Tag Archives: r04

ro4 exam

R04 exam: Pass first time

The CII’s R04 exam, Pensions and retirement planning, has a current pass rate of 61% which makes it the hardest R0 multiple-choice exam.

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

Here are our top ten 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 50 hours of study and most people will, unfortunately, need this. If you have limited experience of pensions, odds-on you’ll need much more than this. Why? Because R04 covers a really broad syllabus ranging from the background to pensions, relevant state benefits and the different methods of drawing a pension income. Unfortunately, it also includes HMRC tax rules and these aren’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). If you use the study text, 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. Practice, practice and practice some more. The best way to know what the R04 exam will look like is to complete the R04 CII exam guide at least twice. We suggest that you at least look at it at the start of your revision so you get a feel of the depth of knowledge you will require. You’ll then know which parts of the study text to ignore because they are too complicated. Unless you just enter for the exam, you’ll also get access to loads of practice questions on the CII RevisionMate. There is no excuse for not practising and it is the best way to learn, as well as assessing your knowledge.
  4. Focus on chapters 2, 6, 7 and 8 of the CII R04 study text.  The R04 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 four chapters not only account for over half of the tricky multiple response questions (which will require a greater level of understanding), but also over half the overall questions in the R04 exam.  In other words, you are unlikely to pass R04 without a decent grasp of the content in these chapters.
  5. Don’t panic about the HMRC tax regime! OK, let’s be clear about this. You cannot ignore this area as it will typically account for around 10 of the 50 questions in R04. That’s the bad news. On the positive side, some elements of the pensions tax regime are almost impenetrable which means that it is difficult for the examiners to test the more complex areas when they expect you to answer a question in around a minute.
  6. Calculations. The number of questions that involve a calculation will vary between exams but are typically less than 10. Being able to calculate a commutation factor or a straightforward tax liability on a pension income or a death benefit should be expected. An in-depth calculation of pension input periods less so. Keep this in mind when you are looking at some of the examples in the study text.
  7. Focus on the content you don’t know. If you are sitting R04, this is unlikely to be your first R0 exam so hopefully, 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 AND which get examined. 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.
  8. Guess! Questions in R04 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!
  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 or mislead you. So read the question twice and ask yourself: ‘how do they expect me to use this information?’.
  10. Study in short bursts. For many people, a prolonged period of caffeine and last minute cramming just doesn’t work. Regular short bursts of 15-20 minutes is far more effective. Click here for more detail.

R04 resources:

Click here for our FREE R04 practice question

Click here to access our revision hub

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.

Our job is to help you pass R04 first time. Hopefully this article has helped.

Ian Patterson

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

CII exam results

CII R0 exam results

Which are the easiest R0 exams?

The latest CII R0 exam results show which are hardest, and which are the easiest. The R0 exam results will be of interest to anyone who is looking to sit these CII exams so go into your exams with your eyes open.

Are all the CII R0 exams the same style or format?

You could be forgiven for thinking that this should be a straightforward question. It isn’t. Some of the variation in pass rates is not solely due to the subject matter, but how it is examined.

Only R05 (Financial Protection) use just the standard format multiple choice question. This means that you will be given a question followed by four options and only one of these will be correct.  R06 (Financial Planning Practice) is a written paper with not a single multiple choice question to be seen anywhere. In addition, the R06 case studies are issued 2 weeks before the exam so the examiners expect you to read-up around on the technical areas that are likely to be tested before the exam.

The other subjects – R01, R02 R03 and R04 all use the standard format multiple choice questions, and the much harder variant – the multiple response question. So how does this format of question differ? Instead of four options, you will get usually 5 or 6 options and more than one answer will be correct. To get a mark, you have to identify all the correct answers.

R07 (Advanced Mortgage Advice) is not covered by this analysis.

What are the CII R0 exam results?

Here are the results for 2020 (the latest available):

R01 – 69%

R02 – 65%

R03 – 65%

R04 – 61%

R05 – 79%

R06 – 78%

What conclusions can we draw from this?

