Registered Quality Assurance Professional (RQAP)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The list below explains acronyms that will be used frequently on the remainder of this webpage.
- SQA: Society of Quality Assurance, the nonprofit membership society for regulatory quality assurance professionals.
- RQAP: Registered Quality Assurance Professional, the credential offered by SQA.
- RQAP-GCP: Registered Quality Assurance Professional in Good Clinical Practice.
- RQAP-GLP: Registered Quality Assurance Professional in Good Laboratory Practice.
- CPR: Council on Professional Registration, the body that governs the RQAP exams.
- CV: Curriculum vitae, or resume.
- CBT: Computer-based testing.
- GMP: Good Manufacturing Practice
Eligibility and Application
1. Do I have to be a member of SQA to take an RQAP exam?
No. Both members and non-members hold the RQAP credential, though members receive a discount on examination fees.
2. I am not sure if my work experience qualifies as full-time experience as a quality assurance professional as stated in the exam eligibility requirements. How can I find out if CPR will approve my eligibility based on my current experience?
The easiest way to determine if your work experience will be approved by CPR is to ask. You should send a copy of your current CV along with an explanation of your position and why you think it may or may not qualify you for the exam to the CPR Chair (email@example.com) or SQA Headquarters (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you ask, CPR will look at your CV and give you advice on your eligibility before you apply to take the exam.
3. I am an independent consultant and do not have a supervisor to sign my application. What should I do?
An Active Member of SQA is also permitted to sign your application indicating that you will have met the eligibility requirements by the exam date to the best of their knowledge.
4. I applied well in advance of the application postmark deadline, but I have not received confirmation that my application has been approved. What is taking so long?
CPR waits until all applications have been received (approximately one week after the postmark deadline) to review the applications at one time. You should receive a confirmation by e-mail when your payment has been processed, and then you’ll receive another message confirming your eligibility after CPR has reviewed and approved your application, with instructions for making your exam appointment if you have applied to take the exam via CBT. If there is any question about your eligibility, you will hear from SQA Headquarters to get clarification.
5. What is the most common error made on the exam application?
There are three very common errors. The first is for applicants to forget to sign or to mark all of the checkboxes on the second page of the application under the heading Applicant’s Signature. The second error is neglecting to include a current copy of your CV with the application form and payment. The third common error is to complete the application for the wrong exam: to mark the GLP exam on the application when you intended to apply for the GCP exam or vice versa.
6. Where can I find a study guide, preparation course or practice test for the exam?
At this time, SQA does not provide study guides, preparation courses or practice tests for the RQAP exams. The CPR has published a short white paper on why it does not offer preparation courses. SQA does provide training on a variety of quality assurance topics at least twice each year during its Quality College, and the information discussed in these courses may be beneficial to some exam candidates, but they are not exam preparation courses.
7. How should I prepare for the exam?
SQA has provided a list of study references for each exam (see the links on the left menu for RQAP-GLP Study References and RQAP-GCP Study References) that lists all of the regulations and guidelines that may be discussed on the exam when you take it. Candidates do not need to memorize all of the references, but successful candidates will be familiar enough with most of the references to answer questions about scenarios in which the references may have some influence on the best solution. Some successful candidates have shared with SQA that forming a study group of other individuals studying for the exam has been helpful, allowing them to divide the references and report back to the group on the most important points for discussion. SQA does not organize such study groups but has no objection to candidates organizing their own.
Taking the Exam
8. I had to miss the exam for an unavoidable reason. What can I do?
As outlined in the Candidate Handbook, CPR will allow you to either request a refund, minus a processing fee, or request to take the exam during a future administration if you must miss the exam due to extenuating circumstances. Some acceptable circumstances are a death or serious illness in the family, your own serious illness, natural disasters that prevent travel, etc. There are also provisions in the Candidate Handbook for rescheduling a CBT exam appointment within the same testing window if necessary.
9. Can I take the exam at a location outside of the U.S.?
SQA's new testing services provider has the ability to offer the exams at CBT facilities around the world. A detailed listing of available testing facilities is available on the RQAP-GLP and RQAP-GCP examination webpages. Because SQA is charged additional fees by the testing services provider for candidates taking the exam at an international testing site, there is a $50 charge associated with any exam administered outside of the U.S. and Canada.
10. I have a disability covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Does SQA offer accommodations for my disability?
