The term "pilot testing" refers to the process of having a group of volunteers take a course before it is released to the public, noting any problems or issues with the course, and reporting the number of hours it took to complete the course.
Pilot Testing: A good way to earn free CPE credit
If you don't mind filling out a little extra paperwork, and carefully monitoring how long it takes you to complete the course, pilot testing is a good way to earn free or low cost CPE credit.
All self study CPE courses for CPAs must be pilot tested to determine the number of CPE credits for the course, which is based on the average completion time of the pilot testers.
What is expected of a pilot tester?
Although regulations concerning specific pilot testing procedures are governed by each state's Board of Public Accounting, most states require pilot testers to:
1. Report the time taken to read the course materials and complete the course exams
2. Submit a standard course evaluation
3. Complete both the review exam and the final exam with a grade of 70% or greater
4. Submit a statement of independence
5. Submit a brief resume
We also expect pilot testers to report any errors noted in the course materials and exams, and any confusing or ambiguous questions on the exams.
Does it cost anything to participate in a pilot test?
For CPE courses based on online materials, there is no cost to participate. If the course uses a book, you may have to purchase (or borrow) the book.
How many people are in a pilot test group?
The jointly issued AICPA/NASBA (American Institute of Public Accounting/National Association of State Accounting Boards) CPE Standards requires that a minimum of at least three individuals must complete each pilot test. We strive for a participation level of around 10, as we need to have around 10 course completions to get a reasonable average time of completion. More than 10 pilot testers will ordinarily be invited to participate since some may not complete the course.
Can I increase my chances of being selected to join the pilot test group?
You should respond immediately to an email invitation to participate. First come, first served! Most pilot test groups fill up within a few hours of sending an email notice.
Will I know ahead of time how much CPE credit I'll receive?
You will not know ahead of time how much CPE credit you will receive for the course, and in fact the CPE provider is specifically forbidden from providing any information about expected course completion times to you. You can often get a general idea of the expected CPE credit by looking at similar course offerings from other providers.
Should I participate in every pilot test I have the opportunity to join?
You must use the same degree of care in selecting pilot tests to participate in as you do in selecting your other continuing education courses.
Many states require that courses be taken in certain subjects (accounting and auditing for example) and/or have limits on the number of non-technical hours you can take in a year or a reporting period.
FunCPE pilot tests usually do not require participants to have a minimum level of experience in the subject matter, or have other prerequisites. Any such requirements will be stated in the pilot test notice.
How much time will I have to complete the pilot test?
Most pilot tests must be completed within one to three weeks of the receipt of the material. If you are unable to complete the course in the stated time frame, you ordinarily would not receive any CPE credit for the course.
The CPE certificate of completion will be issued after the close of the pilot test, when all necessary forms have been received from all participants. The certificate will be dated the day of the conclusion of the pilot test, not the day you submit your exams.
You should not use pilot test CPE to meet a CPE reporting deadline, as there can be delays in the completion of the test, if for example, not enough participants complete the requirements, or the other participants don't turn in their required forms in a timely manner.
What makes a good pilot tester?
A good pilot tester is someone who:
- completes the coursework by the deadline,
- reads and studies the course materials,
- follows the pilot testing instructions,
- turns in all required forms and
- takes the time to make at least a few comments about the course subject materials and/or the exam questions.
If you complete your pilot test promptly and accurately, you will be more likely to be included in future pilot tests.
What if I need CPE right now?
- For fun and interesting CPA CPE courses, visit our CPE Course Listing.
- Take our free tax course for one hour of free CPE credit.
To receive email notification of future pilot tests, sign up for the pilot tester program.