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 2024 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 enrolment 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.

You will receive a confirmation receipt when you pay the fee. However, a tax invoice is not issued as there is no GST component on the exam fee.

4. Is the exam online?

Yes. Since 30 September 2022, all exams have been held remotely (via remote proctoring).

You can apply for reasonable adjustments if you have a disability or other health-related need that might impact your ability to sit the exam in the standard manner.

5. How long is the exam?

The exam is 3.5 hours, which includes 15 minutes of reading time. However, you should allow about 5 hours in total for pre- and post-exam administration.

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. Do I only need to pass the exam once?

Yes, you do not need to sit the exam again once you have passed.

Results, re-marks and re-sits

8. When will I receive my results?

Your results will be available six to eight weeks after sitting the exam. You will be notified by email once your exam results are available. You can access your exam results by logging into your online account that you created when you booked to sit the exam.

9. Can I receive a numerical mark?

No, you 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 unfair on other candidates seeing the questions for the first time and make it difficult for the exam administrator to rigorously assess a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of their field when they re-sit the exam. 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 into 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 following 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 costs $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 to mark the exam and 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. 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. 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 are used to determine the ‘pass mark’ for each 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 new to the financial advice industry or not an existing provider – when do I need to pass the exam?

You must pass the exam before commencing the third quarter (indirect supervision) of your professional year.

To be eligible to sit the exam, you must have completed an approved degree (see Corporations (Relevant Providers Degrees, Qualifications and Courses Standard) Determination 2021 and Financial adviser standards on Treasury’s website) and receive an exam eligibility number from ASIC (see Eligibility to sit the exam on the ASIC website).

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

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

You were required to pass the exam before 1 January 2022 or 1 October 2022 if you were eligible for an extension. You must pass the exam before you can be re-authorised to provide personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products.

See Questions 22 and 23 below and also the Financial advisers quick reference guide on the ASIC website.

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

Yes, 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?

If you have not passed the exam, you must not provide personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products.

If your authorisation to provide personal advice to retail clients was not ‘ceased’ before 1 January 2022 (or 1 October 2022 if you were eligible for the exam extension) then you will have lost your status as a relevant provider by operation of the law and the Financial Advisers Register must have been updated to reflect this.

You will be treated as if you are new to the financial advice industry and must meet additional educational and training requirements – including completing the professional year – before being eligible 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).

See also the Financial advisers quick reference guide on the ASIC website.

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Last updated: 09/11/2023 11:00