About the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where can I get an application? Beginning in 2012, Professional Testing Corporation processes all written applications and payments. CPC does not accept applications. Information regarding applications can be found on www.aoa.org, but the actual written applications are housed online at http://www.ptcny.com/clients/cpc. Applications must be completed on a computer. They may be submitted online with credit or debit payment or printed and mailed to Professional Testing Corporation in time to be received by the application deadline. No handwritten applications will be accepted.
- What are the examination fees? The examination fee for the CPO and CPOC is $240. The fee for the CPOA, CPOT Written, and CPOT Practical examinations is $265.
- What is the address for mailing an application if I am unable to apply for an examination online? Applications may be mailed to CPC Examination, Professional Testing Corporation, 1350 Broadway, Suite 1705, New York NY 10018.
- Can I pay for my examination online? Candidates may pay by credit or debit card at the time of application submission only. Candidates who are unable to pay by credit or debit card at that time must include a check or money order with their paper application when it is mailed to the Professional Testing Corporation. Checks should be made payable to CPC Examination.
- How will I be notified that my application was received? Professional Testing Corporation will email a confirmation of application to you once your application has been received. Several weeks before the examination period begins, they will mail an Eligibility Notice to you at your preferred mailing address.
- I’m having difficulty submitting my application online, need to verify receipt of my application or need to discuss a payment or refund. All of these issues are handled by Professional Testing Corporation. A special email address is available to handle forms related issues: firstname.lastname@example.org. All other inquiries should be addressed to email@example.com or 212.356.0660.
- Where can I get a Candidate Handbook? Handbooks are available to view or print at www.aoa.org or http://www.ptcny.com/clients/cpc. If you are unable to view or print the handbook, contact the CPC at 800-365-2219 ext. 4210.
- I’m military. Can testing be arranged at the base education office? Candidates who are stationed overseas may request pencil and paper testing to be proctored on base through their base education office. Personnel stationed within the continental United States must test at a PSI exam center on the advertised testing dates. For more information on testing overseas contact 800-365-2219 ext. 4210.
- Do I have to pay the special test center fee to test on base? No special testing center fees will be charged to active duty military testing at overseas locations.
- Is the examination offered online? All the paraoptometric examinations are proctored examinations that are available as computer-based examinations at specified PSI exam centers. In addition, one paper and pencil examination is offered in conjunction with Optometry’s Meeting ™ in June each year.
- Who is eligible to pay student fees? Candidates will be considered students only if they are enrolled full-time in a formal paraoptometric education program approved by the AOA or ACOE (Accreditation Council on Optometric Education). Documentation will be required.
- What is the difference between the Candidate Handbook and the Study Guide? The Handbook contains general information regarding requirements and procedures for applying and taking a paraoptometric examination as well as a study outline. Study guides are the actual publications you would use to prepare for the examination. Some study materials are available for purchase from the AOA Paraoptometric Section, ext. 4108. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- How and when do I get a Study Guide? Materials may be purchased as soon as the decision to become certified is made. Study materials are not included with the examination fee and therefore no study materials will be automatically mailed to candidates applying for any level examination. A list of recommended study materials can be found in each level of the candidate handbook. Candidates may order some study materials from AOA’s Paraoptometric Section. For more information, contact the Paraoptometric Section at 800-365-2219 ext. 4108 or email@example.com.
- Can I order a study guide for the examination without registering for an examination? If you wish to purchase a study guide without registering for the examination, you may do so by downloading the order form from the website, www.aoa.org. If you are unable to obtain a copy of the order form, contact the Paraoptometric Section at 800-365-2219 ext. 4108.
- How much study time should I allow for preparing for the examination? At least 3 months of study time should be allowed for each examination. Keep in mind that the examinations get progressively more difficult and length of study time may need to be adjusted accordingly.
- Why should I do the self assessment exam? Is the self assessment exam a pre-test? The self assessment examination is more of a diagnostic tool that will demonstrate a candidate’s areas of strengths and weaknesses as well as another method of studying. It is not a pre-test for the examinations. Candidates who pass the self assessment examination will be awarded a certificate of completion and 12 hours of continuing education that they may apply toward their certification renewal.
