FASEA has reported that 98 per cent of advisers who took its remote exam option in April did not experience connectivity issues, despite reports of candidates losing exam time due to errors with the remote proctoring system.
Responding to ifa queries around the effectiveness of the remote exam sessions, a FASEA spokesperson said just 10 of the advisers who took part experienced connectivity problems, with half of these rectified during the exam session and half reported afterwards.
“FASEA is pleased with the overall running of the April exam as a remote only offering with the majority of candidates (98 per cent) not experiencing connection issues in completing their exam,” the spokesperson said.
“A small number of candidates (five) identified connection issues during the exam and were given additional completion time to compensate. A further five candidates highlighted connection difficulties after the exam.
“The exam administrator is in contact with these candidates to determine the appropriate outcome based on their individual circumstance.”
The comments come following a number of reports of advisers experiencing difficulties with the remote proctoring system used by FASEA’s exam administrator, ACER.
In an upcoming episode of The ifa Show podcast, myIntegrity in Practice principal Joel Ronchi said one of the advisers he had helped prepare for the exam had lost around 10 minutes of time because of issues with the ProctorU software.
“During the exam there was an IT issue with the platform, which meant he lost 10 minutes during the exam while the facilitator had to go off and fix it, so it kind of got him a bit anxious,” Mr Ronchi said.
“He said at the end he wasn’t able to spend as much time reviewing as he would have liked – he didn’t think it cost him the exam, but it did throw him off his game.”
An adviser who wished to remain anonymous also told ifa he had lost 45 minutes of time due to the software repeatedly logging him out over the course of the session.
“You are locked out of the exam when your internet drops out and then the proctor needs to log you back in, because they are the only one with the password,” the adviser said.
“Each time you’re locked out you also need to type in your student number, and since I didn’t have mine memorised I had to go and look for it, copy and paste it into the login section and [the proctor] would type in the password.”
The adviser said he was surprised to discover that rather than a proctor supervising him by webcam, the only contact with the remote proctor for the exam was by web chat, meaning there was a time lag of five to 10 minutes before each session timeout was resolved.
The adviser’s chat log, seen by ifa, reveals he was logged out of the exam six times over the course of the three-and-a-half-hour session, during which the session time continued to count down.
The adviser reported the problems to ACER after the exam, and a subsequent investigation revealed the fault lay with the individual proctor, who failed to pause the exam countdown or report the issues to the administrator so the adviser could be awarded extra time.
The adviser was assured the issues would be revisited by ACER pending his exam results.
Advisers shouldn’t be discouraged from remote sitting
AFA general manager of policy and professionalism Phil Anderson told ifa that while there had been isolated cases of connectivity problems with the remote exam, advisers shouldn’t be deterred from sitting it remotely if they were comfortable with the potential complications that could arise.
“We are certainly concerned for people who experience connectivity issues where we can imagine how off-putting it would be sitting in the middle of the exam if you experience these issues,” Mr Anderson said.
“But the reality is at the moment it’s the only way to do the exam and we wouldn’t want to discourage people from doing it online. Over 2,000 people were scheduled to sit the original face-to-face session in April and with all that preparation you’d like to think they should have the chance to go ahead and do it.”
Mr Anderson said the AFA had reported the problems advisers were having to FASEA and the authority was working on potential solutions, such as the ability for advisers to check that their home internet connection allowed the proctoring software to function properly before going ahead with a remote sitting.
“We’ve had conversations with FASEA about the possible complications that might exist with doing the exam remotely. They are things like connectivity issues if you’ve got poor internet reception – that will be a problem,” he said.
“There is a test you can do to make sure you don’t have those problems and hopefully that is going to be available before you register rather than after you register.”
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