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Full Skills Exam – Post Examination Assessment

Preface

This assessment covers the Full Skills Exam (FSE), as required by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), in order to obtain the Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) license.

There are a number of factors that one must consider when determining how hard the Full Skills Exam is for an exam taker. I will do my best to break down specific areas of concern, and what to watch out for.

Environment

The Full Skills Exam (FSE) was provided at Bow Valley College in Calgary, at the North Campus in room 17 of the 7th floor, at 11am on Sunday, May 6th, 2018. Before registering upstairs we had to first sign in with Security on the main floor and then after our exam we had to sign-out that we were leaving the building. The campus is normally closed on Sundays, but as ICCRC has an arrangement with the college, security was well aware of our presence and allowed us to proceed upstairs. There were roughly 60 people altogether who had to complete this security process.

The exam testing room (N717) is upstairs, and it was split into two halves, with FSE exam takers on the left (from my perspective seated, facing the front boards) comprising the majority of the seats (roughly 50 seats) and on the right comprised of Entry-to-Practice (EPE for RISIA) exam takers (roughly 30 seats). I counted roughly 35 FSE exam takers and roughly 25 EPE exam takers. The room was moderately well lit with standard fluorescent lighting but if one is seated at the very back room (as I was at the very back corner in fact), you can find the lighting to be a little lacking.

As per the ICCRC FSE Registration Guide, you are advised to arrive 45 minutes early of the exam time in order to properly register into the exam room. The invigilator checks your certified color copy of your identification and you sign your name on the sheet. Once admitted into the room you are not allowed to leave unless it is an absolute emergency. You may not leave during the first 45 minutes and the during last 15 minutes of the exam, in order to mitigate disturbances to other exam takers.

All non-essential possessions (such as cell phone, bags, backpacks, etc) are asked to be placed at the front of the room, with cell phone especially turned off. Your desk is pre-assigned to you ahead of time, and is comprised of two regular college style desks put together with two chairs, so one may use either desk for space, but you must sit in the left chair/desk position. The only effects allowed shown on your desk are a pencil, basic calculator, scantron answer sheet, exam booklet, water bottle with no label in clear plastic, your personal notes, and your ID, which must be available for examination by the invigilators at any time.

Your personal notes can be handwritten or typed notes on paper, and you may have and use your education textbooks, any purchased textbook or booklet (such as the Full Skills Exam Prep “Test Day Data Booklet”). Everything else, including your coat/hat, etc must be clearly separated from your desk.

There were three invigilators in the room during the entire exam period, and they all walked around the room examining everyone closely. There was very little talking between exam takers, and even when people did talk before the exam started, people were advised of the zero-cheating policy and to keep all communication to themselves.

The test booklet was sealed in the top left corner, and the booklet was only provided once the invigilator declared the official start time on the front board. The booklets were passed out in turn, starting from the front to the back, and we had to sign the exam booklet tracking sheet when we were provided the booklet, and we had to sign again when the booklet was returned to the invigilator at the end of the exam.

The invigilators put the time remaining on the front board, and announced at the halfway mark, 30 minutes remaining mark, 5 minutes remaining, and then simply changed it to 1 minute remaining on the board without saying anything. I think the final non-announcement was to not contribute pressure to the exam takers, but still provide the information. They explicitly stated that all pencils MUST be placed on the desk when they announce the exam was officially over, or else the exam was forfeited.

My advice for exam takers is to keep things simple; get plenty of rest and relaxation, have a good meal (but not too heavy) in the morning and make sure to use the bathroom right before you register into the room.

Exam Composition

The exam material is comprised of 100 questions, with four multiple choice answers. At least 90 questions are in the format of a scenario. The four multiple choice answers typically answer with one obviously wrong answer, one incorrect answer, one good answer and one proper and correct answer as applied to the exact wording of the question.

An example:

Anita met and married her husband Rodrigo on vacation in Mexico last month, and after returning to Canada has approached you for advice. Anita is a 36 year old Canadian Citizen, has been employed for the past 2 years as an Assistant Accountant making a salary of $22,000 per year and has a 1 year degree from the University of Alberta in Accounting. Anita has one son aged 19 who is attending University. Rodrigo is unemployed, has only a high school education and has one son aged 14.

Can Anita sponsor Rodrigo?

  • “Yes, because Anita meets the requirements.”
  • “No, because Anita does not meet the LICO requirements.”
  • “No, because Rodrigo needs to be employed.”
  • “Yes, but Rodrigo needs to have a Canadian job offer first.”

This is a representation of the information model and thinking that I believe has gone into the creation of the exam, which entices the exam taker to think thoroughly on what the actual correct answer should be. Some of the answers are complete red herrings, and there will generally be at least one completely wrong answer which can be eliminated if examined in any depth. There is not nearly enough time to properly research or lookup the section related to the scenario in any reasonable manner. You simply have to know the material cold in order to maximize your chances of success.

There were a lot of gray areas covered by the scenarios, such as circumstances which seemed at odds with the choices that the client could do, or was prevented from doing. For the most part the scenarios were presented as if the client was approaching you, the consultant, and it was a mixture of providing advice, advising a specific course of action, or determining if the client qualifies given the factors presented. The wording in the scenario was fairly straightforward, but there were a few specific instances where the question was worded in such a way as to be ambiguous in relation to which answer you could choose.

