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AF1 CII

AF1: Free preparation guide

If you are thinking of sitting the CII’s AF1 exam, then go into it with your eyes open. Based on the latest CII published results, this is one of the easier AF exams but the pass rate is still just 49% (the latest published results). If you expect to pass purely because you cover taxation in your daily work, clearly this isn’t enough for many people.

If you want to know about what’s been tested in the past, exam technique and what study options are available, click here for our FREE AF1 preparation guide.

You will also find preparation guides for AF2, 4, 5 and 7 on the same link.

The CII AF1 is a popular exam. For most people, this will be the first CII AF exam that they do – mainly because aspects of taxation tend to also underpin aspects within the other technical AF subjects.

AF1: what does the exam look like?

The AF1 exam is 3 hours long. It consists of 3 case studies. The first is worth 80 marks and the subsequent two are both worth 40 marks each. Overall, the paper usually has around 20 questions (or part questions) so there is plenty of scope for the examiners to test across a broad range of the syllabus. The paper as a whole is worth 160 marks.

With a pass mark of around 55%, this means that you will normally need around 88 marks to pass the exam.  This pass mark applies to the overall exam paper so you could bomb on one case study and still pass if you get enough marks elsewhere. If you got full marks on case study 1 (you can but dream!) and made a very limited attempt at the other two case studies, chances are you’d still pass.

What’s been tested in the past?

AF1 has been around ages – not only in it’s present format, but with it’s predecessor G10. So it has a track record. An analysis of past exam papers shows that it is almost inevitable that you will be examined in the following areas:

  • Income tax calculations
  • CGT calculations
  • IHT calculations

Areas frequently tested historically:

  • Trust taxation
  • Taxation of investments – both direct and indirect
  • Wills / intestacy
  • Powers of attorney

 Other tested areas:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Tax and self assessment
  • National insurance contributions

You can get some further analyses by looking at our AF1 Preparation Guide.

How much revision will I need?

The CII suggest around 100 hours of study for this exam. Whether you need this amount – more or less – will depend on your existing knowledge of the area. Even if you have good knowledge of tax and trusts already, there are likely to be areas of the syllabus that you are NOT familiar with. And if nothing else, you will still need to practice that all important exam technique.

What study material are there?

There is no study text for AF1 because it applies the knowledge from the Diploma subjects R03 (Personal Taxation), J02 (Trusts) and R05 (not that we’d suggest worrying about R05).

So what do you do? Here’s what we’d suggest:

  1. Past exam papers. The CII website includes the last two published exam papers. Click here for these.
  2. R03 and J02 study texts. Read the elements of these that you are not familiar with. These are provided as part of your CII exam enrolment.
  3. Case study workbook. This is also provided as part of your CII exam enrolment.
  4. Audio talking books. These are already provided for you if you selected the CII enrolment plus package. If not and you want to learn on the go, click here for details.

Further AF1 resources

Click here for a link to our exam technique and study hub.

Click here for our blog: AF1 and how to pass it.

Click here for our blog: AF1: the 5 myths.

If you want to access our FREE preparation guides for other CII AF exams, they are available on our site for AF1, 2, 4 and 5. Just click here

Prepare well and be successful.

The Diploma Doctor

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

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