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CII R05 exam

CII R05 exam: the 5 myths

Here are five common myths about the CII R05 exam. Like any exam, it helps if you understand the type of exam it is.  If you want to pass R05 the first time, why not read on and make sure you go into the exam with your eyes open.

Myth 1. You should complete the R0 exams in sequence.

Yes, you could. But we don’t recommend this because there isn’t a huge benefit of doing so.  There isn’t much significant overlap between the different R0 subjects. So this begs the question: ‘what order should I sit them in?’  If this decision is up to you, our recommendation is that you:

  • complete the subjects in the areas that you are most comfortable with first. If you work in a practice that does a lot of pensions work, you might as well start with R04 if this is something you are familiar with. Failing this;
  • do R05 first!

This is based on a very unscientific observation that most people find the CII R05 exam relatively easy. A more objective approach is to look at the pass rates which show R05 to be the easiest R0 exam (R01-6 inclusive).  The latest published results for the CII’s R05 exam show a pass rate of 78%.  If it’s your decision, why wouldn’t you sit the easiest exam first?

Tip: Don’t feel you have to sit this as the last multiple-choice R0 exam you sit. In practice, many people sit it first as there is no serious overlap between R05 and the other R0 subjects.

Myth 2. R05 is easy.

It’s a little difficult to argue against this given what I’ve just said! What I would say is that there is more to a high pass rate than meets the eye.  Part of the reason why it is relatively straightforward – compared to R02 and 3 for example –  is that there are none of those pesky multiple response questions where more than one answer is correct.  It also tests your knowledge of protection which is one of the more straightforward areas of planning.  So far, so good.

So what’s the bad news? The vast majority of people will still have to put in some serious study to pass R05 because the exam looks at ‘protection’ in its broadest sense. It can test areas like long term care, social security benefits and general insurance products like PMI and accident and sickness insurance. If you also throw in some business protection, then there are bound to be some areas that you will need to prepare for.

Tip: The CII recommend 50 hours of study for R05. You might need this amount of time, particularly if you are relatively inexperienced.

Myth 3.  The CII R05 exam tests each area of the text book with an equal number of questions.

This is definitely incorrect. The R05 exam syllabus is broadly reflected in the chapters in the CII study text. The chapter that is most heavily examined is chapter 4 which has 8 out of the 50 questions in total. Chapters 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 all have 6 questions each. This means that 6 of the 10 chapters in the text (or syllabus areas) have 38 out of the 50 questions.

As you will need 35 correct questions to pass (or 70%), it is almost impossible to pass the CII R05 exam without scoring well on these chapters.

Tip: If your revision time is short, focus on these key areas. Conversely, spend less time on chapters 1, 2, and 8.

Click here for the link to the R05 exam syllabus.

Myth 4. I need to know about long term care and social security benefits.

It helps, but don’t panic if you don’t. These are probably the two most feared areas in the CII R05 exam. Accept that there will be some questions on these areas but probably not more than 3 to 5 questions in total.

At 24 pages in length, chapter 8 (which looks at long term care) is the second longest chapter. It is usually one of those areas that people are least familiar with. Chapter 4 might have 39 pages, but the exam will also have around 8 marks. If time is short and you have to ‘cherry pick’, spend time on chapter 4.

Another area that is hated by most people are the social security benefits that are found in chapter 3 – there’s soooo many of them!  The feedback we get from students is that there are usually only 1 or possibly 2 questions about them in each exam. So again, if you decided not to spend much time on this area, it shouldn’t cost you too many marks.

Myth 5. I should read the R05 study guide from cover to cover.

For many people, this could be the worst piece of advice they ever get. Anyone with some industry experience should already be familiar with elements of life cover, IPI and CIC so you will already know about some of the key content in the CII’s R05 exam. We suggest doing practice questions first, and using 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.

If you buy the CII R05 study text, then you automatically have ‘free’ access to the CII’s online RevisionMate system. This provides you loads of practice questions, many of which are just as hard as those you will get in the exam. It also provides you with an exam guide which is a full exam paper.

Tip: Do practice questions on RevisionMate (or otherwise) to get a feel for the level of detail you will need and then use the studying the text to ‘fill in the gaps’ and as a reference source.

Click here for a link to effective revision techniques.

Click here for our blogs covering the other CII R0 exams.


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

Until the next time…

Ian Patterson

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