Yearly Archives:2020

ro4 exam

R04 exam: Pass first time

The CII’s R04 exam, Pensions and retirement planning, has a current pass rate of 61% which makes it the hardest R0 multiple-choice exam.

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

Here are our top ten 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 50 hours of study and most people will, unfortunately, need this. If you have limited experience of pensions, odds-on you’ll need much more than this. Why? Because R04 covers a really broad syllabus ranging from the background to pensions, relevant state benefits and the different methods of drawing a pension income. Unfortunately, it also includes HMRC tax rules and these aren’t most people’s idea of fun!
  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). If you use the study text, for example, use highlighter pens, write summary notes and use the CII online RevisionMate practice questions. You might also use our audio material so that you can learn on the go.
  3. Practice, practice and practice some more. The best way to know what the R04 exam will look like is to complete the R04 CII exam guide at least twice. We suggest that you at least look at it at the start of your revision so you get a feel of the depth of knowledge you will require. You’ll then know which parts of the study text to ignore because they are too complicated. Unless you just enter for the exam, you’ll also get access to loads of practice questions on the CII RevisionMate. There is no excuse for not practising and it is the best way to learn, as well as assessing your knowledge.
  4. Focus on chapters 2, 6, 7 and 8 of the CII R04 study text.  The R04 exam 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 four chapters not only account for over half of the tricky multiple response questions (which will require a greater level of understanding), but also over half the overall questions in the R04 exam.  In other words, you are unlikely to pass R04 without a decent grasp of the content in these chapters.
  5. Don’t panic about the HMRC tax regime! OK, let’s be clear about this. You cannot ignore this area as it will typically account for around 10 of the 50 questions in R04. That’s the bad news. On the positive side, some elements of the pensions tax regime are almost impenetrable which means that it is difficult for the examiners to test the more complex areas when they expect you to answer a question in around a minute.
  6. Calculations. The number of questions that involve a calculation will vary between exams but are typically less than 10. Being able to calculate a commutation factor or a straightforward tax liability on a pension income or a death benefit should be expected. An in-depth calculation of pension input periods less so. Keep this in mind when you are looking at some of the examples in the study text.
  7. Focus on the content you don’t know. If you are sitting R04, this is unlikely to be your first R0 exam so hopefully, you are likely to be familiar with at least some of the content. As few people will read the study text from cover to cover, focus your reading on the bits you are unfamiliar with AND which get examined. 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.
  8. Guess! Questions in R04 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!
  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 or mislead you. So read the question twice and ask yourself: ‘how do they expect me to use this information?’.
  10. Study in short bursts. For many people, a prolonged period of caffeine and last minute cramming just doesn’t work. Regular short bursts of 15-20 minutes is far more effective. Click here for more detail.

R04 resources:

Click here for our FREE R04 practice question

Click here to access our revision hub

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.

Our job is to help you pass R04 first time. Hopefully this article has helped.

Ian Patterson

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

CII exam results

CII R0 exam results

Which are the easiest R0 exams?

The latest CII R0 exam results show which are hardest, and which are the easiest. The R0 exam results will be of interest to anyone who is looking to sit these CII exams so go into your exams with your eyes open.

Are all the CII R0 exams the same style or format?

You could be forgiven for thinking that this should be a straightforward question. It isn’t. Some of the variation in pass rates is not solely due to the subject matter, but how it is examined.

Only R05 (Financial Protection) use just the standard format multiple choice question. This means that you will be given a question followed by four options and only one of these will be correct.  R06 (Financial Planning Practice) is a written paper with not a single multiple choice question to be seen anywhere. In addition, the R06 case studies are issued 2 weeks before the exam so the examiners expect you to read-up around on the technical areas that are likely to be tested before the exam.

The other subjects – R01, R02 R03 and R04 all use the standard format multiple choice questions, and the much harder variant – the multiple response question. So how does this format of question differ? Instead of four options, you will get usually 5 or 6 options and more than one answer will be correct. To get a mark, you have to identify all the correct answers.

R07 (Advanced Mortgage Advice) is not covered by this analysis.

What are the CII R0 exam results?

