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cii r01

R01 exam: how to pass

The CII’s R01 exam, Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics, has a pass rate of 63.77% for 2018 (the latest available).

The exam has 100 questions, and you have 2 hours to complete it. 87 questions are single-response questions that only need one answer. 13 of the 100 are pesky multiple-response question that require more than one answer. These are much harder to answer.

Here are 6 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 R01 covers a really broad syllabus ranging from an overview of the savings, investment and pension products, to social security benefits and legal aspects like LPAs. The main focus is, of course, regulation and this isn’t most people’s idea of fun!
  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 material so that you can learn on the go.
  3. Focus on chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the CII R01 study text.  The R01 exam 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 over half the overall questions in the R01 exam.  In other words, you are likely to fail R01 without a decent grasp of this content.
  4. Focus on the content you don’t know. You are likely to be familiar with at least some of the content. As few people will 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 R01 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!
  6. 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?’.

R01 resources:

Click here for our FREE R01 practice question

Click here for a student’s point of view on R01

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

The Diploma Doctor

R01 exam

CII R01 exam: a student’s view

If you are sitting the CII R01 exam, the best way to know ‘what it’s all about’ is to learn from other students who have sat the exam.  Here is Matthew’s story….

Hi my name is Matthew. I have been fortunate enough to work in the financial industry for some time, mainly dealing with large corporate companies but not retail clients. So, you could say this is all new to me. I recently passed the CII R01 exam first time and here are some of the key things I learned.

CII R01 Exam – Reading the question slowly can gain you valuable time.

As you can imagine the wording of the question needs you to have a complete understanding of the subject matter. Often with multiple choice questions you get the feeling that two of the answers are possibly correct. I cannot stress enough, READ THE QUESTION AT LEAST TWICE. Every word used in R01 questions is carefully chosen for a specific reason. By slowly reading the questions I found it easier to think of an answer prior to reading the multiple-choice answers. By spending more time on the question, it minimised my time pondering the correct answer. Practice this and try for yourself at home, it really does save time.

The final 13 questions in the CII R01 exam are multiple-response questions. So, the answer will be 2 or more of the 5 or 6 available options. You only score a mark on these multiple response questions IF you get each of the correct answers. No more, no less. A good score on these questions can really make the difference between you passing or failing. As mentioned earlier, reading the questions several times prior to reading the answers really helped me, especially under exam pressure.

Scoring at least 50% on these final 13 questions will help you on your way to success.

Look at the R01 syllabus

The link to the CII 2019/20 syllabus can be found here.

Why bother looking at it? The answer is that every chapter of the CII study text will have a different number of questions in the exam. In other words, some areas are tested more than others. My tip is to focus your time where the marks are.

Studying for the CII R01 exam.

I used the CII text, RevisionMate practice questions, and the audio book. I found the audio material particularly useful filling those gaps whilst travelling, and once downloaded you can study for short bursts anytime anywhere.


Click here for other tips on revision material.

Click here for details of the R01 audio book.

R01: advice v information.

Here is the first of two technical areas I’ll look at. Increasing the financial capability of the UK population is important to both the government and the FCA. Better educated clients make more informed choices and not everyone will seek financial advice from an adviser. To provide more guidance and information, various initiatives have been rolled-out. These include The National Strategy for Financial Capability, The Money Advice Service, and Pension Wise. All of these offer impartial free guidance and information to anyone that seeks it. It is certainly worth knowing what they offer.

R01: State benefits.

My second technical area is State Benefits. This might be worth one or two questions in an exam and everyone hates these! Don’t bother trying to remember the monetary amounts of each benefit. It seems to be more about who would be eligible for each benefit and some of the KEY elements of them. Here are some of the points that I though were most likely to be tested in this area:

  • Child benefit. Paid to dependent children under age 16 (or 20 if in full time education or training). Benefit reduced where a parent’s income is between £50 – £60,000 per annum so not paid above £60k. Non-taxable.
  • Child tax credits.  These are paid by HMRC, not DWP. They are paid to low-income families where a parent(s) work and are means-tested and non-taxable.
  • Statutory maternity pay. Paid to new mothers. Pays 90% of average weekly earnings for 39 weeks maximum period. After the first 6 weeks this is the lower of 90% of weekly earnings or £148.68. NIC contribution-based and taxable.
  • Statutory redundancy payments. Payments made by employers. First £30k non-taxable.
  • Support for mortgage interest (SMI). You may need to know the criteria for receiving this: interest only paid on mortgage amounts of £100k or £200k (depending on age), and a waiting period of 39 weeks for those claiming income-related benefits. This is now paid as a loan and is repayable, not a benefit.
  • Job seekers allowance. This is the main unemployment benefit, i.e. it’s paid to someone who able to work and is seeking work. Means-tested and non-taxable.
  • Disability benefits. These are paid to the disabled who are unable to work (or only able to do limited work). For example, attendance allowance (over age 65), disability living allowance and ESA (below age 65). Because these are for the disabled, there are paid based on need, not ability to pay. They are not taxable and are not means-tested.

Details current as a November 2019.

I hope you have found these specific parts of the R01 useful.

Good luck, Matthew.


Found it useful hearing from a student? Click here for another.