CAS Leadership and the Failure of 2020 Exams

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    With AO being changed, I don’t want us to miss the opportunity to point the chaos of this exam sitting to our CAS leadership. I have talked to several other actuaries who honestly thought that CAS was just doing the best it could under the circumstances. This is false.

    The decision by the CAS to delay exams was a hard one, but it was also understandable. Remember back in March when you were really getting into your exam studying and waiting to hear what was going to happen? The CAS came out and said that exams would be delayed at least until June/July.

    The key thing that the CAS leadership wrong is that they decided to make decisions in this time of crisis top-down. They did not consult with the CAS candidate liaison committee, candidates themselves, exam writers or graders. They just decided that we were going to take exams at Pearson exam centers.

    And unfortunately, because of that decision, many candidates are unable to take exams. And those of us that manage to take the exam are doing so under duress that is literally incomprehensible to the leadership. I’m honestly extremely ashamed of the CAS leadership.

    I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but then they came out with an NDA on top of the candidate agreement we already have. And we aren’t allowed to discuss the exams ever again? And they won’t share the results or full reports? I can’t help but ask: are they trying to hide how poorly candidates are going to do? Are they going to release information on how many candidates had to cancel because they couldn’t figure out a better solution? Unfortunately, I don’t see why I should trust there to be transparency. But they can be held accountable. I hope that those of us who are candidates now will remember this, keep track of those who made these unilateral decisions, and ensure that they are not in positions in the CAS anymore to fail others in their time of need like how the CAS failed us.

    saul goodman

    I totally agree with everything said above.

    I’ve been studying for this sitting for over a year now. I was told May, then July, then October, now next week. The COVID numbers are the worst they’ve ever been and I feel forced to exposure myself for the sake of my job.

    I contacted the CAS about having a health condition that makes me high risk, and asked if there was any possibility of online exams. I quoted their disability accommodations policy. They said “no and no refunds”. They didn’t bother to email me a few days later when they changed their minds on refunds.

    I had to take exam 5 at home in spring 2018 against my will, and during a global pandemic they won’t offer this option again—- when Pearson is fully capable of offering this to all exam takers today.

    I study nonstop for an exam that will likely be cancelled do lock downs happening through out my state. For an exam I feel I am literally risking my life for.


    “Risking your life” is super dramatic. 1-1.5m people die in car accidents per year, was the CAS making you risk your life by requiring you to leave your bubble and drive to a test center in prior years? Given the majority of exam takers are under 30, your concern doesn’t make any logical sense considering how wildly unlikely you are to die from the specific cause you’re so concerned about. Hell, some test sites even give us orange juice and muffins loaded with super deadly sugar. How irresponsible of them?!

    The point is, like all things in life, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t to it.

    saul goodman

    Obviously we have differing opinions about the matter. But just to respond to some of your points, some of our companies require passing exams in a certain period of time to maintain employment. It isn’t as easy as just not sitting if I’m not in the mood. We already lost the spring sitting.

    I’m also nowhere near under 30, and as I said above, have a condition that puts me at risk. While it’s unlikely to catch it while wearing a mask, it’s possible. Especially with 4.5 hours of exposure time.


    It’s unfortunate that you have a high risk health condition. I’d be very surprised if they reject your request for a refund given their recent, very public, post to the contrary: . In fact, if they reject it, please post their response, I’d be happy to join in with you in putting pressure on them to respect their own policy. Also presumably you’re in the US, so you have a very strong lawsuit if you choose not to take your exam and you’re fired.

    Again, as all things in life, if doing something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. I think you have a lot of possible routes you can go down to solve this problem.

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