SQA is prepared to meet ADA requirements for reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. On the first page of your application form, under the Special Accommodations heading, please mark the correct box to request accommodations, and then complete the accompanying Request for Special Examination Accommodations form and the Documentation of Disability-Related Needs form. Because SQA is charged additional fees by the testing services provider for any accommodations made, there is a $50 charge associated with the provision of special accommodations.
11. English is not my first language and it takes me significantly longer to read and respond to questions in English than it takes my English-speaking colleagues. Is there a way for me to get some language assistance on the exam?
SQA is prepared to offer some accommodations to candidates for whom English is not their native language. On the first page of your application form, under the Special Accommodations heading, please mark the correct box to request language accommodations, and then complete the accompanying Request for Special Examination Accommodations form. If you request a language dictionary, you will need to bring a new, very basic language dictionary with no handwriting in it to the exam site. The proctor will inspect your dictionary before and after the exam to ensure you have not written anything in it that may help you pass the exam or that will compromise the security of the exam questions. Because SQA is charged additional fees by the testing services provider for any accommodations made, there is a $50 charge associated with the provision of language accommodations.
12. How many people pass the exam?
The average passing rate for both exams is 70–80%.
13. I have received my score report, but it does not tell me exactly which questions I missed on the exam. Can I find out which questions I answered incorrectly?
The score report will show how many questions you answered correctly or incorrectly in each content area of the exam, but SQA cannot provide you with information on the specific questions that you answered incorrectly. The reason for this is that the questions are used over and over again on exams for several years, and if you failed the exam and wish to take it again, you could get one or more of the same questions. If you already know that you answered that question incorrectly last time, and you remember what that incorrect answer was, you can eliminate it from your options, therefore giving yourself an unfair advantage over the other candidates. This would undermine the statistical validity of the exam, and we cannot provide such information.
14. I have received my score report indicating that I passed the exam, but there was no certificate or any other recognition of my achievement. Will I receive something of that nature?
SQA does provide certificates commemorating your achievement. All of the certificates are hand-signed by the CPR Chair and the SQA President, so it takes some time for them to be sent to you. You may add the RQAP credential to your name and your CV immediately upon receiving the score report indicating that you passed, and you should use the score report for documentation of your achievement until you receive your certificate. Your certificate will have your name, the SQA logo and seal, the name of the credential (RQAP-GCP or RQAP-GLP), the wet signatures of the CPR Chair and SQA President, and a year seal for you to affix in one of the circles at the bottom of your certificate. When you re-register every 3 years, you will receive another year seal for the next 3 years to add to your certificate, proving your maintenance of the credential. SQA also partners with Framing Success to offer reduced-cost certificate framing services to Registrants, and you will receive a brochure about this service with your certificate.
15. Do I have to be a member of SQA to maintain my RQAP credential?
No. Both members and non-members hold the RQAP credential.
16. I am not certain when I need to re-register. How can I find out?
Possibly the easiest way to learn when you will need to re-register is to look at your RQAP certificate. The most recent year seal on your certificate will have an ending year, and you will need to submit your re-registration application by 31 October of the ending year. Alternatively, you can calculate for yourself the time since you took the exam or last re-registered; the re-registration period is 3 years, so if you took the exam in 2009, you must re-register in 2012. Also, SQA Headquarters will begin sending you re-registration reminders by mail and by e-mail in May or June of the year you are expected to re-register provided you keep your contact information up-to-date with the office. Finally, you may always contact SQA Headquarters (email@example.com) directly to find out your re-registration due date.
17. What is considered acceptable documentation of an activity?
It depends upon the activity. For training, meetings and events, there are usually any number of items that can prove you attended, including badges, certificates, sign-in sheets, or even just a copy of your notes taken during the event. If the event was not sponsored by SQA, CPR requests that you submit a detailed description or agenda in addition to your proof of attendance. For authorship of a course, poster or publication, a title page or slide listing you as the author along with some indication that the course or publication occurred during the appropriate 3-year re-registration window, is acceptable. Proof of membership can come from a dues receipt. Proof of committee membership can be provided in minutes documenting your presence at a meeting or a printed webpage indicating your current membership on the day the page was printed. Proof of university courses can be provided in a copy of a transcript. There are many possibilities for documentation, and if you have any questions, you can always ask the CPR Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) or SQA Headquarters (email@example.com).
18. I submitted my re-registration application and payment long before the 31 October deadline, but I have not received notification of my approval. When will I be notified?
CPR reviews all of the re-registration applications at one time in November and early December. Notifications are provided to Registrants in December.
