Systems Engineering Certification

Demonstrating knowledge and experience in the practice of Systems Engineering

Taking the Exam


The INCOSE knowledge exam is a multiple choice test based on the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. It is required for candidates for ASEP and CSEP certification, unless they have taken an alternate route such as Academic Equivalency. Applying for ASEP or CSEP automatically registers you to take the computer exam. If you wish to register before applying, or if you want to register for a paper exam, do so at this page.  


The exam contains 100 scored questions. It may have 0, 20, or 50 additional questions that do not count toward the candidate’s score. These are beta questions, which are being evaluated for the future. The exam duration is 1 minute per question, including both scored and unscored questions. A 120-question exam is standard, and lasts 120 minutes. Special accommodations are available and include additional time.  
Students taking a paper test

Exam Formats

The INCOSE Knowledge Exam is available on the computer and on paper. Our computer testing provider offers online proctoring for testing from a location of your choice.  INCOSE also offers paper exams, hosted by Certification-Program-Office-approved proctors such as Expert Systems Engineering Professionals (ESEPs). Both options are based on the INCOSE System Engineering Handbook 4.0 and these learning objectives. 
Screen with computer code

Computer Exam

The INCOSE Certification Program offers online testing, which candidates can do from a location of their choice, with their own computer. This system uses live, remote, video proctoring. The candidate testing experience will remain very similar to previous computer testing, with 120 multiple-choice questions and immediate pass/fail results displayed on screen.

The questions and time allowed for the computer exam are the same as for the paper exam.  In all exam situations, candidates may go back to review questions and change their answers. For the computer exam, candidates will have an online “scratch paper” where they can write notes during the exam. Computer exam candidates are not allowed to write on materials they will keep after the exam, such as paper, books, or other files on the computer.   


Candidates may schedule the computer exam at a time convenient to them once they have registered for the computer exam. They will use their own computer and internet, and it is their responsibility to ensure that any firewalls or corporate security will allow the necessary software and communications. For more information on that, review the testing guide.  

24-Hour Cancellation Policy 

If the candidate cancels their appointment within 24 hours before their appointment, the proctoring service charges the candidate a $5 fee.  This fee must be paid before another online exam attempt is scheduled. Computer exam fees, rescheduling, and cancellation are managed by the exam provider and proctoring service. Review your email from them to see the steps to take if you need to reschedule or cancel. 


Paper Exam

Interested in taking the certification knowledge exam on paper, rather than at a computer? The paper exam has the same format as the standard knowledge exam, except that it rarely includes unscored questions. This means it is usually just 100 multiple-choice questions in 100 minutes. Candidates with special needs may be given additional time if they submit a Special Accommodations request in advance.  

Each candidate will be asked to read and sign a Candidate Agreement before being allowed to take the exam. The Candidate Agreement details appropriate behavior during and after the test. Please note there are periodical changes made to the agreements. The printed versions the candidate will sign before taking the exam will supersede the online sample. Questions on this topic may also be sent to  

Candidates should arrive thirty minutes prior to the exam’s start to show ID and receive instructions. All candidates will use an answer sheet to record their answers for the paper exam.

Sample Answer Sheet

Hand selecting a test answer
Country flags on keyboard

Special Accommodations

INCOSE’s Certification Program has established two aids for candidates who need additional time or accommodations while taking the knowledge exam. Individuals may request an additional thirty minutes of exam time by submitting a Special Accommodations Request form to the INCOSE Certification Program office.  

All candidates with a native language other than English are eligible for this extra time and also allowed to bring in a translation dictionary to their exam. This dictionary may not have any notes or modifications, as interpreted by the exam official.  

Special Accommodations cannot be added once an exam has been scheduled. Please submit form and wait for confirmation before scheduling exam.

Special Accommodations Form

Preparing for the Exam

Candidates preparing for INCOSE’s knowledge exam often seek out formal training. This can be helpful but is not necessary. INCOSE does not endorse training providers but does keep a list of companies who have notified us they offer this service.

Exam Learning Objectives

All individuals taking the exam should know the following: 


  • The exam questions all come from the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook version 4. 
  • All questions on the exam are multiple choice.  
  • Most people who pass the exam have read through the handbook more than once. 


Person with books studying