The Examination

In order for candidates to begin to formulate a preparation/study plan for testing, it is essential that the candidate first understand how the exams themselves are developed and how individual test questions will appear on the exam.

About UPPCC Examinations/Format

There is only one (1) examination required for each certification. Both examinations consist of 190 multiple-choice questions (175 scored questions and 15 pre-test questions) covering the six (6) domain areas identified in the 2013 UPPCC Body of Knowledge. Each test question presents the candidate with four (4) options of which only one option is correct. Candidates are permitted a total of 3.5 hours in which to complete the examination.

Pre-test Questions

Pre-test questions allow the UPPCC to collect valuable performance statistics on test questions before they become operational. Pre-test questions are not labeled as such on examination forms and they do not factor into a candidates' score. Pre-testing of test questions is a common practice among professional certification programs.

Examination Development

Individual exam questions are developed by UPPCC certified members of the profession. These individuals are members of the UPPCC Item Writing Committee. Item Writing Committee members receive professional training on how to construct quality test questions for the certification exams. The test questions that are generated are reviewed by a second group of professionals. The members of this second group, the Item Review Committee, receive professional training on how to review test questions. Only questions approved by the Item Review Committee are eligible for selection for an actual examination. The members of the Board of Examiners (BOE) develop the examinations from a bank of approved questions.

The BOE together with testing professionals at Prometric (the UPPCC testing agency) build each examination form by selecting the appropriate number of test questions from each of the six (6) content areas as prescribed in the 2013 UPPCC Body of Knowledge. The Body of Knowledge serves as an outline for individuals involved in all stages of exam development and should likewise be the basis for candidates preparing to take the examination.

Questions generated for the CPPB exam are designed to test candidates on the Body of Knowledge as it relates to the role of a buyer. Conversely, the CPPO exams are designed to test candidates on the Body of Knowledge as it relates to the role of a procurement manager and/or supervisor.

The exams consist primarily of situational, process-oriented questions. Situational questions require a candidate to be able to apply their knowledge of topics found in the Body of Knowledge to responding appropriately to real world situations and problems. Click here, for additional information regarding this topic.

New forms of the exams are developed for each testing window so that the tested content remains current and relevant.

Scheduling an Examination

The UPPCC notifies all applicants within 4-6 weeks following the application submission deadline as to the outcome of the review along with an invoice for the second phase in the certification process - the testing phase. If a candidate intends to test during the next available testing window, the exam invoice must be paid prior to scheduling an examination appointment. Paid candidates will receive an Authorization To Test (ATT) letter which provides instructions on how to schedule an examination appointment.

Appointments must be scheduled directly with Prometric (the official UPPCC testing agency) by the published registration deadline within the upcoming testing window only. Scheduling is available via the web or with a Prometric registration agent by phone. As the UPPCC shares the Prometric professional testing network with many other testing programs, it is advisable for candidates to register early, preferably as soon as the candidate receives the ATT letter. Early registration allows candidates the widest selection of testing centers, dates and times.

Avoid potential check-in problems on exam day

  • Verify your printed names match - Upon receipt of the ATT letter, the candidate must verify that the name printed on the ATT letter matches the name exactly as it appears on the photo identification that the candidate will present at the testing center at check-in. Candidates must present both the ATT letter and photo identification to the test center administrator for check-in on the day of the exam. These two documents must match in order to be seated for testing. The testing center staff is instructed to deny entry when identity cannot be verified. If you discover that your registered name printed on the ATT letter does not match your identification, you must contact the UPPCC immediately to have the mismatch resolved prior to the scheduled appointment, but preferably prior to scheduling an appointment.
  • Verify that your photo identification is current - Check the expiration date on your photo identification. If it will expire prior to your testing appointment, take action to renew the identification as soon as possible. The testing center staff is instructed to deny entry when identity cannot be verified. Expired forms of identification will not be accepted as a valid form of identification.
  • If the candidate's ATT letter does not match the name printed on the candidate's identification, it is the candidate's responsibility to contact the UPPCC immediately to have a revised ATT letter sent. 

Click here for important information regarding Prometric Test Center policies and scheduling.

Exam Day Overview

On the day of the examination, candidate should plan to arrive at the scheduled testing center early. Candidates who arrive more than fifteen (15) minutes after the scheduled appointment time will be turned away and will be considered a no-show for the examination. Candidates should allow 4.5 hours for the examination, which includes the 3.5 hours for the examination, plus an extra hour for check in and check out procedures as well as time to view the pre-test tutorial and time to complete the post-survey questionnaire following the exam. Late arrivals to the test center for check-in that result in a denial of admission into the examination will result in the forfeiture of the candidate's exam fee.

