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Josefine Schfr
Josefine Schfr

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Studying for CPACC | Becoming a Certified Accessibility Professional

TL;DR: Curious on how to prepare for the CPACC exam? This is my (very personal) journey of how to study for it, including the sign-up process, study resources and taking the actual exam.

The CPACC exam (Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies - that's a mouth full...) is a way to show your expertise in the field of (Web) Accessibility, and usually a stepping stone towards showing expertise in the field. It's also a requirement for taking the WAS (Web Accessibility Specialist).

It had been on my mind for months and months to sign up for the exam and get certified, but life (and my amazing skills to put off things I am afraid of) got in the way. Until this year, when I finally signed up, took the test and got officially certified! 🎉

Elmo from sesame street dancing wildly with a party hat

If you are anything like me and the process seems a little daunting, I wanted to share my experience and hopefully make the preparation a little bit easier for you.

Let's dive right in.

Signing up for the CPACC Exam

There are a few things to take into consideration when signing up for the exam.

Exam Dates

There are examination phases during which you can take the exam, you can find them on the IAAP Website. You pick a slot in advance, and only after you signed up and paid, you get to pick the actual time and date. As someone who really likes to plan ahead, it really freaked me out that I didn't know the exact time and date - but don't worry. There are many options to choose from, in my experience at least when you choose the option to take the test in a test center. (And I am sure the other options, too, but here I have no personal experience)

Examination Options

As listed on their website, you have 4 different options for taking the exam.

  • In an Online Remote Session
  • At a Test Center
  • As a Privately Proctored Exam
  • At a Hosted Exam Event

I opted for the test center, as I wanted to make sure I only worried about the actual content of the exam and not whether my tech set up worked or it looked like I was cheating in a take home exam etc. It worked out really well for me, but I have heard people had good experience with the privately or online remote sessions as well. This is especially helpful if you have any requirements in your setup that might be more difficult to guarantee in the test center.

Requesting Additional Time

If you are not a native speaker of the language the test is in (most likely English), you have the option request additional time. It gets you an extra hour to answer all the questions.

Studying for the CPACC Exam

Luckily, what is expected during the exam is very well documented. IAAP provides for example a content outline, which show the different topics covered in the exam and their contribution to the exam result.

I was researching a lot beforehand to make sure I was prepared well enough. (As someone with impostor syndrome, I was wondering if I would ever feel prepared enough, but that's a different story)

The IAAP provides a super valuable list of resources, including a set of mock exam questions, the Body of Knowledge and many articles and courses. Especially the Body of Knowledge proved super helpful for the preparation, even though it is quite extensive, it includes a lot details, further reading and helps with understanding all the concepts.

Note that the Body of Knowledge I was using to prepare is from 2020. Starting with the examination period in May 2024, a new Body of Knowledge will be used.

Some of the listed resources have to be purchased or are only free if you are an IAAP Member, but there are also some good free resources.

Free Resources

  • 100 Days of A11y Blog by Amy Carney documents her learning journey for the CPACC (and WAS) exam and explains each topic in her own words - I found this super helpful!
  • CPACC Full Study Guide (Youtube Video) by Derek Mei - Derek goes through how he prepared for the exam, topics that he covered for study and his strategies. Also really helpful, especially if you are more of a visual / auditory learner.
  • CPACC Webinars & Drop-In Sessions: there are frequent sessions to ask questions about the exam, logistics and potentially even the content. You can sign up for free on the IAAP website.

Paid Resources

Study Methods

This will of course be very different for everyone as we all learn differently. I tried to mix things up a little, by following the Deque Course, taking lots of physical and digital notes, summarizing those into flash cards in the end and comparing them to Amy's blog.

I had some trouble focussing on the long texts of the Body of Knowledge so I used VoiceOver to read it out to me - it's a little monotone for sure, but for me, audio is super helpful to remember facts better.

Desk full of study materials

Taking the CPCC Exam

Of course, I don't want to spoil the fun and give away any actual questions of the exam - let's just say this: they don't exaggerate the amount of time you need to prepare. I found it especially tricky to not get confused by the multiple-choice format, as it's nothing I've ever done before. The distractor options are sometimes really close to the correct answer, and required a high level of detailed knowledge. Since the content of the exam is very general, and my background is more in web accessibility, especially the details about different kinds of disabilities and related laws wrecked my brain.

If you take the exam at a test center, be sure to come a little ahead of time, take off your smart watch, lock away your phone and anything that could look like it's helping you. Where I took the test there was camera surveillance and the person who helped set me up mentioned wearing a smart watch (even a dumb one like mine...) could disqualify me.

When taking the test, you can mark answer to check again later, and you can also see an overview of all your answers before finally submitting them. This really helps not to 'waste' too much time initially, but rather answering quickly what you know and coming back for the ones you need more time for.


When I left the examination center, I was completely lost and felt like it could have gone either way. I definitely did my best, but isn't there always more you could have done?

The results took 6 weeks to arrive, and I am so happy and proud to say I passed with 704 points out of 800. 🎉

Did you take the CPACC already? How did you prepare for it? Let me know in the comments!

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