CII exam revision: the most important tip ever?

cii exam revision

CII exam revision: the most important tip ever?

With a CII exam – be it an R0 or AF exam – you’ll need to retain a wide range of information.  Despite numerous tips and techniques that can help study to be more effective, most people find studying for any exam to be hard work. But if you just had to pick just one tip that will make the biggest difference, what would it be?

We’re happy for you to disagree. Using past exam papers runs it pretty close. But here’s what gets our vote.

Exercise

I’ll start with an exercise that should make this point. Here are 20 different numbers between 1 and 75. I’ll ask you to look at these for 30 seconds, turn away, and see how many numbers in sequence you can remember. Here they are:

5,   18,   3,    9,   44,   11,   16,    36,    31,    72,    24,    9,    32,    41,    4,    59,    1,    63,    25,    71

How did you do? People tend to remember around six numbers in the correct sequence – typically the first three and the last three. You might have remembered slightly more or slightly less than this. Usually it will be the numbers at the beginning and the end of the list that you’ll remember. So why is this so important?

Primacy and recency

What you’ve just experienced is known as primary and recency.  When you take in any information, you tend to remember the bits at the beginning and the end. The bit in the middle becomes a blur or gets forgotten. And this is something that we all do. So if you are studying for an R0 or AF exam, how can you use this?

Small chunks

At the Patterson Group, we believe that exam success is about working smarter, not harder. And that is why this principle is so important when you revise. Let me explain. Many people tend to block out a prolonged period of time to revise, often close to the exam date. Most people will have done at least some ‘cramming’ in the past. But just how effective is it?

The following  diagram looks at concentration levels and how these change with time.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not how much study you do, but how much information you retain as a result.  If we apply primacy and recency to this, it suggests that a two hour block of revision is unlikely to be effective for many people. Like the exercise you’ve just done, you are likely to remember the beginning and the end, and not much in the middle. That’s great for the 15 minute periods at the start and end. It also means that much of the 1 ½ hours in between is wasted for most people.

What does good look like?

Now, you might know people who are good at cramming. If so, they are either gifted, or they probably still break their revision into smaller chunks. In other words, it’s not a solid undiluted period of revision – but a two-hour period with a number of breaks built in. It’s these breaks that are important. We would recommend a 10 minute break every 20-30 minutes of study. And when we say break, it should be just that. Walk around,  talk to people, listen to music –  anything; but give your brain a break from your exam study.  Give yourself a proper break and give yourself regular breaks.

How does this impact on your concentration levels? If we look at this as a diagram, it should look like this:

You are still benefiting from primacy and recency. By studying for shorter periods, you’ve managed to cram more beginnings and ends into the your study time. As a result, your overall level of concentration is that much higher and you will remember more. More learning and the same amount of study time.  What’s not to like?

20 minutes of study isn’t worth it

This is a comment we hear regularly. And nothing could be further from the truth. 20-30 minutes is probably the optimum period of time. You get high levels of concentration and better retention. Part of this is due to concentration levels being maintained. Part is also due to the fact that you will probably only focus on two or three core concepts in this period of time. The brain likes small chunks of information nearly as much as having short study periods.

We are the leading producer of audio exam material for the CII exams and we are convinced that small chunks are best. Our audio material allows you to learn, in small chunks, fitting it in around the rest of your life. Simple and effective.

Click on R0 material or AF material to see why over 6,000 people have bought this study material over the last year.

Want to learn more?

Click here to access our dedicated R0 exam technique and study hub.

Click here to access our dedicated AF exam technique and study hub.

Both of these unique sites include a free video on our top 5 revision tips and links to specific R0 or AF exams about how you can work smarter, rather than harder.

Preparation is the key.

The Diploma Doctor

Marie Patterson
Ian Patterson