ChatGPT is Coming to Take Your Exam

No one in the finance world can get away from ChatGPT. Released just last November, the generative AI application has profound implications for education. We are paying attention on behalf of CFA candidates. It’s going to change your world and it’s really going to change our world, as a provider of education tools for professionals.

ChatGPT today, like this minute, February 6 10:31 AM PT is not something CFA candidates need to worry about. You know why I had to put that in here. You might be reading this tomorrow and by then what I am about to say will be past tense. 

Right now, ChatGPT can get passing grades on parts of the Bar exam and the medical qualifying exams – but only on the multiple-choice portions. Still, no one is trusting the application to generate exams yet because a passing grade as a student is no match for a professional exam design that is 100% current.

That’s today. But there is no question that this technology will change everything about how we create, prepare to take, and take standardized exams.

Our team at Studious is watching this progression carefully. We’ve got some time to proceed thoughtfully about use. In its current state, ChatGPT is too primitive to use. But it won’t be for long, and we are in conversation about how we will use the new technology. Everyone in education and learning is thinking about the core problem of this technology.

“What knowledge needs to be in the human head when all knowledge can be immediately generated by the software?”

We think there are several bigger trends that will impact how and how fast the CFA exams and program are impacted. Here’s what we’re working from right now.

1) The CFA program and exam will both change because generating questions will be increasingly automated – but also because the nature of the work done as a result will change.

The process of generating the CFA exam today is excruciatingly thoughtful. First, working professionals are grilled about what candidates need to learn to work in their firms. Then, topics are parsed and pruned down to 8-10 categories. Finally, finance writers work with PhDs in exam construction to construct questions that are clear and test exact knowledge, with answers that are plausible and don’t telegraph correctness.

ChatGPT will eventually be able to do everything but the first step.

For candidates, the big changes in topics studied will be to fit how ChatGPT will be used in the work of finance. We’ll spend a lot of ink on this discussion in the next few months, answering the core question. How much knowledge does a finance professional need in their head if the computer can retrieve and analyze faster?

2. The value of the knowledge will change how we see ourselves.

The CFA exam promotes candidates above peers without the certification because charterholders possess more knowledge across the broad spectrum of investment knowledge. If that is not needed, what added value do we bring?

On top of that, career paths now based on milestones of added knowledge and expertise will be flooded by the devaluation of humans being subject experts. I explored this phenomenon in a series of articles on CFA charterholders who had moved to fintech careers.

Perhaps the field will change along the lines as described by Lowell Putnam, founder of Quovo in the CFA Magazine article For Fintech Career Switchers, the Hardest Skills to Master May Be the Soft Ones:

“Technology development depends on openness and creativity, traits that are not normally useful in traditional finance. Software design and development is a team sport that demands cooperation, communication, and team leadership skills to achieve success.”

If this is our future, people seeking competition, not collaboration,  may not be attracted to the profession – nor the CFA program as a result! 

3. The study process will change.

Right now at Studious, we use primitive AI to provide individualized learning paths for app users. Since CFA candidates all start the exam with a level of expertise in some topic, each candidate needs a learning path that emphasizes work in new knowledge, not existing knowledge.

This application can adapt well to the post-ChatGPT era once the core problem of “what knowledge needs to be in CFA charterholder head” is solved.

Until that problem is solved, how CFA candidates might use ChatGPT to prep for exams in its current state is a most interesting question, and we’ll pick that up several times as we move forward with this series.

We don’t expect these changes to come soon to the CFA program and the CFA exams. 

Computerized testing has been around for decades, and the CFA exams, along with the SAT and the LSAT, have only recently gone digital. 

If there are ways to speed learning in the meantime, we want to employ those today. We’ll include you in our journey in hopes it can save you time in wondering what might be the future of your chosen profession.

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