Education Frequently Asked Questions – COVID-19
Updated: January 21, 2021
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 email@example.com.
To find out the latest information about exams, professional development events, podcasts, SOA research and more, please visit the COVID-19 – SOA Updates page. We are here to help you.
- SOA Exams Moving to Computer-Based
- Remote Learning Solutions for APC and FAC
All SOA Exams Offered at Prometric Test Centers
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?
The SOA works closely with Prometric on exam scheduling to provide as many seats as possible for SOA exams. Nevertheless, as the pandemic continues to affect all activity across the globe local restrictions may negatively impact capacity at some test centers at certain times. Your best approach is to register for the exam as early as possible and continue to retry to book a seat at your local test center if you cannot initially get in. Prometric is constantly adjusting seat allocations to provide new opportunities for SOA candidates to reserve a seat.
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 written-answer exams?
You will use Word and/or Excel to construct your responses and be restricted to working and submitting one Word document and one Excel file. The specific Word and Excel features that will be available are provided here. Some exams may elect to use only Word or only Excel. If so, that will be made clear at the exam. The exam questions and any 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 you 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 a written-answer exam?
In addition to being provided in a PDF, the exam questions will be repeated in the Word document that will also hold your Word-based 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, with the exception of LTAM. Questions will be provided in an on-screen PDF file and in the Word file.
Will I receive scratch paper at the Prometric center?
For exams not using a paper answer booklet, 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?
Candidates will submit their completed Word and Excel files electronically via the Prometric submission portal. Prior to uploading your Word and/or Excel files, each file should be saved and renamed with your five-digit candidate number in the filename. For those exams requiring the use of a paper answer booklet, candidates will also submit hand-written answers in an answer booklet to be collected by Prometric.
What should I do if issues arise at the Prometric center?
Candidates that experience a technical difficulty during their exam should raise their hand and advise a Prometric Staff member immediately for the purposes of troubleshooting and documentation. If the onsite Prometric Staff member is unable to resolve the technical issue, you should ask for and receive a reference number of the documented issue and at your earliest convenience send an email to Education@soa.org and provide the reference number from Prometric and include a brief account of your technical issue. Your email to the Education email box will be acknowledged and your technical issue will be reviewed.
Is there a demo of what the Prometric exam experience will be like for written-answer exams?
Yes. A demo video of Prometric testing environment for written-answer exams is available on the Education General Information page as well as on each exam home page. There are also sample questions provided on each exam home page that illustrate how Word and Excel may be used at these exams.
What are the special arrangements for LTAM and QFIQF?
These exams have been identified as exceptions needing special arrangements for computer based testing due to infrastructure requirements to securely capture unique hand-written calculations, figures and graphs. Until an appropriate mechanism can be implemented for these exams, 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 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.
What is the schedule for the Spring 2021 exams?
The spring exam dates are now available as part of the Computer-Based Testing Schedule.
Remote Learning Solutions for APC and FAC
Are there remote options for APC and FAC?
Yes. The SOA is 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, while still observing social distancing and possible travel restrictions. Each remote course includes 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 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 does the APC remote course look like?
The remote APC course includes 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 (estimated 3-4 hours of focused effort).
- The module will cover the Code of Professional Conduct, Standards of Practice, ethics and legal liability.
- APC Component #2 – Virtual Case Discussions – Groups of 8-10 candidates and one facilitator meet via a designated virtual meeting platform (2-3 hours in length)
- Sessions include discussion of ethics case studies
What does 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 (estimated 6-8 hours of focused effort).
- Module(s) will include content on professionalism, ethics, legal issues and communication skills.
- Two assignments will be completed in the module and graded by FAC facilitators.
- FAC Component #2 – One-day Virtual Meeting –Groups of 8-10 candidates and one facilitator meet via a designated virtual meeting platform.
- Sessions include discussion of Thought Questions from the module and ethics case studies and candidates will give their individual presentations.
Diplomas will be mailed to candidates after the completion of both FAC components.
Is the remote FAC available now?
The remote FACs are scheduled throughout the year. Candidates will receive invitations to register for an FAC when they become eligible.
Is the remote APC available now?
The remote APCs are scheduled throughout the year. Candidates will receive APC invitations to register for an APC when they become eligible.
Can Prometric add seats or open new test centers?
The SOA is working closely with Prometric to ensure that our candidates are given priority where possible for available test center seats. Prometric test center capacities are frequently changing due to a variety of factors related to Federal, State, and local regulations due to COVID-19. Prometric is working constantly to reopen test centers and add capacity for any test centers that are closed or have reduced capacity.
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. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I get a refund or transfer for my exam?
A temporary policy is in place due situations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic for exams administered January-June of 2021. If after your registration, there are no available appointments at Prometric locations within 150 miles of your location or you are uncomfortable taking the exam because of COVID-19 in your area, this temporary policy applies with regard to transfers and refunds.
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 expired in 2020?
For candidates whose DMAC credit expired in 2020, we will extend their eligibility by 12 months upon request.
How does the SOA recommend broadcasting webcasts for multiple remote participants?
Use your organization's technology to broadcast SOA webcasts to those working remotely.