Online examinations: Frequently asked questions

FAQs

1. Why are examinations being moved from physical centres to online?

We already had plans to move part of the assessment process online this year, but the Covid-19 pandemic has led us to fast-track this work. We cannot be confident that we will be able to host examinations in physical centres so we need to plan for exams in a different way.

2. Will examinations continue to be online after the November session?

Yes, we are making these arrangements as a permanent change and we do not anticipate that we will set hand-written examinations in physical centres again.

3. Can I still take a paper-based examination if I prefer it that way?

No, unfortunately, we are unable to offer this option as we will no longer be booking physical centres and invigilation teams.

4. What equipment will I need to have?

You will need a computer which you can type on, with internet connection, webcam and a microphone. If you have a laptop, then webcam and microphone are probably already built in. If you are using a PC you may need to attach these. You will not be able to use a tablet or phone to complete your examination because you need to have a keyboard to type.

To aid exam security, we also ask that you have another camera in the room, usually positioned to the side of your desk. For this, you will need to have a smart-phone with camera and WiFi connection.

5. How do I know if my computer is compatible?

We will publish full specifications in September. The main points are that your computer will need to have the latest software updates and a stable internet connection with a speed of at least 6mbps. The portal used for the examination runs on the Chrome browser, so you will need to have this installed.

6. Can I do the examination online if I don’t have any of the right equipment?

No, you do need to make sure you have everything you need in order to sit the examination in this way. We do not require you to own all the equipment but you do need to arrange to have use of it at the time of the exam.

7. What happens if there are internet connection problems or power cuts?

The partners we are working with to provide the online examining platform have experience of delivering exams all over the world, and are familiar with these issues. The examination portal is designed to re-connect automatically if the connection is lost, and in any event your session is saved so that you can pick up where you left off. In most cases, candidates should be able to re-connect and continue with the exam.

8. Will there be any concessions for students in November, who are using this system for the first time?

Yes, for the November 2020 session only, we will allow an extra 15 minutes of examination writing time to allow for the new format and for any minor technical problems which may take time to resolve.

9. Have you thought about how to manage the different time zones?

Yes, we are incorporating this in our planning and will release more detail soon. You can see on the examination timetable within MyCG that the exams are no longer split between morning and afternoon. Your exam is scheduled for a particular day only, and depending on your time zone you could be starting in the morning or later in the day. For now, please keep in mind that you need to keep the whole of the exam day clear..

10. What is going to happen to students who don’t have fast typing skills?

We have made this announcement as early as we could so that students can consider how the online system will work and make arrangements. We do recommend that students use this time to make sure that their typing speed is up to completing answers in the time-frame and to improve it if not. We cannot offer extra time or the opportunity to sit paper-based exams.

For some students, we realise this will mean an investment of time and practice in improving their typing skills. However, it should not be necessary to pay for or attend courses for this as there are free online courses available, such as at www.typing.com.

11. What happens if I need you to make adjustments to my exam conditions for an approved reason?

The process by which you submit a request for adjustments based on medical or long-term conditions will stay the same, and you can contact the Examinations team at enquiries@icsa.org.uk to start this.

12. How can you stop people cheating?

We will be using an online platform specially designed for computer-based assessment, combined with live remote invigilation services. This means that your computer and webcam are accessed by the system and a live invigilator is checking on you to ensure that this remains a closed book exam with no collusion or cheating. We will be publishing more detailed guidance about how the platform works.

13. Will I be able to make notes on a piece of paper?

You will be allowed to use paper and make notes, for your own use, off screen. You will not be able to submit these notes to us, they will be for your own reference during the examination only. You must write your answers to the questions on-screen.

You will be asked to show the note paper you intend to use to the invigilator before the examination starts and after. Your note-paper must be completely free of any writing, diagrams or other content when you show it to the invigilator before the exam starts.

14. Will I be able to take a toilet break?

For many organisations setting online examinations, students are not permitted to take breaks for any reason. We would encourage you to take the examination without a break, but it will be allowed if you really need it.

If you do find that you need a break during the examination for any reason, you can let the invigilator know through the chat facility and should be aware of the following rules:

  • You should wait for permission from the invigilator before you leave.
  • Your examination time will not be paused while you take a break.
  • You will have a maximum limit of 5 minutes to return to your screen
  • Breaks will be logged and you will only be allowed one.

If you know in advance that there is, for example, a medical reason for you to require a break during the examination, let us know as soon as possible before the exam date.

15. How will we be able to answer calculation questions in the finance examinations?

The platform we will use for the online examinations is adaptable and has features which are designed especially for answering the calculation elements of questions. If you are taking a finance examination, you will be able to access a past paper and experiment with writing your answers when you do your trial session (see below).

16. Will I be allowed to use a calculator in the finance examinations?

Yes, you will be allowed to use your own calculator but will not be able to use another device, such as a smart-watch or mobile phone as a calculator. You will also be asked to show the invigilator your calculator before you start the exam.

17. Will I be able to practise using the system before I take the examination?

Yes, we will give you the opportunity to log in and experiment with the platform, which we will populate with past examination papers. We aim to give you this access in the last two weeks of September, and will send more details shortly.

18. Will you still pre-release case studies six weeks ahead of the examinations?

Yes, we will continue to do this for the examinations at Part Two of the Qualifying Programme, as we did for the physical examinations.

19. When will I get more information?

We will email students in September to provide more technical specifications and provide more guidance on the platform and how it works. We aim to let you test the system in the last two weeks of September and we will tell you about that in our next update.

Join our webinar on the 30th September Join our virtual conference on the 10th November Join our conference on the 1st October
Join our webinar on the 30th September Join our virtual conference on the 10th November Join our conference on the 1st October

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