Candidates are advised to limit the number of personal item brought into the center. For security reasons, candidates will not be permitted to bring personal belongings or study materials into the testing center. Secure storage is provided, however, space is limited. Prometric testing centers assume no responsibility for personal belongings and candidates should plan accordingly.

Upon arrival at the testing center, the test center administrator will perform the center's standard security check which includes electronic wanding of the candidate prior to entry into the testing room as well as the request for the candidate to present both the ATT letter and one piece of valid government issued photo identification that matches the name printed on the ATT letter. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  1. current, non-expired driver's license

  2. government issued photo identification card; or

  3. current, non-expired passport.

If the administrator cannot make a positive identification, the candidate will not be permitted to test. If a candidate is denied entrance into a scheduled exam due to failure on the part of the candidate to inform UPPCC of a mismatch with the identification to be presented and the registration name, the candidate will be responsible for any no-show fees billed as a result. Denied entry due to missing, expired or improper identification or late arrivals to the testing center will result in the forfeiture of the candidate's exam fee.

Following check-in, the candidate will be escorted to a computer work station and logged into the UPPCC examination. The examination will not begin until a 10-15 minute navigational tutorial is played and the candidate enters the examination. The allotted time permitted for testing does not include check in, pre-exam tutorial or post exam survey, but does include any unscheduled breaks the candidate may personally elect to take once the official exam has begun.

During the Examination

Examination questions will be presented one at a time on the computer screen. Candidates may choose to answer the question and proceed to the next test question, answer the question and mark it for later review or leave the question unanswered by choosing to skip the question.

On the computer screen will be a clock that will count down continuously from 3.5 hours, so that the candidate is always aware of how much testing time is remaining. Available to candidates during the exam is a small, dry-erase board for use as scratch paper and an on-screen calculator.

The candidate will be permitted to take breaks during the examination, but any break that the candidate takes will not stop the exam clock. Any breaks will be counted as testing time. Candidates who leave the testing center for breaks or any other reason will be asked to sign a log book and present his/her identification to re-enter the center.

Once the candidate reaches the end of the examination and time still remains, he/she will be presented with a summary of the exam which will flag all the questions that were skipped or marked for review allowing the candidate to go back to those specific questions. The candidate may also return to any question on the exam and change his/her response.

Candidates will receive a printed confirmation of testing at the test center upon completion of the examination. Exam results will be sent to all candidates regardless of result within 6-8 weeks following the close of the testing window.

Exam Security & Candidate Conduct

In order to maintain the integrity of the examinations, all examinations are proctored by direct observation by the test center staff and also under video and audio surveillance.

At the beginning of the examination, you will be required to confirm that you agree to abide by the UPPCC Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct.

Exam Cancellation/Reschedule Policy

Once the candidate has scheduled an examination appointment with Prometric, any reschedules or cancellations must also be made through Prometric. Associated fees that the applicant will be expected to make payment for at the time of the reschedule or cancellation is dependent upon the amount of advanced notice given to Prometric and are provided below.

Examination appointments may be scheduled, rescheduled, cancelled and otherwise altered for the current testing window only. Candidates will not be permitted to cancel from one testing window and reschedule for another even if the testing window is within the one (1) year life of the certification application.

Candidates should note that although rescheduling an examination is permitted, seats fill up quickly and space may be limited or even unavailable as the desired testing date draws near. As such, it is advisable for candidates (if needed) to reschedule an examination as soon as possible.

To reschedule or cancel an examination, candidates should contact Prometric via the web or by phone.

Exam Cancellation/Reschedule Fees
Thirty (30) or more calendars days prior to the scheduled examination No fee 
(Admin Fee only
if applicable)
Between twenty-nine (29) and five (5) calendar days prior $50 
(plus Admin Fee if applicable)
Less than five (5) calendar days prior $100
(plus Admin Fee if applicable)


Other Exam Related Fees

Administrative Fee - Post administration, the exam fee paid will be refunded via the original method of payment less a 10% administrative fee for any candidate who does not test and therefore requires a refund to be issued by UPPCC. This fee applies to:

  • candidates who cancelled exam appointments with or without fee and did not reschedule and test during the testing window;
  • candidates who did not schedule a testing appointment during the testing window; or
  • candidates who were granted waivers of other fees under the Exceptions to the Cancellation/Reschedule Policy.

