Provincial Alberta HCA Exam FAQs

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Health Care Aide (HCA) Candidate Handbook

What is the Health Care Aide (HCA) Candidate Handbook?

Candidates must read the Alberta Health Care Aide (HCA) Examination Candidate Handbook (Handbook) prior to writing their Provincial Alberta HCA Exam. The Handbook is a resource for Exam candidates and instructors to assist in preparing for the Exam and understanding related processes. Access the Handbook here.


Student Enrolment and Eligibility

What requirements are necessary for students to become eligible for the Exam and to be listed on the PSI candidate spreadsheet?

Prior to submitting the PSI candidate spreadsheet to the Directory for processing, PSIs must ensure the

  • candidate’s (student’s) successful completion of all course work and practicum requirements, and
  • candidate’s (student’s) successful enrolment on the Directory in accordance with policy 8.0 of the Government of Alberta Health Care Aide Provincial Curriculum Policies outlined below:

8.1. A PSI offering the Government of Alberta HCA Provincial Curriculum (2019) must provide in-class opportunities for each cohort of HCA students to enrol in the Alberta HCA Directory before they graduate.

8.2. On completion of each HCA student cohort, the PSI will forward a list of HCA students who have successfully completed the HCA Program to the Alberta HCA Directory. The list will contain information only for those HCA students who have enrolled in the Alberta HCA Directory as per Policy 8.1.

Candidates who fail to enrol on the Directory prior to becoming eligible to write their Exam will not be granted an extension or access to the Exam.

How can candidates confirm their enrolment on the Directory?

HCA applicants can check their status on the Directory at any time.

HCA students under the following two (2) status groups are considered as successfully enrolled on the Directory:

  1. Status group 1: Approved as Certified – In Progress
  2. Status group 2: Waiting Documents

To confirm successful enrolment, HCA students meeting status group 1 will receive an email from the Directory indicating that they have been approved on the Directory as Certified – In progress. This status means that they have not completed all of the requirements to fulfil the Certified status. HCA students will be able to download a confirmation letter from their Directory portal, for more information on how, visit the Directory Portal User Guide webpage.

HCA students who may have indicated a graduation date in the past will be under the status Waiting Documents, satisfying status group 2. 

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Post-Secondary Institutions Candidate Spreadsheet

How do post-secondary institutions (PSIs) communicate student eligibility and when should the PSI candidate spreadsheet be submitted to the Directory?

To communicate student eligibility to the Directory, PSIs must complete a PSI candidate spreadsheet distributed by the Alberta Health Care Aide (HCA) Directory (Directory). To request this spreadsheet, email exam@albertahcadirectory.com.

The spreadsheet must only contain a list of HCA students who have passed all course work and practicum requirements and HCA students who have successfully enrolled on the Alberta HCA Directory.

What is considered the course work completion date?

The course work completion date is the date that the student has passed all course work and practicum requirements. This date is provided by the PSI on the PSI candidate spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet should not provide information on students who have not completed all course work and practicum requirements. PSIs should refrain from providing spreadsheets with anticipated dates.

How are candidates affected when spreadsheets are submitted incorrectly or prior to student enrolment?

Candidates will experience a delay in their processing and access to the Exam when spreadsheets are submitted incorrectly, or enrolment is incomplete. This delay directly impacts the candidates 60-calendar-day deadline, and an extension will not be available.

Access to the Exam is only granted to a candidate if they are currently enrolled on the Directory and when the Directory receives the PSI candidate spreadsheet.

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Exam Deadlines and Dates

What is the 60-calendar-day deadline and when does it start?

Alberta Health has issued a maximum 60-calendar-day deadline for HCA students completing the 2019 Curriculum HCA program to successfully complete three (3) attempts at the Provincial Alberta HCA Exam (Exam). HCA students have a maximum of 60-calendar-days from their course work completion date to successfully complete the Exam—all three (3) attempts. The 60-calendar-days start to count from the course work completion date.

It is important for PSIs to confirm the accuracy of all dates provided on the PSI candidate spreadsheet prior to submitting the spreadsheet to the Directory for processing. Once each spreadsheet is processed, students will not be eligible for extensions pertaining to the start date of their 60-calendar-day timeline.

What is the 14-calendar-day wait period and when does it start?

Alberta Health has issued a mandatory 14-calendar-day minimum wait period between each unsuccessful Exam attempt. Candidates are responsible for tracking their wait period from the date of their unsuccessful Exam write. After the 14-calendar days, candidates will be granted automatic access to log in to their Directory portal to pay and book another Exam attempt.

