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MythBusters: 2020 CAS Computer-Based Testing Edition

By Laura Hemmer posted 07-07-2021 00:00


With the recent decision to move all Fall 2020 CAS exams to the computer-based testing format, the Candidate Liaison Committee (CLC) knows that candidates have a lot of questions and have heard a lot of rumors.  The CAS has provided an overview of CBT Exams Information as well as a FAQ and is updating both often to provide more information to candidates, but the CLC wanted to help candidates in our own style by busting some exam-related myths! 


The myths below are separated into three categories: Myths about Cheating, Myths about COVID-19 Precautions, and Myths about CBT Exam Format.  Have another myth or question that’s not addressed?  Let the CLC know at CAWG@casact.org


The CLC wishes to dedicate our article to Grant Imahara, one of the former co-hosts of MythBusters on the Discovery Channel.  Mr. Imahara passed away recently but his stint on the show is fondly remembered by the committee, particularly his ability for making science and engineering appealing to a wide audience.  He made being a nerd look cool.


Myths about Cheating

  • Myth – The CAS isn’t doing anything to prevent cheating during the three-week testing window.
  • Myth – Candidates can’t trust that testers early in the exam window won’t give hints about exam content.
    • PLAUSIBLE – However, candidates should understand that cheating on actuarial exams is rare and the consequences of being caught cheating are severe. To avoid the perception of cheating, candidates should avoid all conversations with colleagues about the exams during the three-week testing window, especially if they do not know when the other party is registered to take the exams.  Read this 2018 Future Fellows article for Agatha Caleo’s opinion on cheating issues when candidates were preparing for the Exam 5 in TBE, which had a somewhat longer testing window than previous paper and pencil exams.


Myths about COVID-19 Precautions and Risk

  • Myth – The CAS will not be prepared if Pearson VUE needs to close testing centers.
    • BUSTED – The CAS is committed to creating an opportunity for candidates to test before end of 2020 and has identified feasible options.
  • Myth – Testing center capacity may change between now and the exam window.
    • CONFIRMED – In many areas capacity is limited right now, but the CAS expects that capacity will continue to become more available over time. As that capacity opens up, Pearson VUE is opening up additional slots for testing in the three-week window. Candidates should register now for the best testing center and time slot and check back periodically for better times and locations as they open up.
  • Myth – Pearson VUE does not have a plan for safety during COVID-19.
    • BUSTED – Pearson VUE is responsive to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 including following all local restrictions on capacity and providing hand sanitizer and gloves at testing centers. For more information, see the COVID-19 Update page on the Pearson VUE website.
  • Myth – Candidates will be required to wear a face mask during the entire testing experience.
    • CONFIRMED – The guidelines put in place by Pearson VUE as a result of COVID-19 do require all test takers to bring their own face mask to wear throughout the duration of their exam.
  • Myth - Candidates who are not allowed into the exam center on the date of their exam due to factors like exposure to COVID, fever on exam day, etc. will not be able to take their exam at all this sitting.
    • BUSTED – Candidates will be able to reschedule their exam within the exam window in the event that they are not able to take their exam on exam day due to exposure to COVID, having a fever on exam day, or other health-related factors.


Myths about CBT Exam Format

  • Myth - Exams will always be offered over a three-week window going forward.
    • BUSTED – The three-week window is for Fall 2020 only due to the pandemic. It was the best way to ensure enough seats for all exam takers. 
  • Myth - Fall 2020 exams will be completed in Excel.
    • BUSTED – The exams will be conducted in the Pearson spreadsheet format, not Excel. Candidates can expect to see sample questions by the end of August.
  • Myth – The CAS will make a separate sample exam available for each exam in the Pearson VUE format.
    • BUSTED – The sample exam is intended to help candidates familiarize themselves with the Pearson VUE interface, how to respond to questions and work in the spreadsheet format, and how to navigate between questions. The sample exam will include problems that generally represent a cross-section of question styles from all of the written response exams and will not be exam specific.
  • Myth – There will be a remote option for taking Fall 2020 exams.
    • BUSTED – There is no remote option for Fall 2020. You must take your exam at a Pearson testing center. This applies to all candidates, including candidates in at-risk categories.
  • Myth – The content on exams this sitting will be much harder than before.
    • BUSTED – The questions for each exam will be the same as those that would have been asked if the exam had remained a paper and pencil exam. In other words, the questions will be similar in format and style to previous offerings of the same exam.
  • Myth – Computer based testing will allow for partial credit just like paper/pencil exams.
    • CONFIRMED – Written response exams will be graded using the same process as paper and pencil exams. Candidates should compose responses in the same way as before and show all work and reasoning to maximize credit.
  • Myth – The CAS has made the decision to convert all future exams to CBT.
    • PLAUSIBLE– The MAS exams will continue to use the CBT format in 2021 and beyond, however the CAS is still considering options for the written response exams in 2021. CBT is the long-term goal but the move to CBT in fall was ahead of schedule and is a response to COVID-19 challenges related to availability of traditional in-person testing locations such as employer offices.
  • Myth – Exams will be graded more harshly this sitting due to the CBT format.
    • BUSTED – The grading procedures for Fall 2020 exams have not changed. Partial credit will be awarded when applicable.



The Candidate Liaison Committee