Transition to Pc-based Testing | The Actuary Journal

Transition to Pc-based Testing | The Actuary Journal

SOA fellowship exams now happen at Prometric testing facilities
Jill Okay. Carpenter


On the path of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Board of Administrators, fellowship exams moved to computer-based testing (CBT) starting with the autumn 2020 exams. This meant candidates went to Prometric testing facilities to take their exams on Prometric computer systems, the place they supplied their solutions in Microsoft Phrase or Excel as directed. Candidates then uploaded their accomplished information on the conclusion of the examination to a safe Prometric server. From there, the SOA securely collected all candidate information from a portal accessible to SOA volunteer graders.


The SOA and Prometric have an extended historical past of working collectively. The SOA has used CBT for the multiple-choice associateship exams since September 2005. Thus, candidates are acquainted with the method of reserving an appointment, checking in on the middle and the fundamental Prometric testing atmosphere.

In 2018, the SOA launched the Predictive Analytics examination. Candidates take this examination at a Prometric take a look at middle utilizing a pc outfitted with Microsoft Phrase, Excel and RStudio. They submit their last challenge as a Phrase file and add their R file as effectively.

Over the past three years, SOA workers have labored intently with Prometric to fine-tune the logistics for its exams. The Schooling Committee has been working towards CBT for the fellowship exams for a number of years and had beforehand requested the examination committees to contemplate how Excel may very well be built-in into their questions.

Demo Video of Prometric Testing Setting

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the SOA postponed the spring exams till July and labored diligently to safe testing area and proctors for small teams for all exams around the globe. This created a scenario the place, to offer a secure atmosphere for all, the SOA was topic to ever-changing international rules. With a major quantity of diligence, the examinations befell in safe settings. It grew to become clear that the present technique of in-person proctored examinations weren’t viable. This prompted the Board of Administrators’ resolution to maneuver the written-answer exams to CBT starting with the autumn 2020 examination sitting.

Benefits of Prometric Check Facilities and CBT

There are a number of benefits to providing exams by way of CBT at Prometric testing facilities. Prometric operates worldwide and retains present with the rules and necessities in all jurisdictions. It could administer exams in conditions the place the SOA can not. As well as, the CBT format permits for using applications comparable to Microsoft Phrase, Excel and RStudio, which higher aligns with the working instruments of actuaries.

Reactions from Candidates

After the autumn 2020 fellowship exams, the SOA administered a candidate survey to solicit suggestions. The next themes emerged:

  • Writing in Phrase was a welcome change.
  • Candidates appreciated the performance of Excel and never needing a calculator.
  • Moving into and out of the testing middle was sooner than the SOA-proctored examination facilities (i.e., in an SOA-proctored atmosphere, nobody could go away the examination room till all exams are collected and accounted for).
  • Phrase was used for some calculation questions, so typing in formulation was clunky.
  • Some candidates have been uncertain tips on how to present their work in an Excel file.
  • The truth that the add needed to be accomplished throughout the examination time interval was aggravating.

Reactions from Examination Committees

Moreover, the examination committee members supplied the next ideas after the autumn 2020 fellowship exams:

  • Examination committees can assemble extra sturdy questions with the extra computing energy of Excel.
  • Handwriting legibility was not a difficulty, which made grading simpler.
  • Having formulation in Excel was typically simpler to comply with and grade.
  • Some candidates used very lengthy or unfamiliar formulation, which made grading tougher.


After a primary profitable administration, it’s clear the transition to CBT for the SOA’s fellowship exams will likely be a studying course of for everybody concerned—Prometric leaders and facilities, SOA Schooling workers, examination committees and candidates.

A number of points have already got been addressed. For example, SOA tutorials and pattern options now present revised directions and examples of tips on how to present work in Excel. Starting with the spring 2021 examination sitting, there will likely be a separate add window on the conclusion of the examination.  This add window will seem instantly after the allotted examination time has expired, eradicating the stress of getting to order time on the finish of the examination to add information. The volunteers writing the questions are refining their use of the extra performance. Candidates have gotten extra acquainted with the setup and expectations. And, security and reliability throughout the testing atmosphere are improved. CBT for written-answer exams is right here to remain!

Copyright © 2021 by the Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Illinois.

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