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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Certification Examination in Family Medicine exam fee for 2025?

    The fee for residency-eligible candidates is $4,369 and the fee for practice-eligible candidates is $5,826.

    When determining the amount, the CFPC Board approved a strategy and mathematical formula to calculate the cost of the exam annually. This is to make sure we deliver a high-quality exam that is as affordable as possible for candidates while making sure the method used to determine the fee is transparent. These fees include all costs, including the centralized and shared services needed to support the exam design, development, and delivery.

    View the detailed mathematical formula.

    Note: Candidates who withdraw from the exam more than 60 days before the date of the exam will be refunded their exam fee less $500. Candidates who cancel 60 days or less before the exam will be charged a fee based on when their application was withdrawn. See our cancellation policy below for more information.

  • Why do practice-eligible applicants pay more than those who are residency-eligible?

    Effective July 1, 2024, subsidization of the Certification Examination in Family Medicine for practice-eligible candidates will be eliminated, increasing the fee from $4,201 to $5,826. This decision by the CFPC’s Board of Directors follows a thorough analysis and consultations with CFPC staff leaders. The primary reason for this change is to make certain of equitable treatment between practising physicians and residents. The CFPC acknowledges that residents typically face unique financial challenges and often rely on continued subsidy support, unlike practice-eligible physicians who are further along in their careers. Eliminating the subsidization for practice-eligible candidates will also allow the CFPC to continue:

    • Improving customer service for candidates before, during, and after the exam
    • Implementing high-quality, cutting-edge technology to improve candidate experience, minimizing unnecessary stress on exam day
    • Upgrading privacy and security systems to continue keeping candidates’ information safe
    • Applying high levels of quality assurance, making sure exam content responds to and reflects the changing and more complex needs of patients
  • Why does the exam fee need to change?

    The Certification Examination in Family Medicine is an important step in properly assessing individuals who are ready to meet the increasingly complex needs of patients as a family physician. The Board of Directors determined that a fee increase will allow the CFPC to maintain the high standards the CFPC is known for, while making sure the exams are sustainable.

  • Is the fee increasing due to the virtual delivery of the simulated office orals?

    An in-person model versus a virtual delivery format requires different resources, which come with different expenses. The digital platforms used exceed the costs of securing facilities for in-person exams but result in minimizing travel expenses for examiners and candidates.

  • How often should we expect to see a fee increase?

    The CFPC understands the importance of keeping fees down and annually considers all costs associated with exam delivery while making every effort to keep the exam as affordable as possible for members.

    This fee increase will help the CFPC sustain its commitment to supporting candidates and administering a high-quality, reliable exam. The strategy and mathematical formula will be reviewed annually by staff to make sure it is meeting its goals, and every three years by the Finance and Audit Committee and the Board of Directors, which may result in a change to the fee. At a minimum the exam fee will be adjusted for inflation forecasts annually.

  • What benefits will candidates experience from this increase?

    The College’s Board, volunteers, and staff remain devoted to supporting members to become the best doctors they can be throughout their medical careers. The CFPC Certification Examination in Family Medicine continues to be one of the lowest costing exams compared with other institutions’ medical exams. The fee increase will provide:

    • Improved customer service for candidates before, during, and after the exam
    • High-quality, cutting-edge technology to improve candidate experience, minimizing unnecessary stress on exam day
    • Upgrades to privacy and security systems to continue keeping candidates’ information safe
    • High levels of quality assurance, making sure exam content responds to and reflects the changing and more complex needs of patients
  • How are exam fee increases determined?

    The CFPC determines fee structure (and subsequent fee increases) by using a Board-approved, strategic and mathematical formula. Read the detailed mathematical formula.

    The strategy and mathematical formula will be reviewed annually by staff to make certain it is meeting its goals, and every three years by the Finance and Audit Committee and the Board of Directors, which may result in a change to the fee. At a minimum, the exam fee will be adjusted for inflation forecasts annually.

    This fee will be posted approximately one year before the Spring exam. Should anticipated costs decline the fee will be reduced, up to April 1st of the exam year. Once posted, the fee will not be changed.

    If you have any additional questions about how the CFPC determines exam fees, please contact us at [email protected]. We are here to help!

