FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About the Board Certified Patient Advocate Credential
Explore eligibility, application and testing with real questions and answers.
Who is this certification being developed for and what is the process to become certified?
The BCPA certification is a credential for professional patient/health advocates. The intent is to assure the general public that any BCPA advocate they work with has met at least the basic minimum standards and competencies defined through this credential. The credential is further being developed for advocates to help them determine their own level of competency. Passing the exam will show they have developed at least the basic minimum standards and competencies assessed.
What if I am already an experienced Patient Advocate?
Any advocate wishing to earn a BCPA credential will need to meet the eligibility requirements and pass the certification exam.
Is there a minimum education or experience requirement as a Patient Advocate to sit for the exam?
Eligibility requires a combination of education and experience; however, candidates who are seasoned practitioners may request eligibility based on experience only. Carefully review pages 7-9 of the Candidate Handbook for complete details.
Do I need any other license or certification in order to sit for the exam?
At this time (September 2021), there is no existing certification or license required to be eligible to sit for the exam. However, the PACB is continuing to monitor exam results and reserves the right to revise requirements at any time.
Do I need to undergo a criminal background check to be certified?
The PACB strongly recommends you undergo a criminal background check and post your results publicly so potential clients can be assured of your trustworthiness. However, no such background check is required for certification.
How many questions are on the exam and how much time is allocated?
The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions of which 125 are scored and twenty-five are pretest items. The exam is comprised of 6 Domains and the Ethical Standards for Board Certified Patient Advocates. Candidates have 3 hours to complete the exam.
I failed the exam, what are my options?
The examination for the Board Certified Patient Advocate credential may be taken up to three times within a three-year period. If a candidate fails a third time, he or she must submit an appeal to the PACB for consideration to re-test. Each test attempt requires the completion of an application and payment of the required fee. A candidate who passes the BCPA certification test is prohibited from retaking the same exam unless the candidate chooses to do so upon recertification (in lieu of continuing education).
When is the exam offered?
The exam is offered twice a year during a 4-week window. The spring cycle begins in early March and ends 4 weeks later (usually the first week of April). The fall cycle begins the last week in September and ends in late October. Registration is generally open 6-9 months in advance of each exam cycle.
How much does it cost?
Page 11 of the Candidate Handbook lists the fee structure. Please review the handbook and policies regarding cancellation and refunds.
Is there a Practice Test?
The Certification Commission recently launched the first practice test. It is a mini-version consisting of twenty-five multiple choice questions that mirrors the blueprint of the full exam. Currently the Practice Test is only accessible by approved and fully registered candidates.
Can you explain the application process?
The exam is administered through our testing partners Prolydian and Examity using live remote proctoring. Each exam cycle is preceded by an application period during which candidates register and pay applicable fees. Candidates submit an application which is then reviewed for eligibility. Approved candidates receive notice of approval (generally) within two business days. Once the application notice is received, candidates may proceed with scheduling the exam for a date and time during the posted exam dates. Applications that are deemed ineligible, receive further communication, and have the opportunity to provide additional documentation or submit an appeal.
Is testing available at an exam center?
Unless special arrangements have been made in advance, all exams are delivered via live remote proctoring. Contact PACB at email@example.com to inquire about group testing or any other arrangement.
Can I request ADA accommodations?
Candidates may request ADA accommodations by submitting the appropriate form.
How long will it take to get my test results?
Computerized scoring will be utilized to determine examination results. Candidates will be notified of passing or failing status by email usually within 2-weeks following the close of the testing period. Successful candidates will have access to a digital certificate that may be downloaded from the BCPA Online Portal (hosted by Prolydian).
I am unable to take the exam, can I receive a refund?
You may cancel or reschedule up to 48 hours before your appointment at no cost. If, however, you cancel your appointment with less than 48 hours’ notice, or if you miss your appointment, show up late or provide inadequate identification, you will not be able to make a new appointment without paying an additional testing fee. Prolydian will send you a confirmation email each time you reschedule or cancel an appointment.
How do I schedule my exam?
Once the application has been approved, candidates may log into their BCPA online portal (Prolydian) account. Choose the “Schedule” button on your Exams dashboard to select an exam date and time. Wait for an appointment confirmation email listing your test date, testing time, and instructions for setting up your Examity profile (You must set up a profile with Examity before taking the BCPA exam!).
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you encounter problems scheduling your exam or if you need to modify your Prolydian or Examity account profile name to match your Photo ID.
How does online remote proctored testing work?
Like test center-based testing, online proctored testing requires that you be monitored by a proctor while you take your exam via your microphone and w4ebcam. Before starting the exam, the candidate must present a valid, unexpired government-issued ID with both signature and photo identification. Both ID signature and print must match the candidate’s name in demographics and look like the candidate. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, military identification care, passport, state identification card, and a valid national identification card. Your image and pictures of your surroundings will be captured. Once you begin the exam, you will not be permitted to leave the room or move out of the proctor’s view. Failure to comply may result in termination of your exam.
Can you recommend any study guides to help me prepare?
PACB does not recommend or endorse specific educational or CE courses or materials for Board Certified Patient Advocates; however, PACB does share examples of CE providers for informational purposes. Resources shared are in no way authored supported, sponsored, owned, or endorsed by PACB.
The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates publishes a comprehensive listing of educational programs in patient and health advocacy. However, please note PACB does not endorse or recommend any preparatory course or materials. In addition, PACB is not responsible for the accuracy of any content available through this or any other external directory. We encourage candidates to review the provided Study Guide and concentrate on those areas in which they have had less experience or that they do not perform on a regular basis. The Study Guide includes a list of references and Key Terms that may also be useful.
Although the exam is multiple-choice, it is important to recognize that it is primarily a critical thinking and reasoning test. The exam does include fact-based recall kinds of questions, but most of the exam presents a series of scenarios commonly experienced by patient advocates. Candidates need to utilize the Competencies and Best Practices and Ethical Standards as a kind of lens through which to filter the various answer options. Based on knowledge and application of those principles, the successful candidate will be able to identify the correct answer option.