Defined Contribution Administrative Issues - Basic Concepts (DC-1)

DC-1 Syllabus   
Course Overview
Exam Details
Required and Supplementary Reading
Supplementary Study Materials
Exam Waivers and Grandfathering Rules
Errata and References
Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Course Overview

Qualified retirement plans are afforded favorable tax treatment, including tax deductible contributions, deferral of taxation to the employee and tax deferred investment earnings on assets. In order to be afforded this special treatment, qualified plans must satisfy certain requirements in the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations.

The subject matter of DC-1:

  • Begins with the basic plan qualification requirements including plan document requirements
  • Explores the different types of qualified plans, then delves into specific qualification requirements and concepts including eligibility, participation, highly compensated employees, key employees and top-heavy plans
  • Discusses contributions and allocations, deductibility of contributions, vesting and forfeiture issues
  • Reviews plan amendments, plan terminations and annual reporting requirements (Form 5500 filings)
  • Allows candidates to learn about the ASPPA Code of Professional Conduct and to identify ethical dilemmas that retirement plan professionals may face

It is presumed that a candidate sitting for the DC-1 examination will have the knowledge of material covered in the Retirement Plan Fundamentals (RPF) Modules. Please refer to the DC-1 syllabus for specific learning objectives and exam topic weightings.

In addition to testing the knowledge of the material included in the syllabus, the DC-1 examination is intended to test the candidate’s knowledge of the underlying principles and the candidate’s ability to apply those principles when solving problems encountered in practice.

Exam Details

The DC-1 examination consists of 63 multiple choice questions, and candidates have 2 ½ hours to complete it. Candidates will receive a grade immediately upon completing the exam. Exams are given at Prometric Testing Centers during the examination window. 

Examination Registration

A candidate is not required to be a member of ASPPA to take an ASPPA examination. However, it is recommend that a candidate order and receive all study materials before registering for an examination. A candidate can register for an ASPPA examination in one of the following three ways:

Online: Register online over a secure network and receive immediate payment confirmation. Credit card payments accepted (MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover). If you do not have an account set up with ASPPA, you will be required to set up a secure account. This account will store your pertinent information.


Fax: Complete the proctored exam registration form with credit card payment and fax to 703-516-9308. Allow 5-7 business days for processing. If faxing your registration please do not send a copy via mail.


Mail: Complete the proctored exam registration form and mail with payment to ASPPA, P.O. Box 34725, Alexandria, VA 22334-0725. All forms of payment are accepted: credit card, check or money order. Allow 7-10 business days for processing.

Please provide an email address with your registration. Failure to do so will delay the registration process.

Once registered, eligibility emails will be sent to candidates. The eligibility email has detailed instructions on scheduling appointments with Prometric. It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule an exam. We strongly recommend that a candidate schedule an appointment upon receipt of the confirmation letter, as testing centers fill up quickly. To find a Prometric testing center visit

Exam Fee

Members: $335
Nonmembers: $360

Estimated study time -  60-80 hours

Grading Process - Notification for examinations will include a score of 9, 8 or 7 (passing grade) or 6, 5 or 3 (failing grade). A score of 3 indicates that no points were credited; rather, the candidate’s performance was below the minimum acceptable standards. The score report contains a topic listing which indicates “needs work” for any topic where the candidate scored less than 70% correct. Raw scores, spreads between scores, pass marks, pass percentages and copies of questions are not released. The ASPPA Office is permitted to provide grade information only in writing; grades will not be provided by telephone, email or fax. Candidates who wish to have their grades sent to anyone other than themselves must fill out a Grade Release Form.

Required and Supplementary Reading

All study materials can be ordered by using the online ASPPA Bookstore or by downloading the Publications Order Form and following the instructions to fax or mail your order form and payment.

The required reading for the DC-1 exam is:

The suggested reading for the DC-1 exam is:

Supplementary Study Materials

The study tools below are not required preparation for the DC-1 examination. They are offered as additional study aids.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to review all of ASPPA’s exam policies and procedures, which can be found on ASPPA's Candidate Corner.

Errata and References

For updates to ASPPA’s publications and examinations please click here. Stop by regularly as new updates are posted. It is the candidates responsibility to check the errata before preparing for and sitting for an examination.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Candidates who have successfully completed an ASPPA proctored examination can earn up to 20 ARA CE credits depending on the score received. Credits will be applied to the CE cycle in which the score is issued. For more information on ARA examination CE credit click here.


20 ERPA credits for successful completion of the DC-1 self-study program may be awarded.

The final decision as to the number of ERPA credits rests solely with the Internal Revenue Service.