No-Shows Candidates who fail to show for a scheduled exam appointment without sufficient prior notification will forfeit the full examination fee. Candidate No-Shows include:

  • candidates who fail to show for a scheduled exam appointment without sufficient prior or post notification (via the Exception to the Cancellation/Reschedule Policy) to the UPPCC;
  • candidates who fail to show for a scheduled exam appointment without sufficient prior notification, but do not provide acceptable cause for the no-show via the Exception to the Cancellation/Reschedule Policy to be granted a waiver of the no-show fee;
  • candidate was denied entry into the examination due to a mismatch of the candidates printed name on the ATT letter and the photo identification provided at check-in and failed to notify the UPPCC so that the mismatch could be corrected;
  • candidate was denied entry into the examination due to improper identification presented at the testing center at check-in (improper refers to failure to provide identification, providing identification that has expired or providing unacceptable forms of identification);
  • candidate arrived late to the testing center and could not be accommodated at the time of arrival due to scheduling availability.

Exceptions to the Exam Cancellation/Reschedule Policy

The UPPCC recognizes that serious issues may arise that could prevent a candidate from canceling their scheduled appointment within the prescribed timeframe. There are acceptable instances in which thirty (30) or more calendar days' notification is not possible. Such acceptable instances include:

  1. Serious accident/illness – either the candidate or an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, etc.)

  2. Death in the immediate family

  3. Disabling traffic accident

  4. Court appearance or jury duty

  5. Unexpected military duty call-up

Late cancellations or no-shows on the day of the examination due to one of the reasons listed above must be submitted in writing to the UPPCC as soon as possible, but no later than five (5) business days following the incident and must be accompanied by meaningful documentation. For injuries and illnesses to be considered acceptable, documentation must prove that the onset of the injury and/or condition occurred AFTER the candidate scheduled his/her examination appointment OR that the injury and/or condition worsened AFTER the candidate scheduled his/her examination appointment. Upon review of the written request and accompanying documentation, any cancellation/no-show fee will be waived for candidates whose requests were approved; however, the 10% administrative fee that applies to any and all exam refunds will still apply.

Inclement Weather / Local & National Emergencies

In the event of inclement weather or a local and/or national emergency on the day of the examination, candidates should phone the local Prometric Testing Center for which he/she has scheduled an appointment. If the testing center is closed and as a result an appointment is cancelled, UPPCC will arrange for the examination to be rescheduled. Candidates are not penalized if the examination is cancelled due to inclement weather or if a local or national emergency occurs.

Scoring the Examinations

Prometric statisticians review performance features of every test question and can potentially flag test questions for review with the BOE following the end of the testing window and prior to the release of final scores. If a test question presents statistical performance data that is outside established parameters, the question is automatically reviewed as this could be an indication of a potential problem. This continuous monitoring of test questions is a quality control technique that allows the UPPCC to address potential problems before a candidate's final score is impacted. It allows the BOE to review feedback from test takers via item-by-item performance statistics as a group and if warranted, make adjustments before final scores are released to candidates. For example, based on statistical information captured on a specific exam question, the members of the BOE will take a closer look at the question. After discussing the issue, the group may potentially decide to score more than one response as correct or score all responses as correct.

Candidates benefit from this process by having any potential concerns regarding examination questions brought to the attention of the individuals making scoring decisions. The organization benefits by building in a process to continuously monitor, develop, and update the test content.

An exam difficulty rating for the exam is calculated for each form of the exam following any scoring adjustment made by the BOE post-administration. The difficulty rating is then equated back to the difficulty rating for the first form of the exam administered under the current Body of Knowledge when the passing standard was established. The process of equating exams ensures that each candidate is held to a consistent standard of competency when exam form difficulty is inconsistent.

Standard Setting (Pass/Fail Cut-Score)

Following each Job Analysis process where new examinations are developed based on revisions/updates made to the existing UPPCC Body of Knowledge, the UPPCC convenes a diverse committee of subject matter experts to review the passing standard for UPPCC examinations. The process by which the passing standard is determined is referred to as a Pass/Fail Cut-Score Study or a Standard Setting and is traditionally performed as a final step in the Job Analysis process. This process ensures that the score separating passing candidates from failing candidates is scientific and is truly linked to mastery of the subject matter tested in order to earn the certification and not an arbitrary selection.

Actual testing data from the October 2008 testing window was used to complete the study. The passing standard for subsequent examinations under the 2008 Body of Knowledge has been based upon this 2008 study. A new study is scheduled to be performed in June 2014 following the May 2014 examination window which is the first testing event under the new 2013 UPPCC Body of Knowledge.