Exemption from having a degree before starting the Common Professional Examination

Who can apply

Mature applicants may be eligible to apply to study the Common Professional Examination (CPE) without having a degree.

We define mature applicants as those who wish to be accepted onto the CPE based on their certificated learning and work-based learning1.

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You will need to demonstrate:

CPE providers expect you to have achieved an appropriate standard of written and spoken English or Welsh if you choose to study on the course.

We will ask you to tell us about:

  • your general education and diplomas
  • professional examinations you have passed
  • courses attended
  • professional experience and employment

If you are claiming exemption based on an award obtained outside the UK, the awarding body must be recognised by UK NARIC.

You will need to upload certified copies of your qualification or certificates. For your work based experience, your evidence will need to confirm the work carried out, your roles and responsibilities and must be corroborated by your employer.

You must make sure that your referee(s) have read this information. 

References must:

  • be provided for each period of experience claimed
  • be written for the purposes of this application and be dated within the last three months

Referees must:

  • have supervised you directly, as a general employment reference is not enough
  • read your application, reviewed all supporting evidence before corroborating your experience and confirm that they have done so in their reference
  • familiarised themselves with the requirements of this application and refer directly to these when providing their reference(s)
  • include examples from their direct observation of your work.

You must redact all samples of your work to remove sensitive or identifying information. We will not accept non-redacted documents.

It is essential that the document index is completed correctly and uploaded as part of your application.

How to complete the document index

Please makes sure that:

  • When you save your documents, and before uploading them to your application, you name each one with the document number at the start. This means that your documents will be uploaded in the order that you have chosen (see example below)
  • there are no spaces in any part of the document name
  • the same document numbers are entered in section 6 of your application in the final column headed - Evidence to support your application.

Here is an example of a completed document index.

Doc no Description (document name) Date No of pages
1 1referenceABC 01/01/2020 3
2 2appraisalABC 31/01/2019 8
3 3worksamplesABC 01/03/2019 25
4 4referenceSmith&co 14/01/2020 2
5 5appraisalSmith&co 01/05/2018 6
6 6worksamplesSmith&co 15/04/2018 20

We suggest that you complete the index as you progress through the application. Please make sure that each piece of evidence is included in the final index.

The number of lines is not an indication of the volume of documents you need to send. It is for you to decide on what you think is relevant to show your work knowledge. You may continue on a separate sheet if necessary.

How we use your document index

This index will be used by your caseworker and the assessor as part of their assessment of your application. They will cross reference your evidence to each of the outcomes, so clear alignment is vital.

We may not accept your application if this index is not included with your evidence, or not completed correctly.

You can pay by debit or credit card. The fee for this application is £35.

Making your application

You will need to make your application by applying online in mySRA. First, you will need to create an account to log into mySRA. Watch our video to find out how.

You may find it useful to have this guidance open in a separate device or browser window to help you complete all the steps.

You will need to download the application and document index on the 'Getting Started' page in mySRA, before you can start to complete it.

Always save a back-up copy of your application to your hard drive.

To return to your application once you have started it, go to ‘my applications and documents.’

When you are ready to submit your application click START APPLICATION on the Getting Started page to upload it along with the index and all supporting documents.

We aim to provide you with a decision within 90 days of receiving your application.

Starting the Common Professional Examination (CPE) without a degree by equivalent means

Log in to mySRA to apply. Go to new applications

  1. Certificated learning is learning which has led to a qualification or certificate. Whilst work-based learning is objectively assessed workplace experience.