Exam Information

In addition to meeting the education and eligibility requirements, Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations® (SFO®) candidates must pass two exams: Exam Part 1: Accounting and Exam Part 2: School Business Management.
To prepare for the SFO exams, read the Candidate Handbook and review all of the information in this section.
Visit the SFO Credential Management System to begin the SFO application process, request authorization to take the exams, renew, and pay any fees.

Preparing for the SFO Exams

Although preparing for the SFO exams is primarily through self-study, a number of study options and resources are available.

  • Ask your local ASBO affiliate about SFO study groups. Many affiliates develop study sessions, often lead by SFO certificants, to prepare applicants. ASBO affiliate executive directors have received the SFO Certification Exam Prep Manual and a PowerPoint presentation to use as guidance for creating study groups.
Please note: ASBO affiliate study group participants are eligible to have the SFO application fee waived (a $225 value if you are not an ASBO International member). At the conclusion of the study group, leaders give participants an application fee waiver coupon.

Review additional resources to test your school business management knowledge, practice for the exam, and walk into the testing center with confidence.

Taking the SFO Exams

The SFO exam is comprised of two parts: Exam Part 1: Accounting (70 multiple-choice questions) and Exam Part 2: School Business Management (100 multiple-choice questions).

Authorization to Test

After your application has been approved, you will be eligible to take the exams within a five-month authorization-to-test window. There are no restrictions on which the exam you take first. You can take them on the same day or on separate days, whichever is more convenient for you.
To request authorization to take the exams, log in to the SFO Credential Management System and
  • Request authorization to take Exam Part 1: Accounting or Exam Part 2: School Business Management, whichever you choose to take first.
  • Watch your email inbox for an approval email that will authorize you to schedule the exam. Please note your SFO candidate ID number.
  • Schedule your exam at an SFO testing center.
Follow the same process to take the other part of the SFO exam.

Testing Centers

Once you have received authorization, you may schedule your test within your five-month authorization-to-test window at a Pearson VUE computer-based testing center.
When creating your account and scheduling your exam, you will need your SFO candidate ID number from the authorization-to-test email. Exam appointments may be made up to one business day in advance.
Both Exam Part 1: Accounting and Exam Part 2: School Business Management are timed; the total computer-based testing time is 120 minutes for Exam Part 1 and 150 minutes for Exam Part 2.
You are encouraged to arrive at the testing center 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time.

Exam Content

Exam Part 1:  Accounting
This exam focuses on accounting and the information that is necessary at the time of job entry. There are 70 multiple-choice questions.

Manage Accounting Systems (Percentage of questions on this topic: 28% to 33%)
Maintain Accounting Software
Maintain Chart of Accounts
Reconcile General Ledger Accounts
Track Fixed Assets

Manage Accounting Functions (67% to 72%)
Manage Payroll Functions
Manage Accounts Receivable
Manage Accounts Payable Process
Manage Purchasing Procedures
Manage Annual Budgets
Prepare Financial Reports
Manage Cash Flow

Exam Part 2:  School Business Management  
This exam covers competencies that school business professionals learn on the job. There are 100 multiple-choice questions.

Conduct Financial Planning and Analysis (Percentage of questions on this topic:  27% to 32%)
Serve as a School Leader
Review Financial Impact of Strategic Planning Goals
Develop Financial Goals
Evaluate Funding Options for Debt Management
Develop Outside Funding Sources
Analyze Economic Data
Analyze Demographic Data
Develop Multi-Year Forecast
Estimate Real Estate Property Tax Revenues

Conduct Budgeting and Reporting Activities (15% to 20%)
Project Student Enrollment
Evaluate Instructional Program(s) Costs
Develop Annual Budgets
Manage Grant Activities
Prepare for Annual Audit

Conduct Risk Management Activities (10% to 15%)
Evaluate Existing Risks
Address Results of Risk Audit
Conduct Annual Evaluation of Insurance Plans
Manage Insurance Plans

Manage School Facilities (7% to 12%)
Update Facility Master Plan
Oversee the Operation and Maintenance of School Campuses
Oversee New Construction and Renovations

Manage Information Systems (4% to 6%)
Assist in Developing a Technology Plan
Maintain Technology Systems/Oversee Telecommunication Systems

Manage Human Resource Functions (15% to 20%)
Manage Hiring of New Employees
Develop Compensation Structure
Manage Staff Development and Training Programs
Manage Evaluation Process
Manage Personnel Administration
Manage Employee Benefit Programs

Manage Ancillary Services (7% to 12%)
Manage Transportation Services
Manage Food Service Programs
Manage Purchasing Process
Manage Other Service Program

How the Test Is Scored

Candidates who pass the exam, receive a grade of “Pass” only. No numeric score is provided.

Candidates who did not pass, receive a grade of “Fail” and a scaled numeric score. Candidates receiving a grade of “Fail” receive scaled scores that range from 250 to 599 (scaled scores of 600 or more are passing scores).