Preparing for the CII R06 exam

CII R06 exam

Preparing for the CII R06 exam

You’ve got a few weeks to go before your CII R06 exam and the specific case studies haven’t yet been issued. What, if anything, should you be doing now to maximise your chances of success? After all, the case studies only get issued around 2 weeks before the exam – is it pointless doing anything before these are issued?

Sure the really hard work will start when you see what’s in the actual case studies for your exam. But we believe in preparation and there are there things you should be doing BEFORE the case studies are issued that can ensure you pass first time.

Here are our top 5 tips to make the most of this important time.

Tip 1 – R06 is mostly about technique

If this is your first written CII exam, then you’ll be used to multiple-choice questions which are designed to test your knowledge. R06 is different; it’s a written exam and it is testing your ability to apply your knowledge to financial planning  scenarios. Rarely will a great depth of knowledge be required in the CII R06 exam; it’s more about breadth of knowledge. Technique is discussed in more detail in our two free podcasts.

Here are three examples:

  1. When you look at the case studies, look at the client objectives that are shown at the end of each. Apart from ‘generic’ areas (see the Tip 3), the questions in the exam will be based on these objectives.
  2. You need to know what the examiner is asking you for when you answer a question. Each question will have a verb such as list, state, outline, explain, describe and recommend. With list and state, no explanation is required so one or two word answers will be fine. Explain and describe require a longer answer that provides more depth.
  3. You should expect to have to use the information provided within the case study. Information isn’t provided to ‘pad out’ it out or confuse you so you should look to use this information in your answers wherever possible.

Tip 2 – complete at least one past CII R06 exam

You will find the four most recent published CII R06 exams on the CII website. You will see these on the right hand side under ‘useful links and downloads’. We believe that everyone should complete at least one of these under exam conditions before the case studies are issued. When we say ‘complete it under exam conditions’, let’s just be clear what we mean.

The R06 exam is a 3 hour paper and when completing it, you are faced with a ‘blank sheet of paper’ – there are no multiple choice questions and no ability to guess. So we suggest you allow 3 hours (or at least 1 1/2 hours each per case study) and you answer the questions as best you can – without looking at the answers. Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to read and digest the contents of the case study if you wish.

At this stage, it’s reasonable to ask why bother if this isn’t what I’m going to be tested on? Well, we think it is still a good exercise. It gives you a feel about what time pressure you will face in the exam and what good exam technique looks like. Most people will complete a practice paper before any exam – R06 is no different. It will help you to learn. They help you to practice the all important exam technique. You will not get this by simply reading through the question and answers provided for you. Most people that pass the exam don’t know any more than those that fail – they just answer the questions better (Tip 1).

Tip 3 The CII R06 tests generic areas of financial planning

There are likely to be  two or three questions in a typical R06 exam that would apply to just about any client, in any situation. That’s why we call them ‘generic’. Because of this, the examiners don’t have to give you a clue in the case study information they provide. In other words, you won’t see them coming.  Examples include a ‘review’ question and perhaps one or more of the following: benefits of different types of adviser charging, advantages of using an adviser, or the benefits of using a risk-profiling tool.

Most people answer these questions badly so make sure you prepare in advance – ideally before the case studies are issued because these will then inevitably get most of your attention.

Tip 4 Don’t start trying to read a study text from cover to cover (not close to an exam)

Reading the full R06 study text is probably not a good use of your time – and certainly not if it stops you form looking a past exam papers. But the CII R06 exam will test across a breadth of knowledge so there are likely to be areas that you are unfamiliar with. Just read around these areas. When you get the cases studies, use the text as a source of information. For example, if an elderly couple don’t have a will, try reading up on wills, how they are set up, and the benefits of having them. While you’re at it, read up on powers of attorney as this may be examined as well unless ruled out by the case study information.

Tip 5 What you should do when you get the case studies

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Read each case study multiple times. You must be familiar with the info provided. Use a highlighter pen to emphasis information. Knowing the client’s objectives is especially important as the questions will largely be based on these.
  2. Build your knowledge of any technical areas that might arise. For example, if the case study tells you that the client’s are interested investing ethically, make sure you know about ESG investing.
  3. Look at previous CII R06 exam papers (Tip 2) to look at how exams have tested client objectives in the past. If an objectives is to minimise the client’s tax liabilities, this has been asked loads of times before. Our audio material provides this information by looking at how various objectives have been tested in the past. There are only so many different ways an examiner can test the same client objective!!

Prepare well, stay calm and I hope this helps with your preparation.

Ian Patterson Author of the CF8, J07 and AF6 CII study texts, ex-examiner

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