testing experience. Candidates who are sensitive to noise and occasional distractions may bring earplugs or similar to mitigate ambient noise.

Candidates will have three and one-half (3.5) hours to complete the 175-multiple-choice question exam unless provided with special time accommodations.

Candidates are required to adhere to the following examination policies:

  • No visitors are allowed in the examination rooms.
  • Candidates must perform all of their own work, without assistance. Sharing information or disturbing others is cause for dismissal with no refund.
  • Impersonating another candidate, giving or receiving help on the exam, or removing exam materials or notes from the examination site is cause for dismissal with no refund.
  • No dictionaries, calculators, paper, or other supplies are allowed to be brought into the exam room.
  • No purses, bags, or any powered communication devices such as cell phones, tablets, etc. are allowed in the examination room.
  • No food or drinks are allowed in the examination room unless approved in advance for medical reasons. 

Candidates may be disqualified from taking or continuing forward in the examination process, or from receiving exam results, if the Board of Examiners, Scantron and/or the examination proctor determine, either through direct observation or through statistical analysis that the candidate engaged in collaborative, disruptive, cheating, or other unacceptable behavior before, during or following the administration of the APA® exam.

Calculator And Paper Policy

Exam candidates for the APA® certification credential are NOT allowed to bring calculators into the testing area. Candidates will have access to an online calculator as a part of Scantron’s CBT testing platform. Bringing a calculator into the testing room would constitute cheating and be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Paper and pencils may be provided by the proctor during the exam. Upon completion of the exam, the candidate must return all paper provided, including that used, to the proctor. Under no circumstance may the paper provided be removed from the testing facility. If paper provided is not returned, it shall be considered cheating and the candidate will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Candidate Comments

Upon completion of an APA® exam, candidates are given the chance to submit comments about the examination and testing environment via a brief survey. These comments will be reviewed by Scantron, and then copied and forwarded to the APA® Board of Examiners. When necessary, the Board of Examiners will follow up with Scantron to determine if further action is warranted.

Exam Scoring And Passing Criteria

The candidate’s score is derived from the number of questions answered correctly, and is then converted to a scaled score ranging between 200 and 800 points, with the passing point set at the scaled score of 500 points. Candidates who earn a scaled score of 500 or more points will be awarded the APA® certification.

The passing score on the APA® examination is determined through a rigorous statistical process that is widely used in the professional testing industry. This method, called the Modified Angoff method, is a way of setting a performance standard required for competent practice as a petroleum accountant, and then determining the number of exam questions candidates must answer correctly to demonstrate that they meet that performance standard. In the Modified Angoff technique, a panel of SMEs representing the demographic and professional background of the population of petroleum accountants, and who have no vested interest in the exam program, are tasked with determining the passing score on the exam. This process is led by a Senior Psychometrician from Scantron, who leads the panel through a discussion of the characteristics of a “minimally qualified APA® candidate” and trains the panel in how to evaluate each exam question based on the likelihood that the minimally qualified candidate would answer it correctly. After several rounds of discussion, this process results in each question on the exam having a difficulty rating, which is then translated into an overall passing score for the exam. This passing score is then converted from a percentage correct to a scaled score. Candidates who meet or exceed the established passing score have demonstrated that they have sufficient knowledge of petroleum accounting principles and practices to warrant holding the APA® credential.

The passing score is expressed as a scaled score to account for differences in the difficulty of the various forms or versions of the exam. A scaled score is simply a score that has been mathematically transformed from a raw score (i.e., the number of items that a candidate answered correctly) to another scale that is used for score reporting purposes. This transformation is similar to converting from pounds to kilograms: The weight of the object has not changed, only the units being reported.

The reason that the APA® exam, and most other standardized tests, uses scaled scores is so that scores on different versions of the exam can be directly compared to one another. At any one time, there is more than one form of the APA® exam that may be administered, and new exam forms are assembled on an ongoing basis to ensure that the exam questions remain current. Although all exams are built using the same exam content outline and comparable questions, the different forms of the exam will contain different questions. Therefore, they will not be exactly identical in their level of difficulty. It would be inappropriate to compare the percentage correct of two candidates who tested on different forms that differed in their level of difficulty. Using scaled scores is a way to account for these differences in difficulty to ensure that the passing standard remains constant at 500, regardless of which version of the exam is administered. This is the best way for the APA® Board of Examiners to ensure that, regardless of which test form is administered, all candidates are held to the same standard.

Receiving APA® Exam Results

After an exam-testing window closes, it is necessary to perform various quality control checks on the exam scores in order to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the exam scores. Implementing rigorous quality control procedures to assure scoring reliability and accuracy takes some time. Therefore, candidates can expect to receive a score report within four to six weeks after the close of the testing window in which they tested.

The exam results candidates receive from Scantron constitute a candidate’s official score and/or pass/fail status. Only the total scaled score, which is based on the number of questions answered correctly, determines pass/fail status. Candidates who achieve a final scaled score of 500 or more on their certification exam will be awarded the APA® certification for the successfully passed exam. Candidates who pass the APA® exam will receive their certification within four to six weeks after the scores are released. Candidates who achieve a final scaled score below 500 points will receive a ‘failed’ status on the examination. These candidates may choose to retest at a later date (see Exam Fees).

At the end of each testing window, the APA® Board of Examiners, through Scantron’s secure portal, will access score reports for all candidates who complete the APA® examination during each testing window. All exam results will be stored in the specific candidate’s secured file at the COPAS office.

Exam Grievance Procedure

Any candidate who feels that their examination effort was negatively impacted by improper exam taking instructions, unprofessional proctoring standards, or unreasonable environmental or other distracters, must report their grievance to the exam proctor immediately. The proctor will document the complaint and submit it to Scantron where the complaint will be forwarded to the APA® Board of Examiners for further investigation. Following any examination administration where a candidate feels that his/her examination effort was negatively impacted, the candidate should also contact the APA® Administrator via phone at (877) 992-6727 or (303) 300-1131, or by email APAAdministrator@copas.org to report the incident and how it negatively impacted performance within 30 days of the examination. The APA® Board of Examiners will make an equitable decision based upon the information gathered from all relevant sources, including the candidate, proctors, and Scantron.

Exam Rescoring

Should a candidate not pass the examination, yet believe that a scoring error was involved during the computer scoring; an appeal and request can be made to have missed questions manually reviewed for potential rescoring. While the results of a review very rarely differ from the result obtained through the automated process, the candidate does have the right to pursue this option. In order to request a manual review, candidates must contact the APA® Administrator via phone at (877) 992- 6727 or (303) 300-1131, or email APAAdministrator@copas.org to receive a form to request a review. Candidates must then submit the completed form, along with the $50.00 review and rescoring fee to Scantron. All requests for a manual review and potential rescore must be made within 30 days of the original examination date. Scantron will inform the candidate of their rescored results within two to four weeks of receiving the review request.