Detailed Mathematical Formula

Component 1
Number of anticipated Applicants, Candidates, Examiners, and Staff
Examiners/SO Leads/Markers

Equation for Examiners/SOO Leads/Markers Cost:
Number of Candidates × ((Number of Examiners/SOO Leads Days per Candidate × Average Daily Honorarium for Examiners/SOO Leads/Markers) + (Number of Marker Days per Candidate × Daily Honorarium for Markers) + (Number of Examiners/SOO Leads per Candidate × Average Cost of Travel/Accommodations))

FTEs (Number of Candidates ÷ 145) × Average Salary & Benefits (S&B) per FTE
Component 2
Determining if an applicant qualifies to sit the examination
Not currently included Not currently included
Component 3
Needs of Candidates and Examiners
Not currently included Not currently included
Component 4
Exam Design, Development, and Delivery Components
Exam Components

Future Investment in Item Banks
Unique SAMPs per Exam × Number of Test Forms × SME per SAMP × SME Annual Honorarium + Unique SOOs per year × SME per SOO × SME Annual Honorarium

Equation for annual amortization and maintenance costs for question bank is flat amount per candidate

Not currently included
Component 5
Exam Design, Research, and Development, including Continuous Quality Improvements
General Standard Setting Using current improvement initiatives, an amount to be included in the costs of the examination as a contribution to the Certification and Assessment Reserve fund for future projects of approximately $300 per candidate is likely the average; however, this amount will be added over the next three years. The amount in 2024 was $100 and this is unchanged for 2025.
Component 6
Exam Delivery and Operating Costs
Exam Delivery

Other Operating Costs
Electronic Exam and SOO delivery flat fee per candidate

Flat fee per candidate
The total of the above six components represents the total direct costs.
Component 7
Centralized and Shared Service Costs
Centralized and Shared Service (Total Direct Costs for all Candidates ÷ Total Direct Costs for all CFPC Programs × Total Centralized and Shared Service Costs) ÷ Number of Candidates
The total of the above seven components represents the total costs before inflation adjustment.
Component 8
Inflation The Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecasts at the time the exam is set, to be confirmed just prior to when applications are open to sit the exam. If the CPI is lower at this time, the component will be recalculated, and the lower fee will be posted.
The above eight components represent the future year’s anticipated cost.
Component 9
Level of Subsidization from Non-exam-fee Income Streams
Subsidy 25% of the total of the above eight components
The total of the first eight components, less any subsidy (Component 9), will result in the Certificate of Added Competence in Emergency Medicine examination fee for the next calendar year and will be determined one full year in advance. The fee may be adjusted downward two months prior to the exam if inflation is lower than anticipated (the fee would never be adjusted upward at this time).

The components used to calculate the 2025 fees are as follows:

2025 Component Costs for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine (Exam) Fee*
Component 1 $1,842
Component 2 $0
Component 3 $0
Component 4 $148
Component 5 $100
Component 6 $1,330
Component 7 $1,915
2024 inflation $267
2024 Full-cost Exam Fee subtotal $5,602
Component 8 (2025 inflation of 4%) $224
2025 Practice-Eligible Route Exam Fee $5,862
Component 9 ($1,457)
2025 Resident-Eligible Route Exam Fee $4,369
For reference, the 2024 examination fee was $4,201 for both practice-eligible and resident-eligible candidates.

Please read the detailed explanation for each component used to calculate the fee.

Fees for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine

Detailed description of the nine components used to calculate the Certification Examination in Family Medicine fee:
  • 1. Number of anticipated applicants/candidates, examiners, SOO Leads, markers, and staff

    The number of candidates impacts the number of examiners, SOO Leads, and markers required to support exam delivery activities. The CFPC staff support candidates, examiners, SOO Leads and markers, other subject matter experts (SMEs), the BEC, other CFPC committees, and vendors.

    There is a direct correlation between the number of candidates sitting the exam and the number of examiners plus SOO Leads plus markers needed to support the candidates’ exam experience.

    There is both a direct and an indirect correlation between the number of candidates and the number of staff needed to effectively design, develop, and deliver the exam. We have seen the number of candidates increase gradually over the past several years and note that there may be a spike in the future. The CFPC Board is reminded there are at least two more medical schools being planned in Canada and most family medicine residency programs are increasing their intake number of trainees. Furthermore, many provinces, territories, and the federal government seem interested in increasing the number of internationally trained physicians hired, many of whom will want to be assessed for certification in family medicine.

