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The Assessment Program

If you process, administer, manage or support payroll operations or services, the Knowledge Assessment Calculator (KAC) assessments are designed for you. Find out about:

  • Who should take a KAC assessment
  • Assessment questions and timing
  • Assessment results
  • Assessment topics
  • Relation to certification exams




    Who should take a KAC assessment?

    Payroll professionals and practitioners use the KAC assessments for self-assessment and to receive recommendations for career path training. The KAC program also helps in setting a course of study in preparing for APA's payroll certification exams.

    Payroll managers and supervisors can offer KAC assessments to their entire staffs to assess departmental skills. Personalized assessment results provide performance evaluation opportunities and informed training decisions for each individual on the team.

    The KAC assessments can be used as a tool that helps screen or assess a job applicant’s skill level. This allows the hiring process to begin with an automated tool, the KAC, that immediately screens out individuals who do not meet your set of minimum qualifications, while simultaneously providing the information needed to make decisions about the suitability of applicants who do match the skill sets you need. The best part is that this information is provided automatically at the earliest stage of the selection process.

    Payroll consultants and service providers can validate their own knowledge and identify training opportunities to confidently offer better support.

    In addition, if you have achieved Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) or Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) certification, you can earn recertification credit hours (RCH) toward your recertification. For each KAC assessment completed with a score of 80 percent or higher, you will be awarded one hour of credit.
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    Assessment questions and timing

    Each assessment measures knowledge and understanding on a particular topic through 50 questions. Each assessment on any given topic is unique, because questions and their variables are randomly selected from a pool of thousands of questions. Yet every assessment is comprehensive in measuring knowledge and evaluating job performance on the assessment topic. If you take a KAC assessment and then follow the training recommendations provided with your results, you may want to reassess – and your second assessment will be slightly different, providing an invaluable opportunity to practice and improve.

    You may take up to one-hour to complete each assessment, although it’s not unusual to finish in less than an hour.
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    Assessment results

    Immediately upon completing the assessment, you will receive your assessment score including your personalized training recommendations based specifically on your knowledge gaps. These recommendations also will be e-mailed to you, and you may access the results of your most recent assessment here at the KAC site for 180 days by clicking on the link in 'Your KAC Account' box.

    The training recommendations are drawn from more than 300 American Payroll Association offerings, including publications, classes, online tutorials, reference texts and audio seminars.
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    Assessment topics

    Five assessment options cover the payroll body of knowledge. Six assessments are designed for use before and after APA classes.

    Concepts and Terms measures knowledge and understanding of payroll processes and the ability to comprehensively speak the language of payroll. This knowledge is critical to individuals who are new to payroll – whether they work in the payroll department, or in sales, consulting, or a service provider environment. It also can be useful in evaluating potential new hires to fill entry-level positions.

    Fundamental Payroll Practices measures the basic elements of payroll processing, calculating paychecks, tax reporting, payroll accounting, and the accompanying skills and responsibilities. It measures knowledge critical to effective payroll processing for professionals in related functions as well, including service providers, human resources and benefits, systems analysis and software design.

    Compliance, Administration and Operations measures the more complex issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance. Questions also measure general systems knowledge, plus operational and administrative knowledge and the ability to apply knowledge of federal payroll regulations. It is a comprehensive measure of the knowledge, skills and abilities that are critical for management professionals in payroll, compensation, benefits, human resources and tax accounting. It can also aid in evaluating potential supervisors and managers.

    Preparing for the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) Exam measures specific knowledge and understanding of payroll processing, calculating paychecks, tax reporting, payroll accounting and the accompanying skills and responsibilities as defined by the FPC exam outline. Successful completion of this assessment does not guarantee successful completion of the FPC exam. It will identify your strengths as well as any areas for improvement, making it an effective tool in suggesting a course of study for the FPC exam.

    Preparing for the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)Exam measures the more complex issues found in the CPP exam's content outline in the areas of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one's knowledge, as well as operational and administrative knowledge. This tool comprehensively measures the knowledge required to determine if you are prepared to take the CPP exam. Successful completion of this assessment does not guarantee successful completion of the CPP exam. This assessment is ideal if you are preparing to sit for the CPP exam. It will identify your strengths as well as any deficiencies, making it an effective tool in suggesting a course of study for the CPP exam.

    Payroll Practice Essentials Pre and Post Class Assessment addresses the basic issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one’s knowledge, skills and ability with regard to federal payroll regulations.

    Strategic Payroll Concepts Pre and Post Class Assessment addresses the complex issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one’s knowledge, skills and ability with regard to federal payroll regulations.

    Intermediate Payroll Concepts Pre and Post Class Assessment addresses the intermediate issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one’s knowledge, skills and ability with regard to federal payroll regulations.

    Advanced Payroll Concepts Pre and Post Class Assessment addresses the advanced issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one’s knowledge, skills and ability with regard to federal payroll regulations.

    Payroll 101: Foundation of Payroll Certificate Program Pre and Post Class Assessment addresses the basic issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one’s knowledge, skills and ability with regard to federal payroll regulations.

    Payroll 201: Payroll Administration Certificate course Pre and Post Class AssessmentThis assessment addresses the advanced issues of payroll reporting, taxation and compliance while proving one’s knowledge, skills and ability with regard to federal payroll regulations.


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    Relation to certification exams

    Because the KAC assessments identify existing knowledge strengths as well as any areas for improvement, an assessment is an effective exam study tool. It is not, however, a certification exam. Your performance on a KAC assessment does not guarantee similar performance on either the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) exam or Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) exam, nor does it guarantee your ability to pass either certification exam.

    If you already have achieved your CPP or FPC certification, you know you are required to accumulate recertification credit hours (RCH) to recertify through continuing education – and you can do it with the KAC assessments. You earn one-hour of recertification credit for each assessment you take and achieve a score of 80 percent or higher.
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  • "The KAC program is a very powerful and useful tool. Assessments can be used to validate a new hire’s payroll knowledge, or to develop a training plan for current payroll staff. The instant feedback to the individual and the manager (when purchasing group assessments) provides a better understanding of where the learning opportunities are in a very professional and confidential manner.”
    - Brad Patterson, CPP
    Corporate Manager - System Payroll
    SSM Health Care
    St. Louis, MO

    “The KAC program provided our organization with information on where we stand as a payroll department. It also gave our employees insight into other areas of payroll that their daily jobs do not cover. From the detailed results of the KAC, we now know where to focus our training dollars.”
    - Gary Lynch, CPP
    Consultant
    Brier, WA

    “I have been studying for the CPP exam. Now I know where I need to go back and reinforce.”
    - Mary Miller
    Accountant
    Reliable Machine Company
    Rockford, IL

    “KAC assessments will be a standard in our chapter’s FPC and CPP study group and is great for either helping to determine an individual's plan of study or assessing his or her readiness for the exam. Using KAC assessments to assess candidates knowledge prior to the start of the study group really helps the facilitator(s) determine the areas in which they need to spend more time thus making the study group even more effective."
    - Marilyn Phipps, CPP
    Director Corporate Payroll,
    Triumph Group, Inc.
    Harleysville, PA