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. How will the online examinations work?

You can sit the examination anywhere which offers the right conditions, which is mainly a room by yourself, with a computer and WiFi connection. Your exam has a set start and end time and you need to log into a portal to complete the exam under set conditions. Your whole examination is observed by an invigilator remotely, using cameras and the technology included in the online examination platform.

5. Will it be easier than doing a paper-based examination?

No – the examination paper is exactly the same format as before. The procedure and checks in place for the online examination mean the examination remains a timed, closed-book exam with invigilation in place.

6. How does the remote invigilation work?

An invigilator will be able to see what is happening on your computer screen and will also be observing you via your webcam (face-on view) and a second camera to the side of your work-space. There is a chat function with the invigilator so they can step in if they notice anything going wrong, and so you can alert them to any problems.

7. Who are you working with to manage the online examinations?

Our partner organising the examination platform is Certify Ltd. Certify uses ProctorExam software to manage the invigilation and the platform within which students see the questions and write their answers is Rogo.

8. Are the examinations recorded? What happens to that data?

Yes, the visual and audio recordings from both cameras are recorded and retained by our partner Certify for a six-month period, after which they are deleted. This is so that they can be reviewed if there are enquiries about results, appeals or other legitimate reasons to go back to review the session. The access would only be granted to senior members of the Education and Learning team, who may need to show it to Examination Board members for a decision.

9. 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 require you to have another camera in the room, positioned to the side of your desk. For this, you will need to have a smart-phone or tablet device with camera and WiFi connection.

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

You can see technical specifications in the guidance document ‘Taking online examinations’ in your MyCG area. 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 with a ProctorExam plug-in, so you will need to have this installed.

11. 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.

12. Can I have a screen or keyboard connected to my laptop computer?

You can connect a keyboard to a laptop so that you can type more comfortably.

Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to connect a separate monitor to a laptop. This is because the invigilator is not able to check both screens. If you are using a laptop you will need to use the built-in screen only.

13. Does the second device have to be a phone?

No, this can be a phone or a tablet device, which will be used only as a camera to show a view of you and your work-space from the side. You will need to install the ProctorExam Remote Exams app. This is a mobile app, which means you would not be able to use a laptop as the second device.

14. How should the second device be set up?

It needs to be upright, in portrait mode, and on charge. The device is connected to WiFi but on flight mode. The ProctorExam Remote Exams app will prevent it from going to sleep.

15. Is the ProctorExam Remote Exams app reliable?

Some users of the app have claimed that it crashed during their examination or they had other problems with it. In our case, this app is not being used to sit a mobile exam, it is just being used to access the camera on your device. Certify assure us they have not had any problems with the app being used for this purpose.

16. 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.If you experience longer time delays and this is verified by the invigilator, we will be able to allow extra time at the end of the examination.

17. 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.

18. When will examinations start?

You can see the full examination timetable in the MyCG area of our website. If you are based in or around the UK then the examination will start at 9am.For most other countries, your examination will start at the equivalent of 09.00 GMT in your local time.

For example, on 16 November 2020 when it is 9am in London (GMT) it will be 10am in Luxembourg (CET). Students in Luxembourg will start their exam at 10am in their local time, and at the same time students in the UK will start their exam at 9am local time.

Students in certain areas which are behind UK time (such as the USA and Caribbean) will start their exam at the equivalent of 2pm in the UK (14.00 GMT).

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

We 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.

20. 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.

21. How can you stop people cheating?

We are 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. You are also required to verify your identity by showing photo ID in the exam set-up time.

22. What ID do I need to show the invigilator?

Please have an official photo ID ready to show, from either: passport, national ID or driving license.

23. How will ‘reading time’ work?

If your examination has a 15 minute reading time, this will begin at the start time and you will be able to read through questions, make notes (on paper or on screen) and plan answers. You cannot start writing your answers until the 15 minute reading time is over. The invigilators will let you know when you can start writing.

24. 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.

25. How many sheets of note paper am I allowed?

Please start the exam with a maximum of six sheets of A4 paper on your desk. This is so that you do not have to take a long time showing the invigilator your papers. You can have more blank note paper accessible in the room in case you need it, but no more than six sheets on your desk to start the exam.

26. 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 are expected to return as soon as you can, with the expectation that you will be no longer than a few minutes. 
  • 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.

27. Can I eat and drink during the examination?

You will be able to have a bottle of water on your desk and drink from it during the examination – please use a bottle instead of a cup or glass. To avoid accidents on your workspace and to make observation easier for the invigilators, we ask you not to eat during the examination unless it is absolutely necessary (e.g. for health reasons).

28. 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 we have made the answer boxes as large as possible to accommodate answers incorporating financial information. The platform allows you to create tables, to underline and to insert special characters. These features are demonstrated in the document and video you can find in your MyCG area.

29. Will I be allowed to use a calculator?

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.

30. Will I be allowed to print a copy of the formulae and tables for the finance examination?

The formulae and tables for the ‘Interpreting Financial and Accounting Information’ exam are included on-screen but you can also find them at the end of past papers and you can print a copy of this. You will be allowed a printed copy but will need to show the invigilator that it is not annotated, highlighted or marked up in any other way.

31. Is spell-check functional during the examination?

You access the examination platform via an internet browser so spell check will not function in the browser in the same way as it does in a program like Microsoft Word. If you have spell-check turned on within the browser it may show you words which it has detected as mis-spelt, but it will not allow for auto-correction. We ask that you turn spell-check off within the browser while you sit the exam. To do this:

  • Open Google Chrome browser
  • Go to the main menu (three dots in the top right corner)
  • Choose ‘Settings’
  • Choose ‘Advanced’
  • Choose ‘Spell check’ and switch off the button at the top of that section. If you have switched to ‘off’ it should be white rather than blue.

Our markers know that you are completing the examination without spell-check and will focus on the content of your answer, rather than the accuracy of grammar or spelling.

32. How can I find out more about how the Rogo examination platform works?

We have created a document explaining the system and showing screenshots in the ‘Online exam instructions’ area of MyCG. You can view a video of the platform being used on the same page.

33. 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.

34. Will I be able to have a printed copy of the case study in the examination?

Yes, you will be allowed a printed copy but will need to show the invigilator that it is not annotated, highlighted or marked up in any other way.

35. Are there any updates on the exam week?

Please see updates here

36. Where can I find more detailed guidance?

Go to our website, www.icsa.org.uk and click ‘Sign in’ in the top right corner. Enter your student login details to access MyCG. In the menu on the right-hand side of the screen, under ‘Examinations’ choose ‘Examination timetable and key dates. Under ‘Guidance’ choose ‘Online exam instructions’.

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