Workshop training and cheerleading

17 June 2024

What’s an exam training workshop really like? Natalie Dawes DipPFS, Cert CII (MP & ER) – Candidate Support & Business Development Adviser, provides some insight. 

I speak a lot about my own studies, the trials, tribulations and thankfully, triumphs too. I’m on route to Chartered and I’ll continue to share how it’s going along the way, in the hope that it helps others.

There is something I haven’t shared much about though and that is being on the other side of the study – delivering the training. I absolutely love this side of my job at BTS.

Delivering exam content is actually a very natural path for me to have followed. With my background being financial services and education, is it any wonder I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing?

Sneak peek

I am by no means an expert across all of the exams, which is why at present I am delivering R01, R05 & R06. I’m a work in progress on my trainer journey and my hope is to be delivering workshops across all of the R0s in time to come.

There are things that I have noticed about most of the sessions that I deliver though, which is irrelevant to the unit being trained and it’s this that I want to focus on.

Think of this article as a bit of a nosey of the inside of a BTS workshop, a sneak peek if you will…because let’s be honest, nobody really knows what goes on, unless you’ve been to one, right?!

In we go…

I want to give you some intel from my own perspective first and it isn’t biased. I work for BTS, but before this I was a BTS candidate.

For my R06 sitting, I wanted to throw everything I had at the exam, to better my chances of getting through first time. Having experienced a few deferred success scenarios, I thought it would be a good idea to seek some guidance, especially as R06 is such a different style of exam.

Up until this point, I had absolutely no idea that there were companies out there, with alternative materials to that of the CII, nor did I know that workshops would be an option. It started with a post on LinkedIn, to my very few connections, with a bit of a plea for help.

I was stunned at the response and looking back, maybe that’s where my relationship with BTS began – it’s been quite the journey since then!! This is a tip by the way, if you’re not currently networking with others studying, please consider doing so, I have found this incredibly helpful over the last few years, if nothing else, to know that I’m not alone!

As a result of that post, I ended up purchasing a BTS study guide and I remember saying to my then boss that it felt more like an ‘activity book’ due to it’s layout, design and interactive nature. It was so different to anything I’d seen before.

I also booked onto the two-day workshop. Confession, doing this, made me feel sick. The idea of being with other people, who would obviously be soooo much more knowledgeable than me, filled me with dread.  From the many conversations I have with candidates, it turns out, many of you have similar thoughts.

The reality

I’m in a fortunate position here because I’ve seen workshops on both sides. A bag of nerves attendee, and as the one delivering the workshop, someone who very much knows what it’s like to be an attendee.

My two-day R06 workshop that I attended a few years back, was run by Luiza Todd, one of our brilliant BTS Directors. I remember thinking, wow, she really knows her stuff. She was knowledgeable and clearly understood the R06 exam process. There is no way I would have tackled my R06 exam sitting in the way I did, had it not been for those two days and the valuable guidance and advice given by Luiza.

Luiza did pick on me though (she’s going to kill me for wording that like that!!). However, she did it in such a way that it didn’t feel like the same ‘picking on’ that we know from our school days, at least that’s where my fear of such things comes from.

It was encouraging, it was inclusive. Yes, some of the attendees were more knowledgeable than me, in some areas but equally some of them weren’t, in other areas. Given some of my worries about attending, this really helped put me at ease.

When Luiza engaged us in conversation, I realised that when I got stuff wrong, just like the other attendees did, we all learnt from each other. We don’t tend to think about this side of a workshop because we are more inclined to think about our own learning, how our exam will be and the guidance we’ll receive from the trainer to help us as an individual.


Trainers are often called ‘facilitators’ and there is valid reasoning for this – they facilitate the learning. No workshop will ever be identical, even if you only delivered R01 day in day out (which I would love by the way and I’m not even ashamed to admit it!!).

Yes, there’s specific content and learning outcomes to cover but, the road that’s taken, the discussion that is had, the knowledge gaps uncovered and filled, vary every time, because it’s dependent on the learners.

Facilitators have an idea of the sorts of things that are going to come up and my experience as a candidate plays in nicely here. Some candidates come armed with a million questions, many of which are very naturally answered via the content of the workshop, others are answered along the way.

Some candidates won’t ask a single question (I was like this in the first workshop I attended) but will still benefit from listening to fellow attendees and of course from their trainer.

I’ll let you into a secret…

Trainers are cheerleaders in disguise.

Through lightly encouraging you to have a go, engaging you in conversation, they are rooting for you. The ‘picking on you’ that happened at school, is not what happens on a BTS workshop, with any of our trainers. Plus, you definitely won’t lose any house points for not having a go.

It’s perfectly ok to get a question wrong, or for your mind to go blank. You won’t be made to feel silly and you’ll definitely provide an opportunity to learn – which is the whole point of the workshop in the first place.

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 and J0 units.

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

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