SCA Online Testing

Update February 27, 2021

This page is still receiving a lot of traffic and part of that might be people searching for online testing because of restrictions surrounding Covid. If that is the case with you, I do apologize. This article was written in 2019 to address the new, online version of the written test and is not about online testing in a way that accomodates Covid-related issues.

I do apologize for any confusion!

The SCA is changing the way the written tests are administered. The new method is online testing for the ‘written’ portion of the test. This is a new procedure not yet implemented and therefore I will most likely need to update and possibly change some of the information on this page.

If you are taking my course in June or August, please check back here frequently for updated information. New and/or changed information that comes to light after April 18, 2019 will be noted at the bottom of this page.

Updated June 8, 2019, see below

Updated May 9, 2019, see below

The basics

The process

  1. For my classes, learners will pay one fee to the host of the class.
  2. That fee includes the required fee1 for online testing
  3. Learners will attend the class in person, on site, as usual.
  4. Learners will take all practical tests in person, on site, as usual.
  5. Once learners pass all practicals, the instructor notifies the SCA
  6. The SCA will send an email to the learner providing a link to take the test
  7. Within 5-7 working days (in the U.S., Pacific Timezone) after the learner passes the online test, the instructor receives an invoice from the SCA
  8. Once the instructor pays the invoice for the certificate and the exam fee1, the SCA will issue a digital certificate to the student

The rules

  • Learners are only eligible to take the online test after passing all required practical tests.
  • The SCA charges a fee for the test (see table below). This fee is included in the cost of any course instructed by me.
  • The learner will have two attempts within 21 calendar days to take the test online.
  • The 21 calendar days begin when the Learner receives the email notifying them of access to the exam.
  • After completing the test, learners will receive a Coaching Report. The report states in which topic questions were incorrectly answered.
  • As of April 18, 2019, the test will be available in the following languages: English, German, Chinese, Korean, Italian, French, Russian, Turkish, Greek, Dutch and Spanish. English will be launched first.
  • If the exam is available online, learners must take the online version (see Policies below for exception).
  • Learners can not opt out of taking the exam or paying the administrative fee.
  • Learners will be required to agree to a Learner Code of Conduct in order to take the exam (see Policies below for Learner code of conduct).
  • Certificates may not be available until at least 4-6 weeks after a course, depending on when payment is received. Invoices are sent out to ASTs approximately 5-7 working days after the written exam is taken.

Launch dates

Updated June 8, 2019

Foundation: last week of July
Intermediate: September
Professional: likely the 4th quarter of 2019

Passing Score, Number of Questions, and Exam Time

Module Passing Score Number of Questions Time to Take Exam (minutes)
Barista Skills Foundation 60% 20 22
Brewing Foundation 60% 30 32
Green Coffee Foundation 60% 30 32
Roasting Foundation 60% 20 22
Sensory Skills Foundation 60% 25 27
Introduction to Coffee 60% 20 22

Exam fees

Updated June 10, 2019

Exam fees are combined with existing certificate fees (which aren’t changing) to become an administrative fee. Exam fees vary based on the level of the course. These fees are for all modules (roasting, barista, sensory, etc):

Course Level Exam Fee

Online exam policy

Note: The online exam policy below is taken verbatim from the SCA

1. Learners must agree to the Learner Online Exam Code of Conduct:

SCA Learner Online Exam Code of Conduct

  1. I will not take the exam for another student (this includes taking an exam under someone’s name that is not your own or allowing someone else to take a test in your name). My responses to the exam will be my own work with no additional person sitting near me, coaching me, or providing answers.
  2. I will not communicate with a trainer or with another student by any means during the exam.
  3. I will not use any materials during the exam. To ensure that I am not looking up answers on handouts, books, or online, I understand the exam is timed quickly so that I must pick the correct answer quickly, or the exam will end before I am finished. There will be no refund or retake if I do not answer all questions in time.
  4. I will not make exam questions or answers available to anyone else by any means. This includes both answers written by me or by others. I will not engage in any activities that will dishonestly improve my results or dishonestly improve/hurt the results of other test-takers.

By starting and submitting the exam you are agreeing to abide by the SCA Learner Online Exam Code of Conduct.

2. Learner Does Not Take Written Online Exam within 21 calendar day testing period

In this situation, the Learner must join another course. Trainers discretion whether can use previous practical pass or needs to take practical again. Trainers discretion whether charges full course fee or percentage thereof.

There are many reasons why a learner may not have taken a written online exam within the 21 calendar day testing period. These may include, and are not limited to, personal illness, accident, bereavement, lack of internet access, any other unforeseen circumstance which makes it difficult for the learner to take the exam.

  • Learner can appeal this policy
  • Submit an Appeal Application which is acted upon monthly.
  • If Learner’s appeal is granted, they will be given a 7 calendar day window in which to complete the exam for a third time.

