Exam technique and study hub

Exam technique and study hub

Most people who are unsuccessful in an exam will still be within 5% of the pass mark

In many cases, those that are successful just answer the questions better, or know a little bit more. The margin for error is so small that we’ve produced dedicated materials to help you in this area.

To pass your CII exam first time, you need to consider two elements:

  1. What you do before the exam, i.e. how much and how effective your exam study is
  2. What you do in the exam,  i.e. how good your exam technique is

Few people like exam study and even fewer like re-sitting exams so this exam technique and study hub is here to help you with both areas.

What you do before your exam

CII R0 and AF exams typically require between 50 and 150 hours of study. Unfortunately, most people will need this amount of study. There are no easy short cuts when you are sitting degree-level exams like the AF subjects. But there’s still plenty of scope for working smarter, not harder.

  1. Look at CII past exam papers. These are supplied as part of your CII exam enrolment on RevisionMate.  With the multiple-choice R0 exams, there is one specimen paper for each subject. With the AF exams, several are provided.

    We’ve summarised the key areas that have been tested historically in AF1, AF4, AF5 and AF7 in our free exam preparation guides. To access these, register as a member (or log-in) by clicking here.
  2. Make a plan. Think about how much study you can commit to, and how best to fit this study in around your work and other commitments.
  3. Use a variety of study methods. Our audio material is ideal for learning on the go.  Use Brainscape (which is free) to make ‘electronic index cards’. Register as a member (or log-in) by clicking here to access our AF4 revision cards on Brainscape.
  4. Make sure your study is effective. It isn’t just about the hours you put into studying.  People learn in different ways so learn what works for you.

We’ve joined forces with the learning experts – Genius Material. Click on the link below to access a free 23 minute video on how to make your revision more effective.

In addition, click on the other images to access our invaluable advice on how you can make your study hours count for specific R0 or AF exams.


The R0 exams

With a multiple choice R0 exam, exam technique is usually less of a factor than with written exams. Having said that, people will still lose marks through poor exam technique so here are our three main tips:

  1. Make sure you read the question properly. If you aren’t instantly clear what you are being asked to do, then read it again. Remember that you will be expected to use the information that is given. It will not be provided to just ‘pad out’ the question.
  2. Use a process of elimination. In most multiple-choice questions, one or more answers can be quickly discounted. This means that even if you don’t know the correct answer, you can perhaps reduce the odds to a 50:50 guess. As marks aren’t taken away, why wouldn’t you?
  3. Flag’em up. The exam system enables you to flag up a question and return to it. If in doubt, flag it up but don’t forget to return to it to double-check your answer.

The AF exams

The CII AF exams are a different kettle of fish. Exam technique, for many people, will make the difference between a narrow pass and a narrow fail. Here are the three most common mistakes that are made:

  1. They don’t answer the question that is set.  For example, if a question asks about the income and capital gains tax position of a couple’s investment, don’t talk about inheritance tax (because you haven’t been asked to). And don’t just answer based on the position of the husband (the question asked for the couple’s position). It sounds basic, but it’s easy to do under pressure in an exam.  
  2. Look for the verb in the question. If it says list or state, no real detail is required. If it says, describe or explain, then your answer will require more detail.
  3. Provide client-specific solutions. The information provided in the case study is provided for a reason – so use it. Don’t expect purely generic answers to score well so link your answers back to the information provided.

Of course, there are other areas to look as well and you can explore these further by clicking on the following images:

af7 exam

Spotlight on the AF7 exam