First of all, all the 2020 results are better than those for the 2019 results in every subject. As these are very established exams, this suggests that people are better prepared. This is fantastic news and we’d like to think that our material has contributed to this!!

R01 – Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics.

In terms of CII R0 exam results, this is the fourth hardest R0 exam. This is partly because the regulations side of things – particularly to people new to the profession – is quite wide ranging. Many students find the content on the FCA a little dull.  The exam also has 100 questions and 13 of these are those pesky multiple response questions. This makes the exam harder.

For many people, this will be the first R0 exam they complete. As some of the content on products and legal aspects are also covered in more depth in the other R0 exams, this is a sensible strategy.

Click here to get a students point of view of R01.

R02 – Investment Principles and Risk.

This is the joint second hardest exam statistically although there will be many people who would say it is even harder than this. Again, the syllabus is huge and you will need to get your head around it. This exam is also 100 questions but 28 of these are multiple response. Many people regard a 50% success rate with this type of questions as being good going. So you can start to see why it is a difficult exam.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R02.

R03 – Personal Taxation.

Statistically, this is the second hardest exam. There are 50 questions and 11 of these are multiple response questions.  With R03, you won’t be leaving the exam early. Of all of the R0 exams, this is the one that is most likely to put you under time pressure. There is a lot to do in an hour so you need to be well prepared and practised at answering calculation questions.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R03.

R04 – Pensions and Retirement Planning.

In terms of CII R0 exam results, this is now the most difficult exam.  Like R03, it’s a one hour exam, there are 50 questions and 11 of these are multiple response questions.  The challenge with R04 is the subject matter – pensions is a subject that causes confusion for many new and more experienced people alike. Unfortunately, you’ll struggle to get through this without a decent knowledge of the HMRC rules such as annual allowance, LTA and the transitional protections.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R04.

R05 – Financial Protection.

From the hardest exam, to the easiest. For some people, this is a good place to start their R0 exam journey. There’s still a broad syllabus but protection products such as critical illness and income protection are relatively straightforward. And, of course, there are no multiple response questions. That said, you’ll still need to have some knowldege of subjects like state benefits, and long term care so it isn’t all plane sailing.

Click here to view 10 free R05 practice questions

R06 – Financial Planning Practice.

The statistics say that this is the second easiest R0 exam. It is, but only if you get your head around the technique that you will need. This is a written exam that is based on two case studies that are issued 2 weeks before the exam. I’ve met very few people who walked out of this exam thinking they’d failed yet 22% still do.  Be prepared to not only put some hard yards in within two weeks before the exam, but also before then.

If you want our thoughts on what is the best order to sit your CII R0 exams, click here

If you want to know more about our R0 exam audio books, click here

If you want to access or study and revision hub (which has lots of R0 exam-specific articles, click here)

Prepare well and pass first time.

Ian Patterson

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

CII R04 exam

CII R04 exam: Free practice questions

Are you revising for the CII’s R04 exam? Know someone who is? Want to test your R04 knowledge? Then read on…..!

We’ve put together 10 multiple choice questions for you as a taster of what you can expect in the R04 exam. This exam is the hardest main R0 exam with a pass rate of just 61%.

Click for the CII R04 exam syllabus. This shows the distribution of questions throughout the R04 exam and where those pesky multiple-response questions are.

We’ve helped over 6,000 people prepare for the CII R0 exams over the past 12 months. We don’t sell multiple choice questions but we are here to help as much as we can with your R04 exam.

What we do offer is unique R04 MP3 audio material, written by the authors of the CII study text. This provides over 5 hours of dedicated R04 material that enables you to fit your study around your business and social life – not the other way around.  Click here for further details.

Now, onto these practice questions. See how well you do on these R04 exam style questions. You’ll find the answers at the end.

R04 questions

All figures are based on the 2020/21 tax year.

Questions 1 to 6 inclusive have only one correct answer.

1. Susan reached her State pension age in 2015.  She started working in 1977, was never contracted out and was always employed. What earnings related State pensions, if any, does Susan receive?

