CQI / IRCA Online Exams: Guide for Learners

1. Introduction

Welcome to the CQI’s learner guide for online exams. The purpose of this document is to provide you with all the information you need to take a CQI and IRCA online exam. It includes details of our regulations and requirements as well as advice on how to ensure your exam runs smoothly on the day.

CQI and IRCA online exams are delivered through an online assessment system called SARAS. You will have access to two SARAS portals – one for your practice questions and the other for your exam. The portal links are shown below.

        - https://practice.quality.org/TNA/PracticePortal

        - https://assessment.quality.org/TNA/TestPlayer/Login/Login.aspx

To log into your practice questions and exam you will need a username and password. You will receive two emails from the CQI - one with login instructions for the SARAS practice portal and the other with login details for the SARAS exam portal. If you haven’t received the emails in your inbox, please check your junk email folder. If you provided your work email address to your training provider and you haven’t received the emails, please also check with your IT team to see if the company’s mail server has blocked the emails. If you have not received the emails by the end of your course, please contact your training provider.

Once you have logged into SARAS, you will have access to your learner homepage. This will either display details of your scheduled practice questions or your scheduled exam, depending on which portal you have logged into. Please check these details are correct. If any information is incorrect, please contact your training provider.

2. Exam Format

All Lead Auditor and Auditor Conversion online exams are structured as follows:

Lead Auditor exam Bandwidth required

Exam duration

1 hour 45 minutes (40 questions in total)

Exam content areas: Recommended time for each section:
Section 1: Concepts and principles of Management Standards and Systems 10 minutes (6 questions)
Section 2: Audit concepts and auditor responsibilities 10 minutes (6 questions)
Section 3: Planning the audit 10 minutes (6 questions)
Section 4: Conducting the audit 45 minutes (14 questions)
Section 5: Reporting and closing out the audit 30 minutes (8 questions)

The exam questions will be a mix of:

    • Multiple choice (choose one correct answer)
    • Multiple response (choose several correct answers)
    • Fill in the blanks (drag and drop the correct words into the sentence)
    • Matching (drag and drop responses to correctly match items)
    • Sequencing (drag and drop responses to form the correct order)

The last two sections of the exam will include scenario questions related to conducting, reporting on, and closing out audits. You will be asked to evaluate the scenario presented to you and select the correct course(s) of action. 

All questions will be computer-marked. Once you have answered a question and clicked Next, you will not be able to navigate backwards to review or change your answer. This is a security measure to reduce the risk of cheating.

The exams are open book, so you can refer to your notes from your training course. However, you are not permitted to use the internet to search for answers to questions. You will need access to a copy of the ISO management systems requirements standard associated with your course to answer some of the questions. The standards can be paper or electronic format.

To help you prepare for your exam, we have created 24 practice questions for the Lead Auditor exam and 20 for the Auditor Conversion exam. We strongly advise you take the practice questions before taking your online exam to familiarise yourself with the question types and how SARAS works.

In general, we (TKSG) will organize the online exam on last day of the training course

3. Remote Proctoring

CQI and IRCA online exams are invigilated remotely, using Easy Proctor. The system will: 

(a) Take an image of your photo identification (photo ID) and your face

(b) Record you for the duration of your exam using your webcam and microphone 

(c) Record your computer screen for the duration of your exam

Details of acceptable forms of photo identification can be found below in the section ‘Online Exam Regulations’.

Once you have completed the exam, Easy Proctor will compare your photo ID with your facial image to verify you are the same person and will analyse the recording of your exam session for any anomalies such as unexpected sounds, movements, objects, or people. It will then flag these incidents to the CQI for further investigation.

4. Reasonable Adjustment

If you need extra support or time to take the exam due to a physical or learning disability or require a female CQI member of staff to review your proctoring video recording for religious reasons, you must notify your training provider as soon as possible and well in advance of taking your exam so they can submit a reasonable adjustment request to the CQI on your behalf. 

If you are taking your exam in English, and English is not your first language, you can request an additional 30 minutes. If you are unable to take your exam within the scheduled time period with TKSG e.g. due to illness, you can request an extension to your exam schedule. Please refer to Appendix 1 CQI’s Reasonable Adjustments Policy for more information.

5. Equipment and System Requirements

To take a CQI and IRCA online exam you will need:

1. A computer or laptop with a working webcam and microphone (Please note, smart phones, iPads/tablets, touchscreens, and 2-in-1/hybrid laptops with front and rear cameras are not permitted).

