Frequently Asked Questions
PACB = Patient Advocate Certification Board. This is the body which developed this credential. Learn more about the Board.
BCPA = Board Certified Patient Advocate. This is the credential name itself. Those who earn it will add BCPA to their name: “Joan Advocate, BCPA” or “James Advocate, BCPA”
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 tested.
Candidates must fill out and submit a complete application, including fees. Once your application is processed, you should receive a receipt of payment from PTC via email. If you have not received this email within 15-days following online Application submission, you should contact PTC at 212-356-0660 to confirm the status of the Application.
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?
At this time (summer 2020), there is no minimum education nor experience requirement to take the exam. However, the PACB is continuing to monitor exam results and reserves the right to impose requirements at a later date.
Do I need any other license or certification in order to sit for the exam?
At this time (summer 2020), 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 impose requirements at a later date.
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 will be required for certification.
How can I know if I am eligible to take the BCPA exam?
Review the Eligibility Requirements to see if you meet our criteria.
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 25 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.
- Scope of Practice and Transparency
- Empowerment, Autonomy, Rights, and Equity
- Communication and Interpersonal Relationships
- Healthcare Access, Finance, and Management
- Medical Knowledge and the Healthcare System
- Professionalism, Professional Development, and Practice
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 completion of an application and payment of the required fee.
Taking the Exam
When is the exam offered and how much does it cost?
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 to 9 months in advance of each exam cycle. However, COVID-19 may cause delays. Check the online registration system to check for availability.
Registration and sitting fee for the exam is $395. All exam details may be found here.
Can you recommend any study guides to help me prepare?
PACB does not endorse or recommend any preparatory course or materials. Review the Study Guide and the different Domains that are included in the exam and concentrate on those areas in which you feel you have had less experience or that you do not perform on a regular basis. The Study Guide includes a list of references and key terms. You may also wish to check out any of the following organizations that support patient advocacy.
Patient Advocacy Organizations
- National Association Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC)
- Alliance Professional Health Advocates (APHA)
- The Washington State Health Advocacy Association (WASHAA)
- Beryl Institute
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)
- RN Patient Advocates (iRNPA)
- Greater National Advocates (GNANow)
- National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF)
- Patients Rising
Can you explain the exam process?
The exam is administered by the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), a company with decades of experience in handling professional exam programs. Each exam cycle is preceded by an application period during which candidates register and pay applicable fees. Once the application period closes, PTC issues a notice enabling candidates to schedule their exam location, date and time. Exam centers have limited seating and all scheduling is on a first come first served basis. Exams are also now available via remote proctoring. Those passing the exam will be awarded the BCPA credential, and will be listed publicly on the website so patients can confirm the credential.
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 4-weeks following the close of the testing period. Both section and total examination scores will be reported. Successful candidates will receive a paper certificate from the PACB approximately 4-weeks from the date of results reporting. The exam cycle is 4 weeks in length. Those who take the exam at the beginning of the cycle will wait longer than those who take it at the end.
I am unable to take the exam, can I receive a refund?
If you are unable to take the test during the exam cycle for which you are approved, you may request and pay a one-time transfer fee of $250 to the next consecutive exam cycle. See pages 9-10 of the Exam Handbook for complete steps. The transfer fee is based on costs and is not punitive in nature. The transfer fee must be paid at the time the request is approved. The candidate is also responsible for contacting Prometric and canceling the original examination appointment if one was made.
Exams may only be transferred to a new testing period once; please plan carefully.
Please note: Transferring your Examination only refers to instances when a candidate is unable to take their exam during a testing period for which they have already applied. Candidates who did not pass their examination and are retaking the examination need to pay the full Examination Fee.
How do I schedule my exam?
Within eleven weeks prior to the first day of the testing period, you will receive (via email) a Scheduling Authorization from email@example.com. Please ensure you enter your correct email address on the application and add the ‘ptcny.com’ domain to your email safe list. If you do not receive a Scheduling Authorization at least six weeks before the beginning of the testing period, contact the Professional Testing Corporation at (212) 356-0660 or online at www.ptcny.com/contact. The Scheduling Authorization will indicate how to schedule your examination appointment with Prometric (both test center and remote proctoring) as well as the dates during which testing is available.
After you make your test appointment, Prometric will send you a confirmation email with the date, time, and location of your exam. Please check this confirmation carefully for the correct date, time, and location. Contact Prometric at (800) 741-0934 if you do not receive this email confirmation or if there is a mistake with your appointment. Failure to comply with all the procedures will result in being prohibited from sitting for the exam, and your registration fees will be forfeited.