Here are the results for 2020 (the latest available):

R01 – 69%

R02 – 65%

R03 – 65%

R04 – 61%

R05 – 79%

R06 – 78%

What conclusions can we draw from this?

First of all, all the 2020 results are better than those for the 2019 results in every subject. As these are very established exams, this suggests that people are better prepared. This is fantastic news and we’d like to think that our material has contributed to this!!

R01 – Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics.

In terms of CII R0 exam results, this is the fourth hardest R0 exam. This is partly because the regulations side of things – particularly to people new to the profession – is quite wide ranging. Many students find the content on the FCA a little dull.  The exam also has 100 questions and 13 of these are those pesky multiple response questions. This makes the exam harder.

For many people, this will be the first R0 exam they complete. As some of the content on products and legal aspects are also covered in more depth in the other R0 exams, this is a sensible strategy.

Click here to get a students point of view of R01.

R02 – Investment Principles and Risk.

This is the joint second hardest exam statistically although there will be many people who would say it is even harder than this. Again, the syllabus is huge and you will need to get your head around it. This exam is also 100 questions but 28 of these are multiple response. Many people regard a 50% success rate with this type of questions as being good going. So you can start to see why it is a difficult exam.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R02.

R03 – Personal Taxation.

Statistically, this is the second hardest exam. There are 50 questions and 11 of these are multiple response questions.  With R03, you won’t be leaving the exam early. Of all of the R0 exams, this is the one that is most likely to put you under time pressure. There is a lot to do in an hour so you need to be well prepared and practised at answering calculation questions.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R03.

R04 – Pensions and Retirement Planning.

In terms of CII R0 exam results, this is now the most difficult exam.  Like R03, it’s a one hour exam, there are 50 questions and 11 of these are multiple response questions.  The challenge with R04 is the subject matter – pensions is a subject that causes confusion for many new and more experienced people alike. Unfortunately, you’ll struggle to get through this without a decent knowledge of the HMRC rules such as annual allowance, LTA and the transitional protections.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R04.

R05 – Financial Protection.

From the hardest exam, to the easiest. For some people, this is a good place to start their R0 exam journey. There’s still a broad syllabus but protection products such as critical illness and income protection are relatively straightforward. And, of course, there are no multiple response questions. That said, you’ll still need to have some knowldege of subjects like state benefits, and long term care so it isn’t all plane sailing.

Click here to view 10 free R05 practice questions

R06 – Financial Planning Practice.

The statistics say that this is the second easiest R0 exam. It is, but only if you get your head around the technique that you will need. This is a written exam that is based on two case studies that are issued 2 weeks before the exam. I’ve met very few people who walked out of this exam thinking they’d failed yet 22% still do.  Be prepared to not only put some hard yards in within two weeks before the exam, but also before then.

If you want our thoughts on what is the best order to sit your CII R0 exams, click here

If you want to know more about our R0 exam audio books, click here

If you want to access or study and revision hub (which has lots of R0 exam-specific articles, click here)

Prepare well and pass first time.

Ian Patterson

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

cii r01

R01 exam: how to pass

The CII’s R01 exam, Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics, has a current pass rate of 69%.

The exam has 100 questions, and you have 2 hours to complete it. 87 questions are single-response questions that only need one answer. 13 of the 100 are pesky multiple-response question that require more than one answer. These are much harder to answer.

Here are 6 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 R01 covers a really broad syllabus ranging from an overview of the savings, investment and pension products, to social security benefits and legal aspects like LPAs. The main focus is, of course, regulation and this isn’t most people’s idea of fun!
  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 material so that you can learn on the go.
  3. Focus on chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the CII R01 study text.  The R01 exam 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 four chapters not only account for all of the tricky multiple response questions (which will require a greater level of understanding), but also over half the overall questions in the R01 exam.  In other words, you are likely to fail R01 without a decent grasp of this content.
  4. Focus on the content you don’t know. You are likely to be familiar with at least some of the content. As few people will 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 R01 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!
  6. 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?’.

R01 resources:

Click here for our FREE R01 practice question

Click here for a student’s point of view on R01

Click here for the CII FREE exam guide

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

Author of the current CF8, J07, and AF6 CII study texts