    • You may use a second screen if you need to access a digital version of the standards and/or your course notes
    • If using a laptop, we recommend you connect to an external monitor to optimise your online exam experience

2. A system that meets the following minimum requirements:

  Minimum Windows operating requirements (Microsoft) Minimum Mac operating system (Apple)
Available free disk space 15 GB 15 GB
Display resolution Best view in 1280 x 1024 Best view in 1280 x 1024
Network adapter 1 Gbps Network Interface Card 1 Gbps Network Interface Card
Operating system Windows 8.1 or above (excluding Windows 10S) Catalina (10.15.5 to 10.15.7)
Mojave (10.14 to 10.14.6)
Sierra (10.12 to 10.12.6)
Big Sur (11.0 only)
Browsers Chrome version 85+.
Firefox version 85+ and
Microsoft Edge version 91+
are permitted, but Chrome is the preferred browser
Chrome version 85+

3. Continuous, stable internet connection. Cellular connection and/or VPN are not suitable due to their unreliability and unstable nature. A wired connection is ideal, but a strong and stable Wi-Fi connection should be sufficient.

4. To enable video proctoring, the following bandwidth is required:

Camera resolution Bandwidth required
1 megapixel (1280*720) 5-7 megabits per second (Mbps)
2 megapixel (1920*1080) 7-10 Mbps
4 megapixel (2560*1440) 10-12 Mbps

NB: the bandwidth requirement for HD cameras increases between 10-12 Mbps.

The landing pages for the practice and exam portals contain the following tools:

    • System Check Tool
    • Test Your Camera
    • Test Your Microphone

The System Check Tool also has a link to an Audio and Video Streaming test. We strongly recommend that you use these tools to check that your laptop or computer meets the minimum requirements, and your webcam and microphone are working correctly.

        - https://practice.quality.org/TNA/PracticePortal

        - https://assessment.quality.org/TNA/TestPlayer/Login/Login.aspx

Please test the device that you are going to use for your exam. Do not assume, for example, that if your work laptop meets the IT requirements, then your personal laptop will too.

It’s a good idea to run the system test at about the same time of day you expect to take your exam to get a better feel for the internet connectivity you are likely to have. If you run the system test at 10:00 pm and take your exam at 2:00 pm, the bandwidth available may be quite different.

6. Online Exam Regulations

Please read the following regulations carefully. Before you can start your exam, SARAS will ask you to confirm that you have read, understood, and accept CQI’s regulations for online exams. If you decline, you will not be able to take the exam.

Photo identification

At the start of the exam you will be required to show photo identification so that we can verify the identity of the person taking the exam. You must present one of the following forms of government-issued identification:

    • Current valid passport
    • Current photocard driving licence
    • National identification card

If you do not have any of the above, please contact the CQI at assessment@quality.org as soon as possible to discuss alternative arrangements.

Learners who do not present valid photo identification may be disqualified.

Exam conditions

You can take your exam in any location, provided it meets the following requirements:

    • Quiet: Somewhere where you will not be disturbed by others or by external noise e.g. building work or traffic noise.
    • Well lit: Do not sit in front of a window or other bright light. If you are backlit, draw shades or curtains and/or turn off lights behind you
    • Private: Make sure others cannot see your computer or monitor
    • Access to a power socket: So you can plug in your laptop to ensure it does not run out of battery during the exam

Learner conduct

You must always behave professionally and honestly during the exam.

    • Your face must be uncovered for the duration of the exam. If you wear a headscarf, you must show your ears. Hoodies, hats, and sunglasses are not permitted
    • Your webcam and microphone must remain switched on for the duration of the exam. When using your webcam, please ensure that your head is positioned in the centre of the camera image, facing the camera head on and that the webcam is not pointing to the side, above or below your face.
    • You must remain silent for the duration of the exam
    • You are permitted a 10 minute break. You must use the ‘Take a break’ button so that it is logged as an official break for proctoring purposes. If you leave the room at any other time, the proctoring system will record your absence and flag to CQI for further investigation.
    • Do not bring any food into the exam room. You are allowed to bring a drink but at your own risk as spillage may compromise the functionality of your computer and therefore your ability to complete the exam
    • Smoking and vaping are not permitted
    • You must not attempt to communicate either in person or electronically with anyone inside or outside the exam room
    • Do not bring any unauthorised electronic devices into the exam room. This includes mobile phones, iPads/tablets, smart watches, headphones, and earphones. The only electronic equipment you are permitted to use is the device you are using to take your exam

You must not do anything that could infringe CQI’s intellectual property rights and/or compromise the confidentiality and integrity of CQI online exams. 

