Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the employee benefit plans audit certificate programs?
2. What employee benefit plan audit certificates are being offered?
3. Who is eligible to obtain an employee benefit plan audit certificate?
4. What is required to obtain a certificate(s)?
5. Do you earn CPE credit for time spent sitting for the employee benefit plan audit certificate exams?
6. How should I determine which level, intermediate or advanced, is appropriate for me?
7. May I hold more than one certificate?
8. Do I need to first take the intermediate exam, or can I just take the advanced exam(s)?
9. How should I prepare for the exam?
10. If I don’t pass the exam the first time, can I retake the exam?
11. I have a retake in my account but was notified that I passed. Do I need to take the retake?
12. Will my test scores be published?
13. How will I be notified of my results?
14. How will I receive my certificate(s)?
15. How much does the certificate program cost (training and exam)?
16. Can I take the exam(s) in a group setting?
17. When can the exam be taken?
18. How do I apply for the certificate program?
19. Can my certificate be revoked or suspended?
20. What is the format of the exam (that is, multiple choice, true or false, or essay)?
21. How long will it take to complete each exam?
22. How long do I have to complete the program?
23. Who can I contact if I have additional questions about the certificate programs?

1. What are the employee benefit plans audit certificate programs?

These programs provide a way for audit practitioners to demonstrate their competencies surrounding employee benefit plan (EBP) audit engagements and to distinguish themselves in the marketplace, offering optional learning and online exams at both the intermediate and advanced levels. The programs are based on the AICPA Competency Framework: Employee Benefit Plan Auditing, with a focus on common deficiency areas in practice, including those mentioned in the recent Department of Labor’s Audit Quality Study.

2. What employee benefit plan audit certificates are being offered?

There are four certificates:

3. Who is eligible to obtain an employee benefit plan audit certificate?

While it is not necessary to be a CPA in order to take the exams, the competencies tested are designed for CPAs specializing in employee benefit plan audits. We recommend you complete the sample exam questions to determine what preparation you will need to successfully complete the exam(s).

4. What is required to obtain a certificate(s)?

You can earn the Intermediate Employee Benefit Plans Audit Certificate by successfully passing an online intermediate-level exam. To earn any or all of the three individual advanced-level certificates, you must successfully pass the online exam for each plan type in which you are interested in receiving a certificate:

Note: You may complete the advanced EBP audit certificate programs in any order as each program stands alone from each other. You are not required to pass the intermediate exam prior to taking any of the advanced exams.

5. Do you earn CPE credit for time spent sitting for the employee benefit plan audit certificate exams?

No, CPE credit is not available for taking the stand-alone exam. NASBA does not allow CPE credit to be awarded for stand-alone exams.

6. How should I determine which level, intermediate or advanced, is appropriate for me?

For recommendations to help you determine what level is best suited for you, as well as short assessments with examples of the types of questions you might see on the exams, visit the Sample Questions page. You can also review the AICPA Competency Framework: Employee Benefit Plan Auditing on the AICPA | CIMA Competency and Learning Site at competency.aicpa.org.

7. May I hold more than one certificate?

Yes.

8. Do I need to first take the intermediate exam, or can I just take the advanced exam(s)?

You may enter the program at either the intermediate or advanced level. You are not required to sit for the intermediate exam in order to sit for the advanced exams. Success on the advanced exam requires an understanding of foundational, intermediate and advanced concepts.

9. How should I prepare for the exam?

There are multiple ways to prepare for the exam(s):

10. If I don’t pass the exam the first time, can I retake the exam?

As a participant, you will have one opportunity to retake the exam one time for free as part of your initial purchase within the 365 day timeframe. If the retake is not completed within the 365 day timeframe, another two exam attempts will need to be purchased. Participants can purchase an unlimited number of exams.

If you do not pass either the initial exam or the re-take, you must purchase the exam again, in order to take it again. Multiple attempts at retakes are prohibited and may result in the removal of the exam from your account. Your AICPA Learning account will maintain accessed versions of each exam, regardless of pass/fail status. Accessing exams already taken is prohibited. Exams accessed and passed outside of these purchase and re-take rules will not result in the issuing of a digital badge. If you have any questions regarding the completion of your exam or re-take, please contact digitalbadge@aicpa.org to verify your results.

