A special committee was appointed for each examination to define the body of knowledge to be tested on the examination. Members of the GFOA's standing committees were asked to review exam specifications for completeness and relative importance. Results of these surveys serve as the basis for specifications for certification examinations. Radford University's Governmental and Nonprofit Assistance Center is responsible for updating the exams on a continuous basis.
Each edition of a certification examination is constructed in accordance with examination specifications that list topics to be covered and assign numbers of examination items to topics. Presented in outline form, examination specifications ensure that the character of the examination remains consistent from one edition to the next.
Each examination is composed of up to 175 multiple-choice items presented in the English language. A multiple-choice item consists of a stem, which poses a problem, and possible answers. Only one possible answer is correct or best. For GFOA certification examinations, each item has four possible choices.
Note: Information on this page is relevant to the current program. Effective January 1, 2021, GFOA will be launching a revised CPFO program with updated exams and exam categories. Information on the new program will be available in August 2020.