person working on a laptop, with an education icon surrounded by protective glow of Surpass logo on computer screen

CPA examination software

Learn about the examination software that is used for the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) and CPA preparatory course examinations and the Common Final Examination (CFE).

For CPA PEP examinations, CPA preparatory course examinations and the CFE, all CPA students/candidates will receive CPA-issued laptops at the examination writing centres to write their exams. These laptops will be pre-loaded with the Surpass (SecureClient) software.

Surpass (SecureClient)

Surpass (SecureClient) is an application that locks down computers so that no other programs or files can be accessed during an examination. The application automatically uploads all responses into the Test Administration system.

The examination software enables you to:

  1. answer multiple choice questions (MCQs) on screen.
  2. input your case/constructed responses using a word processor (similar to Word) and a spreadsheet (similar to Excel).* The word processor and spreadsheet have different functions than Word and Excel.** You can review the differences in the Reference Materials below.
  3. use Knotia to access reference material to search the CPA Canada Handbook, the Income Tax Act (for applicable examinations) and the Excise Tax Act. Access to ebooks is not available during the exam.

*If your examination contains only MCQs, you will not have access to the word processor or spreadsheet.

** For the Common Final Examination, the main body of your response(s) should be written in the word processor file. All financial tables in the case(s) with ten lines or more have been preloaded into the spreadsheets that follow Sheet 1 (see images  for reference). Those spreadsheets are in read-only mode. You are able to copy and paste the financial information from the respective tabs into your Sheet 1, if applicable, where you can then do all your calculations.

Please note that on Day 3 of the CFE, all cases will be entered into one word processor file and one spreadsheet tab (Sheet 1). All cases should be clearly labelled in your response.

Practice Examination

The practice examination demonstrates how MCQs are presented in the examination software.

Please note that this practice exam is being timed and has a countdown timer. A countdown timer will not be present in your CPA examination, as the examination time will be managed by the examination supervisor at each writing centre.

Reference Materials

To help familiarize you with the exam writing environment, the following materials are available for you to review at your convenience:

If you have any questions about the examination software, please contact the CPA Student Support Web Portal.