CFPP/CFPS Exam Overview
This document is intended as an overview of the background and policies surrounding the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG) Certified Function Point Specialist (CFPS) Exam.
As the use of Function Point Analysis (FPA) continues to grow, it is essential that individuals with a specialized level of knowledge and skills be recognized. The CFPS designation is a formal recognition of a level of expertise in the area of FPA, specifically expertise in both knowledge and application of the IFPUG counting rules according to the IFPUG Counting Practices Manual (CPM).
The dictionary defines the word certify as: 1. a. To confirm formally as true, accurate, or genuine; testify to or vouch for in writing. b. To guarantee as meeting a standard; attest. In order to formally confirm this specialized level of expertise, IFPUG established Certification Committee (CC) to develop and administer the CFPS Exam. This examination is the mechanism for certifying that an individual meets the requirements to qualify as a CFPS.
An individual who passes the CFPS Exam receives a formal certificate from IFPUG stating “IFPUG certifies that [name] has met the requirements as specified by the standards and guidelines of the International Function Point Users Group to qualify as a Certified Function Point Specialist (CFPS) for the [version/series] of the Counting Practices Manual.” The certificate is signed by the Certification Committee Chair, as an authorized representative of IFPUG, and indicates the Month and Year the exam was taken, as well as the Month and Year the certification expires. The CFPS Certificate will be valid for a period of three (3) years. An individual may remain certified by either taking the CFPS exam in the third year of certification or by applying for extensions through the CFPS Certification Extension Program. Effective July 1, 2003, a Regular Membership, Affliate Membership or Academic Membership in IFPUG is required to hold the CFPS designation and receive a Certificate.
The Exam is a rigorous test of both the knowledge of the counting rules laid out in the current release of the CPM and the ability to apply those rules. The exam consists of three sections: Definition, Implementation and Case. An individual must have at least 90% overall correct with at least 80% correct on each section of the exam in order to receive the CFPS designation.
The IFPUG CPM is the guiding body of knowledge for developing the CFPS Exam. As one of the IFPUG Counting Standards committees, the IFPUG CC is subject to rulings of the IFPUG Board of Directors, ensuring the integrity and credibility of the CFPS Exam.
At this time, industry recognition of the quality and integrity of the CFPS Exam process and the value of the CFPS designation is widespread enough that companies around the world now commonly include FPA and CFPS requirements in contracts.
As companies use FPA more and more in their contracts, IFPUG, as the body who certifies an individual’s capability, must ensure that the certified individual does indeed have the required expertise. Therefore, ongoing renewal that includes active testing is required to maintain the current high status of the CFPS designation and to maintain IFPUG’s reputation as the certifying body.
The Exam is structured so that both the knowledge and the ability to apply the definitions and rules as published in the current CPM are tested. The three hour exam currently is composed of three sections: Definition, Implementation, Case Study.
- The Definition section consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. The Definition section specifically tests the individual’s knowledge of definitions and rules.
- The Implementation section consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. The Implementation section indirectly tests the individual’s knowledge of definitions and rules, and directly tests the individual’s ability to apply the definitions and rules through small story problems.
- The Case Study section consists of two to three case studies, with 50 to 55 associated line items. The Case Study section directly tests the individual’s ability to apply the definitions and rules of the CPM using varying case topics.
The Exam is created in English, and is usually administered in English. However, bi-lingual CFPS will occasionally volunteer to work with the CC to translate the exam to other languages. For example, regional Exams have recently been offered in Italian, Portuguese and Korean. As stated previously, the purpose of the exam is to test the candidate’s knowledge and his/her ability to apply that knowledge. The proctor will allow a maximum of three (3) consecutive hours to complete the CFPS exam. There will be no scheduled breaks during the three (3) hours. The purpose is not to test the candidate’s English language skills. For that reason, if a participant has difficulty with the language of the exam because that language is not their native language, or is not one of the primary business languages of the country, they may request an additional thirty (30) minutes of exam time. An individual can be considered competent in a language when he/she has the knowledge that enables him/her to speak and understand that language. Time extension requests must be made prior to the start of the exam, and are granted at the sole discretion of the proctor. Note: Time extensions are made on a person by person basis and are not to be given to all participants.
It is the CC’s policy to review all comments an individual records on their exam answer sheet, and to give credit whenever a comment supports the given answer. Also, if a mistake is made in the Case Section it is only counted wrong one time — during the scoring process the CC will re-calculate successive answers based on the individual’s original answer.
The successful CFPS candidate must have at least 90% overall correct with at least 80% correct on each section of the exam. If a candidate does not meet the requirements for a CFPS, but has at least 80% overall with at least 70% correct on each section of the exam, they will be awarded a CFPP (Certified Function Point Practitioner) designation instead.
The CFPS certificate is valid for three years from the time the Exam was passed. Candidates who do not pass may re-take the Exam at any time, provided at least 14 days have passed from the prior sitting.
Exam Feedback Policy
Feedback is provided to all candidates who sit for the Exam. For successful candidates the feedback is a letter from the IFPUG office plus the CFPS certificate. For candidates who do not pass, the feedback is a letter from the IFPUG office plus Exam percentages by section. These percentages give a general indication of areas requiring additional study before sitting again.
The IFPUG CC does not provide any lower level of feedback detail to anyone, either topical or specific content. Key testing topics remain consistent from one Exam version to the next. Also, some specific questions may be reused or a case study of a similar nature may be used from one Exam version to the next. There is the possibility that questions missed by a candidate on one Exam may be on the next version of the Exam. To review these questions with a candidate would be unfair to others taking the Exam.
The following general and/or anecdotal observations may be helpful to candidates preparing for the Exam:
- Successful CFPS candidates typically have been formally trained in Function Point Analysis, and have a counting experience level of greater than 14,000 function points.
