Moving CFA exams to computer based testing?

I just got an email from CFAI outlining a review of whether or not to move the CFA to a computer based test. They say it’s just for discussion, but this is an organization with a world-class ability to make money so of course it’s just a matter of time until all 3 levels will be computer based. Cheaper to administer and able to get more people to sign up.

I wondered what people thought? My initial reaction is that it should never be computer based - part of the CFA is the rite of passage of being physically present with the other candidates; the “we’re all in the same boat” feeling. Plus, my experience has been that invariably, once a ‘test’ is available online, it seems to cheapen and devalue the qualification. You only need look at the many ‘wonderful’ online inly universities out there. Basically I’m against any move to a computer based system. How much money does CFAI need to make? How would this possibly be a positive for the charter?

“Cheaper to administer and able to get more people to sign up” - you know that is gonna be a huge driver! This will be especially true for anything multiple choice oriented.

Anything written answer needs a human with eyes and a brain - and a grading outline.

I’m against computer based testing for the CFA as well! Candidates should be as well… i agree with the rite of passage feeling… loved the tension and the atmosphere!

I agree that Level III may be tough to move online, but I and II are easily done. Then again, the CFAI loves making money so I’m sure they can find a creative way to put LIII online.

I’ll be emailing CFAI with my thoughts and I encourage all charterholders and candidates to do the same.

This is a dedicated email address they have provided for feedback:

(fed= Future of Exam Delivery)

Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with L1 being computer-based. However, I think L2 and L3 should stay the way they are. The format of the exam, plus the fact that it’s only offered once per year is part of the entire process.

That being said–actually attending the test for L1 is good practice for…well…taking the test at L2 and L3. So maybe it should stay the same.

I had to take a 3-hour flight to get to the nearest cfa exam center, compare that to the 20 min drive to cpu-based test center and computer-based exam is already looking like a winner to me

Unless a computer-based approach still requires dedicated testing facilities then the exam process effectively becomes open book. This greatly diminishes the achievements of those who have already made the gruelling journey, however low the real world applicability of formula memorisation. Not a good idea for any level IMO; can understand the short term commercial appeal, however if the charter loses its esteem in the process then over the longer term this may actually be damaging to the bottom line.

I think the computer-based at testing centers is a terrible idea. I’ve taken tests at these places before.

So much opportunity for cheating as those testing centers are pretty weak with enforcing things. Whereas the CFA proctors are notorious for nailing people for doing practically nothing.

A terrible, terrible idea.

Another reason I think it’s terrible is because they’ll no doubt do the test over a 2-3 week window. There were ethics questions about people in different time zones helping each other, what’s going to happen if they have weeks?

"I think the computer-based at testing centers is a terrible idea. I’ve taken tests at these places before.

So much opportunity for cheating as those testing centers are pretty weak with enforcing things."

This is pretty much the exact reason I don’t want to see it go down this path. You can forget about the integrity of the charter if this happens. And what for? All so the Institute can make an extra buck? Where’s the benefit for Charterholders? None.

Cash is King!

Ya’ll should know this by now…

Maybe you shouldn’t live in the effing boonies and move to a real city.

It is a possibility but I cant because I need 11 months of sunshine and good weather

I don’t see why can’t they do this electronically, although it must be invigilated like the current exam, which may still be problematic to find test centres, etc…

I think CFAI is about 15 years late to computer-based testing, but maybe better late than never. CFAI should go to module-based testing like the CPA exam, say 4 modules: Ethics-Econ-CF, FRA, FI-EQ, Alt-Deriv, testable in two 4-week windows, Fall and Spring. Each module would have about 100 questions for a 4 hour test-- and test in depth, so it’s more quantitative, sort of like the FRM. The curriculum has become too bloated for a 120 Q test, where some sections have only one vignette (speaking of L2). Anyway, the CPA went electronic 16 years ago in 2001, think about that for a sec… there was no Facebook or iPhone when the last paper and pencil exam was given to CPAs. That’s how glacier-slow CFAI is to change.

Yeah but what was the benefit? To existing CPA’s or would-be CPA’s? Why is electronic testing better than the current method? Except for the fact it saves CFAI money?

From the top of my head - 1. No “scanner didn’t read your answers correctly” BS. 2.Instant results on lvl 1 and lvl 2 (or even if they analyse MPS and so on, still way faster than 2 months). 3. More than one sitting a year.

CPA :: Four modules * 100 questions = 400 Q > CFA :: One exam * 120 Q

Much better representation of what the candidate knows. E.g. can you honestly say your knowledge of L2 PM is accurately represented based on a six question set?

I’m against anything that lowers the passing rate or makes the certificate easier to obtain…

computer based or year round testing would just dilute the value… CFA is hard not just because the curriculum but because the “process” is hard

Also… at some locations (NYC) there are a few thousand people taking level 1… I don’t see how a computer based system would be administered

A computer based format would potentially be more convenient, more secure, and less prone to spurious ethical violations that those that are seen on AF regularly. However, as mentioned above, there aren’t many facilities, if any, that can administer a test simultaneously for so many candidates. If the test were spread over a window of time, then there would have to be many versions of the test to avoid rampant cheating. CFAI would have to invest a lot more money and effort to produce these versions and ensure a uniform passing standard.

However, to the argument that the central exam location makes you feel like your achievement is more special… I think snowflakes who argue this should pursue some more important higher achievements.