What can I expect when I arrive at the testing center?
Please see Prometric’s site for more information about what to expect on testing day. Also see pages 14-15 of the Exam Handbook for more detailed instructions regarding ‘what to expect at the testing center. In addition, note there may be special test center policies related to COVID-19. Be sure to check for updates.
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 webcam. 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 candidate’s name in demographics and look like the candidate. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, military identification card, 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.
My BCPA exam was canceled due to testing center closures. How can I reschedule to take my exam online through remote proctoring?
Candidates can schedule their new exam appointments through the online Prometric account. Here, you can choose the online proctored testing option or the traditional center-based testing option. If the testing centers in your area have been reopened, you will be able to select a location and an available seat. Please note, even if testing centers in your area have not been reopened, you may see the center-based testing option, but will not find any available seats.
My scheduled exam date is approaching, but I would rather take my exam online. How can I reschedule and opt to take the exam online through remote proctoring?
If you wish to change your exam delivery method, date, or time, you must do so at least 5 days prior to your appointment using the Reschedule/Cancel option at https://www.prometric.com/pacb. Due to unprecedented volumes on Prometric phone lines and email requests, responses during this time may be significantly delayed. We encourage you to reschedule online to avoid those delays. See page 13 of the Exam Handbook for fees and details related to rescheduling.
Can I talk to someone by phone at Prometric for scheduling or rescheduling?
Yes, however, please be advised that the wait time may be long due to agents assisting other customers. The quickest way to get resolution is to fill out an online request form which can be found here:
I already signed up to test at a test center, but would like to change to remote proctoring. How do I do that?
To change your appointment to remote proctoring you will need to cancel your existing appointment first. Go to www.prometric.com/PACB and click on the “Reschedule/Cancel” option under the “Actions” panel, then click on the “Schedule” option in “Remotely Proctored Exam” to schedule. Please note that candidates within 5 days of their scheduled appointment are not permitted to reschedule. If you are within 29-5 days of your test appointment, there is a $50 charge to change to/from remote proctoring to a physical test center. See the Exam Handbook for more details.
Is remote proctored testing a replacement for in person testing?
No, remote proctored exam testing is an additional option and not a replacement of in-person testing. Both are available alternatives.
Is there an additional fee to take a remote proctored exam?
No. There is not an additional fee to take an exam via remote proctoring.
How do I check in on exam day for my remote proctored exam?
Once you have scheduled your exam, Prometric will email you a confirmation notice of your ProProctor exam appointment. Included in the confirmation page is directions and information about environmental requirements, check-in procedures, and launching your exam. Please make sure you allow 30 minutes to prepare your testing environment.
To get started, please visit https://rpcandidate.prometric.com/ to run a system readiness check, download and install the ProProctor application, and launch your exam. You will be required to log in with your confirmation number and first four characters of your last name.
Make sure you have your photo identification available so that your identity can be verified. Acceptable forms of identification include: Driver’s license, military ID, national identification card, passport, and alien registration card (green card, permanent resident, and visa). The form must collectively contain both a photo and signature of the test candidate. Prometric will only accept original documents and will not accept photocopies.
Be prepared to provide a 360º view of your environment using your webcam.
Although you will not see your Prometric Proctor, he/she will monitor you throughout the testing process and will be available to provide assistance at any point during your exam.
Remote Proctored Exams
What does it mean when remote testing is referred to as 'Live' Remote Proctoring?
Live remote proctoring simply means the testing session is monitored by a qualified proctor through audio/video and screen in real time. Other methods of remote proctoring use recordings and AI (artificial intelligence) to monitor candidates.
What are the primary differences between Test Center vs. Remote Proctoring?
Obviously, location is a main difference, but also the testing experience itself. 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 webcam. Before starting the exam, the candidate must present a valid, unexpired government-issued ID with both signature and photo. Both ID signature and image must match the candidate’s name and appearance. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, military identification card, passport, state identification card, and a valid national identification card. In addition, your image as well as 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. See the ProProctor User Guide for more detail on the testing experience.
When and why might remote proctored testing be a good option for me?
There are many reasons candidates choose to test remotely. A few of the most common include:
- Test centers in your area remain closed due to COVID-19.
- The test center is not operating at full capacity due to COVID-19.
