Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. General

What kinds of exams are there?
We currently offer two types of exams.
Who is eligible to take the CSPA exams?
Anyone with an interest in evaluating their software engineering proficiency can take the exam. There's no age or credential requirement. We believe everyone should have equal opportunity.
Is the CSPA Core Exam™ difficult?
Many people do say it's quite hard, but keep in mind that you're compared relative to your peers, who may also think it is hard. Most people will not be able to answer everything correctly. In fact, we expect many people to not be able to answer a lot of the questions. CSPA is designed to be comprehensive, and is graded in a way to discover your strengths, rather than expose any weaknesses.
Is this an in-person exam or do I take it remotely?
We offer in-person exams at testing centers, as well as remote ones where you take it from home. In both cases, you use your own laptop or PC with your own broadband internet connection. Check our exam session schedule to see what's available.
What's on the exam?
Browse the possible topics. Note that not all areas are guaranteed to be on the exam.
Which programming languages are supported in the coding sections?
We currently support JavaScript (ES2015), Python 2.7.12, Ruby 2.2, and PHP 5.6, PHP 7.1. The next language we will be adding is Java.

You are allowed to use the standard libraries and modules that are included in the default installation of that language. You won't be able to import or include non-standard library and modules.
How frequently can I take the CSPA Core Exam™?
If you already took the test recently, you may take it again after six months. Candidates may not take the test more than once in any given six month period. Your entire assessment history is on your record anyway, so it's best not to take it too frequently.
Do you provide any prep materials?
Not at the moment. We do not directly publish materials, but we do partner with a number of educational providers. Contact us for more details.

2. During the exam

How is the exam timed?
There are two kinds of timers:
  1. Exam timer. The overall exam timer begins when you press the "Begin Exam" button. Then you'll have 8 hours to complete the entire exam, including any breaks you take. This is roughly 10am to 6pm Pacific Time, depending if you checked-in late or not. There is about 5 hours worth of material, so you are allotted up to 3 hours of break time.
  2. Section timer. Each exam section has its own timer. Once you open a section, the timer begins and you'll see all the questions for that section. The section closes once time is up. Once a section is closed, you may not go back to change your answers or answer more questions in that section.
Can I take breaks?
Yep. Lunch, snack, bathroom breaks, etc. Just be aware of the time. See the above question.
What does "open book" mean?
You are allowed to use Google, StackOverflow, and any other website to help answer questions. However, you may not communicate in real-time with other people, such as with Slack, Facebook Messenger, etc. about the test. The exception is communicating with CSPA proctors. See our Rules of Conduct for more information.
Can I use pen and paper or take notes?
Yes, if it helps you solve the problem. But you may not copy down or screenshot the questions for the purposes of leaking it or sharing with your friends. This is against our rules of conduct and violations will lead to a permanent ban and public black list on CSPA.
The exam section closed before I could add my answers. Does this mean I don't get credit?
Unfortunately, yes. Please be aware of the section timer, and paste in any code or text periodically, so at least you get partial credit. If there was a technical problem, please contact us.

3. After the exam

When will my scores be available?
It will take between 3 to 10 business days to grade it. You will be notified by email once it is available.
What do I do with my score report?
You may put the link on your resume, add to your LinkedIn or Github profile, or share with anyone else you want. It will also be on your CSPA record for future reference. Additionally, your scores may be shared with schools and employers (see the next question).
Who will see my scores?
Depending on how you registered, your scores may be shared with your educational provider and/or our partner employers. If you registered for CSPA through your school, chances are they will also receive a copy of your score report. (They would have told you if so.) If you registered for CSPA as part of your job search, our partner employers will automatically see your results.

Schools and employers receive the scores at the same time you do.
If I don't perform well, can I void the results?
Unfortunately, we cannot nullify your scores after we've published your score report. If you would like us to not score your submission, please contact us before we grade it, which usually takes 5-10 business days.

Once it is graded, it will be part of your record and profile. You also do have the option of hiding your entire profile at any time, including all assessment results, from your profile settings.
Can I retake the exam?
How long does the score report stay on my record?
Your assessment history stays on record as long as you don't remove it. You can remove old score reports though. When a score report is more than two years old, you have the option of deleting/archiving it.
If I'm looking for a job, do I need to share my score with employers or apply for a job separately?
All of our partner employers will be notified when new scores are available. They have access to your scores and your profile, so please make sure you fill out any profile information you want to share.

If they are a CSPA Interview Partner, they are guaranteed to interview at least one candidate each batch. See the next question for more details.

If you'd like, you may send them a job application separately to reiterate your interest.
What's a CSPA Interview Partner?
CSPA Interview Partners are employers who have committed to interviewing at least one candidate from every CSPA Core Exam™ session. This means you are guaranteed an interview at one of the companies you "Liked" if:
  • You are the top scorer among those test takers in your batch who also "Liked" that company.
  • Your Composite Score is 1000 or higher.
  • You fit the logistical requirements of the role (work visas, location, job type, and timing/availability).

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