11. I have a retake in my account but was notified that I passed. Do I need to take the retake?

One retake is automatically provisioned for each exam after completion of the initial exam. If you have passed, you do not need to take the retake – and you should not access the retake for any reason.

12. Will my test scores be published?

No.

13. How will I be notified of my results?

You will receive a “pass” or “fail” result at the end of your exam and via email. The message at the end of the exam provides feedback on the topics recommended for additional study, but the email will not. You will need to turn off pop-up blockers in order to see your exam results. If you do not see this message in your browser at the end of your exam, please contact CertificatePrograms@aicpa.org for feedback on additional study topics.

14. How will I receive my certificate(s)?

Your certificate will be issued electronically as a digital badge. For information on how digital badges work, please see this video and our Digital Badge FAQ page.

15. How much does the certificate program cost (training and exam)?

  • Each exam (required) is available for $239 for AICPA members and $299 for non-members
  • Intermediate training (optional) – The course Auditing Employee Benefit Plans will be available in a variety of formats:
    • Group study offered through state CPA societies – check with your state society for pricing
    • On-site training – the course can be taught on-site at your location. Call 1.800.634.6780, Ext. 1, email aicpalearning@aicpa.org to speak with an account manager, or complete the form to request information
    • Self-study text (15.5 CPE hours*):
      • AICPA member: $279
      • Non-member: $349
    • Self-study on-demand (10.5 CPE hours*):
      • AICPA member: $209
      • Non-member: $269
  • Advanced training (optional) – The learning available for the advanced certificate exams is available in a variety of formats:
    • Group study offered through state CPA societies – check with your state society for pricing on two-day training or exam prep courses.
    • On-site training – the same courses can be taught on-site at your location. Call 1.800.634.6780, Ext. 1 or email aicpalearning@aicpa.org to speak with an account manager.
    • Self-study on-demand (17.5 CPE hours*):
      • AICPA member: $299
      • Non-member: $379
    • 8-hour exam prep webcast – check here for updated broadcasts
    • There is one advanced-level, two-day (16 CPE hours) mock audit program offered:

* CPE credits for self-study programs are based on pilot tests conducted to determine average completion time, and are subject to change. If the final recommended credit is different than the previously estimated credit, the price of the product may be adjusted accordingly. Please go to AICPAStore.com to find most up-to-date CPE hours for these courses.

16. Can I take the exam(s) in a group setting?

No, these exams are designed to test an individual’s competencies related to this subject matter area. You may not divulge or capture the nature or content of any certificate exam question, answer, or results under any circumstances (unless given permission by the AICPA) or engage in any communication or discussion during testing regarding content related to this exam, including receiving or providing assistance on the exam.

17. When can the exam be taken?

Exams are available on demand from time of purchase. There are no testing windows for these programs.

18. How do I apply for the certificate program?

There is no formal application process for this certificate program. Interested individuals can purchase the exams online.

19. Can my certificate be revoked or suspended?

The AICPA has the absolute and unrestricted right to revoke or suspend any rights you have to use the employee benefit plan audit certificate digital badge images, or any representation thereof, if you are (a) convicted of any crime punishable by more than one year in prison or for any crime related to dishonesty, or (b) disciplined by any governmental or non-governmental authority that regulates, or enforces a code of conduct related to, your professional activities, including but not limited to, a state board of accountancy, AICPA, IRS, SEC, or PCAOB, or (c) a peer reviewer restricted from performing peer reviews by the Peer Review Program.

20. What is the format of the exam (that is, multiple choice, true or false, or essay)?

The exams are multiple choice format.

21. How long will it take to complete each exam?

You have one year (365 days) from the date of purchase to complete the exam(s). Once begun, the exam must be completed in one sitting and you will have 3.5 hours to complete all of the questions.

22. How long do I have to complete the program?

You have one year (365 days) from the date of purchase to complete the exam(s).

23. Who can I contact if I have additional questions about the certificate programs?

Please email CertificatePrograms@aicpa.org to get answers for any additional questions you may have.