    We will set the number of permanent staff full-time equivalents (FTEs) and examiners/SOO Leads/markers required based on the number of candidates. As the number of candidates increases so will the number of FTEs and examiners/SOO Leads/markers, but the ratio should stay the same or become slightly more positive due to efficiencies. This is unique to FTEs providing direct member (in this case candidate) support for any College activity. We have noted an increase in support requested due to expectations of candidates and the examiners/SOO Leads/markers.

  • 2. Determining if an applicant qualifies as a candidate to sit the examination

    There is a growing number of applicants via both the residency-eligible and practice-eligible routes, all of whom need to be reviewed to determine if they meet the stated requirements.

    At this time there is no separate equation for the CFPC cost related to determining if an applicant qualifies to sit the exam. Further work will be done to adjust future exam fees once these cost determinations are completed.

  • 3. Needs of candidates and examiners

    There are several aspects to this consideration:

    • Communicating with candidates is crucial. It is often their first major interaction with the CFPC. We need:
      • General information such as web pages, social media, and instructions in various formats to be continually refreshed and presented in easy to find formats
      • Responses to specific concerns from individuals and key stakeholders
      • Information to flow in both predicted and responsive situations (e.g., emails with login details as one example)

    The communication needs to be more than information sharing but a form of relationship building and becoming connected to the CFPC.

    • Attending to communication and relationship building when working with members as they act in various roles, especially as SOO examiners. It requires ongoing work to manage recruitment, and train, show appreciation, and nurture a community of members with similar interests in being connected to the CFPC through examining.
    • Addressing legal actions: These are rare and unique, but when they occur they require significant time commitment and input from staff.

    As staff support commitments change over time, with changing candidate expectations, we will make sure we have adequate resources to support these services. As complexity, needs, and challenges grow, we need to add to our permanent/contractual resources to meet demand. This will increase to costs and recovery would then be one of the following:

    • Shared by all candidates
    • Attract a specific fee (e.g., appeals, remarking)

    At this time there is no separate equation related to the needs described above.

    Further work will be done to adjust the individual fees and/or exam fees at a future date.

    Note that there are additional services sometimes required, each with its own fee. They include:

    • Review of marks
    • Reconsideration of awarded standing
    • Appeal a BEC reconsideration decision
  • 4. Components of exam design, development, and delivery

    The current exam is made up of two components: short answer management problems (SAMPs) and simulated office orals (SOOs).

    These components impact the cost of the examination as follows:

    • Costs related to the maintenance (and initial top up) of content banks for both SAMPs and SOOs
    • Costs related to the number of SOOs included in the examination

    In addition, as the number of candidates increase, so too are the number of test forms (i.e., comparable versions of the exam given during the same administration window) needed each year for the SAMPs. The greater the number of candidates, the greater the number of testing days needed and with this, a greater number of different test forms (for exam security reasons). This means more content exposed per administration, thereby requiring more content development.

    We anticipate that to reach an adequate number of items in our exam content banks, we need to invest in funding derived from the Certification and Assessment Reserve. Staff will develop a plan to identify the optimum number of questions in the SAMP and SOO banks, along with the estimated time and honorarium needed to secure the required number of SMEs to produce this content.

    Annual amortization and maintenance costs for the question bank are a fixed cost, which is included as a per anticipated candidate cost.

    A future investment cost will be added to the exam fee at a later date, once we can better determine the impact of current activities on the reserves and an appropriate replenishment rate to make certain that funds are available to carry out all development activities related to the exam.

  • 5. Exam design, research and development, including continuous quality improvements

    There are three projects under way that will improve the examination delivery:

    1. New Examination Administration Tool (NEAT)
    2. Re-Envisioning the Future of Assessment, Certification and Examinations (ReFACE)
    3. Question Updating for Excellent Standardized Testing (QUEST)

    The first two projects listed above are included in our priorities for the 2024/25 fiscal year and the assessment/operating costs have been budgeted to be funded through reserves. The capital costs for NEAT will be approximately $1.8M and will be amortized over a three-year period starting with the 2024/25 fiscal year. This would be equivalent to approximately $300 per candidate on an annual basis.

    The scope of the third project is currently being determined.

