SAIPA Professional Evaluation Exam Will Be Online
SAIPA conducts Professional Evaluation entirely online for the first time
Candidates who took their SAIPA Professional Evaluation (PE) on 11 July 2020 were the first group ever to complete the competency-based assessment entirely online. This new format is one of the Institute’s many initiatives to preserve its service delivery excellence during the coronavirus shutdown.
Although power disruptions in some areas caused minor hiccups, these were beyond SAIPA’s control and did little to upset the event. We are pleased to report that, overall, the assessments went smoothly. The Institute partnered with an experienced external service provider to facilitate the process.
The examination punctuates the end of every aspiring Professional Accountant (SA)’s Initial Professional Development (IPD) phase of training, and is a rite of passage to full SAIPA membership.
The assessments were conducted under strict examination rules. Our primary objective was to remove all possibility of candidates cheating by obtaining external support, ensuring that their responses were authentically self-generated.
To achieve this goal in a digital environment where candidates were assessed remotely and outside the traditional assessment centre, we implemented a system of technology-based invigilation. This approach encompasses verification of the candidates and the environment where they took the assessment, while monitoring the computers used throughout the assessment period.
With remote invigilation, candidates completed their assessment on a computer and were assisted over the Internet by a supervising SAIPA invigilator. They were also proctored using technology embedded with Artificial Intelligence (AI) that identifies significant patterns of deviation from normal assessment behaviour. These were recorded for subsequent follow-up and investigation, and were reviewed by SAIPA.
In addition to the usual examination jitters, this year’s candidates contended with the added stress of an online assessment, which was a completely new experience to them.
To minimise this effect, we implemented weekly online assessments as part of SAIPA’s Project Achiever Programme. In addition, we used all communication platforms at our disposal to keep candidates fully informed of the online assessment process. These included SMS messages, email announcements, MySAIPA, messages from the Education, Training and Member Support Department, social media, and a free webinar.
During the assessment session, a team of SAIPA staff provided real-time cellphone, WhatsApp and email support throughout the day.
Regrettably, some candidates who had not participated in SAIPA’s experiential test or preparatory webinar, or had simply ignored the guidance provided, faced unnecessary challenges.
Short-answer questions were automatically marked online while the marking of case studies will start later this week. The assessment model considers several factors including conduct of assessments and verification of marking. Where needed, SAIPA conducts detailed interviews in consultation with the Examinations Committee.
Candidates who registered for but failed to take the 11 July 2020 PE online assessment have forfeited their paid examination fees and must reapply for the December 2020 assessment.
Results are expected to be released on 15 August 2020.4IR ready
Although we expected some teething problems, we were delighted with the effectiveness of the virtual assessments. By embracing digital transformation across the Institute, we are building better services that are not only up to the current crisis, but will support our members throughout their journey towards 4IR readiness.