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FP&A Exam Preparation Blog

FP&A Exam Tips: Preparing for Test Day

Jan 3, 2017

By Megan Ladd


As the sun-lit days shorten and we confine ourselves to the warmth of our homes, what better time to prepare and plan ahead for an upcoming Certified Corporate FP&A Professional exam? Here are some general tips and information to help make your exam day run a little more smoothly.


I always advise candidates to make their testing appointments as soon as they receive their authorizations to test (ATTs) and to schedule those appointments as early in the window as possible. This allows for greater flexibility should a last-minute personal or business obligation occur and conflict with your scheduled appointment. Pearson VUE testing centers allow you to cancel and reschedule your appointment(s) to test as many times as you need. As long as all changes are made at least 24 hours/one full business day in advance, you can reschedule your appointment if something unexpected arises or you just feel like you need an extra few days to prepare. Just keep in mind that the longer you wait to make changes, the less appointment availability there may be at the testing center.

Visit your testing center

If you have never been to the site where your exam appointment has been scheduled, it may be a good idea to visit the center in advance in order to become familiar with your future surroundings.

  • Find the address on Pearson VUE’s website and use a planned route to arrive in a timely fashion. Should you encounter any unexpected delays, such as road closures or construction, you know to take an alternate route or allow additional time for travelling on the day of your exam.
  • Make sure that parking is open, available and within a short distance of the building.
  • Many Pearson VUE centers require that test-takers store personal belonging in lockers while taking the exam. Familiarize yourself with this process and do not bring superfluous items on the day of testing. Pearson VUE does not allow test-takers to bring anything into the testing room with them, apart from a cardigan or sweater should the room prove to be a bit chilly.
  • If possible, take a look into the room where you will be completing the exam and make sure that the space appears to be comfortable.

While these actions may appear to be excessive or unnecessary, following these steps will ensure that you do not encounter any surprises on the day of your exam. You will be at the test center for three to five hours as you take your exam. You want to be as familiar with the space as possible, so that nothing adds to the stress or anxiety that you may already be feeling.

Spreadsheet tutorial

If you are preparing to take the FP&A Professional examination, then you should know by now that there will be spreadsheet based items on the examination. Do not wait until the day of your test to become familiar with the spreadsheet software! The spreadsheet software available in the testing environment is not Excel. It very closely mimics Excel, but it does not have Excel’s full functionality. Please be sure to watch the spreadsheet tutorial video and become familiar with the list of select spreadsheet functions and their related descriptions provided on our website here.

The list provides information on the financial functions, statistical functions, math and trigonometry functions that can be found on the exam and is also provided within the testing environment in the Spreadsheet Functions tab of the Help window.

Exam timing

Become familiar with the breakdown of the testing time. There are strict limits to how many minutes can be spent in the non-disclosure agreement, the tutorial, the multiple choice section, and the task-based simulations. You can view this full breakdown on our website here.

Answer every question

There is no penalty for incorrect answers on the examination, so it is always in your interest to take your best guess if you are unsure of the answer. Items can be flagged for review, so when you reach the end of that section (multiple-choice or task-based simulation) you can return to those flagged items and re-evaluate your answers. Remember, once you have moved on from the multiple-choice section to the task-based simulations you cannot return to the multiple-choice items! These sections are separate and candidates cannot move back and forth between them during testing time.

Calculation items

You will have several options when it comes to completing your work for the calculation items. There is an external or scratch spreadsheet available on the computer in both the multiple-choice and task-based simulation sections. The exam proctor can also provide erasable whiteboards for your use by request. Some candidates can calculate more quickly by hand. Practice this at home before your testing appointment so that you know which method is most familiar and comfortable for you. Hand-held calculators can also be made available by request. Please contact your test center in advance in order to confirm that there are handheld calculators on site.

Megan Ladd is certification specialist for AFP.