Written Exam

Exam Format

The written examination consists of two parts – each has approximately 100 multiple-choice questions. The time limit for each part of the exam is three hours. Part I tests your knowledge in the general environmental science area. All candidates are required to take this portion of the exam. Part II tests your knowledge in one of the specific practice areas: Air Quality; Waste Management; Water Quality; or Environmental Science, Management, and Policy. Only QEP applicants take this portion of the exam.

The exam is closed notes/books. It has been designed to measure the breadth of knowledge in the environmental field. Some calculations are required. However, they are minimal. A list of unit conversion factors that may be needed will be provided with the exam.

Preparing for the Exam

IPEP has published a free Examination Guide, which provides an overview of the subject matter on the exam, sample questions, and a recommended resource list. There are also more specific Body of Knowledge materials for each specialty test.

The current Body of Knowledge for all exams can be found here:

QEP Part One General Environmental Science Body of Knowledge
QEP Part Two/ESM&P Body of Knowledge
QEP Part Two/ Air Quality Body of Knowledge
QEP Part Two/Water Quality Body of Knowledge
QEP Part Two/Waste Management Body of Knowledge


There is both a computer based option and a pen/paper based testing option available for IPEP written exams.  Both options require a QEP proctor to be present.  If you are taking the paper exam, you should take with you several sharpened #2 pencils with erasers. Candidates are permitted to take non-programmable calculators, which are silent, battery-operated, do not have paper tape printing capability, and do not have a full alphabetic keyboard. Examinees are not permitted to share calculators. Use of books, other materials, or scratch paper is prohibited, but you will be able to use the margins and any blank pages in the test booklet to work problems. The test is closed book. It is a good idea to get to the testing location at least thirty minutes before the scheduled testing time. This will permit you to develop the proper, relaxed mindset to take the examination. After you get to the testing site, present a current photo ID, sign in with the proctor, follow the proctor’s instructions, and relax.

Score Reporting

Your QEP/EPI exam results will usually be forwarded to you by first class mail within sixty days of the testing date. These results are confidential. To be recommended to the IPEP Trustees for QEP certification, you must receive a passing score on both parts of the examination. To be recommended to the IPEP Trustees for EPI certification, you must receive a passing score on Part I of the examination. A candidate failing a first examination may request one re-examination within two years without having to pay an additional filing fee. The candidate only has to re-take that portion of the exam not passed. A candidate failing for the second time must wait ten months before being re-tested and must submit a new application and filing fee, along with evidence of additional professional development. A waiting period of twenty-two months is required for each subsequent failure.

Oral Exam

Exam format

Each exam panel consists of two to four QEPs who have had the opportunity to review the candidate’s application, including the abstract, prior to the exam. The oral exam is approximately 90 minutes in length and follows this format:

Opening Introduction (10 minutes)

The chair of the panel will introduce the members of the panel and briefly review the oral exam format with the candidate.

Review of Candidate’s Background and Experience (30 minutes)

The candidate is given the opportunity to provide an overview of his/her background and professional work experience. The candidate will be asked to demonstrate an area of professional capability and to highlight efforts toward ongoing professional development and involvement in professional and/or community activities. In approving the candidate for QEP certification, the exam panel must confirm with the Admissions Committee that the candidate does meet the minimum qualifications for certification through the process of oral examination. The exam panel will ask follow-up questions.

Presentation by Candidate (20 minutes)

The candidate is given 20 minutes to present to the panel the work described in the abstract which was approved by the Admissions Committee. Candidates are advised to pay particular attention to the leadership role and position of influence the candidate held on the specific project or program discussed. The candidate should describe the manner in which the candidate’s personal judgments and actions determined the course or outcome of the project or program.

Questions Regarding the Abstract and the Presentation (10 minutes)

Following the presentation of the work outlined in the abstract, the panel will follow up with the candidate by asking questions related to technical and policy issues regarding the abstract.

Ethics Section (20 minutes)

The panel will explore the candidate’s understanding of ethical considerations regarding the candidate’s work specifically, as well as the impact of ethics on the environmental field in general.

Visual Aids

The use of visual aids during the candidate’s presentation is optional. Candidates wishing to use audio-visual equipment must assume responsibility for arrangements and costs.

Notification of Results

Candidates generally receive a notification letter from IPEP’s office regarding the outcome of their examinations approximately 4 to 6 weeks following their examination date.