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Unable to Write or Access Exam

Is there a process available for candidates who are unable to write the Exam due to extenuating circumstances?

Candidates who are unable to write their Provincial Alberta HCA Exam due to unforeseen or extenuating circumstances are encouraged to contact exam@albertahcadirectory.com as soon as possible. All extension requests must be submitted by the candidate via email to exam@albertahcadirectory.com for consideration.

What happens if a candidate fails to write and pass the Exam?

To be eligible for a Government of Alberta Health Care Aide Provincial Curriculum (2019) Certificate, students enrolled in an Alberta HCA program delivering the 2019 curriculum must successfully pass the Alberta Provincial HCA Exam. See section 1.1 of Provincial HCA Exam Candidate Handbook.

Are students currently approved on the Directory under a different status required to write the Provincial Alberta HCA Exam?

HCA students currently approved to the Directory under the status groups Substantially Equivalent or Deemed Competent are required to create a new account with the Directory (sign up with a new email address) and submit a new application form for the Certified status group. For more information on how to apply, please review the How to apply webpage.

All HCA students currently enrolled in the 2019 curriculum are required to write the Provincial Alberta HCA Exam.

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Exam Language

Is the exam available in any language other than English?

  • The Provincial Alberta HCA Exam is only offered in English.
  • We acknowledge there are many HCA students that have English as a second language (ESL).
  • The ESL requirements to enter the program are to ensure students are able to learn the subject matter in English and successfully complete the program, including the provincial exam. 
  • It is important that HCAs have the English communication skills to be competent care providers.

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Computer and Equipment Requirements

How can HCA programs support students with computer and equipment issues?

HCA students experiencing computer, Internet, or equipment issues should be re-directed to the candidate handbook. A detailed outline of mandatory computer, Internet and equipment requirements is available in the candidate handbook. HCA students are responsible for ensuring they meet all testing requirements outlined in the following FAQs.

Access the Candidate Handbook online.

HCA students who fail to meet the requirements outlined in the handbook and are unable to complete an attempt at the Exam successfully forfeit the Exam fee and will not be eligible for an extension. Additionally, HCA programs may support their students by providing on-site testing centres for HCA students; however, they are required to notify the Directory if such provisions are offered. A Resources and Exam testing requirements webpage can provide you with additional information.

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Physical Environment and Standards of Behaviour

What actions and behaviours will be considered irregular and flagged by the proctor?

Candidates are responsible for reviewing the list of possible actions and behaviors outlined in the Candidate Handbook and on the ProctorU website that may be flagged as irregular by the Proctor.

These requirements include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Candidates must stay seated, facing the webcam during the Exam. The proctor may interact with a candidate if they do not follow these requirements.
  • Candidates must test on a hard surface (not a bed, couch, or floor).
  • Candidates require a mirror or reflective surface to show the proctor the monitor to ensure there are no notes or writings attached to the monitor. A cell phone with a front facing camera can be used for this purpose.
  • Additional persons or voices are prohibited from entering the exam testing room.
  • Talking aloud, unless otherwise accommodated, is not permitted during the exam.
  • Looking off-screen is not permitted during the exam.

Irregular or suspicious behaviours can lead to an incident report being issued to the HCA Directory by the proctor. Candidates are required to review the Candidate Handbook prior to writing their Exam.

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Exam Day

What to expect on exam day?

Candidates are encouraged to review this video demonstration to better understand the candidate experience and what to expect on Exam day. For more information, please see 6.0 of the Candidate Handbook.

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Exam Results

What is the passing score?

Candidates will only receive a Pass or Fail mark.

A panel of experts were asked to evaluate and score each exam question. An average of all judges’ scores is used to determine a rating for each question. The rating for all questions creates a reliable and psychometrically defensible pass mark for the Exam. This results in a fair and valid process.

For more information, please see 8.0 of the Candidate Handbook.

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Practice Exam

What are the benefits of doing the practice test to prepare for the Provincial HCA Exam?

  • A practice test delivered on the same testing platform as the provincial examination gives candidates the opportunity to become familiar with the testing software, which can reduce anxiety.
  • A practice test allows candidates to become familiar with how questions are written, how they look, and how they should respond. It removes the mystery over what the test will look like.
  • The most obvious benefit is that it allows candidates to assess their level of knowledge and competence on the subject matter that is being tested on the Exam.

I see that I can write the practice test five (5) times—is there more than one version of it?

No. The candidate is paying one cost for five (5) attempts to write the practice exam with the same questions each time. A diagnostic report is provided to the candidate following each write which provides some information on areas of strength.

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Find general HCA FAQ information here.