    This is not the end of continuous improvements, but if we use these as a baseline and we assume that this level of expenditure would occur in some manner every three to five years, it makes sense to set up an average amount to be included in the exam costs as a contribution to the Certification and Assessment Reserve for future projects. This will make certain that projects can continue to be funded through this reserve without seeing sharp changes in the fee. This cost will be developed once we examine plans and can provide reasonable replenishment costs. Using current improvement initiatives, an average amount of approximately $300 per candidate is likely and would be included as a step adjustment. The amount in 2025 will stay at $100, with further assessment needed for the 2026 component.

  • 6. Exam delivery and operating costs

    Both components of the exam are now being administered electronically, the SOO component as a result of pandemic proofing exam delivery. This continues to benefit both the exam candidate and the CFPC. Candidates are no longer required to travel to an exam site for a two-day exam. The exam will no longer fall victim to physical risks such as one or more exam sites experiencing an interruption of service or weather-related travel cancellations. In addition, this new delivery method significantly reduces the carbon footprint that resulted from many candidates, more than 400 examiners, and a large contingent of CFPC staff travelling to in-person exam sites. Plus, our paper and printing consumption has fallen dramatically—two areas of planetary health that the CFPC is supporting.

    We now rely heavily on technological processes for remote delivery and we must consider investments in those processes that can impact our overall cost. These will be seen as per candidate direct costs and will be estimated to remain steady, with the exception of increases resulting from inflation and other business factors that could impact our suppliers.

    Other operating costs include:

    • Administrative coordinators
    • Centre expenses
    • Certificates/plaques/mailing tubes
    • Consulting fees
    • Editing
    • Exam—simulated candidate test
    • Mailing and courier
    • Miscellaneous
    • Exam administrative tool maintenance
    • Printing
    • Translations
    • Actors
    • Staff travel
    • Video tape duplication
    • General insurance – Errors and Omission
    • BEC and committee costs
    • Amortization
    • Office expenses
    These costs, with the exception of the impacts of inflation, remain relatively stable and will be introduced as a flat fee using past cost trends.
  • 7. Centralized and shared service costs

    There are many departments that support exam design, development, and delivery. As a result, the CFPC has developed full cost budgets as a practice, whereby centralized and shared service costs are allocated to each department using those services. Currently this practice captures allocated costs from:

    • Membership Services
    • Marketing and Communications
    • Executive Leadership
    • Governance
    • Strategic Planning
    • Finance
    • Facilities
    • Human Resources
    • Meetings Support
    • Information Technology Services

    All of the costs combined represent the total direct cost per candidate for the exam. Such costs are allocated based on a ratio of the exam-direct expenses against the total direct expenses for all CFPC programs.

  • 8. Inflation

    Exam fees are set one year in advance of the exam taking place. We will be using historical forecasts for the prior year when setting all of the per candidate costs. A general inflation amount will be added to the fee using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Six months before the exam date the CPI will be reviewed and, if a lower percentage exists than the estimate used initially, the exam fee will be lowered accordingly. If the CPI is higher than the estimate, the exam fee will remain unchanged and in-year budget adjustments will be made if required.

    We have recently experienced high levels of inflation, but typically have seen inflation representing cost increases of two to four per cent. The impact of forecasted inflation needs to be considered in setting a fee and applies to both staffing and vendors.

  • 9. Level of subsidization from non-exam-fee income streams

    To date we have not set a subsidy or a specific subsidization strategy for the exam. We have historically subsidized the full cost of the fee with amounts between 20 per cent and 40 per cent, with the majority of years being close to 25 per cent. The amount of subsidy will impact the percentage of full costs covered by each candidate in the fee that they are assessed.

    The Board of Directors debated whether the full cost of the exam should be covered by the fee that the candidate pays, the norm in assessment organization environments. It has been a long-held belief at the CFPC that the discipline of family medicine must continue to be supported by family medicine members and, as such, has resulted in subsidization of the exam fees. Of course, within this belief is the understanding that since very few other offerings of the College have an income stream, the level of subsidization incurs opportunity costs on the CFPC. Given the fiscal realities the College is currently facing due to no general membership fee increase since 2017 but ongoing inflation, the Board has decided to charge the full amount of the exam to candidates coming to the examination through the practice-eligible route and, for now, maintain a 25 per cent subsidy for candidates coming to the examination via the resident-eligible route. This subsidy decision will be revisited yearly.

Updated: June 17, 2024

Find out everything you need to know about the family medicine and emergency medicine examinations, virtual and remote delivery, and news and updates.

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