- There were no seats available at the time or on the date you wish to test.
- You (or those in your close circle) are in a high-risk category and need to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
- Testing in a familiar place helps some candidates with test anxiety issues.
- The nearest test center is farther away than you wish to travel.
- The convenience of testing anytime/anywhere gives you more control of the experience.
What are the system (technical) requirements for remote proctor testing?
Using the ProProctor system requires a functional internet connection, computer-enabled microphone, and webcam. Remote proctoring is compatible with both Mac* and PC.
To test remotely you will need the following:
- A PC or Mac laptop or desk top computer*
- Laptop computers must be undocked
- Dual-monitor configurations are prohibited – Second monitor must be disconnected
- An internal or external webcam (if external it must be connected to the computer)
- A microphone
- A laptop or desk top computer power source
- A minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768
- A Windows 7 or higher, or MacOS 10.13 or higher operating system
- The current version of Google Chrome web browser
- Reliable and stable internet connectivity with a speed of 0.5 mbps or greater
*Mac users have special configurations. See the ProProctor User Guide for details.
What should I do if I have an unexpected power or internet disruption during my remote proctored exam?
If you experience a power or internet disruption during your remote proctored exam session, the exam will pause after the connection is lost. At that point you should try to reconnect to the exam by first exiting out of the window; a blank screen with an X will appear. Next, close the window; reopen the browser; and reconnect to the test driver. If successful, the exam and the timer will resume where you left off. You have up to 30 minutes before Prometric’s exam disruption time allowance runs out. In the event you are unable to reconnect in time, your exam will be terminated, and you will need to reschedule. Contact the Prometric helpdesk via chat once your internet is back up or leave the testing room to use your smart phone. To contact the help desk using a cell phone without internet follow the instructions in the Exam Handbook, pages 16-17.
Can I use a tablet or smartphone to take my remote proctored exam?
No, testing must take place on a computer. Testing is not compatible with a tablet, mobile phone or a hybrid tablet/laptop device such as the Microsoft Surface.
Where in my home or other location can I take my exam?
- The selected testing location must be indoors (walled), well lit, with a closed door and free from background noise and disruptions.
- The entrance to the room must be in full view of the camera.
- Your workstation and surrounding area (including the walls) must be free of materials that may provide an unfair advantage including, posters, electronic devices, etc.
- Once the exam begins, you are not permitted to talk, stand, or move from your seat. Also, no one else and no pets are permitted in the room with you while you are testing.
- During the check-in process after you have submitted all required photos, the proctor may ask to see your environment, including the walls, floor space, and the desktop.
- Additional monitors and computers must be unplugged and must be turned off.
- You must agree to this scan or you will not be permitted to proceed further or to take the exam.
Can I take my remote proctored exam at my office or use my work computer?
Corporate firewalls, including VPN, and other security features, may prevent successful test delivery; therefore, we do not recommend it. If you elect to test from your office, or use a work computer, be sure to involve your IT team (in advance) to address any potential issues before test day.
How will I know if my computer meets the requirements for remote proctored exam?
Confirm your system’s compatibility by going to: https://rpcandidate.prometric.com/ and completing the system check step.
How do I schedule to test via remote proctoring?
Once you receive the Scheduling Authorization from Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), you may schedule your exam appointment online (for test center or remote proctoring). To schedule online go to www.prometric.com/PACB, scroll down and select the “Schedule Your Remote Proctored Exam” option. See the Exam Handbook for additional detail.
Can I have water, or take a break during the exam?
Requests for accommodations, including breaks, can be handled at test centers. Unfortunately, the remote proctored version of the exam can only be delivered securely without breaks. For both test center and remote proctoring, eating, drinking, smoking, and chewing gum are prohibited during the exam. If you have a medical condition that requires you to drink water or take any other action required to manage your medical condition, please submit a testing accommodation request. Most accommodations can only be supported at test centers.
Once logged in to ProProctor, what is the hold time to start my exam? Do I get the full 3 hours if check takes longer than expected?
You are expected to launch the exam 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time to go through the Prometric security check-in process. Delays do sometimes occur. If this should happen, rest assured that the extended time spent during security check-in will not affect your exam time and you will be allowed the 3 full hours to test. The average hold time to check-in is 15 mins. The candidate will observe a turning circle on the screen. Please do not disconnect as this indicates you are in a waiting queue somewhat like TSA security at the airport – the main difference being you will not be able to see where you are in line.