Proctor told me I couldn't write in my book or I would be in violation, help please

A proctor stopped me in the morning session and told me I couldn’t write in my test book and that I had to erase everything or else I would be disqualified…I was shocked as had never heard of this and asked him where I was supposed to do scratch work and he said in my calculator. He came back 30 min later after another student complained and said “oh the rules have been updated you can write in your book.” Along with another student who this happened to, we made a formal complaint to the head proctor who was very apologetic. In addition I e-mailed the CFAI the sitatuion telling seat numbers, names, everything that they would need to know. However, the CFAI got back to me and pretty much said too bad…really frustrated as I studied for months but ran out of time on the morning because the proctor told me I had to erase everything or else I would be disqualified. I also think it’s insane that students can be banned permananetly for violating CFA testing codes but when someone from the CFA doesn’t know the rules it’s too bad.

While your situation certainly sucks, understand that the proctors are not from CFAI. From my personal observation, CFAI’s hiring requirements for ‘proctors’ tends to be the equivalent of a wal-mart door greeter. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to know the rules. In the event the jerk proctor wrote you up, and assuming it cleared his supervisor, CFAI would have investigated it and probably dismissed the write-up as a non-violation. As far as it “being insane that students can be banned permananetly for violating CFA testing codes,” charterholders busted their ass to earn the designation and certainly don’t want to be associated with those who attempt to get the same designation by way of cheating.

Please refer here:

Click on “Scratch paper policy” : it reads as follows

You are permitted to do scratch work in the exam book on question pages or blank pages. You are not permitted to remove any pages from the book, including blank pages. Do not use your admission ticket as scratch paper. It is a CFA Institute testing policy violation to write on the front or back of your ticket at any time.

hopefully you completed enough questions correctly to pass the exam. If not, better luck next time.

I was well aware of the scratch paper policy and told the proctor it, who had told me rules had changed. In hindsight I guess I should have gotten up and found the head proctor myself and complained, but during the middle of the test all that was running through my mind was “oh sh*t what do I do now.” I completely understand why CFA candidates are banned for life, and cheating is completely unacceptable. What I saying is I’m frustrated that the penalaties for CFA candidates are so strict when proctors can apparently tell candidates anything they want with no repercussion.

agreed your situation really sucks

That’s quite an extrapolation. Your proctor made a mistake (and later corrected it); that’s a far cry from telling candidates anything they want.

How do you know that there were no repercussions? Perhaps the proctor was reprimanded. Perhaps told not to bother to apply to be a proctor in the future. There are no facts in evidence to support this conclusion.

Yes this situation sucks, but it’s hard to see what they could have done about it. I knew that I was allowed to write in the exam book, but if a proctor came up to me and told me I wasn’t allowed to and I had to erase everything, I would assume that I had a complete brain fart and that I remembered the rules wrong.

I suppose the best thing would have been to ask for the head proctor right then and there. Still…that really does suck. I feel like maybe they should have made an arrangement to give you an extra 20 minutes or something…but then…I don’t know. I think it just sucks without any obvious solution.

If the proctor told me that, I’d tell him that I believe that he’s mistaken and to confirm it. And I would continue working.

You are likely an outlier, in that case. Humans are engineered to obey authority even if it flies in the face of their own understanding. There’s that famous psychological study where people would say that two lines were the same length (when they were obviously different) if the rest of the people in their group said the same. The effect would be even stronger for a person of authority I would guess.

Plus it’s different if you’ve written a test before. If this happened to me in Level II I would probably ask to speak to the head proctor because I’ve already written a test and I’m well aware that I can write in the booklets. But if it happened for my first ever test I probably would have done as he told me.

Agreed, it was my first time writing the exam, and I would’ve asked where I do my work. If he said my calculator, as ridiculous as that sounds, I’d attempt to do what I can on my calculator and go through erasing everything. This case sounds almost not realistic, but I guess if proctors are not required to be charterholders and can be random people looking for work, it is a possibility.

There were definitely no repercussions then for the fact that I spent significant time erasing rather than working…

Exactly…I was terrrfied! I thought that for sure I was in the wrong. Ugh this situation is so frustrating.

A little off topic, but-- the study you’re referring to wasn’t about obedience towards authoritative figures; it was about conformity and peer pressures. I think a more appropriate study was called the Milgram experiment, in which participants followed the orders of an authoritative figure to (seemingly) deliver shocks of increasing intensity to another individual. The idea being that, although we may perceive something as wrong or incorrect, many people will follow what an authoritative figure instructs them to do.

Almost everyone would have listened to the proctor in the same situation. Especially on L1 since that is your first go at it. The instruction of the proctor though to do ‘scratch work’ on your calculator clearly indicates the proctor doesn’t know what the term ‘scratch work’ means.

I took L1 and L2 in Chicago and most proctors were professional but didn’t seem all that bright. Nevertheless, there is a natural inclination to listen to their direction particularly when you haven’t been through the experience before.

I’m sure of it.

No not the Milgram experiment. I’m quite familiar with that one. It does apply a little bit, but the Milgram experiment was about using authority to get people to do immoral things that they didn’t want to do. I googled it and the study I was thinking of was the “Asch conformity experiment”.

Edit: Oh I see now what you were saying. You are saying that the Milgram experiment applies more because it’s about authoritarian pressure rather than peer pressure. You may be right, but I think the actual exercise of the Asch experiment is closer to what happened. The OP knew he was allowed to write in his scratch book, but because he was told otherwise he assumed his previous knowledge was incorrect even though he was confident in the knowledge, in the same way that the subjects in the line experiment said that two lines were of different lengths when obviously they weren’t. But ya, the proctor-exam taker relationship would better parallel the milgram experiment.

I agree, not many people would dare to stand for themselves in this situation.

A much less significant occasion happened to me this June. The proctor came to my desk and asked me to put my wristwatch (plain vanilla one, which is allowed to use) into my pocket: I even asked him if I can keep it on my wrist - because I well remembered I could have kept it on my desk - he told no.

What use does a watch have in your pocket?

I did not dare not obeying, because one of the advices we always receive is “don’t call the proctors’ attention to yourself unnecessarily”.

For the PM I checked this rule at the admission desk and kept the watch on my desk as they told me I could.

I just wonder if this proctor asked everyone in his/her section to erease their notes from the textbook, or just randomly selected a few candidates for this?

It was those of us who started writing first - I skipped ethics and launched right into quant