Tag Archives: r0 exams

R03 exam

R03 exam: how to pass

The CII’s R03 exam, Personal Taxation, has the lowest pass rate for the R0 exams. Figures show that R03 has a pass rate of 54%. And do you know what, it will probably feel tough.

The CII R03 exam has 50 questions, and you have 1 hour to complete it. 39 questions are single-response questions that only need one answer. 11 of the 50 are pesky multiple-response question that require more than one answer. These are much harder to answer.

10 tips to help you pass R03 first time

Here are 10 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 R03 covers all the main aspects of UK taxation – income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. It also includes the taxation of investments. But it also includes national insurance and VAT and these are likely to be unfamiliar territory for most people.
  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 books so that you can learn on the go. Click here for details.
  3. Focus on chapters 9, 10 and 11 of the CII R03 study text.  The CII R03 study text follows the sequence of the syllabus. The 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 three chapters not only account for all of the tricky multiple response questions (which will require a greater level of understanding), but also half the overall questions in the R03 exam. Click here to see the R03 exam syllabus.
  4. Focus on the content you don’t know. Most people will be familiar with some elements of the content. As few people 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 R03 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. Never leave a question unanswered.
  6. When studying, don’t get bogged down in lengthy complex calculations. A lack of time in the exam will probably be your biggest challenge with R03. That’s the bad news. You have just over a minute to answer each question. The good news is that the CII can’t expect you to do long complicated calculations because you won’t have enough time. As a result, when revising, don’t seek out the most complex scenarios because they might not be able to test you on them.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. There really is no substitute for answering R03 practice questions. Start using these early on in your preparation. Most people learn from their mistakes – so make lots of them during your prep so you don’t make them in the exam.  Don’t leave practice questions until just before you sit the R03 exam.
  8. Complete the R03 CII exam guide at least twice. As I said earlier, time pressure is the biggest issue for many people. Do your practice runs under exam condition so you get a feel about what it’ll be like in the exam. You also get familiar with the tax tables and the information they provide in the exam for you (which you don’t need to remember). The CII exam guide is the best guide there is as to what your actual exam will look like. Click here to access this.
  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. So read the question twice and ask yourself: ‘how do they expect me to use this information?’.
  10. Take a calculator into the exam. Around 10-15 questions in a typical exam will need a calculator. Whilst many of these are straightforward, you’d be surprised how many people turn up on our workshops and can’t use a calculator. So practice beforehand and make sure you are familiar with your calculator.

R03 exam resources

Click here for our FREE practice questions

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

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

cii r0 exam support

CII R0 exam study support

So, you want to sit a CII R0 exam? But what study options are there and what do they include? We’ll have a look at these questions now.

The CII options

When it comes to studying for an exam, everyone will have their own preferred way to study. We all tend to have our own preferences and the CII options reflect this. If you enter R01 – 6 inc, you have three main  options:

  1. enrolment‘; or
  2. enrolment plus‘; or
  3. ‘assessment only’ (this means just the exam).

It is also possible to select the ‘enrolment‘ or ‘assessment only’ options and choose from a menu of additional revision aids that suit your needs.

These options are available for R01, R02, R03, R04, R05 and R06 (although there are some small differences between the study options for some subjects). For example with R06, you can purchase a case-study specific video that covers the potential technical content of the exam once the case studies have been issued.

The detail

When you want to sit an R0 exam, you will have to choose one of the three main options to get your exam entry. They also include the study text for the exam as a eBook (or a paper book at an additional cost), updates to these, an exam guide (which is a specimen exam paper), and use of RevisionMate which is an on-line resource.  More about RevisonMate later.

You’ve now paid to enter the exam – and got a host of additional valuable support as well. So why would you want to pay extra for enrolment plus?  Well, in addition to the material I’ve just mentioned, you also get the following with R01 to 5:

  • knowledge checker questions – this consists of up to six practice exam papers (depending on the subject); and
  • MP3 audio material – these are audiobooks that last 4-6 hours that help you to learn on the go; and
  • e-learn interactive tutorial – interactive learning; and
  • digital key facts booklet – a summary of the key points from the study material.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this top of the range option offers the widest range of study options and at a heavily discounted price.

If you decided not to go for enrolment plus, and just go for the ‘enrolment‘ option instead, you would then have the ability to just add the additional study options that you require. These can all be purchased separately.  Most are included in enrolment plus anyway with two main exceptions.


We often find that the CII’s on-line RevisonMate is a bit overlooked by people sitting their R0 exams. You automatically get access to it when you enrol for the exam.  If you want to access the e-book option of the study text, that’s where you’ll find it.  It offers:

  • a student discussion forum chat room which enables you to share common queries;
  • an exam guide;
  • a study planner and study tips;
  • ‘end of chapter’ practice questions for your R0 exam to ensure you can apply what you have learned.

We believe this is a valuable study resource – and one which is perhaps a little undervalued in terms of what it can provide.


If you want to take a look at the CII R01 page and what it all costs, click here

If you want our tips on how to pass the CII R0 exams first time (we also offer tips for the other key R0 exams), click here

If you want to hear from a student their top tips on how to pass an R0 exam, click here

Until the next time

Ian Patterson

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


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


Five top tips for R0 exam success – part 1

Notes from a student who passed his CII R0 exams

Before I begin sharing some tips that helped me pass my R0 exams, I thought it’s only fair if I briefly introduce myself. Well to start, I’m 23 years old, studied Geography at university and I took a job at a wealth management firm two months after graduating. I really had no prior knowledge of financial services and had to complete my R0 Exam studies whilst holding down a full time job working as a para-planner. I have five main tips that helped me to get through my R0 exams and I’ll cover the first three here, and the remaining two in the next blog.

If you want to know the current pass rates for each R0 exam, click here and scroll down the page it takes you to.

Tip One – Make a plan

• This is the most obvious tip for any exam, but despite this it is a tip I’ve usual ignored throughout my education.
• It is essential when studying, particularly whilst working full-time. Make a plan and stick to it!
• Only you will know what the correct plan is, as only you will know how much work you can do a day without switching off. Only you will know what works for you, and what doesn’t. Success is as much about how effective your study as it is how much you do.
• Create a plan that allows you to work at your own pace, and get your exam booked as soon as you have created your revision plan. Once you have an exam date booked, it’s a real motivator to get you revising!

Tip Two – Work/life balance

• Drawing from personal experience, I felt I could do more revision than I actually could. This resulted in me feeling stressed outside of work, made me more stressed at work and ultimately led to me failing a couple of exams.
• My advice would be give yourself Friday nights off and make sure you continue with any sports and hobbies.
• Revising is important and necessary, but it should not become your life. If you are filled with dread and anxiety every time you open up that revision book, you are fighting an uphill battle. In most cases, it will mean you won’t pass.

Tip Three – Mix up revision techniques

• This is a good way of not becoming bored whilst revising.
• Conventional methods of revising include highlighting, note taking, creating spider diagrams, using flip cards, and doing past questions.
• Two slightly different revision techniques I found useful was listening to Audio revision material, which helped me learn in a more informal setting whilst driving to work. Click here if you are interested in more details
• The other revision technique I found incredibly helpful was when people asked me questions, just going through the textbook and finding something to test me on.
• A colleague, a friend or anyone could do this, but this really helped me. Quite simply I don’t like to get things wrong. So if I get things wrong I remember it, and that’s what revision is all about. Make as many mistakes as you can before the actual R0 exam!

In the next blog, I’ll cover the remaining two tips.

Click here for part 2

Sam Patterson