Reply To: CAS Leadership and the Failure of 2020 Exams

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The irony is that I was about to type my response when I saw the blowup in the other thread about folks having their exams rescheduled and the CAS had not yet communicated to any candidates (which appears against the guidelines that they had established). So, I almost feel as though I don’t need to respond – it’s kind of case and point.


I think the CAS did an excellent job with the transition to the new format.

Your statement seems to respond as if the CAS were backed into a corner and were forced to this format. They chose the format. Why would they decide to do this massive transition at this time unless it was just purely Machiavellian? There is no excuse for any problems. There is no excuse for candidates having their exams delayed again or being unable to take exams if they have disabilities.

My chief complaint is that the CAS leadership neglected to engage or consider any of the resources at their fingertips including our candidate liaisons! If I had been asked: “Hey, we’re sorry that we can’t offer the exams in the spring, but we are planning to do it in the fall. What is the best way to guarantee that all candidates can take exams in the fall?” I would have responded with: take it remotely. That’s the only way. If they had said “We’re considering Pearson VUE. What are your thoughts?” I would have responded puzzled: “Wait, you cancelled in-person exams in large rooms due to a contagious pandemic and yet you want to put candidates into smaller rooms that are less available…how exactly will this help? What if places in the country go into lockdown again?” (See the other thread…this is literally happening right now).

You were welcome to attend the webinars to ask question and voice concerns.

Actually, I attended every single webinar. I submitted questions each time at the start of the webinar and emailed the CAS for support. They did not address my concern until one week before my exam – they never responded to my questions and they definitely did not respond to my concern about their testing plan. I literally brought up the very real possibility that candidates could not take the exam because they were far away, or lockdowns were occurring. They have no solution which…is their responsibility.

I’m not sure about the non refundable $100, It could be a charge from Pearson as you took a time slot that someone else could have used. I think they offered full refunds earlier on.

Unless something changed in the past week, this is not correct. The CAS in the most greedy fashion possible has refused to offer refunds to candidates. It’s an amazing and distasteful thing. I don’t pay for it, but it shows the color of the leadership that they couldn’t even figure that one out.

I felt that the site I went to was safe and well managed. Plenty of hand sanitizing/washing, everyone wore a mask, plenty of spacing between people. It felt much less dangerous that going to the grocery store. I really have zero complaints with my testing experience.

Actually, I have no complaints about the Pearson VUE decision. I believe that long-term this will be a good move for the CAS. That said, there were serious problems with the Pearson experience that I cannot voice due to the NDA…which actually is forever – not just beyond the window. You cannot discuss the exam at all. In fact, the CAS is not going to release examiner reports or results anymore. So, you know how everyone could look at Exam 7’s 2012 sitting and go “hey! this was a bad exam! everyone did significantly worse than all the other years!?” We won’t be able to do this for our sitting. Why won’t the CAS release the results for this sitting? I can only think of one goal: obfuscating how much they mess this up.

There are more Pearson testing centers than CAS testing sites, so I don’t understand your discrimination argument.

I’m not going to make a strong argument here. But in the city where I live, the testing centers are located in predominantly affluent areas and there are no testing centers in impoverished areas. Also, remember that the CAS testing sites were where actuaries worked…so, there were more actuaries available to take them. If you don’t live near a big city (and I mean a really big city), you may be really out of luck. If it’s a pandemic, then you should expect to have to drive 6+ hours even if you live in a big city.

If not releasing the exams leads to a 3rd sitting each year and faster grading, I can live with that. There are plenty of questions released from past exams to use as long as the question formats don’t change too much.

I see merits to both sides here. The biggest complaint for me is that the CAS has never written a test without at least one widely regarded defunct question. The CAS would have to move away from Bloom’s questions for this to work because they are incapable of writing them well. And, to be honest, those questions are the best ones for them to develop and just write more clearly.

Yes, we have all spent hundreds of hours studying, are you suggesting they cancel everyone’s exam because you have some health concerns and your employer is being unreasonable?

First, because of health concerns it appears that they are just cancelling everyone’s exams right now…so your question is hardly theoretical (again, see the other thread…and good luck to anyone who didn’t get to sit for their exam yet). Second, at least offer a full refund right away. Third, …errr remote proctoring? It would work. I know dozens of actuaries who would volunteer to remotely proctor. That is the only guarantee that all candidates can take it (no matter where they live or if there is a pandemic).