Views on improving the integrity of global capital markets
05 December 2019

Ethics in Practice: Taking the CFA Exam. Case and Analysis–Week of 2 December

Check out the analysis to see how you did in analyzing this week’s case (2 December) and determining which CFA Institute Standard was involved.

Case

Ocampo is sitting for Level II of the CFA® exam. She feels confident that she is prepared for the exam because she has spent many hours studying the curriculum. On the day of the exam, she brings study material with her to the exam site for last minute preparation. Prior to taking her seat, she leaves all her material in the personal belongings area but keeps on her Fitbit when she takes her seat for the exam. About halfway through the afternoon session of the exam, a proctor notices Ocampo wearing the Fitbit. He asks her to remove it and reports Ocampo to CFA Institute. Ocampo’s actions are

  1. acceptable because the device is common, and she wears it all the time.
  2. acceptable as long as she never looked at the device or “used it.”
  3. acceptable because the proctor did not speak to her about the Fitbit before the exam began.
  4. acceptable if she promptly took the Fitbit to the personal belongings area and left it with her exam preparation materials once notified by the proctor.
  5. none of the above.

Analysis

CFA exam rules prohibit the possession of wearable technology, such as a Fitbit or other fitness tracking devices, in the testing room. Devices such as Fitbits have the ability to provide notifications and actual wording of texts and emails. This technology could be used to compromise the integrity of a candidate’s test-taking experience by providing access to exam-related information. Whether the device is common, the candidate routinely wears the device, or the candidate does not use the technology during the exam are not acceptable excuses for violating this policy. Candidates are responsible for knowing, understanding, and abiding by all CFA exam rules and procedures. Although CFA exam administrators vigilantly enforce testing rules and diligently bring nonconforming conduct to the attention of candidates prior to the start of the exam, candidates cannot rely on the proctors or other test center personnel to notice and prevent candidates from violating CFA exam rules and procedures.

Even if Ocampo promptly took the Fitbit to the personal belongings area during the afternoon session, this belated compliance with the policy does not obviate her misconduct on that point. Ocampo’s conduct violated CFA exam rules and policies as well as the CFA Institute Standard of Professional Conduct VII(A): Conduct as Participants in CFA Institute Programs by engaging in conduct that compromises the integrity, validity, or security of the CFA Program. She will be subject to an investigation by the CFA Institute Professional Conduct Program and, if found to be in violation, her exam results will be voided. Choice E is the best response. 

Let us know what you think of Ethics in Practice by taking this short survey.

Have an idea for a case for us to feature? Send it to us at ethicscases@cfainstitute.org.


More About the Ethics in Practice Series

Just as you need to practice to become proficient at playing a musical instrument, public speaking, or playing a sport, practicing assessing and analyzing situations and making ethical decisions develops your ethical decision-making skills. The Ethics in Practice series gives you an opportunity to “exercise” your ethical decision-making skills. Each week, we post a short vignette, drawn from real-world circumstances, regulatory cases, and CFA Institute Professional Conduct investigations, along with possible responses/actions. We then encourage you to assess the case using the CFA Institute Ethical Decision-Making Framework and through the lens of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.


Image Credit: ©CFA Institute

About the Author(s)
Jon Stokes

Jon Stokes is the Director of Ethics and Standards Education at CFA Institute. His responsibilities include design and creation of on-line ethics education, development and maintenance of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, and the design and management of the CFA Institute Ethical Decision-Making and Giving Voice to Values education programs. Stokes holds a JD degree.

10 thoughts on “Ethics in Practice: Taking the CFA Exam. Case and Analysis–Week of 2 December”

  1. Chun says:

    I would say E is the answer. I believe Ocampo has he/her own obligation to check and confirm the right or wrong-doing in the exam environment including what can be taken with you during the exam.

    Ocampo should not blame the examiner since the examiners have the right and obligation and right to exercise the rule of participating in the exam requirement.

  2. Tushar says:

    I would say D is the answer.I think she would not violate the violations if she left the device with the study material in the personal belongings area.

    Yes, it is the responsibility of the candidate to abide by all the rules and regulations for sitting for the exam but I don’t think she would be in violation if she left the device in the personal belongings area.

  3. Tampioruobari Osaro says:

    C.acceptable because the proctor did not speak to her about the Fitbit before the exam began.

    The conducts of every examinee during the examination should be stated before the examination for every examinee to acquaint themselves with them.

    1. JP says:

      https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/about/governance/policies/cfa-exam-personal-belongings-policy

      specifically mentions that a fitbit (‘wearable technology (such as fitbit® or other fitness tracking devices’) falls under ‘not permitted devices’ and are not allowed. So action is a clear violation of the rule.

    2. Iurii Vasyliev says:

      I respectfully disagree. Every candidate should be aware of exam rules, especially Level II exam candidate. In case every candidate would be checked at every point and provided by a lecture about every rule before the exam it would take a lot of time and the exam itself would be much harder to pass.
      And we shoud keep in mind that proctors are just people as well. People can be easely distracted and just miss something right away but notice it later during an exam session. The point is not to deeply check everyone (santimeter by santimeter) at an enter to exam room but to asure the intergity of the exam is honored and rules are followed appropriately.

    3. Iurii Vasyliev says:

      I respectfully disagree. Every candidate should be aware of exam rules, especially Level II exam candidate. In case every candidate is checked at every point and provided by a lecture about every rule before the exam it would take a lot of time and the exam itself would be much harder to pass.
      And we should keep in mind that proctors are just people as well. People can be easily distracted and just miss something right away but notice it later during an exam session. The point is not to deeply check everyone (centimeter by centimeter) at an enter to exam room but to assure the intergity of the exam is honored and rules are followed appropriately.

  4. JP says:

    E.
    while there might be genuine mistakes, its an onus on the candidate to check the exam room rules and act accordingly.

    https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/about/governance/policies/cfa-exam-personal-belongings-policy

    specifically mentions that a fitbit (‘wearable technology (such as fitbit® or other fitness tracking devices’) falls under ‘not permitted devices’ and are not allowed. So action is a clear violation of the rule.

  5. I think E;
    Ocampo is obligates to read her CFA exam review kit, know all the necessary rule do and don’t because the CFA institute has done there part of always sending a reminder to candidates about exam rules and regulation and candidate ignorance is not an excuse. Left for me ocampo is in voilation.

  6. Amit Sagvekar says:

    E. none of the above.

    Some days/weeks before the exam, all candidates get an email from CFA Institute informing/depicting acceptable things which can be carried in the exam hall. The same information is also available in the website of CFA Institute. (CFA Exam Personal Belongings Policy – https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/about/governance/policies/cfa-exam-personal-belongings-policy).

    The policy specifically mentions that “Wristwatches (analog and digital) with alarms and timers silenced; however, all smart watches are prohibited ”

    Moreover, being Level II candidate in CFA program, Ocampo is expected to be aware of this policy.

  7. Iurii Vasyliev says:

    In my opinion E is the correct one. It should be well understood by the Level II Exam candidate that exam rules are solid and should not be violated. These exams are based on absolute adherence to the rules. If someone take prohibited device to the exam and no repercussions are in place the integrity of the exam as a whole would be jeopardized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close