A. None, she didn’t qualify for earnings related pensions

B. S2P only

C. SERPS and S2P only

D. State graduated pension, SERPS and S2P

2. Jamie, who is 46, has earnings of £40,000 after taking into account all allowances.   His employer wants to pay a pension contribution of £90,000 into a pension on his behalf in the current tax year. No other contributions have been paid and he has no unused annual allowance to carry forward.  How much will the annual allowance charge be and who will be responsible for paying it?

A. £10,000 payable by Jamie

B. £10,000 payable by Jamie’s employer

C. £20,000 payable by Jamie

D. £20,000 payable by Jamie’s employer

3. An individual had benefits valued at £2.1 million on 5 April 2006 and applied for primary protection.  What will their primary protection factor be?

A. 28.6%

B. 40%

C. 60%

D. 71.4%

4. Which employee would be an eligible jobholder?

A. Amy, who is age 32 and who has a salary of £19,000

B. Pradeev, who is age 62 and has a salary of £9,000

C. Brian, who is age 18 and who has worked for them for 6 months

D. Laura, who is age 66 and has a salary of £17,000

5. Harry left his company’s defined benefit scheme after completing 18 months of service and he has elected to take a return of his personal contributions.  If the gross refund is £32,000, how much will Harry receive?

A. £16,000

B. £22,000

C. £25,600

D. £32,000

6. How, if at all, will any protected payment increase between the calculation of the starting amount and the date an individual reaches their State pension age?

A. It will not increase

B. It will increase in line with the national average earnings index

C. It will increase in line with the triple lock guarantee

D. It will increase in line with the consumer prices index

The remaining questions – 7 to 10 – have more than one correct answer.

7. Jane was a member of an occupational money purchase scheme for 8 months before she left the scheme last July. What options MUST the scheme offer her?

A. Refund of her contributions

B. Preserved benefit

C. The scheme does not have to offer any preserved benefits

D. A transfer value

8. What are considered to be potential advantages of taking an income via a flexi-access drawdown?

A. Guaranteed level of income

B. Funds remain invested and have the potential to achieve capital growth

C. The member can adjust the income levels to help manage their income tax liability

D. Income is paid tax-free to the member

E. The full tax free cash lump sum can be taken at commencement

9. Sunil is writing a suitability report having recommended a drawdown arrangement to a client. What risk warnings must he include to meet the FCA COBS requirements?

A. The levels of income provided may not be sustainable

B. Annuity or scheme pension rates may be at a worse level in the future

C. Regular reviews must be undertaken

D. There may be tax implications

E. Drawdown pensions are complex and so advice must be taken

10Liam has a SIPP with a current fund value of £350,000.  It holds a commercial property and it borrowed £50,000 to finance this purchase three years ago. If Liam would like to use the SIPP to buy a further residential flat, commercial property and some shares in his own limited company, the SIPP:

A. could borrow a further £150,000 if necessary towards the purchase of a second commercial property

B. is able to purchase the flats

C. can purchase shares in Liam’s limited company

D. scheme administrator will be subject to an unauthorised member payments charge of 40% of the value of the prohibited asset if it invests in taxable property

E. scheme administrator will become liable to the scheme sanction charge of 15% of the value of the prohibited asset if the SIPP invests in taxable property

R04 Resources

Here are some other tips and information you might find useful:

CII R04 exam: the 5 myths. Click here

Five top tips for R0 exam success – part 1. Click here

Five top tips for R0 exam success – part 2. Click here

Answers: 1: C; 2: C; 3: B; 4: A; 5: B; 6: D; 7: B and D; 8: B, C and D; 9: A, B and D; 10: C and E.

Remember, good preparation is the key. If you want to know how to learn on the go, then click here. Hope that you found this useful. Until the next time

Ian Patterson

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

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.

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.

