Exam Q&A: Juggling workload and exams, getting back to study, finding time for R0 study

18 January 2024

For the start of this year’s exam season, Professional Paraplanner has teamed up once again with Brand Financial Training to answer your questions on the exams ahead.

In this article, the team looks at how paraplanners can fit in exams, work and life and successfully achieve their qualifications. 

Question: Do you have any tips for juggling work, life and study?

Balancing work responsibilities and revision, and still trying to find time for a social life can be challenging, so here are some tips for helping to improve your work-life-study balance.

Short bursts

You don’t have to block out entire evenings or weekends for study. In fact, it’s proven that short spells of revision are far more effective than long drawn-out periods. So, try building regular short timeslots for frequent, productive revision. After a long day at work, you’re much more likely to do some revision if you’ve only planned to do twenty minutes. You’ll probably find once you’ve started and get your teeth into something it will fly by and you’ll end up putting in a longer spell of revision.

Study can be anytime, anywhere

You can always grab a few minutes here or there to study throughout your day.

Listening to audios is a great way to multitask as you can revise travelling to work, at the gym or even in the bath.

On-line mock exam questions allow you to squeeze in some revision any time you have a spare five minutes.

Writing down key points on post-it notes and scattering these around the house is not only a great way to commit information to memory, but it means every time you open the fridge, get changed, or clean your teeth, you’ll be getting some valuable study done.

All these bits of revision will add up, don’t think you’re not being effective just because you’re not at your desk with your head in a book.

Employer support

Make the most of any support offered such as study leave, and don’t feel guilty about it! Exams will undoubtedly be beneficial for them as well as you. If you haven’t already, telling your employer might result in you being able to access some support from them that you didn’t know was available.

Study schedule and study plan

A realistic study schedule and study plan are also key to help you juggle your workload. Knowing when you have time set aside to dedicate to revision, and what you should be focussing on is a good way to keep yourself on track. Our suggestions for an effective schedule and plan are detailed in response to the question below.

Question: Having spent some time away from exams, what is the best way to get back ‘into studying’ in terms of a structure / process?

Exam schedule

If you’ve been out of the revision game for a while, the best place to start is with an effective exam schedule. Decide what exams you need to pass, what order to do them in, when are the exam sittings and what your target date is for each. Be realistic with the time you have available and how familiar you are with the subjects. It is very easy to be over-confident and think you’ll need to do less study than you actually do – better to over prepare than under prepare!

Effective study plan

When you have your exam schedule in place, we advise that you put together a specific study plan for each exam. This doesn’t need to be too detailed, but it is a crucial part of exam success for a lot of candidates. It can help you stay focussed and be effective.

Think about how much work you have to get through for each exam, consider not just the revision of the study text, but build in the use of mock questions or other resources you may plan to use, then break this down into chunks. Some people like to start with their favourite or most preferred subjects first, some like to get through the biggest syllabus topics first, but some like to work through in the order of the CII study text. Its about finding a path that works best for you, holds your attention and keeps you interested, but also helps you to feel like you are making the right amount of progress.

Set realistic, time bound targets for each chunk of work with some catch up time built in (there’s nothing more demotivating than falling behind). Think realistically about the time you have available each week. If you’ve got a busy week, you’re not going to be able to fit in as much as on the quieter weeks, so don’t simply set the same amount every week. Then follow the plan!

Free support is available.

The best approach to studying for each specific exam will vary, but the good news is that there is plenty of free help out there from training providers like us at Brand Financial Training. For example, we produce ‘How to Pass’ guides for many of the CII exams which provides detailed guidance on how to approach revision for the exam, with particular focus on how to master the style of questions – something you’ll definitely need a recap on if you’ve been away from exams for a while. You might also want to have a look on YouTube for some tips and advice about the exam, or for a short visual explanation of a specific subject you’re struggling with. You could also ask around and ask friends/colleagues if they can offer any tips that helped them.

Question: There is so much to learn in each of the R0 exams how do I fit it all in?

Hopefully a lot of the above information will have helped you but here are a couple more tips specific to the R0 exams.

Use mock papers fairly early on in your revision timetable.  Being able to see what questions you are getting wrong should help you to be able to hone into specific chapters that you need to spend more time on.

There is a lot of technical information to digest for each of the R01 to R05 exams, but you will find that some chapters are more heavily tested than others. The breakdown of questions per learning outcome/chapter is provided in the front of the study text. If time is really short, you can focus your revision on the areas more heavily examined.


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 at https://brandft.co.uk

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Professional Paraplanner