Took CFA L1 In Dec 19; Didn't Get Scores Due To Disciplinary Action; Looking For Advice

(First post)

Title pretty much says it all, looking for advice on how to proceed with the CFA institute.

Basically ,had my fitbit on during the first half of the exam, when I came back for the second before starting a proctor told me to take it off which I did (stupid on my part I know, but in my mind didn’t think of it as a smartwatch). Scores were released today, found out I will have to wait two to three months to have my score released. Looking for advice, if anyone has gone through this before or dealt with the CFA review board, and what would be the best way to proceed. Also looking for success or failure stories (kinda bummed too bc I don’ t know if I passed or failed).

you can try and write to the institute explaining what happened, but don’t have your hopes high. if you are lucky, and the institute feel particularly generous, they may offer a discount to your next re-take.

even if it was not intentional on your part, and even if you didnt use any smart functionality, allowing you to proceed would be unfair to other candidates. this decision, of course, is up to the Institute.

when you first come to take the exam, the proctor is supposed to check you for banned materials such as fitbit - whoever proctored failed on their job.

fitbit is explicitly listed as a banned item:

Surprising , you were not censured. Usually, the Institute would have sent a PCP letter to your address much before your results.

About half way through the morning section I had a GI Joe proctor come over to me and make a stink about my watch. I was wearing a Casio W800H. I took it off so he could see it. He took a real close look at it.

Wanting to just get on with the exam I said, “you can just take it”.

He says, “oh, you want me to take it?”

I say, “no I don’t, but if you have to, go ahead.”

He gave it back to me and came back a few minutes later with another proctor who, I guess, was the resident expert on what constitutes a restricted item and what doesn’t. Again I take it off any they both examine it for a minute. Expert lady gives it back to me and rolls her eyes at the guy for wasting everyone’s time and making a commotion in the section for a $15 watch that’s got to be the furthest thing from a smart device you can get.

I sent me one earlier, on January 6th, but honestly I didn’t see it, so I have 30 days from notifying them or receipt.

Also, in response to Don Q above, that’s an interesting story/point.

In my case, nothing was said to me at the exam. The proctor did not notify me during or after the session, and also did not come to inspect my device during the session. A proctor from another section told me to take it off before session 2, but that was it. For all they know, it could have just been a digital watch that “resembles” a fitness device. I’ve gone back and forth through a lot of scenarios in my head about it, and the real problem, in my mind, that there wasn’t really a due process.

(Longer explanation on my part; basically the proctor saw something that may have seen a device, that could be used for cheating, but didn’t inspect further, just filed a report. For all they know, it could have just been a digital watch. I also understand its the individuals responsibly, but how do they know what device has what capabilites without inspecting it. I think that takes the whole think down a rabbit hole. How do they know that a calculator hasn’t been modified? Calculator could be modified, could not be, how would they know without inspecting?)

if you are curious about your exam, it never hurts to send them another email and remind them that you exist (it goes without saying that you should be polite about it). having said that, it is very likely that your result (passing or not) will be nullified by the Institute and you will have to take it again.

ps. i strongly recommend taking a careful look at the list of allowed and disallowed items. the last thing you want is to have your scores invalidated because, for example, you used a calculator that is not on the list of allowed calculators.

No understand, thank you for the advice.

I am in email connection with them, its actually the only way they communicate.

My point is, they really didn’t do any type of investigation or really have any proof. Its all he said she said.

With all due respect, you brought in a prohibited item, which their investigation, cursory though it might have been, established.

That’s your fault, not theirs.

With all due respect as well. I’m not trying to pull a fast one, or get anyway with anything, I took the test of my own accord.

My point is nothing was done by the proctor to evaluate the situation. Image they said, for the test, you can wear sneakers in the room, just not Nike’s. Then I wear a pair of sneakers that the proctor thinks, may be Nikes, but doesnt’ establish which brand they are, just thinks they look like Nikes. Doesn’t look at them during the exam, or after the exam, or address what brand they are. My question (not to you, more to myself/due process) is that fair? I guess the answer would be, why wear something similar to Nikes? My answer would be that’s blurring the lines.

I never suggested, nor suspected that you did.

I merely said that you broke the rules, and they established that you broke the rules.

Your appeal should probably start with an admission of that fact, followed by an explanation that it was an innocent mistake of which you took no advantage.

I think I’d agree that it would have been nice if a proctor had raised the issue during the exam so you could be spared this headache. I also think at this point you’re just going to be subject to whatever they decide. Maybe the policy is in the event of any proctor report they hold back the results? Definitely unfortunate. What have they said in the emails so far?

That’s basically my approach.

I wasn’t trying to point the finger at you or imply you said I did anything inappropirate, my apologizes.

Basically they said a disciplinary review will take place. They didn’t really give me much, just a single report sheet filed by the proctor with a box checked that I had a device on, and that it wasn’t used for the test.

The document they gave me said that I am not able to sign up for testing while the case is pending, and that will take 2-3 months to complete. There will be a disciplinary review hearing at the conclusion of the investigation.

So . . . in a nutshell they’re saying that you cannot take the Level II test this June, even if you’re acquitted (as there won’t really be enough time to study fully).

That stinks.

by the way, here is a page of sanctions by the Institute if you violate any of their test taking policies:

using electronic devices (the closest applicable to fitbit) can result in a 1, up to 5 years suspension from CFA program (meaning, you are (temporarily) banned from even re-taking the exam). or a private “reprimand”… whatever that means. using a non-approved calculators can also result in being temporarily banned.

i dont get the scratch paper part though. how are you going to calculate anything if you cant write and try to solve the problem?

They provide scratch paper.

I guess they don’t want candidates writing formulae in invisible ink and then wearing make-it-appear glasses.

Yes, I mean, technically I could begin to study if I get the materials, but a bit risky.

if it means that candidates cannot bring their own scratch paper, that of course makes perfect sense (and would be more clear if they said so instead of saying not to ‘use’ it.)

as stated in the rules:

I believe that they provide blank pages at the back of the test booklet. Perhaps they make the technical distinction between blank pages in the test booklet and scratch paper. Whatever.

You’re correct: they could make the policy a lot clearer.