CII R01 exam: the 5 myths


CII R01 exam: the 5 myths

Like any exam, it helps if you understand the type of exam it is. Here are five common myths about the CII R01 exam. If you want to pass R01 first time, read on and go into the exam with your eyes open.

Myth 1. R01 is a nice easy introduction to the R0 exams.

Er, i don’t think so. Although the latest CII statistics show that the pass rate for R01 is ‘middle of the road’, it won’t feel like that when you are studying for it. People tend to find the R01 exam difficult because:
1. ‘regulation’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Yes, there are easy bits like the advice disclosure requirements – most people who have a little experience will know this. But there are also other bits with a bewildering array of acronyms such as MiFID, FIT and SYSC. You will need a high-level understanding of these but the challenge for some will be staying awake long enough to learn this; and
2. around 13 out of the 100 questions are multiple response questions. This means that there will be more than one correct answer to get a mark. These are much more difficult than the one from four standard question.  Work on the basis that if you get 50% of these correct, you are doing well.  The easiest R0 exam – statistically and from people’s feedback – is R05. Amongst other things, there are no multiple response questions at all in this subject.

Tip: The CII recommend 100 hours of study for R01. If you are new to the profession, you’ll need this and more. If you have some experience, you’ll probably need less than this but focus your study on those areas you are least familiar with.

Tip: Don’t feel you have to make this the first R0 exam you sit. In practice, many people sit it last as there is no serious overlap between R01 and the other R0 subjects.

Myth 2. It’s all about the FCA and regulation.

I have some sympathy with this view. Although the CII R01 exam ISN’T all about the FCA, it will probably feel like it is!  Let me explain.  The R01 syllabus has 11 elements. The first three of these account for 27 out of the 100 marks for the CII R01 exam and have no real  ‘FCA’ content.

Chapter 2, in particular, has little to do with the ‘FCA’ as it tests you – at a high level – on insurance-based products. This chapter requires a knowledge that is ‘broad but shallow’. Chapter 3 is all about legal concepts such as intestacy and powers of attorney so, again, this has nothing to do with ‘regulation’.

Tip: if you have purchased the CII’s R01 study text, then you automatically get access to RevisionMate online. Use the end-of-chapter test questions and find out how good your knowledge is in the areas you think you know. You might only have to do a bit of ‘topping-up’. More about RevisionMate in our 4th myth.

Myth 3.  The R01 exam tests each area of the text book with an equal number of questions

This is definitely incorrect. There are 11 elements to the CII R01 exam syllabus which are broadly reflected in the chapters in the CII study text. The three most heavily examined areas are:

  • Chapter 5 – which has a whopping 29 questions (all of them on the standard format basis)
  • Chapter 6 – which has 9 questions; 4 standard format and 5 multiple response; and
  • Chapter 7 – which has 13 questions; 5 standard format and 8 multiple response

Between them, these three chapters account for over half the total questions in R01. They also account for for all of the multiple response questions – and these are much harder to answer. It is almost impossible to pass the CII R01 exam without scoring well on these chapters.

Tip: If your revision time is short, focus on these key areas. For many people, chapter 8 is a doddle and chapters 9 and 10 just need a healthy dose of common sense. Invest your time revising chapters 5, 6 and 7 instead.

Click here for the link to the R01 exam syllabus

Myth 4. I need to know the detail.

Not usually. Accept that there will be some questions that are based on just one or two words in the text. For the remainder, R01 typically tests the broader application of knowledge. For example:

Chapt 2 – this includes a sizeable section on social security benefits. The good news is that there is unlikely to be more than 1 or 2 questions on these. Where questions are asked, they’ll tend to test what benefits someone would qualify for, rather than a monetary amount or the ‘bells and whistles’.

Chapt 5.2 -this covers each of the nine sections that make up the FCA rule book. You are unlikely to get a question along the lines of ‘in which section of the FSA rule book would you find the T&C rules?’ This would be dull and not very relevant. You are much more likely to get a question along the lines of: ‘A mortgage adviser is subject to which of the conduct of business rules?’. The answer would be MCOB and this is much more relevant because most of what a mortgage adviser does face-to-face with a customer is governed by these rules.

Tip: Do practice questions on RevisionMate (or otherwise) to get a feel for the level of detail you will need when studying the text.

Myth 5. I should read the R01 study guide from cover to cover.

Really?!  For many people, this could be the worst piece of advice they ever get. Anyone with some industry experience should usually do practice questions first, and use 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.

Click here for a link to effective revision techniques.

Click here for a students point of view on R01.


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

For FREE practice papers and summary notes, click here

Until the next time…

The Diploma Doctor


1 Comment so far

Abbas AhmedPosted on  2:11 pm - Mar 18, 2018


Very nice article.

Back to studying R01

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