Further resources

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

If you want to work smarter rather than harder, why not listen to our audiobooks so you can learn 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 the current CF8, J07, and AF6 CII study texts and ex-examiner

R0 exam

R0 exams: the power of using the ‘link method’


When studying for your R0 exams, here’s how the ‘Link Method’ can help you

If you’ve ever had a spontaneous thought, triggered by something else; maybe something you see or hear… or a particular smell, you’ll realise that there must be all sorts of ideas connected in your brain that you’re blissfully unaware of, until all of a sudden…  out one pops!

It’s how your brain works. Connections. And, contrary to what I was taught many decades ago at school, we now know that the brain continues to make new brain cells and new connections throughout life. Providing you give it reason to!

If you are revising for your R0 exams, you’ll need to be efficient and effective with your time. The brain learns by associating new information with that which you already know. One popular method that maximises the benefits of this is the link method.

The link method could help you to pass your R0 exams. So what is it? There are three elements to it:

  1. Break down complex ideas and find substitute words or parts of words to represent them.
  2. Create vivid mental images of those ideas by using your amazing imagination
  3. Find associations between those visual images

So lets have a closer look at each step.

Step 1. Substitute words. You’re aiming for a clear and distinct image associated with the idea it’s representing. If the word naturally lends itself to an image you can go straight to the next step. If not, break the word up into syllables and play ‘word association football’, paying attention to the sound blocks, to create memorable pictures associated with those sounds.

In some cases, a list of information may lend itself to you making up a story which includes all of the elements on the list.

It also works if you create an acronym. In the R06 exam, for example, we use the acronym PATHETIC WINE to provide a template to ensure that our answer to to a question covers all the bits that the CII might give you a mark for. In most R06 exams, you’d get around 10% more marks if you SELECTIVELY included the following areas in your answers: Pension death benefits, affordability or budget; taxation; health; emergency fund; trusts; ISAs or National Savings Certificates; capacity for loss and attitude to risk; Wills and guardianship clauses;  inheritances that are expected; nomination forms for pensions and ethical considerations.

In the R01 exam, you can remember what makes a valid trust by using SOW: the subject (beneficiaries) must be clear, there must be an object (another name for the trust property), and Words. Although there is no particular prescribed form of trust wording, it must be clear that a trust was intended.

2. Vivid pictures. Since you’ll need to build strong connections between the ideas to use the Link Method, you will need memorable images, so don’t go for the obvious. Instead, go for something that stands out. At the very least, make sure that it’s an odd colour, bigger or smaller than normal. Make it outrageous, rude, exaggerated, funny etc etc, because we know that it’s more likely to stick in your head. This makes it more likely to help you pass your R0 exams.

3. Association.Now you need to imagine the first image doing something to the next image, which in turn does something to the next, etc etc, linking the ideas together like a string of pearls.

Use your imagination and run through the sequence a number of times until you can see that chain of events clearly in your mind, flowing just like a story. If nothing else, try and associate what you are learning with a client or work related scenario that you have, or might encounter.

And that’s the Link Method.

If you want to try our unique R0 exam talking books, click here

If you are interested in exam technique, click here for our video on top revision techniques.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Ian Patterson

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

Based on an article by Memory and Mindset Coach, Lysette Offley, Genius Material. Click on the link for other useful study tips and to read the original article.

r0 exams technical changes

R0 Exams: technical changes

If you are sitting the CII’s R0 exams, there are some technical changes that you need to be aware of that have been (or will be) introduced from April 2019. These impact on the R01, R02 and R04 exams.

FSCS increase in compensation limits

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) pays compensation claims made against authorised firms that are unable to meet these claims due to insolvency or having ceased trading.

Tested: from 1.4.19

R0 exams affected: R01 and R02

What’s changed? From the 1st April 2019, the FSCS limits have changed as follows:

The compensation limit has been increased from £50,000 to £85,000 (the same as the cash compensation limit) for the following types of authorised firms:

Investment provision (fund managers)

Investment intermediation (e.g. IFAs)

Life and pensions intermediation

Home finance intermediation (mortgage brokers)

Long term care insurance – the limit has changed from £50,000 to 100% of the claim

FOS – increase to binding awards and changes to the definition of eligible complainants

The Financial Ombudsman Service or FOS deals with unresolved complains from eligible complainants.