If the learner attempts the exam but cannot log in due to technical issues, the learner should contact SCA at It may take up to 72 hours for SCA to respond so learners should plan accordingly so they can complete the exam within the 21 calendar day testing period.

3. Learner does not pass the Practical Exam

  • The learner is permitted two attempts of the practical exam within a year period. Additional fees may be applicable.
  • Learner is permitted to retake the practical exam once under the existing course. This is at the discretion of the trainer.
  • Payment for a new course to be arranged with AST.
  • If the Learner fails the second attempt at the practical, Learner should join a new course and take the entire course again. Learner should pay the full course fee unless other arrangements made between Learner and AST.

4. Learner does not pass the Written Online Exam

  • Learner is allowed two attempts at the written online exam within 21 calendar day testing window
  • If Learner does not pass either of these attempts, the Learner must take the course again. Learner should pay the course fee again unless other arrangements are made with the trainer. It is up to the trainer if the practical score from the previous course remains valid or whether the practical exam needs to be taken again.
  • Any questions regarding the exam or the learner’s score should first be addressed to the trainer. Trainer will have access to the learner coaching report for the online exam so the trainer will be able to see where the learner did not answer questions correctly. All coaching reports will be in English.

5. Learner who cannot take an online exam (disability, translation not available, internet not available etc.)

There are several reasons why a learner may not be able to take an online exam. These may include, but are not limited to, disability, lack of access to a computer, lack of access to the internet, online exam not available in the learner’s own language. Learners will be required to notify their trainer and SCA of the waiver request prior to the beginning of the course.


June 8, 2019

The latest webinar from the SCA was recorded on June 4th. Below are some of my notes from that webinar. The key take-away for my students in Indonesia is that the test is not translated into Indonesian yet and therefore my classes will be excluded from online testing. My tests given in Indonesia will continue to be paper-based until the SCA translates the test into Indonesian.

Launch dates

The launch dates for each level has changed. I have noted the most recent launch dates above.

Online question format

  • Mostly multiple choice, true and false, and select the best answer from a drop-down
  • There is no format that requires a free response answer (no fill-in-the-blank with a typed answer)
  • The exams are graded immediately and pass/fail results are communicated to both learner and instructor
  • There will be questions with more than one correct answer. The number of possible, correct answers will be noted in the question

Testing logistics

  • Students get two (2) attempts to pass the online version of the test within 21 days
  • Exams are listed in the students’ SCA profile by course ID, such as ID-CSPR1-11JUN19-OS
  • For my students, this ID will be provided during the class and is also always available on all of my course home-pages
  • For individual students to appeal for a paper-based test (in the case of a handicap, language barrier, etc) they can use this link.
  • For individual students to appeal the results of their online test, they can use the same form.
  • Instructors will have the ability to request exceptions for an entire class or individual studentsall of my course home-pages</a>
  • For individual students to appeal for a paper-based test (in the case of a handicap, language barrier, etc) they can use this link.
  • For individual students to appeal the results of their online test, they can use the same form.
  • Instructors will have the ability to request exceptions for an entire class or individual students.
  • If your browser crashes during the test or you get disconnected from the Internet, or whatever while taking the test, the test timer continues and the test is still active. Therefore you can resume your test in that case and possibly still complete it and pass.
  • You can highlight a question in the test and return to it later.
  • There is no partial credit for answers. You must get all answers correct per question to receive credit for that question.
  • Instructors receive a report indicating exactly which questions students got wrong.
    • Instructors may not discuss specifics with the student
    • Instructors may discuss, in general, what a student missed and where they need to re-focus learning for a retake
  • There will be a handbook with all details about online testing, but it isn’t released yet (as of June 8, 2019)

May 9, 2019

The SCA recorded a webinar held specifically about online testing and fees on May 1st. You can watch the full, hour-long webinar here. Below are some of the take-aways I noted (specifically for those taking my classes):

  1. The launch date will be after my classes in June. If you are attending either of my classes in June, your test(s) will be in the original, written format.
  2. The test is designed to be taken on a desktop/laptop, not on a phone or tablet.
  3. Tests are graded automatically and immediately
  4. Learners will receive a generalized report indicating areas for improvement
  5. Trainers will receive a detailed report of what a learner missed
  6. There will be an Accomodations Policy and it will include an accomodation for language. If the test is not offered in one’s native language, a learner can request an accomodation.
  7. The test is strictly timed to ensure learners can’t easily look up answers.
  8. The test contains multiple-choice questions, drag and drop questions, matching questions, illustrations, etc.

There is another webinar planned, with more details, answering questions that arose during this webinar, and also a live demo of the test. The date for the next webinar has not been released.

  1. The certificate fee and the exam fee are now collectively called an “administrative fee.”  2