19. I have earned far more than the minimum required 12 units during my current re-registration period. Should I list everything?
CPR would prefer that you limit your application and documentation to 12 units. If something on your application seems questionable to CPR, they will contact you and you are free to then substitute an alternative activity for the one in question. Since CPR reviews every application, it is much easier for them to review an application with only 12 units than one with 36 units that are included unnecessarily.
20. All of my re-registration activities are SQA-related. Do I really need to submit documentation with my application?
You are expected to provide your own documentation of your activities, SQA-related or not. If you have trouble finding documentation of a particular SQA activity, please contact SQA Headquarters (firstname.lastname@example.org) and staff members will do their best to assist you in obtaining documentation. However, the responsibility of providing documentation for all activities lies with the Registrant.
21. I do not need to re-register for another year or two, but I have already earned all of my units. Can I submit my application early?
In order to reduce confusion, SQA greatly appreciates Registrants waiting to submit their applications until after 1 January of the year they are due to re-register. If there are extenuating circumstances that make it necessary for you to submit the application and documentation now (military duty, etc.), then exceptions can be made.
22. I missed my re-registration application deadline. What can I do?
For one month after the re-registration deadline, SQA will accept re-registration applications accompanied by a $25 late fee in addition to the application fee. CPR is invested in helping people keep their RQAP credential. However, if you miss the deadline by more than a month, it is not fair to the other Registrants who followed the procedures correctly to allow the application. In that instance, you may retake the exam in order to earn your credential again.
23. Do I have to go to the SQA Annual Meeting to earn re-registration units?
No. The SQA Annual Meeting is an excellent opportunity to learn and network with your quality assurance colleagues, and you will earn re-registration units by attending, but it is not required.
24. How can I earn re-registration units?
There are many ways to earn re-registration units. Some individuals even earn enough to complete their application without ever registering for or attending an event. You can earn re-registration units by being a member of SQA, an SQA Chapter or a relevant professional organization; being a member of an elected or appointed Committee in SQA, an SQA Chapter or a relevant professional organization; being a Chair or Vice Chair of a volunteer Committee or special interest group in SQA, an SQA Chapter or a relevant professional organization; attending SQA or SQA Chapter events; attending other professional society events (such as those offered by BARQA, JSQA, RAPS, DIA, SOT, ACRP, NAICC, AALAS, and many others); attending training provided in-house by your company; attending web-based seminars; teaching a course; being a first or primary author on a poster; being an author on a journal article or book; attending a university course; writing RQAP exam or practice test questions; participating in a Mentoring Program through SQA, an SQA Chapter or a relevant professional organization; and others. Please see the Re-Registration webpage for full details.
25. I have earned both the RQAP-GCP and RQAP-GLP credentials. Do I have to earn 24 re-registration units in order to maintain them both?
No. Not necessarily. You can re-use units for your re-registration applications for both credentials provided the activities fall within the appropriate time period for that credential AND meet the discipline-specific unit requirements. As an example, let us imagine a Registrant has his GLP re-registration due in 2012 and his GCP re-registration due in 2013. If he earns 6 GLP-specific units in 2011 and 6 GCP-specific units in 2012, then he has met all requirements for both credentials (provided he actually fills in the applications and pays the fee when appropriate). For the GLP re-registration, he can count his GCP units as the non-GLP units, and for the GCP re-registration he can count the GLP units as the non-GCP units; also, units earned in 2011 and 2012 fall within both re-registration periods (2009–2012 and 2010–2013). If the GLP units had been earned in 2009, however, they would fall outside of the GCP re-registration window and could not be used for that re-registration application. Additionally, a single event that could qualify for either discipline (i.e., the SQA Annual Meeting, which usually counts for 5 to 6 GCP or GLP units) cannot be used for both, meaning the same Annual Meeting cannot count for 5 GLP units on one application and 5 GCP units on the other. However, if the Registrant attended two SQA Annual Meetings, one of them could be used as GLP units and the other could be used as GCP units. For further clarification, see the Re-Registration webpage or contact the CPR Chair (email@example.com).
26. My organization is offering a training/event/webinar/etc. for which we would like to offer RQAP re-registration units because we believe a large RQAP population will be participating. Can we list RQAP units on our certificates?
CPR developed a Re-Registration Unit Request Form specifically to address requests from SQA Regional Chapters and reputable professional organizations who have requested to offer re-registration units in the past. Please complete the form and submit it, along with a detailed agenda for the event, to firstname.lastname@example.org. CPR will not approve re-registration units to be offered for training conducted by consultants or other commercial entities; this form should only be used by professional societies and organizations.
