Education Frequently Asked Questions – COVID-19
We have gathered some of the most frequently asked questions that our customer service department has received recently about exams, compliance, refunds and more as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. If you don’t see the answer you were searching here, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- SOA Exams Moving to Computer-Based
- CBT Candidates
- Spring 2020 Written-Answer Exams
- Prometric Reopening
- Remote Learning Solutions for APC and FAC
All SOA Exams Moving to Computer-Based Delivery Beginning Fall 2020
Why did the SOA select Prometric?
The use of Prometric test centers supports the SOA’s goal of the administration of reliable and valid examinations to everyone across the globe. Their technology and testing platform will allow for the use of Excel and Word on written-answer exams as needed. In addition, Prometric centers will follow all locally applicable guidelines and regulations for physical distancing while their security and technology protocols will provide candidates with an equitable and secure testing environment.
Will I have trouble finding a seat at Prometric centers for the fall exams?
The SOA is working closely with Prometric on Fall exam scheduling to provide as many seats as possible and will open registration for the Fall exams in late June – about a month earlier than usual – to assist candidates in securing seats.
What if I live in a remote part of the world without a Prometric center in driving distance?
Candidates without access to a Prometric test center should e-mail SOA customer service to request assistance. These requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
What programs will I have access to on the Prometric computer during testing?
Candidates will use Word and Excel to construct their responses and be restricted to working and submitting one Word document and one Excel file. The exam questions, case studies, formula sheets, tables and/or other material will be provided as PDF files. Each exam will have specific instructions for providing responses. For example, an exam could instruct candidates to provide written explanations in the Word document and calculations in the Excel file.
Will there be anything stored on the Word and Excel files when I start the exam?
In addition to being provided in a PDF, the exam questions will be repeated in the Word document that will also hold your responses. The Excel file may be pre-loaded with data depending on the exam.
Will I get an exam booklet?
Candidates taking their exams at a Prometric center will not receive hard copies of the exam questions in a traditional exam booklet. Questions will be provided in a PDF file and in the Word file. However, for the Fall 2020 QFI Quantitative Finance Exam candidates will submit hand-written answers to select questions in a paper answer booklet to be collected by Prometric and enter answers electronically for other questions.
Will I receive scratch paper at the Prometric center?
For most exams candidates will be provided with scratch paper, which will be handed in to a Prometric center administrator and shredded. For those exams requiring the use of a paper answer booklet, candidates will be provided with scratch paper within the answer booklet.
How will I turn in my answers at a Prometric center?
For most exams candidates will submit their completed Word and Excel files electronically via the Prometric submission portal. For those exams requiring the use of a paper answer booklet, candidates will submit hand-written answers to select questions in an answer booklet to be collected by Prometric and enter answers electronically for other questions.
Will the SOA provide a demo of what the Prometric exam experience will be like?
Additional information and details, including a pre-exam tutorial video, will be made available in the coming weeks and months.
Why are there special arrangements for LTAM and QFIQF?
These exams have been identified as exceptions needing special arrangements for the Fall 2020 administration due to infrastructure requirements to securely capture unique hand-written calculations, figures and graphs. It is anticipated that an appropriate mechanism can be implemented by the Spring 2021 administration, but for the fall 2020 administration the following assessment methods will be used.
- The Long-Term Actuarial Mathematics (LTAM) Exam will be run as a traditional paper and pencil exam at SOA organized exam centers, not at Prometric locations.
- The QFI Quantitative Finance Exam will be administered at Prometric test centers, but candidates will submit hand-written answers to select questions in a booklet to be collected by Prometric and enter answers electronically for other questions. Later this summer, additional updates on what to expect on testing dates will be published on the relevant exam page.
Will the exam syllabi for Fall 2020 change?
Due to the transition to CBT for this fall, some exam syllabi which are normally stable between the Spring and Fall administrations, may see some changes to accommodate the movement to CBT. Review the posted syllabus and regularly check the updates page for your exam on SOA.org.
What if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall and test centers are closed?
If candidates are unable to test in a Prometric center due to a resurgence of COVID-19, our CBT readiness will facilitate the administration of most exams via remote proctoring. We believe it is best to be prepared for that possibility given the current climate, but remote proctoring will be used only if absolutely necessary.
What is the schedule for the Fall 2020 exams?
In order to best accommodate our candidates across the global network of Prometric centers, some Fall exam dates have been shifted from those originally posted. The new schedule is posted below, and an official updated schedule will be available soon on Education General Information page. Updates may also be made to the individual exam webpages as we get closer to the exams.
- Administered via Paper/Pencil at SOA centers:
- LTAM: Friday, October 23, 2020
- CBT Exams Administered at Prometric Centers:
- All ERM Exams and QFIQF: Monday, October 26, 2020
- CFESDM: Tuesday, October 27, 2020
- GIFREU, QFIPM, RETDAC, RETDAU, CFEFD, RETFRC: Wednesday, October 28, 2020
- ILALAM, GHFVA: Thursday, October 29, 2020
- GHSPC, QFIIRM, RETRPIRM: Friday, October 30, 2020
- GHFVCC, GHFVCU: Monday, November 2, 2020
- EA2F, GIADV, GHDPC: Tuesday, November 3, 2020
- ILALFMU, ILALFMC: Wednesday, November 4, 2020
- GIRR, ILALPM: Thursday, November 5, 2020
- GHDPA: Friday, November 6, 2020
Remote Learning Solutions for APC and FAC
Will there be remote options for APC and FAC?
