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How the new CIMA 2015 computer based exam process will work - PQ magazine

Holding two forms of ID, PQ magazine pressed the buzzer at the Pearson Vue exam centre in High Holborn recently. Inside waiting for us was Damien Fletcher from Pearson Vue, Vienn Chan from CIMA and centre manager Chris Mason.

From January, CIMA students will no longer have to turn up to a big, soulless hall. The move to computer-based testing means candidates can sit their tests anywhere, any place, any time! So what exactly will that be like? We decided to find out.

First things first – we showed the booking in desk our two forms of ID. One has to be a photo ID – a driving licence or passport. The other has to have a signature on it (credit or debit cards are fine). Interestingly, Vienn struggled to find two pieces of ID that were up-to-date. So there’s a lesson there straight away – the ID has to be ‘in date’.

CIMA students will then be asked what test they are booked in for and be given a set of Pearson’s Professional exam rules. Top of that list is ‘no personal items in the testing room’! As well as mobile phones, that includes wallets, hats, bags, coats, books and notes (Pearson has lockers at every centre for exam sitters’ personal effects).

After checking that your ID is ‘in date’ there will be a visual check against the photo. Your name will then be checked to ensure that it is on the system and a photo is captured. Next up is a digital signature on the Epad ink. There was also a palm capture camera on the desk, but CIMA doesn’t ask for this – yet!

Once you are all signed in then you put all your stuff in the locker. The only things you will have with you at this point are a locker key, your ID and a calculator.

You will then be shown to the testing room. Each room has a invigilator who will check your ID and ask you again to make sure you have emptied your pockets. The invigilator sits at a station which has CCTV cameras. They also have plenty of tissues. Your test will also be put into an unscheduled break mode if you do need the toilet, but remember the clock keeps on ticking.

Interestingly, candidates will be offered earplugs. Centre manger Chris pointed out that the testing rooms are not totally silent environment; people come in and out of the room while you are taking the test. If you want to use earplugs then it may be an idea to practice with them beforehand.

The whole process seemed really calm and controlled, and a big plus of using one of Pearson Vue’s 5,000 centres is they are standardised around the world – whether you are in London or Lahore. They are temperature controlled at 22 degrees; the lighting has a standard setting; and there are clocks on every wall. The centres open at 8.15am and closes at 4.15pm. That means if you are booking a CIMA test the last time you can book is 2.45pm.

Once you have finished the test you have to raise your hand and your result will be waiting for you at the front desk. When we were there two CIMA candidates were sitting exams, while another failed to turn up.

PQ understands that students will also be able to sit exams at Kaplan and BPP, as both have applied to become Pearson Vue exam centres – as have other CIMA Learning Partners.

Pearson Vue said that outside the UK and North America test centres can vary in terms of layout and internal environment, with the aim of providing the best test experience for candidates.

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