FAQs: Financial adviser exam

Booking and sitting the exam

1. When can I book to sit the exam?

Bookings to sit the exam are only open during the booking period for each sitting as listed in the 2023 exam schedule.

2. I’m having trouble booking to sit the exam – how do I get help?

Exam support is available through ACER by contacting faexam@acer.org. ACER can help you with the online registration process, recover account details, upload your photo and reset passwords.

3. What is the cost of the exam?

The exam costs $1,500 for each sitting.

4. Is the exam online?

The exam is completed online using dedicated computers in specific exam locations or remote digital proctoring technology. For exam bookings after 30 September 2022, remote proctoring will be the only available method to sit the exam.

5. How long is the exam?

The exam is 3.5 hours, which includes 15 minutes of reading time.

6. Is the exam open book?

The exam is open book for statutory material. You will be provided with relevant statutory content as part of the questions in the exam (e.g. a relevant section in the Corporations Act 2001 and a relevant standard of the Code of Ethics).

Documents referenced in the reading list that are not statutory materials will not be part of the open-book material: visit Resources: Financial adviser exam and refer to Financial adviser exam: Exam preparation guidance.

7. Is the exam a ‘once-only’ exam?

Yes, the exam is a once-only exam that all financial advisers must pass. There is no requirement to pass the exam annually.

Results, re-marks and re-sits

8. When will I receive my results?

Your results will be available between six and eight weeks after sitting the exam. Once notified, you will be able to access the results using your online exam account that you created when you booked to sit the exam.

9. Can I receive a numerical mark?

Examinees will receive a pass or fail result as prescribed in the Corporations (Relevant Providers – Education and Training Standards) Determination 2021.

10. Will copies of the exam be provided?

No. This would be both unfair on other candidates seeing the questions for the first time and make it difficult to rigorously assess a re-sitting candidate’s knowledge of their field. Also, people who sat the exam previously may reveal the exam questions publicly to others who may want to sit the exam.

11. Can I request a re-mark?

ACER will not enter appeals against exam results, with the sole exception of requests for the re-marking of written response questions. Requests for a re-mark need to be submitted to faexam@acer.org within the timeframes advised by ASIC and will be actioned upon the payment of a re-mark fee of $218.

12. If I fail, how long must I wait before I sit the exam again?

You can book for the next exam sitting.

13. If I fail, how many times can I re-sit the exam?

You can re-sit the exam as many times as you need to pass it.

14. What is the cost to re-sit the exam?

The exam will cost $1,500 for each sitting.

15. When I re-sit the exam, can I complete only the parts that I failed?

No, if you fail the exam you will need to re-sit the entire exam.

16. Why does it take so long to receive my results?

The research-based approach used by ACER for the marking of the exam to determine results takes time. Although the multiple choice questions are quickly scored, the analysis can only be undertaken when the written responses have been double-marked and adjudicated. In order to fairly compare candidates from one exam cycle to another, the raw scores are converted to a standardised scaled score, and then the standard-setting process is undertaken.

This approach may be quite different from practices used by some tertiary institutions where a determined raw score constitutes a pass or fail. It may also be the practice in some institutions to determine a percentage of students who pass according to distribution under a bell curve. This is not the case for this exam.

The approach taken for the exam is an internationally recognised measurement methodology and allows for fair comparison between cohorts over time. The analysis steps ensure rigour and therefore take time but are necessary to ensure that accurate and fair results are provided to every candidate. It will take six to eight weeks to complete the process and release the results.

Exam questions and scaled scoring

17. How are the exam questions set?

The questions for each exam are written by experienced question writers and are reviewed by an expert review panel.

The exam is designed to test whether a person taking the exam has the knowledge and skills covered in each of the areas of competency at the AQF7 (bachelor’s degree) level. In order to ensure that the exam is inclusive and diverse, the scenarios in which the exam questions are set reflect the range of contexts in which financial advisers most commonly practice. Scenarios will not be too specialised and will focus on core competencies rather than peripheral aspects of advice.

