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.

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

General exam policies

Exam results

Computer Based Testing (CBT)

CBT exam results are available online within 24 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 results (where applicable). Following these five working days, your certificate confirming your results will available to view and print. Candidates must complete their data sharing preferences if they wish their employer to see their results.

Find out more

Examination Performance Reviews

If you are unsuccessful in your examination you can request a Performance Review. The Review is given on your performance at syllabus element level and will provide information about your areas of strengths and weakness; time management and suggestions as to areas of revision. Reviews are available at any time during the currency of the syllabus against which the examination was taken and for 2 months after the republication of that syllabus.

View an example Performance Review  

Reviews cost £30 each and will be sent to candidates, via email, within 48 hours, please contact our customer support team to order (CustomerSupport@cisi.org or 020 7645 0777). Performance Reviews are a free benefit for Corporate Supporter firms and are available for all examinations taken by computer based testing. They are produced in the English language irrespective of the language in which the examination was sat.

Candidates are entitled to a free Performance Review on the third fail of the same subject. 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.

Candidates must complete their data sharing preferences if they wish their employer to see their results.

Find out more

Unsuccessful candidates in the Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification (formerly known as CISI Masters in Wealth Management), CISI Diploma (to be withdrawn in December 2016), CISI Pathway Diploma, ICAEW / CISI Diploma in Corporate Finance or CISI Advanced Certificate exams may request a marks analysis for a cost of £25. Marks analyses are produced and sent out to candidates within 28 days of purchase and can only be ordered up to 6 weeks after results have been issued. Please contact our customer support team to order (CustomerSupport@cisi.org or 020 7645 0777).
  View an example Marks Analysis which indicates the level of detail which candidates can expect to receive in their report.


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 the full policy on CBT certificates     View the full policy on Narrative certificates  

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

Exam Exemptions

Recognition of Non-CISI Exams

Recognised Exemptions
For holders of a qualification or award which we have previously assessed as covering the syllabus of our units, the application process is straight forward.

Check our list of eligible exams How to apply for a recognised exemption

Unrecognised Exemptions
If you hold either a MSc or MA degree in a relevant financial discipline that you feel covers the syllabus of either the Introduction to Securities & Investment unit or the Financial Markets unit, then you may still able to seek an exemption. You will need to provide evidence that the qualification/award you hold covers a minimum of 70% of the syllabus for the unit you are applying for.

How to apply for an unrecognised exemption

The CISI’s exams recognised by the FCA as meeting regulatory requirements for several regulated activities are listed in the Financial Conduct Authority Handbook Appropriate Qualification tables.

If you have achieved an exam pass from another awarding body and you are seeking to gain an exemption from the CISI appropriate exam, the exam from the awarding body must be recognised by the FCA. FCA recognition does not automatically confer an exemption for a CISI award and the exemption decision will be based upon the level of match between the two.

Recognition of CISI exams

Units already gained 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.
  • Candidates holding a Capital Markets Programme qualification who have passed the corresponding technical unit are automatically exempt from the Introduction to Securities & Investment unit in the IOC.
  • Candidates for the IOC who have received any Capital Markets Programme qualification are automatically exempt from stages 1 and 2 of the IOC.

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). 

Computer Based Testing 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?

Trial questions are not scored, and you do get extra time for them. 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.

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 which is much easier than 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 £130 + 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 expected to read around the subject, and this reading is not prescribed, although for some subjects, there are suggestions at the end of the syllabus. Questions will be 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 all level 6 and 7 examinations you should thoroughly scrutinise past papers for your exam, all of which are available free of charge via MyStudy, and refer to the Examiners' reports, which are also available. Together, these give a detailed insight into the type of questions asked.

The Diploma in Corporate Finance differs from other high level CISI exams in that the Diploma is 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 needed and any such texts brought into the examination venue should be in hard copy only. We recommended 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.

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