R0 exam: technique

R0 exam: technique

It will hopefully go without saying that if you are sitting a R0 exam – well any exam really – it is also important to know about exam technique.

In a recent conversation, I was told that because most of the R0 exams are multiple choice, there is no such thing as exam technique. I don’t agree with this; technique will still make a difference for many people.

You should look at exam preparation as two parts; what you do before the exam and what you do in the exam itself.  I’ll now look at both of these areas in more detail.

Pre-exam preparation

Here are five tips on how to approach your pre-R0 exam preparation:

  1. Look at the syllabus and the learning outcomes.  This covers the scope of the exam and tells you what you should be able to do. It is important because the exam questions are based on the learning outcomes in the syllabus, not the study text. In R01, for example, there are 11 learning outcomes and the number of questions on each one varies from 29 to 2. Each learning outcome is not treated the same way and because of this, some areas should receive more study time than others.
  2. Study the CII Exam Guide. This is available as part of your exam entry via the CII’s on-line RevisionMate. The Exam Guide will give you the opportunity to see a complete exam paper. You should complete this at least twice under exam conditions.
  3. Read through elements of the CII study text. Unless you are new to the subject, just focus on the areas you don’t know. Look at the questions within the text and the useful summaries at the end of each chapter.
  4. Use the RevisionMate practice questions. These are based on each chapter of the CII study text and they’re intended to help you check you’ve remember what you’ve read. These are similar to the standard expected in the actual exam so make sure you use them.  
  5. Familiarise yourself with the tax tables. These can be found at the back of an Exam Guide. A lot of information will be provided such as the main allowances, tax rates and the main social security benefits.  The exam isn’t really about having to remember this information, it’s about using and applying it. So don’t spend time trying to remember stuff that you don’t need to.

Visit our dedicated revision hub if you want to access a free video or look at tips on a specific R0 exam. Click here.

To get a student’s point of view on R01, click here.

In the R0 exam: technique

Now, moving on, let’s look at some tips in the exam itself.  If you have revised thoroughly, an R0 exam shouldn’t be a problem.  That’s the theory.  Although there is not a great amount of exam technique involved in a multiple choice exam, most people will drop marks as a result of poor technique and some candidates will fail the exam because of it.

Here are seven golden rules to remember in a R0 exam:

  • Rule 1 – read the question carefully and consider all of the options before attempting to answer. It sounds so basic doesn’t it?  But from past experience, we know that candidates often get questions wrong because they didn’t read the question carefully, or didn’t understand all of the options, before answering it. Remember, if information is provided in the question, it’s there for a reason. You will be expected to use it in some way.
  • Rule 2 – Pay attention to words in bold type and words in capital letters.  For example, negative words will always be in bold capital letters. If is says ‘most likely’, this means that more than one answer could be correct. So the answer the exam is looking for should clearly be more correct than the other options.
  • Rule 3 – do not spend too long on any one question.  You will have just over one minute per question. So keep an eye on the time – you should complete 12 or 13 questions every 15 minutes. The R03 exam, in particular, is a challenge to complete in the time available.
  • Rule 4 – decide how you are going to attempt the questions before the exam.  You can work through all of the questions methodically answering each one in turn, or you may wish to concentrate on those you know best first.  It is possible to flag questions that you want to leave and return to them later, but make sure that you leave sufficient time to do so if you use this approach. Use a practice exam paper before the exam to work out what is best for you.
  • Rule 5 – if in doubt about an answer, then use a process of elimination. Often one or more of the alternative answers will immediately strike you as being incorrect or implausible.  Even if you only have a small amount of knowledge on a topic, you will often be able to eliminate one or even two of the possible answers – this increases your odds of successfully answering the question.
  • Rule 6 – make sure that you answer every question, even those where you have no idea of the correct answer.  The law of averages should mean that you get some marks for guessing!
  • Rule 7 – if you have time at the end, run through your answers or ‘flagged questions’ again to make sure that nothing has been missed and to check for obvious errors.

If you want to work smarter rater than harder, why not listen to our audiobooks so you can revise while you are on the go. These cover the technical content and also R0 exam technique.

Good luck with your exam and prepare well.

Ian Patterson

Author of three current CII study texts and ex-examiner