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Why can't the CFA Institute run its exams like this?

With CFA exam takers already fretting about the possibility that the exams in December, which were postponed from June, will be cancelled because of the virus, there are increasing calls for the testing process to be moved online. All the more so because the CAIA, which runs a set of semi-rival exams on alternative asset management, will be offering online proctored exams from this September.

The CAIA announced its new arrangements last week. The online proctored exams won't be mandatory but will be optional for candidates hesitant about attending exam sites in person. In a document detailing how the online proctored exams will work, the CAIA says that among other things candidates will be expected to sit the exams in an area where online proctors can see both them and their testing space at all times. Candidates will need to provide photos of themselves, their government ID and their testing space (x4) and these will be validated before the exams begin. No additional computer monitors will be allowed on and posters on walls should be removed. 

If the proctors see multiple faces, no face, or the wrong face in the window, the exam will be terminated. It will also be terminated if candidates leave the room at any time except for their scheduled break.

“Postponing, cancelling, or otherwise calling ‘time out’ on our efforts and the hard work of our Candidates amidst continued COVID-driven uncertainty is not an option," says William J. Kelly, CEO of the CAIA Association. "Instead, we see an opportunity to embrace proven technologies that allow us to keep our Candidates and their families safe, provide clarity as to when and how they will be able to sit for the exam, and further grow the number of qualified professionals this industry very much needs.”

The CAIA Association's decision follows a modelling study suggesting exam rooms could be ideal environments for the transmission of COVID-19. Some CFA candidates have also questioned whether lockdowns will effectively prohibit the exams from taking place in some countries. Others have pointed out that some of the usual exam CFA centers are currently being used as COVID-19 quarantine facilities. 

Starting from next year, the CFA Institute is already planning to switch its level I exams to a digital format. However, this should not confused with allowing candidates to take exams from home: even when CFA testing is "computer based," the intention is still that candidates will attend an exam center in person.

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Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash




AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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