SAP Exams

49 CFR Part 40.281(c)(2) requires a SAP to "satisfactorily complete an examination administered by a nationally-recognized professional or training organization."

The exam must "comprehensively cover all the elements of qualification training" that are listed in the regulation. Which means that the exam must include questions about the background and rationale of the regulation, drug and alcohol testing, modal rules, recording and recordkeeping, SAP issues, the SAP role, necessary communications, and SAP reporting.

If you want to provide SAP services, you must first completes a Qualification Training. As the next step, you must successfully complete a SAP exam. No one can provide SAP services until he/she has completed both a SAP Qualification Training and a SAP exam.

Here are several questions about exam that are commonly asked by SAPs.

  1. What is the best way to prepare for the exam?
  2. Where will I find a DOT-approved SAP exam?
  3. What is the "preferred" SAP exam?
  4. What SAP exams are available?

#1 What is the best way to prepare for the exam?

First of all, don't assume that a SAP Qualification Training, no matter how thorough it may be, will give you all the answers. The Word version of Part 40 is 80 pages long, and a question on the exam could come from anywhere in those 80 pages. (Or from the Preamble to Part 40, or from the SAP Guidelines, or from any of the modal rules.) No training can claim to cover all that information. The goal of a training should be to help you understand the rule, to be familiar with the written regulations so that you can find answers to your questions when they arise, and to give you as much basic information as possible so that you will be able to provide services that are in compliance with this federal law.

The answers to the questions on any SAP exam should be found somewhere in the documents listed above. Questions that are based on opinions or judgments, and answers that are open to debate, would not constitute a fair test. You should assume that every question has one (and only one) definite answer, and that the answer is clearly stated somewhere in the regulation.

Once you have completed a training, your very best preparation for the exam is to read Part 40, both the Preamble and the regulation itself. No SAP should provide SAP service without having read the at least Part 40 in its entirety. The logical time to do that is before you take an exam. Face it: If you take the exam and pass it, there will be little incentive for you to read the rule. When you actually read the rule, you will discover many things that you didn't know previously, and that may not have even been mentioned in the training that you took.

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#2 Where will I find a DOT-approved SAP exam?

Don't expect to find a DOT-approved SAP exam. DOT doesn't approve or endorse a SAP exam. DOT simply requires an exam to be a valid exam. An interpretation published by DOT in August, 2001, clarified that an exam that is developed by a "professional or training organization" must have been put through a process of validation and psychometrics. Each question and its answer must have a valid basis.

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#3 What is the "preferred" SAP exam?

There is no "preferred" exam. Each SAP can decide which exam he/she will take. Membership in an professional organization does not require that you take that organization's exam. For example, having a membership in EAPA does not require you to take EAPA's SAP exam. A CEAP could decide, for a variety of reasons, to take NAADAC's SAP exam. And a NAADAC member could take the IC&RC SAP exam.

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#4 What SAP exams are available?

Click here for a list of SAP Exams, as found on DOT's website.

Most SAPs take one of the following three SAP exams:

The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)
NAADAC's SAP exam is a paper exam. 100 questions, multiple choice (a,b,c,d). Passing is 75%. After providing proof of your training, NAADAC will send this exam to you. You then complete it, and send it back for scoring. To obtain the exam, contact (800) 548-0497.

Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA)
EAPA’s SAP exam is an Internet exam. For information about the exam, go HERE.

IC&RC's SAP exam is a proctored exam. Pre-registration with the local certification board is required. The applicant must show a photo ID at the time and place of the exam site. 100 questions, multiple choice (a,b,c,d,e). Passing is 67%. There is a 2-hour time limit for the exam. Test scores are reported back to the examinee, usually within 2 weeks. This exam is administered by the local state IC&RC Certification Boards. For a website that lists Boards, go to IC&RC Member Boards. In states where there is no ICRC member board, or the board is not offering the SAP exam, you may test either at a member board in a nearby state.

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