Exam Policies & Procedures

The CISI's Commitment to Equality

The CISI is committed to ensuring that all candidates receive equality of opportunity and appropriate access to assessment. No candidate shall be subject to unlawful discrimination (directly or indirectly) or treatment on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation or pregnancy and maternity.

Our Equality Policy  extends to all areas of qualification and assessment design, delivery and training support. The Institute is constantly reviewing the policy in order to better meet the needs of candidates and we welcome your feedback.

Furthermore, we recognise that fostering an inclusive culture starts with a commitment to our own employees and volunteers, so that CISI representatives are encouraged to embrace differences. We are proud to be a signatory of the Race at Work Charter and the Women in Finance Charter.

Candidates should also ensure they are familiar with all CISI exam related policies.

General exam policies

Exam results

Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) Exams

MCQ exam results are available online within 24 working hours and can be accessed via MyCISI.

All results remain provisional until five working days after the exam date to enable the Institute to conduct an investigation into any circumstances that may affect a result (where applicable). Following these five working days, your certificate confirming your result will be available to view and print. You must complete your data sharing preferences if you wish your employer to see your results.

Find out more

Examination Performance Reviews

If you are unsuccessful in your examination you can request a Performance Review. The Review provides information on your performance in different elements of the syllabus, indicating your strengths and weaknesses and how you managed your time, to help you focus your revision. Reviews are available at any time during the lifetime of the syllabus for your examination and for 2 months after the republication of that syllabus.

We do not offer a remark or review of multiple-choice examination results, as the questions are marked automatically by the system.

View an example Performance Review

Reviews will be sent to you, via email, within 48 hours. Please contact our customer support team to order (customerSupport@cisi.org or 020 7645 0777). Performance Reviews available for all MCQ examinations and are produced in the English language irrespective of the language in which the examination was sat.

They are a free benefit for Corporate Supporter firms. Other candidates will need to pay the fee detailed in our price list. You are entitled to a free performance review if you fail the same subject three times.

To request a Review, email performancereports@cisi.org providing details of the examination subject and date for which you require a Review.

Please note: We are currently experiencing a technical problem with our reporting system which is delaying performance report preparation. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this delay may cause you.

Narrative Exams

Results for narrative exams are available approximately nine weeks after the exam date. After this time, successful candidates can view and print their exam certificate in MyCISI.

You must complete your data sharing preferences if you wish your employer to see your results.

Find out more

All candidates may request a Marks Report free of charge. A marks report shows a candidate’s total mark awarded for a narrative examination, the marks achieved for each question attempted, and any marks awarded as a result of special consideration.

 View an example Marks Report

For narrative exams sat from 2021 onwards, unsuccessful candidates may, in accordance with our Post Results Policy, request:

  • a Clerical Check. This check ensures that marks have been correctly transcribed from the script, totalled, and recorded. Candidates will receive an email response either confirming their result or informing them of a revised result. They will also receive a Marks Report which details the marks awarded for each question.

    Clerical Checks are provided free of charge to candidates from Corporate Supporter firms who have failed their narrative exam. Other candidates will need to pay the fee detailed in our price list.

  • A Review of Marking. This is a check to ensure that the mark scheme has been correctly applied in the marking of your script and that marks have been correctly transcribed from the script, totalled, and recorded. Candidates will receive an email response either confirming their result or informing them of a revised result. They will also receive a Marks Report which details the marks awarded for each question.

Applications for both the Clerical Check and the Review of Marking must be made within 10 working days of results day. Therefore, you should not wait for the result of a Clerical Check before applying for a Review of Marking.

Full details of our post results policy and the application form can be found here



From 1 May 2018, the CISI will be launching e-certificates for all our exams. This initiative represents a significant improvement in the quality and efficiency of the service we provide.

All candidates who have successfully passed CISI exams after 1 May 2018 will be able to view, download and print their e-certificates via our secure candidate portal, MyCISI (My Account - My Account Activity-Qualifications Policies & Assessments).

Please note that only one original copy of each certificate is allowed. If you choose to open or download your certificate, any subsequent copies, physical or e-certificate will be clearly marked as a ‘Replacement’.

