Updated: December 08, 2022

CFA exam / Online CFA Exam

CFA Exam From Home

In 2021, some CFA candidates will be able to take their online CFA exam at home! It will be a limited option for now but with computer-based CFA exams – an online exam taken from home has become viable in special circumstances.

The first online proctored level 1 CFA exam will take place within the 13 to 15 April exam window. You can take your online proctored CFA exam from home if:

  • your Feb 2021 level 1 exam has been cancelled and cannot be rescheduled,
  • OPT is available in your area,
  • you meet testing environment and equipment requirements,
  • you do not defer your Feb 2021 exam.

CFA Exam
Online Proctored Testing

The official term for an online CFA exam taken from home is the Online Proctored Testing or OPT for short.

Online Proctored Testing is a limited option currently available to select Feb 2021 level 1 candidates whose CFA exam has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions and cannot be rescheduled within their exam window. The option will be available in select locations only and you won't be eligible for OPT if you choose to defer your level 1 Feb exam to a later 2021 date.

If the Online Proctored Testing is available in your area, you'll be contacted by CFA Institute. But even if the option is available in your location, it may not be accessible to you if you do not meet certain conditions regarding both your testing environment and equipment. For example, to be able take your CFA exam at home, you need to meet specific computer and systems requirements such as secure non-wifi internet connection or a webcam allowing remote proctors to monitor your online exam.

Here're the details of your proper testing environment:

  • well-lit, orderly room with enclosed walls (home or office),
  • your computer on a table or desk,
  • no people or pets allowed in the room for the entire exam,
  • external movable USB cable camera or an embedded computer camera to show your workstation and surrounding environment (you must be able to complete a 360-degree view),
  • if you use an embedded computer camera – you will also need a large, free-standing mirror able to reflect unseen areas, such as the laptop face, the keyboard, and underneath the base of the laptop.

Here's the complete list of OPT computer and systems requirements:

  • have secure, non-wifi internet connection,
  • have computer onto which the ProProctor application can be downloaded,
  • be plugged into a power source,
  • meet the minimum system requirements:
    • - screen resolution: at least 1024 x 768
    • - operating system: Windows 8 or above / MacOS
    • - web browser: latest Google Chrome
    • - WebCam resolution: 640 x 480p
    • - microphone enabled
    • - download speed: 0.5 mbps or more

IMPORTANT You will be asked to run a system readiness check before you can install and run the OPT application. You need to complete this check on the same network and computer you will use on exam day, in the same location. This way you will know whether your operating system is compatible to install and run the ProProctor application for you to take a remotely proctored exam. [READ MORE HERE]

NOTE: Candidates from China have been excluded from the OPT option due to government regulations.

First Online CFA Exam Window

The window for the first online level 1 CFA exam (OPT) is from 13 to 15 April 2021.

If you are eligible and decide to go with this option, you'll be asked to register for this April exam from 18 March to 1 April on the CFA Institute website. Then, you'll need to schedule your exam date and time with Prometric, also before 1 April. So, the registration process will be like for any other computer-based CFA exam.

Similarly, results will be available like for other CBT exams, which may take from 6 to 8 weeks for the level 1 exam. As always, the MPS will need to be established.

Here’s how your online CFA exam will look like:

  • on your test day, you will need your confirmation link (check your e-mail) that will take you to the ProProctor platform where you will take your level 1 CFA exam,
  • you'll be able to launch your CFA exam within 60 minutes before (and after) your exam start time using the confirmation link given in your e-mail – but be ready to start your exam on time 'cos there's no time added to your exam in the event of any technical delay!
  • before your exam begins, you’ll be asked to:
    • - confirm identity, which will include showing your valid passport!
    • - do environment scan: no unauthorized items & materials allowed!
    • - do the scan of your person: show your ears, sleeves, pockets, ties, eyeglasses, etc.
  • this check-in process may take up to 15 minutes – if you need any help during the check-in, there’ll be a Prometric’s agent available via chat,
  • when the check-in is completed, your proctor will greet you and your exam will start (during peak testing periods you may need to wait before your proctor greets you),
  • your exam will have two 135-minute sessions, each with 90 multiple-choice questions (‘cos that’s what 2021 level 1 CFA exam looks like),
  • there will be an optional 30-minute break in between the exam sessions and an optional 10-minute break during each session if needed (but here the time will continue to run!),
  • you won't be able to use any scratch paper during your exam – there'll be an on-screen scratchpad, like Notepad, available for use,
  • you can't have a wristwatch – only a clock on the wall is permitted (TAKE FULL-TIME MOCK),
  • there's no exam ticket for OPT exams (just the confirmation number!),
  • you are disallowed to speak out loud during your exam or to have any applications running on your computer while the exam is on, also no mobiles!
  • in case you experience a technical issue during your exam – contact your proctor immediately via chat,
  • if you have been disconnected from your exam, do the following:
    • - wait for 3-4 minutes post disconnection,
    • - reboot your desktop / laptop,
    • - run the system check and ensure all the checks are pass,
    • - re-launch your exam using the “Launch exam” button on the top (go through the whole check-in process again, then your exam will start from the point where it was disconnected).
  • should you experience repeated disruptions or a disruption for longer than 5 minutes, your exam may be terminated (you will need to contact CFA Institute to report the technical issue and exam termination),
  • your proctor will provide assistance during the exam if needed.

Before you make up your mind about whether or not to take your online exam from home, you are encouraged to think it through thoroghly. As everything, it has its pros and cons. You need to trade these off and decide for yourself if it's the best option for you.

For those who prefer to take their CFA exam at a test center and would like to defer their Feb exam – CFA Institute opened an extra 2021 level 1 exam window in July. See: ALL CFA EXAM DATES.

Published: Feb 3, 2021

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