Examples of misconduct include but are not limited to:

    • Providing access to, disclosing, distributing, copying, photographing, recording, downloading, transmitting any exam questions, answers or content in any form or by any means
    • Misrepresenting your identity or impersonating another individual during the exam
    • Being in possession of any non-authorised items whilst taking the exam such as mobile phones, electronic devices, smart watches, headphones, earphones
    • Helping others with the exam or receiving assistance either online or in person during the exam
    • Using the internet to research answers to questions.
    • Turning off your webcam and/or microphone, obscuring your face with a face covering, positioning your webcam so that there is not always a clear image of your face
    • Continuously looking around in any direction or looking at your wrist

CQI will investigate any potential breaches of the Online Exam Regulations in accordance with our Malpractice and Maladministration policy. If you are found to have committed malpractice, CQI reserves the right to void your exam result and disqualify you from future CQI exams either for a fixed period or indefinitely.

7. Exam Results

Once you have completed your exam, the CQI will review the findings from your proctoring recording and if there are no issues, the results will be available within 21 working days

If you have not received your results within 30 working days of taking your exam, please contact your training provider.

8. Special Consideration

You can submit a request for special consideration if you feel that your exam performance was adversely affected by an event outside of your control either during or just prior to taking your exam e.g. death of a relative, illness. 

Please refer to Appendix 2 CQI’s Special Consideration Policy for more information.

9. Appeals

An appeal considers whether the correct policies and processes have been followed and applied fairly. 

You can submit an appeal in relation to the following:

    • Appeal against a ‘Fail’ result
    • Appeal against a malpractice decision
    • Appeal against a decision made in relation to a reasonable adjustment or special consideration. 

Please refer to Appendix 3 CQI’s Appeals Policy for more information.

10. Exam Checklist

At least 3 days before taking your exam:

✓ Check you have the correct IT equipment and systems

✓ Check your webcam and microphone are working properly

✓ Log into SARAS to confirm your username and password are working and that you are registered for the correct exam

✓ Check the suitability of your chosen exam location

✓ Check you have the required Photo ID and ISO standards

✓ Inform colleagues, family and friends of the date and time you intend to take your exam and advise them that you cannot be interrupted during the exam and will not be available to respond to emails/messages/phone calls etc

✓ Take the Practice questions On the day of your exam:

✓ Run the systems check again and test your webcam and microphone to confirm they are still working correctly

✓ Check you have your photo ID and ISO standards

✓ Disable your pop-up blocker to enable the exam software to launch

✓ Turn off any auto updating applications if possible

✓ If you are using freeware anti-virus tools, please switch them off. If your exam is blocked by an antivirus tool, please go to the antivirus setting and enable the exam software to run 

✓ Make sure you are taking the exam in a quiet, well-lit environment

✓ Remove any smart phones/smart watches/cameras/ tablets/earphones/ear pods and other electrical devices from your exam environment

✓ Remind others that you do not want to be disturbed during the exam

✓ Grab a drink

When you are ready, log into your learner home page on SARAS and click ‘Start Exam’.

SARAS will ask you to hold up your Photo ID to your webcam and take a picture. The picture of your ID must clearly show your name and photo and fit within the red frame on the screen. You will have a chance to review the picture before submitting it to SARAS, so please check all the required information is visible. Next SARAS will ask you to take a photo of your face. Please ensure that your head and face are not covered by a hat or face covering, that you are looking directly at the camera and that your face fits within the oval red frame on the screen.

When you are satisfied with the quality of both images, submit your photos. You will then see some instructions on how to navigate the exam and allocate your time. You will also be asked to accept CQI’s Online Exam Regulations. Once you click ‘accept’ you can then start your exam.

If you have any problems during the exam, please contact the CQI at assessment@quality.org. Please note, this inbox will only be monitored during UK working hours.

Good luck! And don’t forget to complete the Learner Experience Survey at the end of the exam.


Appendix 1: CQI and IRCA Online Exams: Reasonable Adjustment Policy

Appendix 2: CQI and IRCA Online Exams: Special Consideration Policy

Appendix 3: CQI and IRCA Online Exams: Appeals Policy

Please feel free to contact us for more information or support neededinfo@tksg.global 

Last modified: Wednesday, 23 November 2022, 11:32 AM