L3 CBT exam experience?


I wrote level 3 in South Africa this past Friday. My experience seems pretty terrible compared to what I have read - I was hoping to see more complaints like mine but surprised to see everyone thought their CBT test experience went relatively well.

Our designated time 4:00pm, told to be there 30 mins before. About 40 candidates at our location (for level 2 and 3 mixed) - took over an hour of waiting in a queue just to get through “protocol” to be seated, around 4:45pm. Probably understandable during covid.

The actual CBT exam experience - for the essay: the scenario and questions were separate windows that overlapped each other. I could not read the scenario with the question next to it - I.e I had to open the scenario box to read, close the box and open the question box separately, type my answer, re-open the scenario box to get relevant information and try “remember” what to type in the question box (I only had one screen). I put my hand up and asked if there is no way to run the question/scenario parallel to each other. Unfortunately my instructor didn’t have a solution.

I ended up ctrl + c’ing paragraphs from the scenario and ctrl + v’ing into my answer box to avoid having to switch between boxes, and a number of times upon pasting into the answer box, there was a problem with the formatting and my answer box froze where I couldn’t type. I put my hand up in frustration requesting help but invigilators didn’t know what to do. I ended up going out of the question into another question, which “refreshed” the formatting of my previous question - so I could return to it and type normally again. This happened a number of times.

I wasn’t able to highlight any material in the scenario as indicated in the tutorial session before. Especially with not being able to run the scenario and question concurrently, it would have been helpful to be able to highlight information to spotlight important text for switching between windows to avoid repeated reading.

All in all I feel super disappointed about the written and found it extremely difficult to attempt. Left a number of questions out due to running out of time. The second exam/MCQ was much easier to navigate and I had no problems there. I just wish they gave us the physical exam paper like normal and then required us type our answers out on the computer. This would have solved all my issues on the essay portion. After experiencing such impressive sophistication from CFA Institute in level 1 and 2, the standards have dropped significantly. I really feel CFA failed to simulate a written/paper based experience on CBT.

Another point of improvement I noted was to show the marks/minutes per sub-question. Not sure what the point is in making us estimate which sub-question requires more detail/attention?

Did anyone else not experience similar difficulties to me? I couldn’t find another L3 candidate after my exam to ask.


I also took CFA level3 CBT in JHB. exactly the same experience as you. very terrible experience.

Unfortunately I think it depends on the site location and specific hardware/software. These facilities are franchised out and sounds like depending on who’s running them can select the equipment to some kind of “standard” if their standards are low but acceptable this ends up with issues… It’s unfortunate. I guess it does fall on CFAI to ensure the quality of their vendor is on par though… although prometric is used by a number of other professional organizations… I’ve read of a number of other issues on reddit, I believe there is a pinned thread specific to this you can checkout. Just google Reddit CFA.

Hi @PoisonPut

Thanks for your response. I’ll check out the Reddit thread :pray:

I also took level 3 in JHB. Same experience, was frustrating and slowed me down. Ran out of time and left out questions.