- Are there any other study materials available? A list of recommended reading materials as well as an outline with a brief explanation of the areas to be tested for each examination is listed in the appropriate level Candidate Handbook.
- What study materials are available for the CPOC? There is no specific study guide for the CPOC (Certified Paraoptometric Coder). A study map to aid CPOC candidates can be found on the AOA website.
- The CPOC examination is an open book examination. What materials will be allowed in the examination room? Current versions of the CPT Standard Edition and Codes for Optometry may be used during the Certified Paraoptometric Coder (CPOC) examination. The professional editions may not be used.
- Do I have to have already be a certified paraoptometric in order to take the CPOC examination? No, a certification is not required before taking the CPOC examination. However, you must meet the eligibility criteria of a minimum of two years of medical coding experience and a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Is there a way to skip the CPO examination? Candidates with five or more years experience in the eye care field may be eligible to bypass the CPO examination. The employer must attest to this experience by completing the CPOA Reference Form and submitting it to the CPC Administrator for review along with the candidate’s resume`. Current certifications from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO), National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) or Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) may also be submitted for review. Documentation will be required.
- Is there any way I can skip the CPO and CPOA examinations and go straight to the CPOT examination? Candidates who are currently enrolled full-time in their last semester of, or have recently graduated from, an ACOE (Accreditation Council on Optometric Education) approved paraoptometric technician program are eligible to sit for either the CPOA or CPOT examination without having taken the CPO examination. Military members who have attended comparable, approved military programs are also eligible to bypass the CPO and CPOA examination. Documentation is required.
- Why are there 2 parts to the CPOT? The written portion of the examination confirms the candidate’s professional knowledge while the practical portion demonstrates the candidate’s ability to perform the procedures required of a Certified Paraoptometric Technician on patients in an office type situation.
- Does everyone have to pass the practical examination before becoming a CPOT? The practical examination is waived for graduates of ACOE (Accreditation Council on Optometric Education) approved paraoptometric technician programs and those who have graduated from approved military paraoptometric technician programs.
- Are the fees the same for both the written and practical portion? The fee for the CPOT Written and Practical examinations is $265. The fee for the CPOA exam is $265 and the fee for the CPO and CPOC examinations is $240. All fees are non-refundable.
- Where can I get an application for the CPOT Practical? Contact the CPC office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is there a study guide for the CPOT? There is no specific study guide for the CPOT examination. A list of recommended reading is located in the CPOT Candidate Handbook. A good source of information is the study guide used for the CPOA exam, “Self Study Guide for the Paraoptometric Assistant and Technician”.
- Can I request a special test center for the practical examination? No. Practical examinations are held only at sites designated by the CPC.
- How long do I have to wait between the CPO and the CPOA examinations and between the CPOA and CPOT? Six months experience is required between each successive level of certification.
- Can I take the CPOT written and practical examinations at the same time? A candidate may sit for the CPOT written and practical if offered at the same time, but is not required to do so. Candidates for CPOT must complete and pass both portions of the examination within a 3 year period in order to be considered a CPOT.
- Can I get a refund or postpone my examination? The CPC has set forth a strict policy that no refunds nor postponements free of charge shall be granted except in extreme hardship circumstances which will be considered on a case by case basis. Candidates who choose to reschedule their examination to the next upcoming examination period must notify CPC prior to the beginning of the examination period for which they have already applied or forfeit all fees. If a postponement to the next testing period is authorized, a new application must be submitted with the rescheduling fee of $200.00 in time to be received by the application deadline for the period which they are applying. Persons who withdraw their application or fail to appear for their scheduled examination forfeit their application fees, regardless of the reason. Appointments may be rescheduled within the two-week testing period at no additional charge, subject to appointment availability. Candidates must contact PSI to cancel their original appointment at least 2 business days prior to their original appointment date before setting a new examination date and time.
- I haven’t received the Eligibility Notice needed to make an examination appointment. What do I need to do? Professional Testing Corporation issues examination Eligibility Notices which are required to make your examination appointment with PSI. If you not receive your notice within three weeks of the examination, contact PTC at 212-356-0661.