Yes. The SOA will be offering the Associateship Professionalism Course (APC) and the Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC) by remote learning so that candidates may continue their progress toward their designations in the coming months, while still observing social distancing and possible travel restrictions. Each remote course will include two components – an online e-Learning component and a virtual meeting session component.
Will the remote APC and FAC be permanent?
While the APC remote solution is likely a permanent change, the virtual meeting sessions for FAC will be offered only while restrictions on travel and social distancing remain in place.
Why will the SOA return to an in-person FAC after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted?
While the new remote course components will provide quality learning for candidates, the in-person discussion of the FAC ethics case studies, and the live candidate presentations are elements of the course that were designed to work best face to face.
The in-person format provides candidates with the ability to network, engage and learn from each other as well as from experienced facilitator actuaries about ethical dilemmas that they may face in the workplace. The in-person candidate presentations ensure a setting that closely approximates that of a work environment without the pressure that might be felt in an actual workplace. Candidates also have the benefit of seeing fellow candidates present and giving and receiving constructive feedback.
For 30 years, the FAC’s celebratory banquet with invited guests and the distribution of diplomas has evolved into a cherished tradition. The banquet provides a memorable evening, giving new FSAs the opportunity to come together with their peers and family members to recognize the considerable accomplishment of earning an FSA. When it is safe, we plan to continue this tradition.
What will the APC remote course look like?
The remote APC course will include two components – an online e-Learning component and a virtual meeting session component.
- APC Component #1 – Online e-Learning module(s) that candidates complete individually.
- Module(s) will include materials from APC full-group presentations and some ethics case studies
- APC Component #2 – Virtual Case Discussions – Groups of eight candidates and one facilitator meet via a designated virtual meeting platform (half-day in length)
- Sessions will include discussion of the remaining ethics case studies
What will the FAC remote course look like?
The remote FAC course will include two components – an online e-Learning component and a virtual meeting session component.
- FAC Component #1 – Online e-Learning module(s) that candidates complete individually.
- Module(s) will include content from FAC general sessions
- FAC Component #2 – One-day Virtual Meeting – (temporary offering) Groups of eight candidates and one facilitator meet via a designated virtual meeting platform.
- Sessions will include discussions of ethics case studies and individual candidate presentations
- Diplomas will be mailed to candidates after the completion of both components.
When will the remote FAC be available?
The remote components for FAC will be available for eligible candidates beginning June 29, 2020. Candidates will receive invitations to register for the remote components when they become eligible.
I’ve already been invited to the July FAC. What do I do now?
Candidates already invited to the July FAC will receive new instructions regarding the remote components.
Will the July, August and December 2020 FACs be held?
The in-person FACs scheduled for 2020 will not be held. Candidates already invited to attend the July FAC will receive new instructions. Other candidates will receive invitations as they become eligible.
When will the remote APC be available?
The remote components for APC will be available for eligible candidates beginning August 3, 2020.
Will the June through December APCs in 2020 be held?
The in-person APCs scheduled for June through December 2020 have been canceled. Registered candidates will be sent invitations to participate in a remote APC.
When will Prometric test centers reopen?
Prometric resumed testing in many of their testing locations in China on April 20th. The reopened centers will comply with the Chinese government’s guidelines throughout the testing process. Prometric centers in North America (U.S. and Canada) are expected to reopen for SOA exams where possible on May 1. Reopened centers in North America will comply with local, state and Federal guidelines for physical distancing as appropriate. Details on these procedures can be found on the Prometric Corona Virus Update page.
Will I be able to get a seat at my local test center when Prometric reopens?
The physical distancing requirements in place in many locations will, out of necessity, have an effect on capacity at Prometric centers. In most locations, candidates will be seated with an open seat between each active workstation to ensure distancing guidelines are satisfied during testing. This will reduce the number of seats by half for any given day. While Prometric is reopening centers and working to provide as many seats as possible given the constraints, it is likely that there will be shortages of available seats in some locations. Some candidates may not be able to find a seat at the Prometric test center they would prefer and may need to travel to the next closest available test center. We, and Prometric, hope this is only a one-time inconvenience but that depends heavily on progress that can be made toward controlling the pandemic such that Prometric can reopen to full capacity.
Can Prometric add seats or open new test centers?
The SOA is working closely with Prometric in trying to ensure that our candidates are given some priority where possible for available test center seats and that is happening to an extent, but there are other professional certification exams also offered at Prometric centers that are facing the same pressure. Unfortunately, due to the distancing guidelines there is no ability to immediately increase the number of individuals allowed into the Prometric test centers or to locate and/or construct additional test centers.
