Candidates: FAQs Regarding COVID-19

We are committed to supporting our Candidates and Members by providing timely and accurate information during the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring safe and flexible options for earning the CAIA designation. We follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as government and WHO recommendations while working to minimize the impact on our Candidates and Membership.

For the March 2021 cycle, CAIA will offering all Candidates the option to sit for their exam via online procotoring administered via Pearson VUE's OnVUE platform (OP). Details are outlined below. Learn more here.

When will the OP exam window take place in March 2021? 

The Level I OP exam window will be March 1-5th.  The Level II OP exam window will be March 15-19th.

I am currently a registered Candidate and have already scheduled my test center appointment. Will I be able to switch to the OP exam?

CAIA will email all registered Candidates on December 1st to offer the option to select the OP examYou do not need to do take any action until you receive that email.

I am going to register for my exam this week. Will I be able to select the OP option?

Once you register for the exam, CAIA will notify you on December 1st to offer the option to select the OP exam. 

I prefer to test in a test center. If my exam is cancelled by Pearson VUE due to a site closure, will I be able to move to an OP exam? 

Yes, you will be able to opt in to the OP exam should your physical test center appointment be cancelled, although appointment availability may be limited.

If I choose the OP exam on or after December 1st and change my mind, can I go back to the test center option?

No. It is important to be sure of your decision as once you have chosen the OP exam you will be unable to revert back to a test center exam option. 

How did the global pandemic impact candidates sitting for the September 2020 exam?

During the September exam window, the global pandemic continued, and many candidates were impacted. The addition of OP exam administration enabled a significant number of Candidates to take the exam safely and successfully at a remote location (home or secure office). 

Do you anticipate an impact to the March 2021 exam window?

The March exam window is open, and, although we are not anticipating disruptions at this time we are prepared with two options for exam administration to ensure Candidates may sit for the exam if they choose. Pearson Vue has put in place new procedures at all test centers to prioritize social distancing and your safety. Should individual centers be impacted due to COVID-19, we will work closely with Pearson Vue and with the individual Candidates, as we have been in previous cycles, to mitigate the impact, reschedule exams if needed, and support you through this process. 

If I am unable to schedule an exam seat for March 2021, what steps should I take? 

The future of this pandemic is largely unknown, however, we do appreciate your patience while we continue to address this situation with our exam administrator, Pearson VUE. You may check back to the scheduling area regularly as exam seats become available and please review our email communications to Candidates carefully as they contain critical information to your successful exam experience.

If you continue to have questions, please contact us at candidate@caia.org.

What social distancing and safety measures will be in place at the Pearson Vue test centers when I test in March?

Your safety is our top priority. We have been working closely with Pearson Vue to monitor the situation and follow all global and local guidelines. Pearson VUE’s website is frequently updated with the latest information and they have implemented these health and safety measures at all Pearson VUE test centers:

  • Make hand sanitizer available in the waiting area and prior to entering the testing room
  • Increase our cleaning and disinfecting regimens in between all testing appointments
  • Provide tissues to candidates upon arrival at the test center
  • Permit candidates to wear a mask or disposable gloves if they choose
  • Remind candidates to wash their hands or utilize hand sanitizer upon arrival at the test center
  • Enforce social distancing recommendations by limiting seat capacity at Pearson VUE centers to half of normal capacity

Under what conditions will Candidates be eligible for a refund? 

In the unlikely event that our exam administrator Pearson VUE is unable to administer exams during the scheduled exam window, in total or in part, CAIA will consider various options for Candidates in order that they may test in alignment with our policies as described here. These accommodations may include rescheduling of exams to another future window or refunds of exam fees, at CAIA’s full discretion.

Are CAIA-approved exam prep providers still able to provide services during COVID-19 disruptions?

If you have elected to supplement your preparation with the content and/or services of a third-party prep provider, please contact them directly for more information about their offerings. CAIA’s current understanding is that authorized prep providers continue to offer prep services for CAIA exams.

CAIA authorizes exam prep providers globally, as described on our website. The CAIA curriculum and related study materials found on the Curriculum & Study Tools page are the only preparation resources endorsed by the CAIA Association®. CAIA does not endorse, promote, review, or warrant the accuracy of the courses, products, materials, and/or services offered by any third-party preparatory program provider of CAIA Association–related information, nor does it endorse any pass rates claimed by third-party preparatory program providers. 

I sat for the September Level I exam and am worried the pandemic might affect my ability to sit for the exam in March. What procedures are in place to mitigate disruption for the March 2021 exam cycle?

The March 2021 exam window is open for registration, and we anticipate that candidates who registered will be able to sit for their exam at that time. CAIA will continue to actively follow the COVID-19 situation closely with our exam administration partner Pearson VUE. Pearson VUE is taking aggressive, proactive steps to ensure testing resumes and is ensuring safety of Candidates through a number of mitigation steps. More information about their risk mitigation efforts and management of the COVID-19 pandemic is available on their website, here.

