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CII AF exam

CII AF1 exam: what’s historically been tested?

If you are preparing for the CII’s AF1 exam, Personal Tax and Trust planning, here’s what you need to know about the exam and what has been tested in the past.

What does the AF1 exam look like?

The CII AF1 exam is 3 hours long written exam paper. It consists of 3 case studies – one worth 80 marks and two smaller ones that are worth around 40 marks each (the number of marks can vary slightly from one exam to another). The main case study will typically have 12-18 questions (or part questions) in total. The two smaller case studies typically have 8-10 questions (or part questions). Overall, the paper will have 160 marks and you will normally need around 88 marks to pass. This pass mark applies to the overall exam so you could bomb on one of the smaller case studies and still pass if you get enough marks elsewhere.

How easy is it?

The simple answer is ‘not very’. Based on the published CII results, the pass rate for AF1 is currently only 43% making it the hardest AF exam subject. Worryingly, the pass rate has dropped over 20% since 2018.

What is the CII AF1 exam all about?

Be warned. You may find that AF1 doesn’t closely resemble your day to day job – even if you regard yourself as a bit of a technician. Historically, AF1 papers are the one AF exam that will usually include calculations, for example on income tax, capital gains tax and IHT. They will also usually examine some of the more complex areas such as Business Relief or non-domiciled spouses in an IHT calculation. With income tax, calculations are likely to include higher and additional tax rates, various types of income and perhaps P11D benefits. Few people will cover this type of variety of scenarios based just on their work experience. The last two published exam papers can be found here – click on the ‘useful links and downloads’ section.

What historically gets tested in the CII’s AF1 exam?

Like many CII AF exams, if you look at enough exam papers over a long enough period, you’ll spot some common themes and trends. This is NOT the same as saying you can predict what will be in the AF1 exam you sit, but it can provide a useful focus when studying. An analysis of past AF1 exam papers shows that it is highly likely that you will be examined in the following areas:
  • Income tax calculations
  • CGT calculations
  • IHT calculations
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Taxation of investments, e.g. onshore investment bonds, REITS, VCTs and EISs
Areas frequently tested historically:
  • Bankruptcy
  • Trust taxation: income tax
  • Trust taxation: CGT
  • Trust taxation: IHT
  • Use of trusts
  • Wills, DoV, and intestacy
Other tested areas:
  • Role of trustee
  • Self assessment
  • Residence and domicile
  • NICs

How do I use this to prepare for the AF1 exam?

  1. Familiarising yourself with the CII’s AF1 exam should be a key element of your preparation. Don’t just read past exam papers, complete at least two of them UNDER EXAM CONDITIONS.
  2. With your revision, as a minimum, make sure you know your stuff on the key topics. You should aim to have a good overall knowledge across the syllabus – with around 6 hours of material, our  audio book will help you to learn around your work or family commitments.
  3. Be smart with your revision. Try using Brainscape electronic memory cards. Click here for details.
Related blogs: Top tips to pass an AF exam first time. Click here AF1 & the Trust Registration Service – and how it could be tested? Click here Prepare well and be successful. Ian Patterson Ex-examiner and author of the CF8, J07 and AF6 CII study texts