Monthly Archives:December 2019

R03 exam

R03 exam: how to pass

The CII’s R03 exam, Personal Taxation, has the lowest pass rate for the R0 exams. Figures show that R03 has a pass rate of 54%. And do you know what, it will probably feel tough.

The CII R03 exam has 50 questions, and you have 1 hour to complete it. 39 questions are single-response questions that only need one answer. 11 of the 50 are pesky multiple-response question that require more than one answer. These are much harder to answer.

10 tips to help you pass R03 first time

Here are 10 tips to make sure you pass the exam first time – or at least make it more likely!

  1. Put in the hard yards. The CII recommend around 60 hours of study and most people will, unfortunately, need this and perhaps more. Why? Because R03 covers all the main aspects of UK taxation – income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. It also includes the taxation of investments. But it also includes national insurance and VAT and these are likely to be unfamiliar territory for most people.
  2. Work smarter, not harder. It’s not just about how much study you do, but it’s also about the quality of your study. Most people learn best by ‘doing stuff’, rather than just reading (which is passive). For example, use highlighter pens, write summary notes and use the CII online RevisionMate practice questions. You might also use our audio books so that you can learn on the go. Click here for details.
  3. Focus on chapters 9, 10 and 11 of the CII R03 study text.  The CII R03 study text follows the sequence of the syllabus. The questions are not allocated equally across each chapter in the study text so if time is short, why wouldn’t you focus on the chapters that are most heavily examined? These three chapters not only account for all of the tricky multiple response questions (which will require a greater level of understanding), but also half the overall questions in the R03 exam. Click here to see the R03 exam syllabus.
  4. Focus on the content you don’t know. Most people will be familiar with some elements of the content. As few people read the study text from cover to cover, focus your reading on the bits you are unfamiliar with. Why? The fact is that some knowledge goes a long way. Even if you don’t know the answer to a question, a little knowledge will help you to eliminate one or more of the incorrect answers. This leads me on to the next tip.
  5. Guess! Questions in R03 are marked positively so if you guess and get it wrong, you don’t lose anything. If you get it right then, bingo, one mark closer to the pass mark. Use a process of elimination to reduce the likely number of options but if in doubt, guess. Never leave a question unanswered.
  6. When studying, don’t get bogged down in lengthy complex calculations. A lack of time in the exam will probably be your biggest challenge with R03. That’s the bad news. You have just over a minute to answer each question. The good news is that the CII can’t expect you to do long complicated calculations because you won’t have enough time. As a result, when revising, don’t seek out the most complex scenarios because they might not be able to test you on them.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. There really is no substitute for answering R03 practice questions. Start using these early on in your preparation. Most people learn from their mistakes – so make lots of them during your prep so you don’t make them in the exam.  Don’t leave practice questions until just before you sit the R03 exam.
  8. Complete the R03 CII exam guide at least twice. As I said earlier, time pressure is the biggest issue for many people. Do your practice runs under exam condition so you get a feel about what it’ll be like in the exam. You also get familiar with the tax tables and the information they provide in the exam for you (which you don’t need to remember). The CII exam guide is the best guide there is as to what your actual exam will look like. Click here to access this.
  9. Read the exam questions twice. Trust me, if the question gives you information, you’ll need to use it somehow. The CII doesn’t give information to just ‘pad out’ a question. So read the question twice and ask yourself: ‘how do they expect me to use this information?’.
  10. Take a calculator into the exam. Around 10-15 questions in a typical exam will need a calculator. Whilst many of these are straightforward, you’d be surprised how many people turn up on our workshops and can’t use a calculator. So practice beforehand and make sure you are familiar with your calculator.

R03 exam resources

Click here for our FREE practice questions

Be prepared. Good preparation leads to success. If you want to know how you can learn on the go and fit it in around everything else, click here for details.

Until the next time.

Ian Patterson

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