According to the FIDE Handbook (B., one of the requirements to become a FIDE Arbiter is:

Attendance of one (1) FIDE Arbiters’ Seminar and successfully passing (at least 80%) an examination set up by the Arbiters’ Commission.

What's the exam like?

To be clear, I'm not asking anyone to give me the answers or help me cheat, just asking for a brief overview of what kinds of questions are on the exam.

  • Is the exam mostly multiple-choice questions on the rules of chess (e.g. "Which of the following moves is legal?")?

  • Is it mostly essay questions on tough professional judgments (e.g. "What would you do if a player complains that their opponent has poor body odor but you determine that the odor is caused by a bona-fide medical condition that the opponent cannot reasonably afford to get treated?")?

  • Is the exam a practical demonstration of arbitration skills performed using actors cast in the roles of players?

2 Answers 2


is the exam mostly multiple-choice questions

Certainly not. Multiple choice questions were an invention when education became a business with "customers" and accreditation had to be made easier.

The most important section in the FIDE Laws of Chesss is the Preface where it says this:

The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a game, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by studying analogous situations which are regulated in the Laws. The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding a solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors

To test if candidates have "the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity" to be good arbiters the questions are mostly open-ended questions where, as well as giving a laws-based answer, candidates have to explain what else they would do and say and explain these actions.

Candidates who fail to do this while at the same time as giving answers which are 100% correct with respect to the Laws will fail.

Just to emphasise this point. The exam is open book. You can take your copy of the FIDE Laws in with you and consult them during the exam.

Note: I sat and passed the exam in December 2011.

  • 2
    I will add that besides what @BrianTowers mentioned I also had to manually do correct pairings for 5 round 12 player sample tournament with lot of weird results, byes(some player skipping round), to make it tough and that was the most important part of the exam - no right to make a single mistake - whole exam would fail!
    – Drako
    Oct 21, 2022 at 6:05

In addition to Brian's answer, I'd like to point out that different federations may place the emphasis on different skills. I took only the national arbiter exam (rules, more rules...and some rules too) but know the curriculum of the German FIDE arbiter seminar. The main theme definitely was Swiss pairing and title regulations.

P.S. I don't recall multiple choice questions in the German national exam either. Although for pure rule questions they wouldn't do harm.

P.P.S. German passing scores are 80% on NA and 90% on FA...and since in my NA seminar almost everybody scored over 90%, all below 95% or so had to take an additional oral exam to pass.

  • 1
    Interesting. I didn't mention the pairing rules because even in 2011/12 it seemed anachronistic. The ICF had a country-wide Swiss Manager license. Every club used it for their tournaments and every club had a SM expert. There were 1 or 2 questions on it but no big deal in the seminars. When I came back to England it was very different. The ECF (which is still trying to join the 21st century) made a really bid deal out of it. They even have their own preferred pairing system with floating the middle of a score group up or down. So, being able to use pairing cards was important for them.
    – Brian Towers
    Oct 19, 2022 at 18:16

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