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Foundation Level Exam

As with all CPSA® certi­fi­ca­tions, the Foundation Level Exam (CPSA‑F®) is conducted by independent certification bodies. The basis for this is a demanding, non-public catalog of questions developed by the iSAQB in accordance with the curri­culum, from which a subset is selected as exami­nation questions.

Types of exami­na­tions of the CPSA-Foundation Level (CPSA‑F®)


Remote Online Testing:  You can conduct a remote online test at home on your home PC.


Exam after classroom training:  CPSA‑F® exams are often taken directly after classroom training by a training provider. They are offered in paper form or with a tablet PC.


Public exam: Dates and locations for public CPSA‑F® exams can be obtained from the certification autho­rities or booked directly on their websites.


Exam in test centers: You can take a CPSA‑F® exam at PEARSON VUE and PROMETRIC test centers in over 190 countries worldwide. Please see the bottom of this page for more information.

Prepa­ration for the exam

To prepare for the Foundation Level exam, parti­ci­pation in classroom or online training from an iSAQB® Accredited Training Provider is highly recom­mended. An accredited CPSA‑F® training course usually lasts three to four days, and covers all relevant topics of the exam.
If you have extensive previous knowledge, prepa­ration for the Foundation Level exam is also possible with the help of the book Software Architecture Funda­mentals.

Regis­tration for the exam

Exami­na­tions can be booked directly with the certification bodies licensed by iSAQB. The prices for exam regis­tra­tions vary from country to country. Currently, exams are available in English, German, Spanish, and Italian.

Exami­nation procedure

The actual CPSA‑F® exam consists of a multiple-choice exam of about 75 minutes duration, in which you have to answer about 40 questions. The exact number can vary due to a random drawing of questions with different scores. You will be awarded points for each correct answer, and to pass the exam you need 60 percent of the maximum possible score.

The exam is adminis­tered by a licensed certification body that also handles the evaluation and the necessary forma­lities. You will receive your exam results from this organiz­ation, usually within one to two weeks after the exam. If you pass the exam, you will receive your official CPSA‑F® certi­ficate.

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there different exami­nation condi­tions for non-native speakers?

In case the exami­nation language is not your mother tongue, the duration of the exami­nation can be extended to 90 minutes (net). Please indicate this when regis­tering with the certification body.

Are there different exami­nation condi­tions for the visually impaired?

In case you are profoundly visually impaired the duration of the exami­nation can be extended to 90 minutes (net). Questions and possible answers can be read to you by the examiner. Please mention this when regis­tering with the certification body.

How can I find a certi­fying body for the CPSA exam?

You can find all information about the certi­fying bodies here.

How does the certification exami­nation for CPSA‑F (Foundation Level) work?

The actual CPSA‑F exami­nation consists of a multiple-choice test of approx. 75 minutes, in which you will be required to answer roughly 40 questions (as the number of points allocated to individual questions varies and questions are rando­mised, the exact number of questions can vary depending on which questions are drawn). You will be awarded points for every correct answer, and you will need to achieve 60% of the examination’s maximum possible points score in order to pass.

Candi­dates usually attend licensed training course in order to prepare for this exami­nation, but in terms of formal requirements you could also complete the exami­nation without having taken part in any training.

The exami­nation will be carried out by a licensed certi­fying body – which will also be in charge of assessment and necessary forma­lities. This organi­sation will then provide you with your exami­nation result, usually within a week of completion of the exami­nation, and also your official CPSA‑F certi­ficate if you have passed the examination.

How long is a success­fully completed CPSA certification valid?

A CPSA certification is valid for life, just like a university degree.

I failed the CPSA Foundation Level exam. Can I repeat it?

The CPSA Foundation Level exam can be repeated several times without any waiting period.

I have lost my certi­ficate. Can it be reissued?

If your certi­ficate has been lost, you can contact the certification body that took your exam or the iSAQB. Generally, you can request a copy of your certi­ficate within 10 years after the date of the exam.

May I call myself “Software Architect” after passing the exam?

The CPSA certification is not a vocational quali­fi­cation, but a proof of knowledge in the field of software architecture. The iSAQB is not entitled to award vocational quali­fi­ca­tions, so we propose you call yourself “Certified Profes­sional for Software Architecture by iSAQB” after passing the exam.
In Germany it is unclear if it is legally allowed to call oneself “Software Architect”. We recommend you inform yourself about the laws regarding the vocational quali­fi­ca­tions in your country.

What is the diffe­rence between a certi­fying body and a training provider?

The iSAQB has stipu­lated that there be a formal and organi­sa­tional separation between training course providers and certi­fying bodies – hence these two different roles. Training course providers offer training, courses, workshops in order to prepare you for the CPSA‑F exami­nation for instance, or your CPSA‑A exami­nation project.

Certi­fying bodies organize the CPSA‑F and CPSA‑A exami­nation – but must not offer any training or seminars in this area themselves.

Which requirements must I fulfil to access Foundation Level certification?

Parti­ci­pants should have the following knowledge and/or experience:

  • At least 18 months of practical experience in software develo­pment, acquired by programming various projects or systems outside of education.
  • Knowledge of and practical experience in at least one higher programming language.
  • Basics of modelling and abstraction.
  • Basics of UML (class, package, component and sequence diagrams) and their relation to source code.
  • Practical experience in technical documen­tation, especially in the documen­tation of source code, system designs or technical concepts.

Helpful for the under­standing of some concepts are also:

  • Knowledge of object orientation
  • Practical experience in at least one object-oriented programming language
  • Practical experience in the design and imple­men­tation of distri­buted appli­ca­tions, such as client/server systems or web applications


We consider it useful to prepare for the CPSA‑F exam by attending an accredited training course – but in general you can also take a CPSA‑F exam without training.


Advanced Level – Exami­nation Rules

This document contains the general rules for a CPSA Advanced Level exami­nation. It provides information on areas of compe­tence, modular concept, exami­nation requirements, costs, prepa­ration, regis­tration and structure of the examination.

English Version [pdf]

Deutsche Version [pdf]

Foundation Level – Exami­nation Rules

This document contains the general rules for a CPSA Foundation Level exami­nation. It provides information on duration, types of questions, scoring, privacy and confi­den­tiality agree­ments, and examples are provided.

English Version [pdf]

Deutsche Version [pdf]

Versión en Español [pdf]

Versione Italiana [pdf]

Foundation Level – Mock Exam Answers

This file contains the solutions to the questions from the Foundation Level mock exam.

English Version [pdf]

Foundation Level – Mock Exam Questions

The Foundation Level mock exam contains 39 questions and is based on the real exam.

English Version [pdf]

Glossary of Software Architecture Termi­nology

This document provides trans­la­tions of terms between English and the respective language. The English version also contains explana­tions for the single terms.

English Version [pdf]

Deutsche Version [pdf]

Versión en Español [pdf]

Versione Italiana [pdf]

Glossário de termi­no­logia de Software Architecture [pdf]

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