FP&A Exam Scoring

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How is the examination scored?

Your examination score is based on the total number of questions you answered correctly. Candidates are encouraged to answer each question, as no points are deducted for questions answered incorrectly. The FP&A Part I exam contains 125 questions.  Of those, 100 questions are scored and 25 questions are unscored pretest items. The FP&A Part II exam also contains 125 questions.  Of those, 95 questions are scored and 30 questions are unscored pretest items. Candidates have no way of distinguishing between scored and unscored questions.  The unscored questions are placed on the exam in order to gather important statistics to determine if they meet the qualifications in order to be included on future exams in a scored position.  Multiple choice questions are worth one point, task based simulation questions are worth 1.5 points.

What is a scaled score?

A candidate’s raw score (the total number of questions answered correctly) is transformed into a scaled score for reporting purposes. This transformation is necessary because multiple forms (exam versions) are administered in each testing window. As is standard practice in certification, exam forms are statistically equated so that candidates are held to the same passing standard regardless of which form they take.  Scaled scores are reported instead of raw scores to provide a direct comparison of performance across forms and administrations and may help candidates decide how much additional preparation is required to pass. Scaled scores range from 200 to 800, with 500 designated as the passing score.

I passed the exam.  Why didn't I receive a score?

While unsuccessful candidates are provided with a scaled score, passing candidates are only told that they passed.  This is because certification exams are designed only to differentiate between those candidates whose exam performance has met the passing standard and those who have not.  Certification exams are not intended to rank candidates since scores above the passing point are not meaningful.  It is a certification industry standard to not release passing scores in order to avoid misuse or misrepresentation.

How does AFP ensure that all exam forms are equal?

All examination forms are constructed using the same test blueprint (content outline). Although every attempt is made to ensure that the difficulty level of the various forms is as equivalent as possible, slight variance may occur. In order to account for any variation among the forms, a statistical process known as equating is applied, which ensures that candidates are not advantaged or disadvantaged by taking one form of the examination over another. Through equating, a given scaled score on the examination will reflect the same level of content mastery regardless of the form administered.

What is equating?

Since the actual items on the FP&A exams differ from test form to test form, the different forms of the exam will vary a bit in difficulty.  Some forms may contain a higher or lower number of difficult questions than other forms. In order to ensure that everyone is held to the same standard, statistical equating is used to determine the equivalency of exam forms. Equating ensures that the passing scores on all of the exam forms are equivalent in terms of levels of difficulty in order to maintain the same standard for all candidates.  This means that a candidate who receives a form with a higher number of difficult questions will need to answer fewer questions correctly in order to pass than a candidate who receives a forms with a higher number of less difficult questions.

What is the passing score?

The passing scaled score for the examination is 500. The corresponding number of questions that need to be answered correctly to obtain a scaled score of 500 may vary slightly across forms depending on the difficulty of each examination.

What percentage of questions do I need to answer correctly to pass?

The percentage of questions that a candidate needs to answer correctly is based on the difficulty of the form of the examination taken. Although every effort is made to create forms of an examination that are equivalent in difficulty, some differences may exist after final scoring. Therefore, because the percentage of correct answers required to pass the examination may vary among forms, a specific passing percentage is not available to candidates.

Can I find out the raw score or how many questions I answered correctly on my examination?

No. Because multiple examination forms are used within and across testing windows, the raw score on an examination form is meaningless until it is transformed to a scaled score.

How is the passing score for the exam determined?

The passing score is established through a process called standard setting. During the standard setting process, a representative panel of Certified Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Professional subject matter experts evaluate each question on the exam to determine how many correct answers are necessary to determine the level of knowledge and skills required to pass the examination. The FP&A exams use the Angoff, Modified Angoff or Bookmark methods of standard setting.  All candidates who meet this standard pass the examination.

Is the exam graded on a curve?

No, the FP&A exams are not graded on a curve.  The exam is “criterion-referenced”, which is different from the “norm-referenced” exams you may have taken in the past.

“Norm-referenced” exams are graded on a curve.  This means that candidate’s performance is evaluated against other candidates taking the exam and only a predetermined number of candidates are allowed to pass.

This is NOT the case with the FP&A exams.  The FP&A exams are “criterion-referenced”, which means a passing score is predetermined.  All candidates who achieve that score pass the exam, whether it is 0% of the candidates or 100%.  The passing score does not change from exam to exam.  Your score is not dependent upon any other candidate.

My score was just one point below passing.  How close was I to passing?

Because multiple forms of the examination are used, “how close” a score of 499 is to passing may vary slightly across forms, but it is likely that between 1 and 4 additional questions should have been answered correctly to pass.  AFP will not provide the exact number of questions a candidate answered correctly or incorrectly on a given exam form.

What is the passing rate for the examination?

The overall passing rate for the FP&A exams vary from testing window to testing window depending on how candidates perform compared to the passing standard for the exam.  The passing standard allows for the pass rate to range anywhere from 0% to 100%, as each candidate’s performance is judged independently of the performance of other candidates.  In recent testing windows, passing rates for the Part I exam have ranged from 51 to 63%. Passing rates for the Part II exam have ranged from 41 to 52%.

Are re-examination candidates scored the same way as those taking the exam for the first time?

Yes.  The exam is scored in exactly the same way for all candidates, regardless of whether they are a first-time or repeat test taker.  All candidates must obtain a scaled score of 500 or higher to pass the exam.

How is my score verified?

At the close of every testing window, psychometricians perform an analysis on examination results, flagging any items that do not continue to perform as expected.  Those items undergo additional levels of review and may be thrown out, in which case, all exams are subsequently rescored.  Any candidates whose revised scores move them from a failing status to a passing status are notified.  This analysis is completed approximately three weeks after the close of the testing window.  While the analysis rarely results in rescoring and the rescoring rarely results in status changes, AFP will notify candidates whose failing statuses are changed to passing within four weeks after the close of the testing window.