R01: It’s not you, it’s the exam

18 September 2023

When it comes to the R01 exam, many people looking to take their first exam are put off from the start. Don’t worry, says Natalie Dawes, Academy Support Adviser at Bespoke Training Solutions, it’s not you, it’s the exam. Here’s what you need to do.

It’s the start of the new academic year and there are lots of candidates getting into the nuts and bolts of their study guides. Many brand new to the R0s, will likely be starting out with R01 – financial services, regulation and ethics.

A unit that’s renowned for being and I quote ‘dull, boring, not exactly scintillating’ for its subject matter, is it any wonder people can be put off of our industry from the get-go?

It should be noted that there are a few out there who quite enjoy this exam but they’re definitely in minority!

The CII pass rates for the last few years show us that roughly a third of candidates defer their success on R01. We’ve spoken to many that have done so multiple times on this ‘starter unit’ and as a result, a few have started to convince themselves that they just haven’t got what it takes for this exam or indeed our industry.

Is it really, that bad?

First, let’s think about the content – it’s definitely broad! Covering all manner of regulations, legislation and Code of Ethics, there is a lot to get your teeth into.

If you’re new to financial services, perhaps a second careerist or fresh faced from college or uni, trying to learn this stuff and have it stick can be really tricky because you’ll likely not have any experience to bring it to life.

Having said that, even for someone that’s worked within FS for many years can have trouble with this unit depending on what material is being used to learn the syllabus.

We say about the material because, more often than not, R01 candidates are using the examining body study text. Whilst these do contain some really good, albeit technical information, it isn’t always accessible to learners, and can sometimes seem a little dry.

So, what are the options?

Yes, you read that right – candidates have a choice!

Something that is often unknown by candidates starting out on their studies is that they have choice when it comes to their resources and the support available to them. The default option when enrolling with the CII is ‘enrolment plus’, which will include all the CII materials and of course the exam booking voucher.

However, candidates can select ‘assessment only’ which will mean they only purchase their exam booking voucher, giving them the option to purchase materials elsewhere. This is important – we all have our unique ways of learning and therefore, choice in how we learn is key to success.

Once the materials are right…

It’s one thing learning the syllabus, but what about the actual exam – is the knowledge on its own enough to get you through the exam? You’d like to think so wouldn’t you but with the interestingly worded questions and answer choices to throw you off…candidates have to think about their exam technique as well.

The more practise you can get at answering exam questions, the better. Heading into an R01 exam without sufficient practise could lead to a bit of a shock on exam day. Many of the candidates that tell us of their deferred success also report that their exam felt ‘so much tougher’ than any practise they had done.

This is usually for one of a couple of reasons. Firstly, because they hadn’t had enough practise and so their exposure to questions was low and secondly because the practise they did have, may not have been ‘exam standard’.

BTS sit the R01 paper every year, so we stay super close to the exam and can therefore update our resources every year to ensure they are aligned to what they exam actually looks and feels like. We even throw in some of that ‘interesting wording’ I mentioned – we want to set you up for success after all!

It’s not you, it’s the exam…

So, remember this, when you’re ‘breaking up’ with the R01 exam (or any other unit actually) remember, it isn’t you – there is absolutely a reason that your relationship with the exam isn’t working out.

Please, please, don’t fall out of love with the idea of a career in financial services, instead, get some advice from colleagues or a learning and development company (like BTS!) and find the right way forward because I promise you, there absolutely is one.

Bespoke Training Solutions have been supporting regulated exams for 20 years this year! Known as ‘the exam experts’ within the industry, BTS provide support for the CII regulated exams by way of study guides, e-learning resources, and workshops for the full R0 suite and many AF units.

Visit https://www.bespoketrainingsolutions.com and check out the brand-new Careers Zone for study plans, answers to exam FAQs and lots more to support your journey.

Professional Paraplanner