Navigating remote exams – 10 top tips from the LIBF
3 November 2020
As The London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) opens registration for its 2020-21 Level 4 Paraplanning Diploma course, the professional body is providing 10 tips to help paraplanners successfully navigate remote examinations.
John Somerville, head of Financial Services, LIBF, says the LIBF was already testing remote exams and invigilation in Q4 2019, as part of its development programme. “This meant we were on the front foot when lockdown occurred in March, which helped considerably in enabling us to set up and start operating remote exams from June this year,” he says.
While in the initial phase of the Coronavirus crisis candidates postponed taking exams, registration has now picked up considerably, Somerville says. “Paraplanners may have paused their studying over the past few months as a result of the crisis and lockdown, either because they were too busy to take exams or they were unsure about taking them remotely, but now they can get back on to it and get that qualification under their belt.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest now in the 2021 courses – a large network recently booked a number of candidates on to the Q1 cohort.”
Also, as part of the development programme, Somerville explains, the Institute reviewed which elements of the individual courses remain relevant to the roles being examined.
“We are conscious that in the past, candidates have been tested on areas which they are unlikely to use in real world. So, we have developed our courses to better reflect the needs of financial services candidates today.
“Paraplanners are a good case in point. Technical knowledge is fundamental, but it is just part of the overall knowledge set that a paraplanner will use on a day-to-day basis. So, we have built the Diploma qualification to include three Units, one that is exam tested and two that are course work assessed. We feel this allows for a much better reflection of the paraplanning role.”
An interesting result of remote examination, Somerville says, is that there has been an increase in exam pass rates. “It is a small increase and we are putting it down, in part, to candidates taking the exam in a familiar and comfortable environment, probably the one they now work in every day, which reduces the stress that can be experienced around an exam situation.”
Somerville says that while most exams are being conducted remotely, the LIBF does offer the option to candidates of taking their exams in examination centres. “We recognise that not everyone will have the right environment or feel comfortable taking exams remotely, so we have the option for them to attend centres near them instead. And we will keep both options open in the future.
“Our industry survives on people’s ability to learn knowledge and skills and to be tested on that learning. For some this will be qualifications enabling a licence to trade, for others it is to be better at what they do and progress their career.
“What’s important for us is that we continue to provide people with the opportunity, in the way that best suits them, to undertake the qualifications they need that either will help them start in a job and/or pursue their career aspirations.”
Top 10 tips when taking remote examinations
1. Ensure you are in a room where you will not be disturbed for the whole exam period.
2. Ensure you have a comfortable environment – sat at a desk, with a comfortable chair, with the right room temperature, etc.
3. Set up in an environment where you can safely prove to the invigilator that you are isolated for the entire length of the exam.
4. Make sure your laptop and phone which will be used during the exam are fully charged and operational prior to the start of the exam.
5. Try not to sit the exam using a work computer, or in a work environment. This is because the settings on work computers and internet access can interfere with the remote invigilation software, leading to problems with the exam.
6. Be aware that the software won’t allow you to have other things open on your laptop. Strict exam rules apply.
7. Broadband usage can affect connectivity, so ensure other people linked to your broadband are not reducing your bandwidth during the exam period.
8. Book a time for the exam where you can achieve the points above and test the software prior to the exam. The invigilator is booked for that specific time period. If you fail to join the exam at the right time, you miss the exam.
9. Have to hand the contact number for the relevant support team so that in the unlikely event that an issue occurs with the session, you are able to get help as quickly as possible.
10. Finally, remember, comfort breaks are not allowed during the exam. The invigilator can fail you if you leave the room.
Most importantly, Somerville says, “Give yourself sufficient time to set up and prepare in advance of the exam. Don’t give yourself unnecessary distractions and stress when you need to be focussed on showing your capabilities in the exam.
“Hopefully, these tips will help make the process as smooth as possible for candidates. Overall, people are finding they like the remote exam option and the feedback we have had to date has been extremely positive.”
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