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A First-Hand Account of One of the CII’s On-Screen Exams

A First-Hand Account of One of the CII’s On-Screen Exams

After the exams, we sometimes ask our customers for feedback on how it went and how our resources helped or could be improved.  One of my roles is to liaise with those who kindly provide feedback as it’s always good to understand candidates’ thoughts and feelings after exams.  One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘how did others find it?’ Well, recently I sat the CII AF7 exam on-screen, and I thought it would be useful to provide my feedback.

Written by Ann Mora

On exam day, I felt well prepared and confident. I had done a number of mock papers, and a couple of those were online using the familiarity tests so that I could practise using the CII’s on-screen system.

Getting Started

On entering the exam, we queued up for our ID to be checked and were given passwords for our exam. I was then shown to my seat and the invigilator helped me to log on; I was then told I was able to start. It was a few minutes early, but I went with it! What I didn’t realise is that for the next 10 minutes or so, there would be continual hustle and bustle as other candidates were coming in and being told how to logon – not the ideal start!

Accessing the Supporting Materials

The exam required the use of the revaluation and escalation rates in a few of the questions. These are found after the tax tables at the bottom of the right-hand side of the page, so each time you needed the rates, you had to scroll up and down between the case study and the information – sounds easy, but when you’re on a small laptop it is very time-consuming. For some reason, the CII had decided to include one of the longest case studies I’ve seen, and after continually scrolling up and down through this a number of times, I decided it would be quicker to write down all the key points and objectives – again costing me vital time.

Technical Issues and Finishing the Exam

During the exam, the system froze twice, which didn’t take long to rectify, and I didn’t lose much time or any answers (unlike many candidates I’ve heard from), but coupled with the constant intervention of the invigilators helping other candidates – I’m assuming with similar issues – it was increasingly hard to concentrate. Then, 10 minutes from the end, those candidates who were first into the exam room had finished so the invigilator helped them to log out (you need to log out with another password you are given by the invigilator at the end of the exam) so more hustle and bustle.

Whilst the content for this exam seemed very fair, as the vast majority of questions were ‘bread and butter’ AF7 questions, sadly to me it felt more like a test of speed, concentration, and luck with the technology than a test of knowledge.

One of the Lucky Ones

As it turns out, I was actually one of the lucky ones. As I mentioned before, many exam takers have told me they were thrown out of the system completely and lost answers or had to move to a new laptop. Also, there was a huge amount of disruption for candidates leading up to the October exams, with changes of exam centres and exam cancellations, including some candidates being moved to venues miles away that were not practical. Some candidates were even being told to go to COVID hotspots such as parts of Scotland and Wales for their exam! We even heard from a couple of candidates who turned up on the day only to find their exam had been cancelled.

Contact the CII

The CII is requesting that candidates email: to request special consideration during marking if they encountered specific technical issues.  We strongly advise any exam takers to do this.  It is very important that the CII is made aware of the scale of the problems so that they are not repeated again.

I have fed back my personal experience as well as experiences of our customers (anonymously) to the CII, but do know that whatever your experience, you are not alone, and we are doing what we can to persuade the CII to make changes.  It’s challenging times for all!