27. I simply do not have enough re-registration units from my activities over the last 3 years to complete my re-registration application. Is there anything else I can do to maintain my RQAP credential?
First and foremost, contact SQA Headquarters (email@example.com) about your problem. There are many ways to earn re-registration units, and often Registrants are simply unaware of the many ways they may have earned units. It usually turns out that they do actually have enough units to complete their application. If you really do not have enough, there may be an upcoming event of which SQA is aware that you can attend to earn units. Ultimately, if you do not have enough units and have no possibility of earning more before the deadline, you can always take the exam again in order to maintain your credential.
28. Can I earn re-registration units for my SQA membership, SQA committee and/or specialty section participation, SQA Regional Chapter membership, etc.?
You may claim 0.25 unit for EACH year of membership in SQA, SQA Regional Chapters, and other relevant professional organizations. For example, if you were a member of both SQA and a chapter for three years, you have earned a total of 1.5 re-registration units (0.25 units per year for each membership). For committee or specialty section participation, you earn 1 unit per year per committee for being a member of an elected or appointed Committee in SQA, an SQA Chapter or a relevant professional organization, and you earn 1 unit per year per committee for being a Chair or Vice Chair of a volunteer Committee or special interest group in SQA, an SQA Chapter or a relevant professional organization. However, you may only claim 3 of those 6 units toward your discipline-specific units. Since you must have at least 12 total units, and at least 6 of those 12 must be discipline-specific, you must have earn 3 more discipline-specific units non-committee activities in order to achieve the total required discipline-specific units.
29. If I have viewed educational content from the SQA 2011 Annual Meeting online presentation library, can I receive RQAP re-registration units?
Yes. The Council asks that you keep track of what sessions you have viewed and the length of time you spent viewing them. You can earn a maximum of 5 RQAP re-registration units for a single Annual Meeting's content by viewing the event presentations in the online library. Each 1.5 hours spent viewing content will earn 0.5 RQAP re-registration units. This means that 3 hours of viewing time will equal 1 unit, 6 hours of viewing time will equal 2 units, 15 hours of viewing time will equal 5 units, etc. If you view more than 15 hours of content from one Annual Meeting, you will still earn only 5 units. If you attended the Annual Meeting in person (and therefore received up to 5 units for your attendance) and you have accessed the online content in addition to your in-person attendance, you are eligible for up to 5 re-registration units for your in-person attendance AND up to 5 re-registration units for the online content under the same rules noted above, for a possible total of 10 units. The Council depends on your adherence to the RQAP Ethics Policy, to which you must ascribe with each re-registration application, to ensure honest reporting of the hours spent viewing content from the SQA Annual Meeting online presentation library. In order to claim the units on your re-registration application, please indicate "SQA Annual Meeting online presentations" with the year of the event and number of units you believe you've earned on your application form. Accompanying the form, as documentation, please include a separate page with a list of all the presentations you viewed (and how long you spent viewing each presentation that you did not watch completely). If you have not yet purchased access to the most recent Annual Meeting online library, please login to the SQA website and click the link in the left sidebar of the page that says "Annual Meeting Online Library." (NOTE: The rules regarding the recordings for the 2012 Annual Meeting are a bit different; please see the next question for further details.)
30. If I have viewed educational content from an Annual Meeting online presentation library from 2012 or later, can I receive RQAP re-registration units?
Yes. The Council asks that you keep track of what sessions you have viewed and the length of time you spent viewing them. You can earn 0.25 RQAP re-registration units for a each hour of Annual Meeting's content that you view in the online library. This is a change from 2011 in compliance with the new SOP on re-registration that went into effect on 1 January 2012. The Council depends on your adherence to the RQAP Ethics Policy, to which you must ascribe with each re-registration application, to ensure honest reporting of the hours spent viewing content from the SQA Annual Meeting online presentation library. In order to claim the units on your re-registration application, please indicate "SQA Annual Meeting online presentations" with the year of the event and number of units you believe you've earned on your application form. Accompanying the form, as documentation, please include a separate page with a list of all the presentations you viewed (and how long you spent viewing each presentation that you did not watch completely). If you have not yet purchased access to the most recent Annual Meeting online library, please login to the SQA website and click the link in the left sidebar of the page that says "Annual Meeting Online Library."
