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CII exam AF7

AF7 exam: the five myths

The CII’s AF7 exam is one of the most popular AF exams. I’ll make the rash assumption that you are interested in this exam and you would like to pass AF7 first time.

In this blog, I’ll look at the five common myths about this exam.

Myth 1 – the AF7 examiners would like me to fail

None of the examiners are employed by the CII which means they have other jobs within the profession. Some are trainers and some are subject matter experts. The point is that all of them would like to give you a pass if they can. There is no quota restricting the number of people that can pass so, in theory, everyone could pass. They are not incentivised to fail an exam candidate and, as nice people, they would prefer not to.

Myth 2 – it’s all about my knowledge of DB transfers

If only it was…… The reality is that most people who fail the AF7 exam will do so by between 5 and 10 marks. This means that they probably failed even though they knew just as much as someone who passed. So what makes the difference? The answer is exam technique. The people who pass often have no better knowledge but they answer the questions better. Here’s how.

1. The two case studies in AF7 test your ability to apply your knowledge to a client scenario which means that you MUST use the information provided in some way. For example, the AF7 exam will frequently ask you to identify additional information. So if you provide a list which includes information that has already been provided, you won’t get any marks. Note the use of the word ‘additional’ in the question. If ask about generic additional information that doesn’t apply to the specific client, guess what? Yep, no marks.

2. Answer the question asked. For example, the April AF7 exam included the following question:  ‘Based on the information provided in the case study, state the factors that an adviser should consider when assessing Asher and Esther’s capacity for loss’. A ‘factors question’ is NOT a ‘fact find question’ so the examiners are NOT looking for you to identify additional information. Factors are those things that would impact on the advice that you’d give. For example, the client’s have significant/limited other savings, their other income is sufficient to meet their essential income requirements, they have no dependants etc. You can only answer this is you read the information that you have been provided with – and apply it.

Myth 3 – the exam will give you spurious or misleading information to throw you off the scent

Rubbish.  The examiners will spend anything up to 3 months writing and re-writing the AF7 exam that you sit. The information that they provide is there for a reason. So when reading it, ask yourself ‘so how can I use this?’ and make sure you do. Here are some other tips:

  1. First look at the questions and understand what you are being asked to do – and then read the case study. The AF7 exam will typically use the verbs list or state. In this case, a brief list will be fine. If the verb is explain, outline or describe, more depth is required to get full marks.
  2. If it’s a question with 12-15 marks, spend a couple of minutes planning how you will answer the question before you start writing.
  3. Use a structure. For example, if you are being tested on GMP benefits, split your answer between GMP and excess-GMP benefits to ensure you get full marks.

The examiners would like you to pass. Make it easy for them to do so.

To access a CII AF exam guide, click here

Myth 4 – the AF7 exam could test practically anything

This is incorrect. The exam is based on the AF7 syllabus and so it should only test the content of this. Having said that, some elements of AF7 will be more ‘core’ than other areas. So it’s likely that APTA and CETV will be more frequently tested going forward than the Transfer Club or nomination forms.

Our AF7 exam preparation guide has an overview of what the previous AF7 exams have tested so you can pick up some of the trends.

Having said this, you’ll need a decent knowledge across the syllabus. The short answer questions will, in particular, test across a range of different areas that you might come across very often. Many people find using our audio talking books is useful so that they can refresh their knowledge of these areas whist travelling or at the gym. Click here for further details.

Myth 5 – As AF7 is only worth 20 credits, it’s easier than the other AF exams

Afraid it doesn’t work like that. The syllabus is admittedly relatively narrow because it only looks at the issues around transferring safeguarded benefits. The exam also consists of 3 or 4 short answer questions which are often easier to score well on compared to case study questions.

That said, the pass rate for AF7 is the worst for any AF exam at a disappointing 43% which means that many more people will fail this exam than pass it. Perhaps part of the reason for this is people don’t treat it with the respect it deserves. As ever, preparation is the key.

For more help specifically on AF7, click here.

Until the next time.

The Diploma Doctor

CII AF7 exam

CII AF7: Free preparation guide

If you are thinking of sitting the CII’s AF7 exam, then go into it with your eyes open. Based on the latest CII published results, this is the hardest AF exam to pass with a pass rate of just 43% (the latest published results). If you expect to pass purely because you do transfers at work, clearly this isn’t enough for many people.

If you want to know about important dates, what’s been tested in the past, exam technique and what study options are available, click here for our FREE AF7 preparation guide.

You will also find preparation guides for AF1, 2, 4 and 5 on the same link.

