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By Dr Linda Nix AE, Accreditation Board budget officer, former Accreditation Board chair and 2022 exam coordinator

The fee for sitting the IPEd accreditation exam is in the range A$400 to 800 – a significant financial outlay whether you are at the lower (e.g. concession or resit rate) or higher (full early-bird or standard rate) end. The Accreditation Board (AB) tries to keep exam fees as low as possible while still ensuring that holding the exam is financially viable.

Candidate and workshop surveys reveal that many people believe that allowing the exam to be sat at home, instead of in a computer centre, would dramatically reduce the fees. Contrary to popular belief, the per-person costs for a venue exam and for an invigilated at-home exam are roughly equivalent. Rather, the fixed expenses are the biggest component, in the order of $15,000 per exam to cover exam development and administration (e.g. fixed-rate exam coordinator, lead writer and lead assessor fees; exam writing, development and trial exam costs). IPEd incurs these expenses whether one person sits the exam or a hundred.

Other expenses – venue hire, invigilator honoraria, marking, reports and certificates – vary according to the number of candidates sitting the exam. Each candidate incurs a minimum expense of around $350, comprising:

  • $175 venue or remote sitting cost
  • $150 in marking fees (higher if a candidate’s paper is re-marked during moderation)
  • $25 whether the candidate passes (accreditation certificate creation, printing and postage) or fails (marker fee for writing candidate feedback report).

When setting the budget for a given exam, the AB has to guess at the total number and types of candidates (i.e. whether full, earlybird, resitting or concession rates). So when we set a standard full fee of, say, $700, we know that most candidates will pay a lower rate.

For the 2022 exam, the average fee paid was around $580 – the number of concession and resitting candidates was higher than expected. The minimum cost of $350 left $230 per candidate, or $13,800 for the 60 candidates, to cover all those fixed expenses – less than the $15,000 needed. Fortunately, $2,000 in sponsorship funds from the Canberra Society of Editors and exam prep workshop revenue ensured the exam was still viable.

While the AB looks for savings wherever possible, the main ways we manage to keep fees relatively low are (a) engaging volunteers for all exam work and paying either honoraria or nominal amounts; and (b) holding the exam every two years to maximise the number of candidates covered by one set of development and administration work. If we paid our wonderful volunteers professional market rates (as we’d like to) and if we held the exam annually (as repeatedly requested), then the exam fees would be at least three times higher than they are now. So we take the opportunity once again to wholeheartedly thank all those exam volunteers past and present: we couldn’t run the exam without you.