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5 Days of Exam Q&As: Day 1

17 January 2021

Professional Paraplanner has teamed up with Brand Financial Training to answer your questions around the exams scheduled for 2021.

In our last Parameters survey we asked you for the questions you would like to ask the experts around exam and qualification training. Over the course of this week we tackle a range of those questions.

We start with your questions around virtual exams/remote invigilation.

Paraplanner questions:

  • Are there any tips for sitting exams remotely? Do I need to prepare differently for virtual exams?
  • What techniques can I use to best manage my time in exams?

Brand Financial Training team member answers:

We have had a significant amount of feedback from our customers regarding their experiences with the CII online exams and having sat an online CII exam myself in October I have some first-hand experience to share too.

The first and most important advice I can give to you is to practise using the online familiarity tests. These can be found on the CII website:

Subjective testing

Objective testing

The CII should email you these links closer to your exam date with the latest links to the tests so do keep an eye out.

I would suggest you practise as much as you can using the online system to familiarise yourself with what you will face on exam day. This will give you a feel for the screen layout and how to navigate around the system. I know many of our customers found the layout difficult as the typing section was very restrictive and from my own experience I think it is also important when practising the past papers you do not have tax tables or the exam papers as a paper copy. Use the online tax tables on the system and have the past papers online too.

I made this mistake! When I was practising past papers using the familiarity test I had a paper copy of the tax tables and when it came to the actual exam it did throw me at the amount of time it took to scroll up and down between my answers and the tax tables, I really hadn’t factored this in and instantly wish I had practised!

We have given feedback at a high level to the CII regarding the timings of the exam as personally I felt the online system and particularly the scrolling to and fro from tax tables does require additional time compared to sitting a written exam. As yet, we have not had anything back from them regarding this issue.

The exam software also includes an online calculator, however the CII have now stated that you can take your own non-programmable calculator into the exam so given that many of our customers struggled with the online version I would suggest you take your own. If you do decide to use the online calculator then familiarise yourself with it.

If you experience delays logging in you will not lose any of your exam duration. Also, should you get thrown out of the system during the exam, the CII state that the time stops and will restart at the same point when you re-enter so, again, you will not lose any time. This obviously does break your concentration so our main piece of advice here is try not to panic; if you have significant problems you can put a formal complaint in to the CII and they will review your mark. We know this has happened and marks have been adjusted.

At the time of writing, the CII Exam centres are set to remain open during the current lockdown but if you are planning to take the exam remotely it is also important that you ensure you have the correct equipment and set up. I would suggest you read through the Q&A on the CII’s website re remote invigilation to ensure nothing comes as a surprise on exam day and do keep an eye on this webpage nearer to your exam time in case any of the information changes.

Below are a couple of articles produced by the Brand Financial Training team which will give you further information:

• CII Onscreen exams

CII remote invigilation

Some more general time saving tips for the CII’s ‘written’ exams, whether doing them online or in writing are as follows:

  • Use bullet points. It’s true that bullet points are a lot easier to mark for the examiners, but they can also benefit the student. Using bullet points helps you to be concise and focused and prevents waffle – a practice that rarely results in extra marks. Look at the exam guides for your subject, study the marking schemes, and practise answering in this way. They are also far quicker to type than full sentences.
  • Look at the number of marks available for each question as this should give you a feel for how much time to spend on each answer. For most exams one minute per mark is a good guide
  • Concentrate on the questions you feel confident in answering. Don’t spend too long trying to think of answers you really are not sure about, you can always come back to these if time allows.

For more exam specific help or help on exam technique you can visit the Brand Financial Training blog and search for a specific exam or search under ‘exam technique’ and you will find many more articles that will help you through your CII exams.


About Brand Financial Training

Brand Financial Training provides a variety of immediately accessible free and paid learning resources to help candidates pass their CII exams.  Their resource range ensures there is something that suits every style of learning including mock papers, calculation workbooks, videos, audio masterclasses, study notes and more.  Visit Brand Financial Training

Professional Paraplanner