Find out more and view FAQs

Each CISI certificate will:

  • clearly and uniquely identify the candidate via the CISI unique customer number
  • clearly and uniquely identify the certificate itself via the unique certificate number
  • give the title of the qualification achieved

In addition, for Ofqual regulated qualifications the CISI certificate will carry:

  • the title of the qualification achieved (as above) as it appears on Ofqual's Register of Regulated Qualifications – it will not carry any other title for the qualification
  • the Qualification Accreditation Number as shown on Ofqual's Register
  • the Ofqual logo and the Welsh Government logo

View out full Certificates Policy
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a CISI certificate presented to you, please contact our Customer Support team .

Exam Exemptions

Candidates who are seeking an exemption from a unit of a CISI qualification must familiarise themselves with the rules in the CISI Exemptions Policy before applying.

Eligibility for exemptions:

  • Candidates seeking exemption must offer a qualification which was obtained within the last ten years.
  • Exemptions cannot be granted retrospectively for any CISI examination that a candidate has previously sat.
  • Candidates are only entitled to an exemption from one unit of any qualification.
  • Exemptions will not be granted on the basis of work experience, or for qualifications that require gap-fill to meet the level required.

Types of exemption:

There are three exemption routes: recognition of CISI exams, recognised exemptions for non-CISI exams, and unrecognised exemptions for non-CISI exams.

Recognition of CISI Exams

Units already obtained in a CISI qualification may contribute towards exemption from the same or similar unit in another CISI qualification:
  • Candidates who have passed the regulatory unit in either the Capital Markets Programme or the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) are automatically exempt from the same unit in the other award.
  • From 1 April 2024, candidates will only be able to apply for an exemption from Introduction to Securities and Investment if they have passed a non-CISI exam that covers the syllabus and 100% of the FCA requirements. The CISI's level 3 Securities and level 3 Derivatives exams will no longer be eligible for exemption purposes.

Recognised exemptions for Non-CISI Exams

Recognised exemptions are granted where the CISI has previously evaluated qualifications/units and has determined that such qualifications/units cover the relevant subject matter and have been tested to an equivalent level to that of the relevant CISI qualification.

A list of the current available recognised exemptions can be found on the CISI's recognised exemptions table.

Unrecognised exemptions for Non-CISI Exams

If you hold a postgraduate degree which is not shown on the recognised exemptions list, but which you feel matches the subject matter, you may apply for an unrecognised exemption for the CISI’s Introduction to Securities & Investment unit or Financial Markets unit.

You will need to provide evidence that the postgraduate degree you hold covers a minimum of 70% of the syllabus for the unit you are applying for.

How to apply for an exemption:

Candidates must apply for any exemptions before they sit the first unit of a qualification. Before a candidate submits their application, they must have registered their details on our website.

There are different application requirements, depending on your exemption route:

Recognised CISI Exams

If you would like to use a unit already obtained in a CISI qualification towards an exemption in another CISI qualification, you need to email exemptions@cisi.org and specify which exemption you would like to use.

Exemptions based on recognised non-CISI qualifications

Please complete the Recognised Exemption form and send with one of the following:
  • A certified copy of your certificate – signed/stamped by your line manager or a member of your HR/Compliance department
  • A certified copy of a statement of results from the awarding body on letter headed paper – signed/stamped by your line manager or a member of your HR/Compliance department
  • Email directly from the awarding body to the CISI (exemptions@cisi.org) stating the qualifications passed

Exemptions based on unrecognised postgraduate degrees

If you feel your postgraduate degree covers the syllabus of the Introduction to Securities & Investment examination, please complete the Introduction to Securities & Investment unrecognised exemption form.

If you feel your postgraduate degree covers the syllabus of the Financial Markets examination, please complete the Financial Markets unrecognised exemption form.

