This week the Brand Financial Training team will be answering the questions put forward by paraplanners around forthcoming exams, studying methods and motivation.
Q: I haven’t taken a CII written exam before and am currently studying towards R06. Can you provide some tips to help with my revision?
A: This is a great question to kick off our exam Q&A for the week. Many candidates starting the R06 journey would only have had experience of the CII exams through the multiple-choice exams so how to go about revising for R06 can seem overwhelming as it does require very different preparation.
Initially, to some it may seem more straightforward, after all you are given the case studies so you’ll know roughly what you’re going to be tested on right? – wrong! The CII advise 100 hours of study – it’s a serious exam and the ill-prepared are likely to get caught out.
We have been studying the case studies and writing an R06 analysis for candidates now for many years and we know from our customer feedback a very common reason for people failing to pass is that they struggled with the style of the exam and what was expected in their answers, so spending time focusing on questions and answering technique is as important as ensuring technical knowledge is up to speed.
As the CII state in their exam guides, it’s too late to start general revision once you’ve received the client details from the two case studies. If you know you have gaps in your technical knowledge, the best time to fill those is beforehand. It’s also a good time to focus on exam technique.
Make use of the CII Exam Guides
Studying past exam guides is a great place to start. Note, in particular, the types of questions asked and what’s included (and not included) in the model answers. This will enable you to get into the examiner’s mindset and get an understanding of what they are looking for you to achieve in the exam.
Use some exam guides as a mock paper to test yourself and pay close attention to how your answers compare to the model answers. Be strict with yourself, note where you can do better and have another go and always ensure you are personalising your answers to the case study where possible -if the client pays higher rate income tax state it in your answer don’t just write ‘taxed at the clients highest marginal rate of income tax’ – this could mean picking up those extra vital marks!
You’ll probably find that working your way through old case studies and past exams (available within the exam guides) will help you identify areas of weakness in your technical knowledge so you can brush up on these areas as you go along too.
Practise common questions
Practise questions that come up time and time again such as the additional information questions e.g. ‘What additional information would advisers need to advise the clients on their pension planning’. You are also pretty much guaranteed to get a review question e.g. ‘What factors would an advisers need to consider at the client’s next annual review’. There are usually some very straight forward marks on offer for these two types of question so it’s worth spending some time on them.
Practise generic questions around the subject of financial advice too, for example, ‘what are the benefits of financial advice’, ‘what are the processes financial advisers should follow when making certain recommendations’.
Risk questions are very common so make sure you understand risk profiling tools and how to assess attitude to risk and capacity for loss.
Familiarise yourself with the case studies
Once the clients’ details have been released you have two weeks to familiarise yourself with their circumstances. Try and bring them to life in your mind. For example, what do they look like? How do they sound? What are their lives like? The more realistic you can make the clients, the easier you’ll find it to remember their circumstances. Although you’re given the case studies in the exam, you don’t want to be wasting time revisiting them when you could be answering questions and gaining marks.
Focussed technical revision
Now is the time to hone your technical knowledge. Make a list of the subjects that have cropped up in relation to your clients. Now, think about how strong your knowledge is in each area. So, for example, if the client is thinking about a purchased life annuity, can you explain what one is? Can you explain how it is taxed? Can you explain why it might or might not be appropriate given the client’s circumstances. You can then repeat this process for any other technical area. There may be the odd curveball but usually most of the technical and product subjects can be predicted from the case studies.
Case study Analysis
Many candidates choose to purchase a case study analysis resource to help focus their learning and identify areas that are likely to come up in the exam as well as giving additional practise on exam technique. Our R06 case study analysis for the September exam in now available on our website.
We hope this has given you some good pointers for your preparation the R06 exam and good luck!