It is my belief that in the real world we have more time than that given in an exam setting to find out the answers, and that in real life we are able to ask follow up questions so it makes me question the FSE exam model as being beneficial based on the sole fact of merely knowing the material itself to pass an exam. It is entirely incongruous to choose a question and answer format that plays havoc with an exam taker’s mental state by providing two very similar answers. But I digress.

There were a large variety (I would guess 25+) of Federal Skilled Worker/Trade and Express Entry scenarios, and of these at least 5 which asked to verify the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, in order to properly choose the correct answer. The math itself was not involved or difficult, but rather time challenging in that in order to properly ascertain the correct value you had to spend time looking up the specific table of information for each component of the CRS score. This is normally easy if the information is at hand, but during an examination environment can prove tricky to remain composed and calm.

Exam Scenarios Breakdown

There were a significant variety (I would guess 30+) of Family Class scenarios, presented in different ways and with different criteria, ranging from straight-forward single spousal sponsorship (no dependents or other complications) to grandchildren and parent/grandparent factors.

There was no orphan family member type question that I can recall. There were 2-3 in-Canada spousal scenarios.

There were 5-6 temporary worker scenarios, mainly asking about eligibility and requirements in a “is this possible” style scenario.

There were 3-4 Refugee scenarios, with them being presented as being at the Port of Entry, and one from abroad.

I do not remember there being any Citizenship questions or anything related to Canadian Citizenship such as time in Canada, Culture, History, Oaths, Rights, Privacy, etc.

There were approximately 5 scenarios related to Client Care, such as what one does when receiving a retainer check from a client.

There were approximately 5 scenarios related to Temporary Foreign Workers or permits, which entailed what does one do at the Port of Entry, NAFTA, applying from Abroad, etc.

There were 2-3 scenarios related to Students, such as whether they could work, their Post-Graduate Work Permit requirements and finding a career, etc.

There were a number of scenarios related to Time Factors, such as how long does a person have to appeal, to renew their work permit, their study permit, or how much time before they are removed from Canada.

I would categorize the scenarios as:

  • 30+ Family Class
  • 25+ Federal Skilled Worker/Trade with 2-3 Canadian Experience Class
  • 20+ Business
  • 5 Client Care
  • 5 Temporary
  • 5 Student
  • 10 other

Conclusion

I went into the exam a little nervous and apprehensive, for the reasons that I knew there would be questions worded in such a way as to trip me up. I knew it, so I focused on scanning the scenario for key facts, and underlined each key fact with my pencil for easy reference. I would first read through the scenario, mark key facts, read the question, and briefly scan the answers for the key verbs related to the scenario concept. Then I would either lookup/research as required and eliminate answers based on the truth. Finally I would take a few seconds to think through the question, and examine what was being primarily asked in order to finally choose the proper and correct answer. The question wording is very key to this. In conjunction with the regulations, rules, exceptions, ideas and concepts, the actual question itself provides the intent behind the scenario, and what option is best suited to it.

The Test Day Booklet was invaluable to me. I found myself primarily using one of three specific areas in it, which were the Delays page, the various Provincial Nominee Programs and the CRS tables. Even though I spent 3 hours making my very own crib sheet, I did in fact Not Even Use It Once! I guess once I fell into the full swing of things I just relied on my knowledge and used the booklet and Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law for Legal Professionals textbook from emond, by using the Index at the back for quick reference.

I kept track of my time. There is large clock at the front of the room, and knowing that the exam was 100 questions in 3 hours, that worked out to 1.8 minutes per question, or 1 minute, 48 seconds. Not a lot of time. By observing my progress in regular increments such as 1 hour, halfway, 30 minutes left, etc, it allowed me to judge whether I was ahead or behind in answering questions.

Having water to hydrate yourself is very important. It not only eases that thirst, but it allows you a moment to step back from the highly-focused position you were just in, and take a moment to relax again. The invigilators actually performed a brief breathing exercise immediately before starting the exam, to ease tensions and help people relax mostly. It was effective, in that people responded positively to them doing the breathing exercise, and mirrored them in doing it themselves, and some laughter ensued as well. People relaxed, and that’s my main advice here, to just relax and trust in yourself.

I am not going to lie. The exam is difficult. The scenarios are setup on purpose so as to deceive you, plain and simple. The question can be entirely misleading, which forces you to really examine and eliminate the wrong answers. It is exactly like the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, where the questions can be eliminated until you have two really excellent answers to choose from. But which one, you ask? The correct answer, of course.

Take your time to pace yourself, because you know this material! All of the studying, research, blood sweat and tears you have gone through means something. You’ve worked hard to get to the point of actually taking the exam! Congratulations! Now take this mentality one more step and prepare your mind and body to properly do your best on the exam. Get plenty of rest the week beforehand, go to bed early, plan good meals and eating habits, and best of all don’t stress, just relax and know that you will get through this.

I do hope my assessment helps any future exam takers, and wish everyone the best.

Peace out!

 

Chris Simmons
(780) 938-9677
csimmons@goldenpinnacle.ca