The form must be sent alongside the following documentation:
  • A certified copy of your post graduate degree certificate
  • A certified copy of your official course transcript
  • A detailed copy of the syllabus for your postgraduate degree
  • The completed assessment form, mapping your degree to the syllabus of the unit you are applying for an exemption from

If you hold a qualification/unit (other than a postgraduate degree) which is not shown on the recognised exemptions list, but which you feel matches the subject matter and level of the CISI examination and covers the relevant FCA regulated activities, you may apply for the qualification/unit to be added to the CISI recognised exemptions list by emailing exemptions@cisi.org.

Appealing an Exemption decision

If a candidate is dissatisfied with the CISI’s decision in applying exemptions, they may appeal the decision in line with the CISI's Appeals Policy.

English Language Requirements

CISI exams require a good standard of English, as well as knowledge of the technical terms associated with the subject matter of the exams. Questions are designed to test specific knowledge and understanding and candidates need to absorb information quickly and to read questions very closely.

Although it is not a requirement that candidates taking CISI exams have a specified level of English language, it is advised that candidates should be proficient in English to B2 level, as determined by the  Common European Framework of Reference for Languages  (CEF or CEFR). 

Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) Exam Trial Questions

In your exam you may find that you have some additional questions to answer which take the total number of questions above the published number for the exam. These are trial questions – questions which have recently been written for us, and on which we need to collect statistics so that we can see if those particular questions are good enough to go into the exam as live questions.

Why are trial questions needed?

It is important to us that the questions you get in your exam are fair – neither too difficult nor too easy, and free from ambiguity. Therefore, we test the questions before they are included in live exams. To ensure that they are tested in full examination conditions, they are not identified separately as trial questions in any exam, and are shown alongside the live, scored questions. Any of our multiple-choice question examinations may contain up to 10% additional trial questions. The trial questions are not scored, and do not contribute to your exam result, but you receive additional time in order to complete them.

Many of the live questions you will receive have all been through this process of trialling. Other candidates have taken them over a period of time, and we have been able to gather statistics on their performance. The contribution of other candidates in this way ensures that you experience an exam which is as fair as it can be. When you answer the trial questions in your exam, you are helping future candidates to experience the same fairness in their exam and your cooperation is much appreciated.

Why doesn't the CISI count trial questions in candidates' final scores?

We do not count trial questions in candidates' final scores because we do not know how good the questions are until statistics are gathered on how they have performed (eg, how many candidates get them right, how many people choose each option).

If a trial question is not sound, we could be awarding a mark for a question that is at a different standard from questions in the live exam, and this would not help us to uphold the standards which firms and individuals expect of us.

Are there always trial questions in exams?

No, not all exams will include trial questions. If you don't have any trial questions in your exam, this means that the exam does not need to be updated or refreshed at the moment. Similarly, in some exams there are more trial questions than others, depending on how much change we need to make to the exam in the coming year. You can be assured that you will receive the appropriate amount of time to answer the questions.

How the CISI ensures its qualifications are Fit for Purpose

To ensure qualifications are fit for purpose, the CISI obtains input from employers, trade bodies, training providers, the sector skills council (the Financial & Legal Skills Partnership) and other stakeholders in all stages of the development and assessment of qualifications.

A panel of key stakeholders is appointed for each of the Institute’s exams. Each panel provides guidance on the development of each unit and meets at least biannually to review the syllabus and assessment content to ensure continued fitness for purpose.

Each panel reports to the Qualification Assessment Board (QAB) for the relevant qualification, which consists of senior representatives of each panel within the qualification. Each QAB subsequently reports to the Examinations Board (EB).

Through this framework, the CISI ensures all qualifications are fit for purpose and secure the requirements of validity, reliability, comparability, manageability and minimising bias, as detailed below.


Units are developed with input from all key stakeholders including employers, trainers and trade bodies to ensure that the assessment outcomes meet their intended uses. Where relevant, syllabi are mapped against Exam Standards and National Occupation Standards. Regular reviews of the assessment outcomes, typically annually, are carried by the unit’s Panel of key stakeholders to ensure the continued validity of the unit. Qualification Assessment Boards (QABs) undertake a review of all units pertaining to a qualification, reviewing pass rates, candidate registrations and all stakeholder feedback to ensure that validity of the units is supported by evidence from all stages of the assessment process.