31. How can I earn RQAP re-registration units without spending much (or any) money?
There are several free or low-cost options for earning re-registration units. Below are the most easily found, in order from least to most expensive:
- In-house training: If your organization is giving a training session on a topic relevant to your job, you can take advantage of this free offering to earn re-registration units.
- Giving presentations: You can earn 1 re-registration unit for every unique, non-repetitive training presentation you give at your company, via webinar, for an SQA Chapter, etc. and you can also earn a unit for being the first author on a poster presented at a relevant professional event.
- Writing articles or books: Re-registration units are awarded to authors of technical articles printed in professional newsletters, peer-reviewed articles published in journals, and published book and/or book chapters.
- SQA webinars: SQA presents webinars a few times each year that are free of charge to SQA members and are approved for re-registration units.
- Participation on elected or appointed committees OR serving as Chair or Vice Chair on a volunteer committee or special interest group for SQA, SQA Chapters, or relevant professional organizations: By devoting significant time to a board, committee or special interest group each year, you can both give back to the industry and earn re-registration units.
- Mentoring Programs: SQA has a Mentoring Program (as may some SQA Chapters or other relevant professional organizations) for its members that matches mentor, mentee and peer partner applicants with one another. Mentors, mentees and peer partners earn re-registration units for participating, 2 units per partnership (up to 2 partnerships or 4 units per year). Most mentoring partnerships are conducted via phone, e-mail or Skype-like programs. A mentoring partnership will cost you time, but it doesn't have to cost you money.
- Writing RQAP exam questions: You will have to travel to attend a question-writing training workshop hosted by our test development partner (PTI) before you are allowed to write exam questions. The workshop itself is free to attend, but we currently only offer it in face-to-face sessions (usually at the SQA Annual Meeting), so you would have to pay to travel one time. However, after you have done the workshop one time, you can contact PTI to ask for a question-writing assignment at any time after that. For every 10 questions you write based on an assignment from PTI, you can earn 1 re-registration unit - and it costs you nothing but your time.
- SQA Annual Meeting online presentation library: Beginning in 2011, SQA recorded many of its Annual Meeting presentations for the first time. Access to these presentations is available for purchase (as described in the FAQ immediately above this one). You may purchase access to the entire library or to individual presentations. Depending on how many presentations you view, you may earn up to 5 re-registration units for a nominal fee, much less than traveling in person to an event.
32. If I give more than one presentation during an 8-hour training course, do I get just one re-registration unit, or can I count one unit for each presentation I give during that time?
If you present on multiple topics during a single training course, please feel free to submit each separate presentation for one unit per presentation. However, CPR reserves the right to withhold units if it appears a Registrant has divided a presentation into several different slide decks solely for the purpose of attaining more re-registration units.
33. Can I use professional development on the topic of GCLP for part of my GCP-specific re-registration units?
GCLP professional development may only be used for non-GCP re-registration units.
34. The documentation for most of my re-registration activities is in a language other than English. What documentation should I submit?
Please submit the original certificate and agenda, even though they are not in English, but please write an English translation in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper with your dated signature.
35. Can I use training related to specific job functions for re-registration units?
No. Any activities related specifically to the performance of your job - such as reading SOPs, training on SOPs, etc. - may not be counted toward your re-registration units.
36. I am interested in obtaining a GMP credential in QA. Does SQA offer an RQAP-GMP exam?
At this time, SQA does not offer and is not developing an RQAP-GMP exam. That may change if the demand for such an exam grows, but currently there is not sufficient demand to support the significant financial and time commitment that is required to develop a new credential.
37. I am an employer, and I need to verify that an individual holds the RQAP credential. How can I do that?
SQA publishes a list of names that is the Registry for each of the two credentials (see the Registries for GLP and GCP on the right side of the RQAP Program News webpage). This is available on the SQA website as a matter of public record. Alternatively, you may write to firstname.lastname@example.org and request confirmation of the credential.
38. Not an FAQ but potentially helpful: The CPR presented a session at the SQA 27th Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in March 2011 entitled, “Demystifying RQAP,” which can be viewed if you've purchased access to the 2011 SQA Annual Meeting online presentation library. The presentation covered the history of both RQAP exams, the test development process, information on taking the exam and re-registering, and a summary of the results from an industry-wide survey conducted in 2009 about the RQAP exam. In addition, CPR sponsored an RQAP Re-registration Information Session held by webinar in September 2011; the recorded webinar can be accessed here and the slides can be viewed here.