Tested: from 1.5.19

R0 exams affected: R01, R02 and R04

What’s changed? For complaints about firms made after 1.4.19, the maximum FOS binding award has changed from £150,000 to £350,000.

For actions or omissions made by firms pre-1.4.19 (but received post-1.4.19), the limit rises from £150,000 to £160,000.

For actions or omissions made by firms pre-1.4.19 and received before this date, there is no change (still £150,000).

In all cases, the maximum compensation amount can also includes interest plus costs plus interest on costs.

In addition, the definition of eligible complainant has changed. The broad intention is to make FOS available to a wider range of people and organisations. Specifically, the definition of a:

qualifying charity has risen up to £6.5M

trustee of a trust with assets has risen up to £5M

small business is now defined as one with an annual turnover of up to £6.5M, and has fewer than 50 employees or a balance sheet of less than £5M

consumer buy-to-let consumers and guarantors are now included

Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB)

This provides information, debt advice, money guidance and pensions guidance to consumers.

Tested: from 1.9.19

R0 exams affected: R01 and R04

What’s changed? Quite a lot! In January 2019, the SFGB replaced three previous organisations that provide financial guidance: Pensions Wise, The Pensions Advisory Service and Money Advice Service.

Click here for further details of SFGB

If you are sitting your R0 exam before 31st August 2019, you will be tested on the previous three bodies. See the CII website for your R0 exam to see confirmation of the technical changes on the web update for each exam.

Click here for details of our unique audio material

Hope this helps. As always, prepare well.

The Diploma Doctor

CII R0 exam results

CII R0 exam results 2018

Which are the easiest R0 exams?

The CII have recently published the R0 exam results for 2018.
So which are hardest, and which are the easiest? The R0 exam results will be of interest to anyone who is looking to sit these CII exams so go into your exams with your eyes open.

Are all the CII R0 exams the same style/format?

You could be forgiven for thinking that this should be a straightforward question. It isn’t. Some of the variation in pass rates is not solely due to the subject matter, but how it is examined.

Only R05 (Financial Protection) use just the standard format multiple choice question. This means that you will be given a question followed by four options and only one of these will be correct.  R06 (Financial Planning Practice) is a written paper with not a single multiple choice question to be seen anywhere. In addition, the R06 case studies are issued 2 weeks before the exam so the examiners expect you to read-up around on the technical areas that are likely to be tested.

The other subjects – R01, R02 R03 and R04 all use the standard format multiple choice questions, and the much harder variant – the multiple response question. So how does this format of question differ? Instead of four options, you will get usually 5 or 6 options and more than one answer will be correct. To get a mark, you have to identify all the correct answers.

R07 (Advanced Mortgage Advice) is not covered by this analysis.

What are the CII R0 exam results?

Exam20182017201620152014
R0163.77%64.46%57.01%58.71%59.41%
R0259.99%62.79%57.92%54.00%55.99%
R0352.55%48.71%50.46%50.90%54.55%
R0457.89%55.04%54.07%49.53%54.09%
R0576.35%78.26%72.11%71.25%68.73%
R0677.69%73.04%73.23%71.27%67.56%

Source: CII website, excluding R07

What conclusions can we draw from this?

R01 – Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics.

In terms of CII R0 exam results, this is the third hardest R0 exam. This is partly because the regulations side of things – particularly to people new to the profession – is quite wide ranging. Many students find the content on the FCA a little dull.  The exam has 100 questions and 13 of these are those pesky multiple response questions.

For many people, this will be the first R0 exam they complete. As some of the content on products and legal aspects are also covered in more depth in the other R0 exams, this is a sensible strategy.

Click here to get a students point of view.

R02 – Investment Principles and Risk.

This is the fourth hardest exam statistically although there will be many people who would say it is harder than this. Again, the syllabus is huge and you will need to get your head around it. This exam is also 100 questions but 28 of these are multiple response. Many people regard a 50% success rate with this type of questions as being good going. So you can start to see why it is a difficult exam.