In the case of units assessed by computer-based tests (CBT), all exam forms are initially set at the same level of difficulty and reviewed throughout their lifespan using psychometrics to analyse item and test performance. Historical data is also used when creating forms. Each form’s performance is monitored continuously and reported at monthly exam managers’ meetings.

In the case of narrative exams, most exams have modest candidate numbers which enables all scripts to be marked by a single examiner. Answer scripts are then sampled and moderated by a panel of professional practitioners to ensure consistency of marking, whilst scripts from previous sittings are made available to ensure consistency of marking over time. Where an exam has a large number of entries, additional markers are employed and the Chief Examiner moderates the marking prior to the scripts being sampled and moderated by the panel.


Item statistics for CBT exams are analysed using psychometrics to ensure comparability across forms within a unit. These, together with overall pass rate statistics for all units, are monitored and reported at monthly exam managers’ meetings to ensure comparability across exams and qualifications and over time. When new exams are being developed, comparisons are made with offerings from other awarding organisations, such as the number of learning outcomes, credits and notional learning hours.

For narrative examinations, the CISI relies on the expert judgement of a Panel of Practitioners and a Chief Examiner for each narrative assessment who have substantial experience in this process. The CISI also ensures that statistics for previous sittings as well as sample scripts are available at results moderation meetings.


To ensure assessments are feasible and place a reasonable demand on centres and learners, feedback is obtained from user and stakeholders through regular meetings with Accredited Training Providers and online customer feedback.


To ensure that assessments do not produce unreasonably adverse outcomes bias for candidates who share a common attribute, the CISI has a number of published policies, including the Reasonable Adjustments Policy and Special Consideration Policy. The application of such policies is monitored and reported on annually to the CISI Examination Board along with other monitoring relating to statutory equality duties.

Data release

The CISI holds member records for candidates who have taken any of our qualifications, or who have, in the past, completed the London Stock Exchange exams.

The CISI is only able to release information on qualifications and membership to persons authorised to request information on a candidate's behalf. You will need to verify that you have a signed statement from the member or candidate to authorise the release of their personal information.

We partner with Qualification Check to release this information, each enquiry will cost £160 + VAT.

Visit Qualification Check

Can I rely on the workbook alone?

The examination will be based on the content of the syllabus. The workbooks are designed to support your learning, although you may also find it helpful to read the financial press. At levels 3 to 5 you are expected to be able to apply principles outlined in the workbook to situations which are not explicitly stated in the material. However, our workbooks do provide a thorough preparation for the examination and are also a valuable reference aid for practitioners. The answer to a question could draw on information from more than one area of the workbook.

At level 6 and 7, while the official workbook is essential reading, you are also expected to read around the subject. This reading is not prescribed, although for some subjects, there are suggestions at the end of the syllabus. Questions are set on the whole syllabus, and topical issues may be tested, so candidates are expected to be aware of developments in the relevant area of financial services.

As part of your preparation for level 6 and 7 examinations you should thoroughly scrutinise the relevant materials (depending on the exam this could include sample papers, past papers or chief examiners reports) which are available free of charge via MyStudy and the CISI`s website. These materials give a detailed insight into the types of questions asked.

The two narrative examinations in the CISI Level 6 Diploma in Corporate Finance (Corporate Finance Techniques & Theory and Corporate Finance Strategy & Advice) differ from other high level CISI exams in that these two exams are tested by open book examinations. You are permitted to bring in texts, articles and notes of any kind. It is your responsibility to select and bring in any material that you intend to use, and any such texts brought into the examination venue must be in hard copy only. We recommend that Takeover Code/Listing Rules (whichever sections you deem relevant) are taken into the examination. You should be familiar with and understand relevant laws and regulations such as the Listing, AIM and ISDX Rules, the UK Takeover Code (Including Practice Statements) and the Companies Act.

You are advised to download the workbook and elearning editions charts to ensure that you have the correct edition for your exam. Study materials are included in the exam price for candidates sitting certain exams outside of the UK. For further details please contact our Customer Support Centre.