- What do I need to bring with me to the examination? Each candidate will need to bring his or her Eligibility Notice and one current and valid form of state or government issued picture ID. In order to be admitted to the examination, the name on your application and Eligibility Notice must exactly match your identification. Calculators are permitted, but not required. No other materials will be allowed, except for the CPOC examination candidates, who may bring the specified coding reference materials with them. The proctor will designate an area of safekeeping for any personal items which are brought into the examination. Those items may be picked up after your examination is completed and turned in and you are ready to exit the examination area.
- When will I get my results? Can they be emailed to me or can I get them over the phone? A preliminary pass/fail result will be available immediately following a computer-based examination. Final results and a score report will be mailed to the candidate within 4 to 6 weeks of the close of the testing period. Paper and pencil results will be processed by the PTC and mailed to the candidate mail within 6 weeks of the examination date. Due to confidentiality policies, results are mailed only to the candidate. No results will be faxed, given over the phone, emailed, nor published on any website.
- My examination results indicate I failed, but I’m certain I didn’t. Is there anything I can do? Candidates with reason to believe a discrepancy exists in the scoring or reporting of their test results may appeal in writing to the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC). The letter must be accompanied by supporting documentation, as applicable. The appeal must be received within 30 days after examination results are received by the candidates. The CPC will review the appeal and notify the candidate in writing of its decision.
- If I failed the examination when can I retake it? There is no designated waiting period. Unsuccessful candidates may retake the examination upon filing a new application, exam fee and if applicable, special test center fee, by the deadline for the next scheduled examination period.
- If I failed the examination, is a free or reduced price available? There is no free or reduced fee for repeating any of the examinations.
- Is membership the same as certification? No. Membership in the Paraoptometric Section and paraoptometric certification are completely different and are handled by two different departments at the AOA. Membership is handled by the Paraoptometric Section and requires yearly membership dues. Certification refers to the level of professional certification one has attained through formal testing and continuing education in the paraoptometric field. Certification requires renewal every three years and is dependent upon the satisfaction of required continuing education as well as submission of renewal fees to the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC).
- Am I required to be a member of the AOA to become or remain certified? Membership in AOA is not required but is encouraged.
- When is my certification renewal due? Certifications are renewable every three calendar years and are due by November 1 of the renewal year. Certified paraoptometrics will be reminded in January of their renewal year that their renewal is coming due shortly. Invoices are mailed out in June.
- How often do I have to renew my certification? Certifications are renewable every 3 years. Candidates are reminded in June of their renewal year that continuing education credits and renewal fees will be due November 1.
- Where can I get continuing education? Continuing education is available from a variety of sources. Many state and national optometric or paraoptometric conferences offer opportunities to obtain continuing education that has been approved by CPC or COPE. The AOA Paraoptometric Section offers free online CE to its members as well as other opportunities to earn credits. CPR and First Aid courses offered through the American Heart Association or Red Cross may be used. A list of CPC approved continuing education is available on the AOA website, www.aoa.org or you may contact the CPC office for more information at email@example.com.
- When can I start accumulating my continuing education hours and how many do I need? Continuing education may be accumulated beginning January 1 of the first year of certification and may continue through October 31 of the renewal year. For example, a candidate who passes the examination between January and December 2012 will be due for renewal on November 1, 2015. Continuing education may be accumulated from January 1, 2012 through October 31, 2015. Those who have previously renewed may start earning credits beginning November 1 through October 31 of their next renewal period. Any unused credits, or credits earned and used after November 1 due to an extension, may not be applied to the next renewal period. Currently, 18 hours of continuing education are required for certification renewal.
- If I cannot earn the required 18 hours of education by my renewal date, what should I do? If your renewal date has passed and you have not acquired the 18 hours needed, you must request an extension in writing before December 31 of your renewal year. Requests may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I have already passed the written (or practical) portion of the CPOT examination. A notice to renew my CPOA certification was received. Do I still need to renew as a CPOA if I’ve already passed one portion of the CPOT? To be considered a CPOT, a candidate must pass both the written and the practical examinations within the maximum span of a 3 year period. If only one portion of the exam has been taken and passed, the candidate would still be considered a CPOA and would need to follow the renewal guidelines and submit their renewal as a CPOA.
- When is the renewal late fee required? If your renewal has not been received or postmarked prior to November 15, a late fee will be assessed and must be paid before the renewal will be processed. Those who request a renewal extension and renew after November 15 will be required to pay the late fee.
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