Resumption of scratch paper at CFA Exams

I just sent CFA Inistitute an email, asking for resumption of providing scratch paper at CFA exams. If you support, please RETWEET, RESENT to CFA ( Thanks!

Dear CFA Institute,

I know CFA has changed the scratch paper policy from supplying scratch paper during CFA exams to paperless by providing candidates a mark pen and plastic boards.

However, I want to explain it may be a reason to hinder students’ performance and this paperless initiative actually didn’t reach its original goal, but waste more paper.

  1. I have done the CFA I exam. During the exam at Hong Kong, I was provided two RED-COLORED plastic board with many lines on it (NOT A WHITE BOARD). As there were many calculations which need writing, I have to keep raising hands to ask for new boards, which wastes candidates’ exam time.
  2. The nib of the mark pen is so thick that makes the board too small to write. For solving a question, candidate has to flip the board back and forth many times, easily making errors and wasting candidate’s precious exam time.
  3. When I was waiting for the new writing board to come, I noticed there was a staff at the exam room dedicating erasing the used board with TISSUE PAPER, USING A LOT, which actually wasted more paper.
  4. The mark pen itself also is not environmental friendly, as well as the plastic boards. CFA’s new policy actually triggers producing and consumption of more non-ESG products. This is against the ESG initiative.

Based upon hereinto reasons, I would suggest CFA Institute to resume scratch paper policy.


Lu Feng

I remember using a whiteboard once on Prometric, but that was eons ago. It worked fine because there wasn’t many calculations and the math itself wasn’t particularly hard. I can see it affecting candidate performance for solving problems that require a little more work. Maybe they don’t expect candidates to use whiteboard very much and rely instead on the shortcuts provided by the financial calculator, but that’s a guess. Regardless, whiteboard sucks. Scratch paper is far better, although I’m not sure CFAI will listen to candidates (have they ever?)

Thanks for understanding! I am raising this question as I am preparing for CFA Level II, and some problems, like binominal tree, takes many steps, which will be more difficult on plastic board.

for binomials trees in particular:
if you’re dealing with European-type options, you can skip the intermediary steps and use the terminal payoffs and risk-neutral probabilities to calculate the fair price at time 0.
if you’re dealing with American-type options, or options such as Shout, Lookback, etc, then you can’t skip the intermediary calculations and must evaluate the fair price at each step.
even if you only need to find an European option, a scratch paper is still much preferable.

i wish you luck in trying to make CFAI revert to scratch paper.