Monthly Archives:April 2018

CII R05 exam

CII R05 exam: the 5 myths

Here are five common myths about the CII R05 exam. Like any exam, it helps if you understand the type of exam it is.  If you want to pass R05 the first time, why not read on and make sure you go into the exam with your eyes open.

Myth 1. You should complete the R0 exams in sequence.

Yes, you could. But we don’t recommend this because there isn’t a huge benefit of doing so.  There isn’t much significant overlap between the different R0 subjects. So this begs the question: ‘what order should I sit them in?’  If this decision is up to you, our recommendation is that you:

  • complete the subjects in the areas that you are most comfortable with first. If you work in a practice that does a lot of pensions work, you might as well start with R04 if this is something you are familiar with. Failing this;
  • do R05 first!

This is based on a very unscientific observation that most people find the CII R05 exam relatively easy. A more objective approach is to look at the pass rates which show R05 to be the easiest R0 exam (R01-6 inclusive).  The latest published results for the CII’s R05 exam show a pass rate of 78%.  If it’s your decision, why wouldn’t you sit the easiest exam first?

Tip: Don’t feel you have to sit this as the last multiple-choice R0 exam you sit. In practice, many people sit it first as there is no serious overlap between R05 and the other R0 subjects.

Myth 2. R05 is easy.

It’s a little difficult to argue against this given what I’ve just said! What I would say is that there is more to a high pass rate than meets the eye.  Part of the reason why it is relatively straightforward – compared to R02 and 3 for example –  is that there are none of those pesky multiple response questions where more than one answer is correct.  It also tests your knowledge of protection which is one of the more straightforward areas of planning.  So far, so good.

So what’s the bad news? The vast majority of people will still have to put in some serious study to pass R05 because the exam looks at ‘protection’ in its broadest sense. It can test areas like long term care, social security benefits and general insurance products like PMI and accident and sickness insurance. If you also throw in some business protection, then there are bound to be some areas that you will need to prepare for.

Tip: The CII recommend 50 hours of study for R05. You might need this amount of time, particularly if you are relatively inexperienced.

Myth 3.  The CII R05 exam tests each area of the text book with an equal number of questions.

This is definitely incorrect. The R05 exam syllabus is broadly reflected in the chapters in the CII study text. The chapter that is most heavily examined is chapter 4 which has 8 out of the 50 questions in total. Chapters 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 all have 6 questions each. This means that 6 of the 10 chapters in the text (or syllabus areas) have 38 out of the 50 questions.

As you will need 35 correct questions to pass (or 70%), it is almost impossible to pass the CII R05 exam without scoring well on these chapters.

Tip: If your revision time is short, focus on these key areas. Conversely, spend less time on chapters 1, 2, and 8.

Click here for the link to the R05 exam syllabus.

Myth 4. I need to know about long term care and social security benefits.

It helps, but don’t panic if you don’t. These are probably the two most feared areas in the CII R05 exam. Accept that there will be some questions on these areas but probably not more than 3 to 5 questions in total.

At 24 pages in length, chapter 8 (which looks at long term care) is the second longest chapter. It is usually one of those areas that people are least familiar with. Chapter 4 might have 39 pages, but the exam will also have around 8 marks. If time is short and you have to ‘cherry pick’, spend time on chapter 4.

Another area that is hated by most people are the social security benefits that are found in chapter 3 – there’s soooo many of them!  The feedback we get from students is that there are usually only 1 or possibly 2 questions about them in each exam. So again, if you decided not to spend much time on this area, it shouldn’t cost you too many marks.

Myth 5. I should read the R05 study guide from cover to cover.

For many people, this could be the worst piece of advice they ever get. Anyone with some industry experience should already be familiar with elements of life cover, IPI and CIC so you will already know about some of the key content in the CII’s R05 exam. We suggest doing practice questions first, and using the text as a reference source. Sure, you will make loads of mistakes but you will learn from these. Even if you read the text from cover to cover, in isolation, most people will not remember much of it.

If you buy the CII R05 study text, then you automatically have ‘free’ access to the CII’s online RevisionMate system. This provides you loads of practice questions, many of which are just as hard as those you will get in the exam. It also provides you with an exam guide which is a full exam paper.

Tip: Do practice questions on RevisionMate (or otherwise) to get a feel for the level of detail you will need and then use the studying the text to ‘fill in the gaps’ and as a reference source.

Click here for a link to effective revision techniques.

Click here for our blogs covering the other CII R0 exams.


If you like learning on the go, click here for details of our audio material.

Until the next time…

Ian Patterson

Ex-examiner and author of the current CII study texts: CF8, J07 and AF6

CII R06 exam

CII R06 April 2018 Exam

The case studies for the CII R06 April 2018 exam are now available. If you have’t yet seen these, click here.

What do I do now?

You have from now until the exam at 9.30 on the 16th April to prepare. The case studies are issued in advance of the exam for a reason – to help you to prepare for the exam. This will test across a range of different aspects of financial planning that are based on two client case studies. As you will not know the actual questions you will face in the R06 exam until the day, it makes sense to prepare for any eventuality before then.

What areas should I focus on in the CII R06 April 2018 exam?

Based on the case studies, we believe that you may be required in the R06 April 2018 exam to have a knowledge of the following topics:

Case Study 1: John and Kate

• Their overall protection needs
• Critical illness protections (and IPI to a lesser extent)
• Factors to take into account with an investment strategy for the £50K
• Benefits/drawbacks of repayment of the loan, e.g. by remortgaging
• Benefits/drawacks of John incorporating his business
• How the High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge works
• How do risk-profiling tools work or benefits/drawbacks of using them

Case Study 2: Felix and Sally

• How DB schemes work (including spouse benefits once in payment)
• What would happen to Felix’s DB pension if his employers scheme entered PPF
• Income options from Sally’s PPP
• Deferring the state pension
• Taxation of their investments and how this can be minimised, e.g. PSA, DA and CGT annual exemptions
• Share Incentive Plans
How with-profits bonds work, e.g. potential MVR
• Potential risks with their current investment portfolio

How does the CII R06 April 2018 exam compare with previous exams?

I have to say that there are some familiar themes. Case study 1 is a relatively young couple with a family and relatively limited income whilst case study 2 is an ‘at retirement’ scenario. Both of these are familiar themes for R06.  Of the two, case study 2 is perhaps the hardest to predict because although the client’s have plenty of assets, they do not currently have an inheritance tax issue. This is unusual for R06.

In a R06 exam, most of the questions are also based on the client’s stated financial objectives. Usually there are 6 to 8 of these spread across the two case studies. This time there are only 6. This could mean, especially on case study 2, that the examiners explore more non-technical areas.  Don’t forget that this is a financial planning paper so it won’t just be about technical aspects. Prepare for questions such as using cashflow analysis, the benefits of using a financial adviser and the ever present ‘review’ question. This asks you to state the areas you would address when conducting an annual review of some aspect of the client’s circumstances.

What do I need to do to pass the CII April 2018 R06 exam?

  1. Familiarise yourself with the clients’ circumstances, right down to remembering the child’s name! Although the case studies that you will have in the exam are identical to what you have already, you should know their circumstances well. You should also be able to apply your knowledge to their circumstances – generic answers will not score well.
  2. Revise and read around the technical aspects. Google is a good place to start or use the CII R06 study text.
  3. Be familiar with the technique and style of answers the CII will want. This is NOT just about applying your day job to an exam paper. Click here for a FREE copy of the CII October R06 exam paper.

Preparation is the key. Good luck.

The Diploma Doctor