If I am unable to sit for the March 2021 exam due to COVID-19, will I be required to pay again to register for the September 2021 exam? Will I be eligible for free webinars and eBook?

In the unlikely event that our exam administrator Pearson VUE is unable to administer exams during the scheduled exam window, in total or in part, CAIA will consider various options for Candidates in order that they may test in alignment with our policies as described here. These accommodations may include rescheduling of exams to another future window or refunds of exam fees, at CAIA’s full discretion.

In addition, you will not be charged for the webinar or any materials downloaded from our website. eBook access will be contingent upon availability.

I understand that the 4th edition of the Level II curriculum has been released for the March 2021 exam cycle. Since September 2020 was my last opportunity to test using the 3rd edition curriculum, what are my options if I was unable to sit for my exam in September?

Our goal is always to ensure the well-being of our Candidates, first and foremost, so any decisions related to the March cycle would seek to enable individuals to test, if possible, and if not, offer other options. Those options would be communicated as they become defined.

Analogous to your question is an earlier cycle and CAIA Level I Candidates who were in the situation you are currently, e.g. testing for the final time on the 3rd edition curriculum who could not test because of the coronavirus. After evaluating and exhausting many alternative options, these LI Candidates were offered the opportunity to test on the 4th edition in September 2020. We are offering additional support for this group including special webinars about the how they can best prepare and make the leap to the new curriculum, hosted by our Curriculum team, as well as the inclusion of an eBook with their registration.

It is possible that CAIA would adopt the same approach for Level II Candidates for the March 2021 cycle so that they will be best positioned to meet the needs in the industry with the most current curriculum.

What are the changes and/or differences between the 3rd and 4th editions of the curriculum?

With the September 2020 Level I exam cycle, the Alternative Investments: CAIA Level I, 3rd Edition book was revised and updated to reflect the evolution of the AI landscape. Following is a brief summary of the changes appearing in the 4th edition: 

  • Redesigned curriculum focus: The level I and level II curriculum have been redesigned to provide a clear distinction between the two levels. In level I, we consider each of the alternative asset classes and strategies in a standalone format focused on bottom-up analysis. Discussions regarding private equity and private debt, credit derivatives and structured products, hedge funds and managed futures, along with real estate, commodities and real assets focus on the characteristics of each specific investment. The quantitative material in level I has been redesigned to focus on single variable methods to support the studies of standalone asset classes.      
  • Updated, current content: Examples and market data have been updated. Substantially increased exposure to the rapidly growing area of private credit has been incorporated. Material on commodities, real estate assets and debt, and private equity assets are substantially new material for the level I curriculum. 
  • Please see this PDF for more details about the Level I curriculum updates.

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With the March 2021 Level II exam cycle, the Alternative Investments: CAIA Level II, 3rd Edition book has been revised and updated to reflect the evolution of the AI landscape. Following is a brief summary of the changes appearing in the 4th edition

  • Redesigned curriculum focus: The level I and level II curriculum have been redesigned to provide a clear distinction between the two levels. In level II, we consider the role of asset allocators at institutional investors such as pensions, sovereign wealth funds, endowments and foundations, as well as family offices. Rather than focusing on the stand-alone characteristics of each alternative asset class and strategy, the level II curriculum focuses on top-down portfolio construction issues, such as multivariate models and methods, access, risk, and due diligence. Asset allocation and portfolio management in a multiple asset portfolio are key concepts.   
  • Updated, current content: Examples and market data have been updated. All new chapters on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) based investing have been added. In the ethics section, rather than repeating the CFA code and standards used at level I, Candidates will now consider the CFA asset manager code. Other all-new chapters include access through private structures; the risk and performance of private and listed assets; investment process and due diligence; and risk measurement, risk management, and risk systems.   

If I spent 200 hours already studying the 3rd edition, how much time will I need to allocate to this new curriculum?

The amount of time Candidates need to feel prepared for their exam varies widely. We encourage Candidates to review the new curriculum, including the textbook, and study guide to plan their studies to better understanding your level of understanding of the material.

Test Site/Safety Concerns:

Where can I get the most up to date information from Pearson VUE regarding test center closures?

CAIA and Pearson VUE are currently scheduling Candidates for the September exam window.

Pearson VUE updates may be accessed here. If there is a change to your exam appointment Pearson VUE will contact you directly.

CAIA will communicate with you by email with any information about changes to your exam or the exam window. Please review your CAIA profile, at www.caia.org to ensure your primary email is up to date. Also, if you have unsubscribed to any CAIA email you may not be contacted with important updates. To re-subscribe please contact us at candidate@caia.org

What measures has Pearson Vue taken to ensure the safety of Candidates?

Please review Pearson VUE’s website for information about what they are doing to ensure the safety and well-being of Candidates.

Will CAIA be adding additional test dates?

CAIA has no intention to deliver exams outside of our previously published and established exam windows, which are determined years in advance with Pearson VUE. More details about our scheduled windows may be found here.