What can go wrong with the Financial Planning Practice exam? Luiza Todd, director, Bespoke Training Solutions (BTS), provides some insight for candidates who find they have not passed or who are looking to take the exam in the future.
The R06 April exam results were released on the 28th of May at 8am. If past sittings are anything to go by, results will have been a mixed bag for candidates. This article takes a look at what can go wrong with the R06 Financial Planning Practice exam.
On the day itself
The R06 exam is a very different beast to R01 to R05 – there are no answers to select from. Instead, candidates are sent the case studies two and a half weeks before the sitting date. On the day of the exam, they face each question with a blank space underneath it ready for them to type their quality answer in. Questions are based on the financial planning process from establishing the client relationship, through to factfinding, analysis, recommendations, and reviews. Many candidates are able to type a lot of answers down- though the odd question or two is likely to throw even the best prepared candidate. The CII love to throw us the odd curve ball!
Results D Day
Failing the exam is such a horrible feeling – you thought you had aced the exam, possibly even managed a distinction. This can’t be the right result – have the CII marked the right paper?
However, simply typing down a lot is not enough. The CII R06 examiner is renowned for posing tricky questions which are easy to answer in the wrong way. Often a candidate can type War and Peace but ultimately still end up not answering the question they are being asked. It’s not the quantity but the quality of those answers that count.
So, what are the common mistakes candidates make?
The question asked is not answered
You can type an entire essay but if you have not answered the question being asked the marks scored are likely to be low. Before you begin your answer, spend a minute or two identifying the key words in the question stem to try and ensure you are not going off down a wrong road in the answers presented to the examiner. Write these key words down on your rough paper. Is the question generic or specific to the case study client circumstances? A common reason for a low mark is that the question wants specifics, and you give it generics or vice versa!
Answers given are not varied enough
It’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole and concentrate exam answers all around a couple of areas. The R06 examiner is after a decent spread of answers – not the candidate taking the same point and just typing it down a few different times using slightly different words. Can what you do in real life help you? Questions regularly appear in relation to the advice process. Think of the stages you work through with your clients in real life – this should help get a better spread of answers with a question like this.
There is a lack of personalisation in answers given
A lack of personalisation of answers is also common. Don’t just put ‘tax relief on pension contributions’ put down at what rate – 20%/40%/45%. We are given so many details about our case study clients – use as many of these as possible in your answers. Typically, tax related answers can lack such personalisation – which is a real shame as candidates generally know these details, they just fail to appreciate they need to put them down in their answers.
Candidates learn a set of questions and answers they have purchased
What happens if the questions and answers you have learnt don’t come up? Or they do but the wording of the questions is a bit different to those you have practised? Here at BTS we advise candidates to practise their question answering techniques, to revise technical areas both suggested by the case studies themselves and old CII favourites such as investment bonds, capacity to and tolerance for risk (as a few examples). Just learning questions and answers is not usually the way to achieve an R06 first time exam pass.
So, what is the best strategy to prepare for the R06 exam?
>Study – using a study guide and wider reading of technical areas
>Practise – using as many past papers and model answers as possible
>Train – attend a revision workshop
>More practise – using a case study analysis and suggested questions and answers
About Bespoke Training Solutions
Bespoke Training Solutions (BTS) have been supporting regulated exams for 17 years, specialising in R0 support with outstanding candidate tracked results and feedback. Resources include digital and printed study guides, group and 1:1 training, e-Learning modules and a mobile app of practice exam questions. Visit www.bespoketrainingsolutions.com to learn more on how BTS can help you on your regulated journey.