Taking a CII Remotely Invigilated Exam
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in late March of 2020, the CII had to suspend all examinations due to social distancing rules. This left the CII searching for a way to get candidates back to taking their exams whilst adhering to the new restrictions and trying to build a process for what we now know is the ‘new normal’. Here, one of our team members shares with you his experience of taking the CII’s remotely invigilated exams.
Written by Adam Thomas
In August 2020, the CII entered into a collaboration with an American company called “PSI”. PSI were given the task of taking candidates through their exams remotely whilst still maintaining the integrity of the exams.
The collaboration was initially met with mixed reviews with some candidates welcoming the opportunity to be able to take their exams from the comfort of their own home, whilst others experienced nothing but difficulties using the software and in some cases, being unable to complete or even start their exams. It’s pleasing to hear that things are improving all the time and now, some 18 months on, we fully expect that remote invigilation is here to stay, so in this article, I wanted to talk you through my personal experience of taking several CII R0 exams via the PSI’s remote invigilation system.
Booking your exam
Let’s start at the very beginning, as booking the exam in itself was a slightly confusing matter. The CII would have you log in to their site as normal, proceed to the “bookings and result” section where you need to click the “book now” button but this takes you back to what looks like the first login screen and asks you to re-enter your username and password. However, rest assured this is correct, as when you have re-entered your login details you are then redirected to the PSI booking site, and this system is clear, concise, and easy to use.
You are given the choice to book your exam in either an exam centre or using the PSI remote proctoring software. The advantage of using the PSI remote proctoring software is you can book your exams 24/7. This is a huge benefit if, like me, you need to book exams outside of working hours. Having this flexibility allows me to pick any time day or night to sit my exam instead of being constrained by exam centre opening times.
Starting your exam
If you are looking to book your first remotely invigilated exam, you might not be aware of how tricky and time-consuming it can be to get your exam set up and started.
Once you have launched the exam via the CII’s website, you have a series of steps to complete. First, you must go through a series of prompts that will check your system setup, your internet connection, sharing your screen with the examiner and the quality of your webcam/microphone. This process has taken me between a couple of minutes to a good 10-15 minutes.
Once those checks have been completed, you need to go through the security checks. This will include checking your ID as well as lifting up your laptop/webcam to do a scan of the room. The PSI want you to scan around the room, the desk you are working on, the underside of your desk and any paper material all within 30 seconds. Personally, I found 30 seconds to be a tight timeframe as no matter the quality of your webcam, if you move too quickly the video becomes blurred so it is important to try and achieve a happy medium. Fortunately, if you are unhappy with the video you have captured, you are able to retake this until you are confident you have been able to capture everything that is requested.
When all the checks have been completed, you are asked to wait until your examiner is ready to begin. This can be anywhere from an instant connection to having to wait for around 20-30 minutes.
When you are connected to your examiner, you must now re-complete all the same checks that I have mentioned above. This, whilst frustrating, is required as it ensures you haven’t altered your exam environment whilst waiting for your examiner. Don’t be surprised by some of the odd requests that you might encounter from your examiner. I was completing an exam in my kitchen; to the left of where I was sat, I have a signed photo of Gordan Ramsay. My examiner insisted that I take it off the wall and move it outside the room. They felt that, as it was signed, they couldn’t be sure that I hadn’t hidden some sort of help/notes/calculation in the writing. It is one of those where you just have to go with it!
You can launch your exam 30 minutes before the actual booked time. I would highly recommend doing this, as just to get to the point of entering the exam has taken me between 25-30 minutes every time.Here are some key pointers to help with the preparation for your #CII remotely invigilated exam. Click To Tweet
During the exam
Whilst taking the exam, there will be a human watching you plus the system uses a sophisticated piece of software called “remote proctoring” which tracks everything about you. It tracks your eye movement, the creases around your mouth, hand movement and the sound of you/the room. The software is specifically designed to reduce any/all opportunities for a candidate to try and cheat.
Because of this software, you are given clear instruction that during the exam you are not allowed to:
- read the questions aloud (this includes whispering or mouthing the questions/answers)
- cover your mouth with your hands
- move your hands out of sight (when reading questions/answers)
- be interrupted by anyone in your household (this can include noises – even if no one enters the room. I received a warning because of someone playing music too loud)
Whilst this is a lot to consider, thankfully, if you do make a couple of slip-ups, as I did, the examiner will give you a warning so you can take corrective action.
During the exam, the connection to the PSI system can be a little temperamental. If the connection fails (even for a second), your exam is immediately halted. A white screen appears saying “Exam Paused”. Once the connection is back up and running, this screen is removed and you are placed right at the start of the exam. When this happened to me, I was concerned that the 83 questions I had already completed had been erased but thankfully, this was not the case; I simply had to navigate back to the last question I had completed.
I found accessing the tax table to be quite time-consuming, as you don’t have the tax table and the question on screen at the same time. This is made even harder if you need to use the onscreen calculator, as you can only have one thing on the screen at any one time. I would suggest taking your own personal calculator into the exam.
The examiner is on hand throughout the exam for any questions or concerns. All of this is done through type talk and no verbal dialogue takes place. Remember, you must be totally silent throughout, even if you are needing to communicate to the examiner.
End of the exam
When you have submitted the exam, the results telling you if you have passed or failed are on-screen. Unlike the exam centres, where the result is right in front of you, the results for online exams are in small writing on the bottom of the page. Keep an eye out as it is easy to miss.
At the end of the exam, the examiner has a few last tasks they need you to complete – the main one being that any paper you have used during the exam must be ripped up in front of the camera. I was told to keep ripping the paper up until told to stop and that they wanted me to place the paper in the bin so they could see it had been done.
Once you have completed the exam, you can log off and shut down. The detailed exam results, giving you your score, are posted on the CII website. The CII say it can take up to 24 hours for the results to be posted, but in my experience, it has taken less than 5 minutes each time.
When I take everything into account, I have to say that I am a big fan of taking my exams remotely. Even with all the checks and delays that can happen, if you are organised and properly prepared, you’ll find the process pretty straightforward to navigate.
Yes, some of the requirements are a bit crazy and over the top but, for me, it is worthwhile if it allows me to take my exams whenever I want to, and I don’t have the hassle of driving to a test centre.
Information in this article is correct as at 16 March 2022.