18. What is the ‘pass mark’ for the exam?

International research-based methods for the analysis and standard-setting processes have been used to determine the ‘pass mark’ for the exam. This approach is different from how universities and/or higher education providers might determine a ‘pass mark’ – for example, by providing a percentage correct, or using a bell-curve distribution.

The reason a more complex approach is taken is that different candidates sit different exam papers over many exam cycles. To fairly compare candidates’ scores across all the exams, the results need to be put on a common (standardised) scale, which is created using formalised and internationally accepted standard-setting procedures.

The ‘pass mark’ for each exam is set by an expert review panel using formalised and internationally accepted standard-setting procedures. The starting point for standard setting is aligned to the range of a typical university credit grade – that is, 65–74%.

To ensure equity and fairness for all candidates, the ‘pass mark’ will be reviewed for each exam cycle and may be adjusted to account for differences in exam difficulty and to maintain standards.

19. How can my results be compared with other candidates if we are sitting different exams?

Because different candidates sit different exam papers over many exam cycles, it is necessary to establish a way of comparing candidates’ performance to ensure fairness for all candidates, regardless of which exam or cycle a candidate sits. A robust standardised scale has been developed to ensure results are comparable across exam cycles. A ‘pass mark’ for each cycle will be set using formalised and internationally accepted standard-setting procedures and methods.

Scaled scoring is best practice for reporting high stakes exam scores in professions such as accountancy, law and medicine.

Data collected from candidate responses to all the questions are used to establish a standardised scale on which both the difficulty of each question and the achievement of each candidate can be measured.

The scaled score for a given candidate takes into account the difficulty of the version of the exam the candidate has completed. This means that scaled scores of candidates can be directly compared, regardless of which version of the exam the candidates have completed.

Timeframes for passing the exam

20. I’m a new financial adviser – when do I need to pass the exam?

New financial advisers must pass the exam before commencing the third quarter (indirect supervision) of their professional year.

To be eligible to sit the exam, a new financial adviser must have completed an approved degree (see Treasury's Financial Adviser Standards webpage at fas.treasury.gov.au) and received an exam eligibility number from ASIC.

It is recommended that a new financial adviser has at least six months of work experience before sitting the exam. If the new financial adviser is a career changer and has been undertaking a similar role and likely to be accelerated, they may book to sit the exam anytime during the first or second quarter of their professional year.

21. I’m an existing provider – when do I need to pass the exam?

Existing providers who were relevant providers on 31 December 2021 were required to pass the exam before 1 January 2022.

Existing providers who have sat the exam at least twice before 1 January 2022 will have until 1 October 2022 to re-sit and pass the exam. For more information, see Information Sheet 260 FAQs: Timeframe for passing the financial adviser exam (INFO 260).

22. I’m an existing provider with a ‘ceased’ status on the Financial Advisers Register – can I sit the exam?

If you are an existing provider, you may sit the exam even if your current status is ‘ceased’ on the Financial Advisers Register.

23. I’m an existing provider and haven’t passed the exam – what are the consequences?

Financial advisers who do not qualify for the extension must have passed the exam before 1 January 2022 if they wish to continue to provide personal advice.

If a financial adviser is not eligible for the extension and has not passed the exam before 1 January 2022, their Australian financial services (AFS) licensee is required to have revoked their authorisation to provide personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products on or before 31 December 2021 in order for the adviser to retain their status as an existing provider.

Financial advisers who lose their status as an existing provider will be treated as a new financial adviser.

New financial advisers must meet additional educational requirements, including completing the professional year, before being able to provide personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products. For more information, see Information Sheet 260 FAQs: Timeframe for passing the financial adviser exam (INFO 260).

When a financial adviser’s details change (e.g. ceasing their authorisation) the AFS licensee must update the Financial Advisers Register within 30 business days.

AFS licensees must ensure that advisers whose authorisations have ceased do not continue providing personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products on or after 1 January 2022.

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Last updated: 10/01/2023 09:40