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 enrolls you to take the computer exam. If you wish to enroll to take the exam before applying, please click the "Register" button below for upcoming exams. 

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.  
All questions are formatted as multiple-choice, and some have multiple answers. Details on this approach are provided in this paper, although it is a bit outdated. Exams in 2023 and beyond have only a single answer to each question, which is not what that paper says. 
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.

Fees for both the exam formats can be found here.

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.   

How to Enroll in an Online Exam

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 regarding exam day and system requirements, please visit:

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 [email protected].  

How to Enroll in an In-person Exam


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 benefits are available for candidates with a variety of reasons, such as dyslexia, breastfeeding, or diabetes.

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

Preparing for the Exam

INCOSE does not endorse any training providers or programs. We recommend you explore the INCOSE Professional Development Portal (PDP)to find training options.

You may take a practice exam online, including 10 sample questions, for $10. The questions do not change, but you may take it multiple times. Your results do not count toward the INCOSE knowledge requirement, this is just practice to see the exam format.

For more information, write to [email protected].

Exam Learning Objectives

All individuals taking the exam should know the following: 
  • The exam questions all come from the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook (SEH). 
  • Through July 2023, exam content comes from SEH Fourth Edition. 
  • Starting August 2023, exam content is only the overlap of SEH Fourth Edition and SEH Fifth Edition.
  • Hybrid testing (on only the overlapping content) will continue through at least July 2024. 
  • All questions on the exam are multiple choice.  
  • Most people who pass the exam have read through the handbook more than once. 
  • INCOSE members and CAB Associates may download the INCOSE exam handbook at no additional charge. 


Person with books studying

Host an Exam

Chapters and INCOSE-sponsored events may request to host an exam locally to invite members and non-members to take the exam at a lower cost and get one step closer to certification at the ASEP or CSEP level. The Chapter or Event will require the following for an in-person exam:

  • Approved CSEP or ESEP to proctor the exam, endorsed by both chapter president and Certification Program Office
  • Facility large enough to hold up to 30 candidates with at least one meter between each candidate
  • Facility must be available for at least 2.5 hours (20 minutes for instructions, 100 minutes for most candidates, and 30 extra minutes for some candidates
If you are an interested in hosting an INCOSE Knowledge Exam, please fill out the Exam Request Form. All exam details must be finalized at least three weeks prior to the exam date. If you have any further questions, please contact [email protected].
Contact Us