R03 – Personal Taxation.

Statistically, this is the hardest exam. There are 50 questions and 11 of these are multiple response questions.  With R03, you won’t be leaving the exam early. Of all of the R0 exams, this is the one that is most likely to put you under time pressure. There is a lot to do in an hour so you need to be well prepared and practised at answering questions.

Click here to view the 5 myths of R03.

R04 – Pensions and Retirement Planning.

In terms of CII R0 exam results, this is the second most difficult exam.  Like R03, it’s a one hour exam, there are 50 questions and 11 of these are multiple response questions.  The challenge with R04 is the subject matter – pensions is a subject that causes confusion for many new and more experienced people alike. Unfortunately, you’ll struggle to get through this without a decent knowledge of the HMRC rules such as annual allowance, LTA and the transitional protections.

R05 – Financial Protection.

This is the second easiest subject and for some people, this is a good place to start their R0 exam journey. There’s still a broad syllabus but protection products such as critical illness and income protection are relatively straightforward. And, of course, there are no multiple response questions.

R06 – Financial Planning Practice.

The statistics say that this is the easiest R0 exam. It is, but only if you get your head around the technique that you will need. This is a written exam that is based on two case studies that are issued 2 weeks before the exam. I’ve met few people who walked out of this exam thinking they’d failed yet 23% still do.  Be prepared to put some hard yards in within two weeks before the exam.

If you want our thoughts on what is the best order to sit your CII R0 exams, click here

If you want to know more about our R0 exam audio books, click here

Prepare well and pass first time.

The Diploma Doctor

r0 exam revision

R0 exam revision: the most important tip ever

With R0 exam revision, you’ll need to retain a wide range of information.  Despite numerous tips and techniques that can help study to be more effective, most people find studying for any exam to be hard work. But if you just had to pick just one tip that will make the biggest difference, what would it be? Here’s what gets our vote.

Exercise

I’ll start with an exercise that should make this point. Here are 20 different numbers between 1 and 75. I’ll ask you to look at these for 30 seconds, turn away, and see how many numbers in sequence you can remember. Here they are:

5,   18,   3,    9,   44,   11,   16,    36,    31,    72,    24,    9,    32,    41,    4,    59,    1,    63,    25,    71

How did you do? People tend to remember around six numbers in the correct sequence – typically the first three and the last three. You might have remembered slightly more or slightly less than this. Usually it will be the numbers at the beginning and the end of the list that you’ll remember. So why is this so important?

Primacy and recency

This phenomenon is referred to as primary and recency.  When you take in any information, you tend to remember the bits at the beginning and the end. The bit in the middle becomes a blur or gets forgotten. And this is something that we all do. So if you are studying for an R0 exam, how can you use this valuable insight?

Small chunks

At the Patterson Group, we believe that exam success is about working smarter and not harder. And this is why this principle is so important. When revising, you can use this. Let me explain. Many people tend to block out a prolonged period of time to revise, often close to the exam date. Most people will have done at least some ‘cramming’ in the past. But just how effective is it?

The following  diagram looks at concentration levels and how these change with time.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not how much study you do, but how much information you retain as a result.  If we apply primacy and recency to this, it suggests that a two hour block of revision is unlikely to be effective for many people. Like the exercise you’ve just done, you are likely to remember the beginning and the end, and not much in the middle. That’s great for the 15 minute periods at the start and end. It also means that much of the 1 ½ hours in between is wasted for most people.

What does good look like?

Now, you might know people who are good at cramming. If so, they are either gifted, or they probably still break their revision into smaller chunks. In other words, it’s not a solid undiluted period of revision – but a two-hour period with a number of breaks built in. It’s these breaks that are important. We would recommend a 10 minute break every 20-30 minutes of study. And when we say break, it should be just that. Walk around,  talk to people, listen to music –  anything; but give your brain a break from your R0 exam study.  Give yourself a proper break; give yourself regular breaks.