- If you have not been counting FP regularly within the last six months, make an effort to do as many real or practice counts as possible – without the aid of a counting tool. Most people (including those that have attained CFPS) find that FP counting skills and mechanics tend to slow and weaken without regular use.
- Check your answer sheet carefully before returning to the proctor. There have been many instances where people have left questions with no answer marked or selected, which must be therefore be counted as an incorrect answer.
- Some people have made “flash cards” by reviewing the CPM and writing definitions, rules, etc. on index cards. They reviewed the “flash cards” whenever they had a few free moments – a break during a meeting, sitting in a traffic jam, waiting for the washing machine to finish the spin cycle. They indicated that this technique helped their confidence and recall, as well as their time management during the Exam.
- There are several vendors who do provide CFPS Exam Preparation training. This training does not guarantee that an individual will pass the exam; however, past training participants have stated that it does better prepare them for the actual CFPS Exam. This training is available at the IFPUG Workshops.
- Some vendors provide practice CFPS exams in hardcopy form or accessible via the Internet.
- Some people who have taken the Exam at both a conference/workshop and at a regional have indicated that the regional setting was more relaxed and maybe even quieter. Consider your noise level tolerance when planning your Exam sitting.
- IFPUG Case Studies are available and can be used as study aid for both applying rules and for practicing case work.
- Special care should be taken to completely read and follow all CFPS examination instructions. The Proctors can answer any questions about the instructions, where and how to show your work, etc.
Exam Day Rules are read before every Exam session, whether at a Conference, Workshop or regional location:
- Failure to comply with the following instructions or instructions of the proctor may result in invalidation of your exam.
- Please turn off all cell phones and pagers. Use of electronic devices is prohibited during the exam; however, non-programmable calculators are permitted.
- Talking to anyone other than the proctor is not permitted during the exam.
- All materials, including the answer sheet, exam booklet, and used scrap paper must be returned to the proctor and you must sign out at the end of the exam.
- Please legibly print your name in the upper right hand corner of the exam booklet and on all pages of the answer sheet. You may write on the exam booklet and the answer sheet.
- The CFPS exam is open book. Individuals who wish to utilize the Counting Practices Manual (CPM) during a regional or IFPUG workshop exam must provide their own copy of the version of the CPM being tested. The CPM must be bound (e.g. three ring binder, spiral binding, tape binding, etc.). The proctor is required to inspect each individual’s copy of the CPM to ensure it is bound. Unbound copies of the CPM will not be allowed and will be confiscated and returned to the individual after the exam has ended. The proctor will not have in their possession additional copies of the CPM for use during the exam. Participants may use their own calculators and/or vendor-supplied quick reference cards. In all cases, however, the IFPUG CPM shall be used as the basis for scoring the exam. The proctor will ensure that only the CPM, a calculator and/or vendor-supplied quick reference cards are used during the CFPS exam. The only exception to this is the use of language-translation dictionaries.
- If English is not your first language you may use an English translation dictionary. If a participant has difficulty with the language of the exam because that language is not their native language, or is not one of the primary business languages of the country, they may request an additional thirty (30) minutes of exam time . Time extension requests must be made before the exam begins, and are granted at the sole discretion of the proctor. Note: Time extensions are made on a person by person basis and are not to be given to all participants.
- The exam is three hours with no scheduled breaks; if you need a break, just leave and return as soon as possible; we will announce time checks at each hour and approximately every five minutes for the last 15 minutes of the exam.
- Be sure that you have an answer for all multiple choice questions as blanks will be counted as wrong answers.
- For case studies be sure that you clearly label each of your answers, and that you have an answer for each question space provided. However, many case study answers request multiple parts, so if one part does not apply to a particular answer then leave that part blank or specify that part as not applicable (n/a). Calculated answers may be rounded or left as a decimal. Show your work – work shown on the answer sheet will be considered during scoring.
- If a mistake is made in the Case Section it is only counted wrong one time — during the scoring process we will re-calculate successive answers based on your original answer.
- If you believe any questions or answer options are unclear, write a note on the answer sheet, clearly identifying to which question your note refers. Only notes on the answer sheet will be considered when scoring the exam.
- Raise your hand if you need any clarification; we will not assist in interpretation or provide any answers.
- Upon completion of the exam, bring the answer sheet, exam booklet, and used scrap paper to the front of the room and sign the sign-out list. Your exam results will be withheld if you do not return all materials and sign out.
- The exam consists of three sections: Definition, Implementation and Case. A successful exam will have at least 90% overall correct with at least 80% correct on each section of the exam. The exam scores will be published four to six (4-6) weeks after receipt by the IFPUG office.
CFPS Code of Ethics
The IFPUG Certified Function Point Specialist (CFPS) Code of Ethics states that as an IFPUG CFPS:
- I will promote the understanding of Function Point Counting Practices, methods, and procedures.
- I have an obligation to the FP community to uphold the high ideals and level of personal knowledge as evidenced by the certification held.
- I have an obligation to serve the interest of my employers and/or clients loyally, diligently, and honestly.
- I will not engage in any conduct or commit any act which is a discredit to the reputation or integrity of the CFPS Program, IFPUG, or the information system community.
- I will not imply or otherwise convey that the CFPS designation is my sole claim to professional competence. I will continuously strive for professional knowledge and growth.
- I will not engage in any activity during the administration of the exam that could provide any of the participants, including myself, with an unfair advantage for successful completion of the exam.
Upon successful completion of the CFPS Exam and by accepting his/her CFPP/CFPS certificates, a CFPP/CFPS agrees to:
- hold IFPUG harmless from any and all liability arising out of their professional activities, and
- abide by and uphold the IFPUG Code of Ethics.