The CII AF7 is a popular exam. Safeguarded benefits is a big area for many financial advisers and if you are involved in the transfer of safeguarded benefits in some way, then this might be the subject for you. It also satisfies the FCA additional exam requirement to advise on safeguarded benefits.

What does the AF7 exam look like?

The AF7 exam is 2 hours long. It consists of 3 or 4 short answer questions and then two additional case studies. These both have three to four questions making 9-12 questions in total. Overall, the paper will have 100 marks with the short answer questions accounting for around 30 to 35 of the marks, and the case study questions accounting for 30-35 marks each.

With a pass mark of around 60%, this means that you will normally need 60 marks to pass the exam.  The 60% pass mark applies to the exam overall so you could bomb on one case study and still pass if you get enough marks elsewhere.

What’s been tested in the past?

AF7 is a relatively new exam, launched in October 2017. Like any relatively new exam, it takes a few sittings to see what the examiners are choosing to focus on. The best way to spot these areas is to look at the past exam guides. Here are some key areas:

  • TPR and the transfer process
  • FCA regulatory requirements, e.g. APTA, COBS
  • DB schemes and CETV
  • Death benefits

The last two exam guides are now provided on the CII website. Click here for the link to the CII website. You should ensure you spend time studying these.

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 transfers already, there are likely to be areas of the syllabus that you are NOT familiar with. And you will still need to practice that all important exam technique, if nothing else.

With the current low pass rate for AF7, one thing is clear – relying on just your day job is unlikely to prove successful. Don’t under-estimate this exam.

Do I need to read the CII AF7 study text from cover to cover?

Unless this is a brand new area for you, the answer will probably be ‘no’. For many people, just reading a study text is not likely to be an effective method of revision. You’re unlikely to remember much, especially if you just read without taking notes.

Most people sitting this exam will have some knowledge. Some will have quite extensive existing knowledge. So just use the study text as a reference source – focus on using past exam papers and top-up your knowledge by reading about the bits you are not familiar with.

Click here for a link to our exam technique.

Click here for more details about how you can learn on the go.

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

af-study-options

CII AF7 study options

Whether you have decided to sit the CII AF7 exam on Pension Transfers or you are just considering doing so, what are your AF7 study options?  If you are not sure what is available, here are some thoughts that should help you.

Should I bother buying the CII AF7 study text?

Slightly surprisingly, this is a question we are getting asked quite a lot. I say surprisingly because you will get the CII AF7 study text whether you like it or not when you enter the AF7 exam!  This represents a different approach by the CII. With the other financial services exams, you buy the exam entry and study text separately and so have the option of whether to buy it or not.  With AF7, the study text and exam entry are combined in a bundle that costs £271 for CII Members.

If I’ve already successfully completed AF3, will I still need to read the AF7 study text? 

So you will get the AF7 study text anyway. A closely related question is ‘should I read it?’ I think that the answer to this question will be ‘yes’ for most people sitting the AF7 exam. Anyone who has already seen the AF7 study text will know that you are not going to find the depth of AF7 content in any other CII study text.

As there is no study text for AF3, I’ll have to make a comparison with R04 as this is the primary text you would read in preparation for AF3. There are some similarities with parts of R04 – but there is a lot of new content. This extra depth (and how it is tested) is what sets AF7 apart from R04.

If you’ve passed AF3, then you have already passed an exam which includes content on pension transfers.  But this is only part of a much wider syllabus. Unless this is something you do day-in, day-out, you’ll probably find that you won’t have the breadth and depth of knowledge that is required to pass  the AF7 exam.

If you’ve passed G60 and you are considering sitting AF7, then most people will have some further study to do. Much has changed in the world of pensions since you sat this exam.

What other AF7 study options are available?

With this being a new exam, there are currently a limited number of other AF7 study options

I will declare that I have a vested interest here. We sell the AF7 audio talking books that provide over 3 1/2 hours of material and cost £58.33 (+VAT). These are great if you have some existing knowledge to build on and you can learn while on the go. If you do not have this knowledge, then I wouldn’t suggest that you rely solely on the audio material to get you through the exam. In this case, you have no other choice but to bite the bullet and study those elements of the study text that you are least familiar with.

Click here for details of our MP3 talking books.

There are also practice papers that you can purchase from other training providers. Search for ‘AF7 mock papers’ or something similar to find these.  Training providers are bound to develop other materials in due course.

Finally, don’t forget the FREE CII AF7 exemplar. This is a specimen exam paper and it should be compulsory revision for everyone who sits the AF7 exam. Click here for the link.

Best wishes for the exam
The Diploma Doctor

P.S. Many of our blogs are inspired form questions we get asked. If you have questions about the CII R0 and AF exams (not technical queries), tell us and we’ll do our best to answer you.

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