New FAQs regarding Spring 2020 Written-answer exams
What dates do I need to know for the rescheduled 2020 Spring exams?
May 19 to 26, 2020 – Registration open for the Spring exams
May 26, 2020 – Final date to register for the Spring exams
The new dates for the Spring exam administration:
- July 14, 2020 – FSA Core Exams
- July 15, 2020 – FSA Advanced Exams
- July 16, 2020 – ERM Exams in the morning and FSA Specialty Exams in the afternoon
- July 17, 2020 – LTAM Exam
- July 21, 2020 – EA1 Exam in the morning and EA2L Exam in the afternoon
September 18, 2020 – Spring exam grades released
September 28, 2020 – Fall 2020 exam registration deadline
Will I go to my usual exam center on the new Spring exam dates?
Exam centers will change for many candidates, but the SOA is working to find new centers in the same cities as the current centers and within a reasonable distance for all candidates.
What measures will be in place at exam center in light of COVID-19?
The SOA is keeping in mind the health and safety of our candidates and proctors as we establish exam centers for the Spring exams. The centers will comply with the required distancing guidelines and sanitizing procedures in place at the time of the exam. If current guidelines remain in effect, candidates will be seated at least six feet apart and gathered in groups of 10 or fewer.
What if “stay at home” orders remain in place in July?
The July exam dates rely on the assumption that circumstances will improve such that operations will normalize over the next few weeks and months allowing candidates to participate at local exam centers by mid-July. Should conditions worsen as we approach the new exam dates, the SOA will decide on any further postponements or cancelations by mid-June.
Is the SOA considering moving the written-answer exams to computer-based testing?
The SOA is currently exploring computer-based testing options for the Fall 2020 written-answer exams. There are a number of issues to carefully consider and resolve before we can be certain that we can administer all Fall exams fairly using a computer-based format, for example how would candidates be able to write and manipulate mathematical formula with readily available software within the allocated time for the exam? We have a team working on this and many other related issues now and we will communicate more information as more is known.
Will I have time after the Spring 2020 grades are released to register for the Fall exams?
Yes, grades for the Spring exams will be released on September 18, 2020 and the Fall 2020 exam registration deadline will be September 28, 2020. While the Spring grade release date is later than what is typical, the schedule will allow candidates adequate time to register for the fall exams after learning of their Spring results.
Is it too late to register for the new Spring exam dates?
No. A short registration window will be offered for those who now wish to register for the Spring exams with July postponement dates. The window will be open from May 19-26.
I already registered for the Spring exams on the original dates. What do I need to do now to take my exam in July?
Candidates who already registered for the original Spring exam dates and wish to participate on the new July dates need do nothing further – your registration will transfer automatically to the new dates.
I registered for the Spring exams based on the original dates, but do not want to participate on the July dates. Can I get a credit or refund?
Yes. Candidates who registered for the original Spring exam dates who do not want to participate on the July dates have until 48 hours prior to your exam date to request a full refund/a credit voucher towards the same exam in the Fall 2020 exam administration/or transfer towards the same exam in Fall 2020. Written-Answer exam refund/credit voucher/ or transfer requests received less than 48 hours prior to your scheduled exam date will not be accepted. These requests and all other related questions should be directed to the SOA Customer Service Team.
My university has given me the option of a pass/fail grade for one of my VEE approved courses. Will I be able to use a passing grade for VEE credit? Do I have to get a letter from my professor?
It depends on the timing. We are temporarily accepting for VEE credit a pass/satisfactory mark or a grade of C or better on transcripts for the Spring and Summer 2020 semesters only. While the standard VEE policy accepts a passing score on a pass/fail course if the candidate’s professor can provide a letter that a B- or better was earned, we will not require that letter for the Spring and Summer 2020 courses.
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Will there be additional CBT exam sessions held around the current sessions?
No, the current schedule will remain the same for the remainder of 2020.
Can I get a refund/voucher/transfer for my CBT exam?
If your exam has been affected due to COVID-19, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with requests for a refund/credit voucher/or transfer towards the same exam in 2020 . CBT exam refund/credit voucher/ or transfer requests received less than 48 hours prior to your scheduled exam appointment will not be accepted.
Will the March 31st deadline for the current FAP be extended?
At this time, the SOA maintains the published deadlines for the FAP transition; candidates have until the end of the day on March 31 to submit the FA in the current modules. We recognize the challenges that have arisen as we respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to address special circumstances on a case-by-case basis in a way that maintains fairness to all our candidates and provides an equal opportunity for everyone to succeed.
Will the SOA allow Final Assessment and DMAC supervisors to attest remotely?
Due to the unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and until further notice, the SOA will allow Final Assessment and DMAC supervisors to remotely attest to the upload and download of assessment files using screen-sharing software.
What does the SOA plan to do for individuals whose DMAC credit is expiring this year?
For candidates whose DMAC credit is expiring this year, we will extend their eligibility by 12 months.
How does the SOA recommend broadcasting webcasts for multiple remote participants?
Use your organization's technology to broadcast SOA webcasts to those working remotely.