Computer Based Testing Information 

Computer Based Testing (CBT) FAQ

What will be the new testing schedule in 2021 given computer-based testing? 
Beginning in February, all CFA exams will shift to a computer-based testing (CBT) format.

  • Level I will be offered four times per year:  February, May, August, and November
  • Level II will be offered two times per year:
    • In 2021, it will be offered in May and August
    • Starting in 2022, it will be offered in February and August
  • Level III will be offered two times per year: May and November

How will CBT change the exams? 

  • While the paper exams are only offered on one day at the same time, CBT exams will be offered over the course of several days, and candidates will be able to reschedule their appointment for a fee.
  • While the paper exams are offered in 192 locations, the CBT exams will be offered in more than 500 locations, including all locations currently offered to paper-based candidates
  • The length of the exam day substantially changes.  While the paper-based exam day involved at least 9 hours, the computer-based experience will be shortened to 5.5 hours.
  • And as far as exam format, nothing will change.  The same types of questions offered now will also be offered in computer-based testing.

What do candidates need to be mindful of when making their CBT appointment?
First, signing up for a CBT exam is a two-step process.

  1. You need to register for the window of choice (February, May, August, or November).
  2. THEN the candidate needs to schedule the exam appointment.

Candidates must complete both steps before they are ready to sit. 

Further, when selecting exam appointments, candidates will be able to search for available test centers near them.  They can search by address, city or zip code and the scheduling tool will provide a list of test centers closest to that location.  

Please note:  If only a country is entered, the scheduling tool will not return results.  Candidates must provide an address, city or zip code for the scheduling tool to search from.

What if the scheduling tool does not allow a candidate to reschedule their exam for February and May? 
Please be aware that due to the number of test centers we have closed for the December administration, we are experiencing a surge in appointment requests for the February and May windows and appointment availability in some cities is low.

We are working to add new test centers and to extend hours at existing test centers.  New appointments are being added every day.  Please be patient while we go through this process.  Our goal is to offer all candidates available seats to sit the next exams.  If you don’t see appointments near you today, we ask that you check back in a few days to see if additional appointments have been added.

How might computer-based testing help us in a pandemic? 
We foresee the following benefits from CBT during this global pandemic. 

Most CBT test centers are brick-and-mortar centers that function year-round in space dedicated for testing and with employees who act as proctors, eliminating the need to search for venues and qualified personnel to serve our candidates only one or two days per year. Also, most CBT centers host a small number of candidates limiting the number of people collected in one place.  

All CBT test centers operate locally and are able to modify operations based on local pandemic restrictions. They are able to enforce pandemic social distancing requirements more effectively because there are fewer candidates to monitor. All will administer a shorter exam, shortening the time candidates are in the building and masked. Finally, all will allow candidates to step away from their workstations as needed for short (unscheduled) breaks. 

What will the candidate experience be like on exam day at a CBT test center? 
Check-In: We anticipate the check-in process to be quite streamlined:

  • Candidates should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to their appointment.
  • They will be greeted by a proctor who will direct candidate store their personal belongings.
  • The proctor will review the candidate’s ID – candidates will still need to bring an international travel passport as identification.
  • The proctor will provide the candidate with paper and a writing utensil. The paper and the writing utensil may vary by location.  CBT test centers traditionally provide laminated paper and wet erase markers, but due to pandemic concerns some are no longer providing re-usable items and are instead providing paper and pencils.
  • The proctor will review any calculators that a candidate brings to confirm it is either the Texas Instruments BC II Plus or Hewlett Packard 12C (approved calculators).
  • The proctor will escort candidate to assigned computer and initiate exam.
Once at their computer,
  • The candidate will be presented and must acknowledge Candidate Pledge.
  • Candidate will be offered a tutorial that reviews the functionality within the exam.  The tutorial is optional.  Candidates familiar with the functionality may bypass this portion.
  • Then, the timed portion of the exam will begin.  Candidates will be able to:
    • Move back and forth between questions
    • Mark questions for later review
    • Return to specific questions to review
    • View a list of all unanswered or masked questions
    • Skip questions or sections
    • Change your answers
  • When the timed portion of the exam ends, the candidate will be directed to submit their answers.  Once the answers are submitted, the candidate will not be able to return to this portion of the exam.
  • The candidate will be offered an optional 30-minute break.  The candidate can skip the break, use some of it, or use all of it.  Please know that the next timed portion will begin at the conclusion of the 30-minute break, so returning on time is important.
  • The second timed portion of exam will begin with the same functionality as the first.
  • When the timed portion of the exam ends, candidate will again be directed to submit their answers.
  • The candidate will be presented with a survey of their experience.
  • And finally the candidate will directed to submit their complete exam file.
  • That will conclude testing.

What resources are available to CBT candidates? 
The CFA Institute website provides the following:

  • A list of all planned CBT test center locations
  • A video about what to expect at a CBT test center

Prometric’s website will provide:

Any other questions may be directed to the CFA Institute Global Contact Center at info@cfainstitute.org.