How does this impact on your concentration levels? If we look at this as a diagram, it should look like this:

You are still benefiting from primacy and recency. By studying for shorter periods, you’ve managed to cram more beginnings and ends into the your study time. As a result, your overall level of concentration is that much higher and you will remember more. More learning and the same amount of study time.  What’s not to like?

20 minutes of study isn’t worth it

This is a comment we hear regularly. And nothing could be further from the truth. 20-30 minutes is probably the optimum period of time. You get high levels of concentration and better retention. Part of this is due to concentration levels being maintained. Part of this is also due to the fact that you will probably only focus on two or three core concepts in this period of time. The brain likes small chunks of information nearly as much as having short study periods.

We are the leading producer of audio R0 exam material and we are convinced that small chunks are best. Our R0 exam audio material allows you to learn, in small chunks, fitting it in around the rest of your life. Simple and effective.

Click here to see why over 6,000 people have bought this study material over the last year.

There are, of course, plenty  of other tips that can help you to work smarter and not harder. If you like what you’ve read, we have partnered with the leading learning specialist – Genius Material. There’s plenty more to learn about being studying effectively. We’ll look at these in subsequent blogs.

Click here for:

R01: a student’s point of view

How to pass R02 

Blogs on other subjects are also available. Click here for details

Prepare well and be successful

Ian Patterson

Author of three current CII study texts and ex-examiner

preparing for a CII R0 exam

When preparing for a CII R0 exam, what can you learn from the England football team?

Today is July 10th 2018 – the day before the semi-final with Croatia. Whatever the result tomorrow, it’s already been a good World Cup for little-fancied England football team.

We sailed through the quarter-finals against Sweden and won against Colombia in the dreaded penalty shootout. It feels like a different England side and, in many ways, it is. Forget about the youthfulness of the side or the formation used by the manager. The real difference is the team’s mindset and their preparedness.

There are some lessons here for anyone who is preparing for a CII R0 exam.

England taking penalties: the history

When it comes to England and penalty shootouts, it usually ends in tears. Before England defeated Colombia on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup, England hadn’t won a shootout at a major tournament since 1996. They had never won a penalty shootout at a World Cup. Despite winning against Colombia, England still have the worst penalty record in senior world football. They have lost three out of four World Cup penalty shoot-outs.

Despite this awful record, there is a widely reported fact that would make any England football fan incandescent with rage. Most of the England teams in the past have never practised taking penalties. Apparently they aren’t worth it because it’s impossible to replicate the pressure they face in a real game.

England taking penalties: what’s different this time?

Gareth Southgate has put an end to this nonsense. He has selected players and insisted that they practice taking penalties. To make it as realistic as possible, this practice takes place at the end of the normal practice session when the players are most tired. After all, in the real thing, you won’t usually go to penalties unless you’ve been running around for at least 120 minutes and are tired. In addition to this, all the players now have a routine. So even when under the greatest of pressure, they are able to replicate what they do on the practice ground.

You only have to look at Harry Kane to see how he holds the ball and carefully places the ball on the penalty spot. He then adjusts his left sock, takes three steps back, picks a spot, and then scores. All of this is fully rehearsed, practised, and perfectly executed (at least up until now!).

Finally, all of the England penalty takers have apparently been psychologically profiled to see how they stand up under the pressures of a penalty shootout. All in all, he hasn’t left anything to chance – and so far it’s worked superbly.

What about preparing for a CII R0 exam?

What can we learn from this when preparing for a CII R0 exam? The simple message from the England football team is that success starts on the practice ground. When sitting a R0 exam, your practice pitch is what you do when you are studying. So you have to get this right and not leave anything to chance.

Whether you are sitting R01, R02, R03, R04 or R05, you will need to successfully answer enough multiple-choice questions to pass. It is a surprise to me that so many people who sit these R0 exams don’t do enough of this. They either leave exam practice until the last minute (when they feel they are fully prepared), or don’t practice at all. The danger is that this is preparing to fail.

Preparing for a CII R0 exam: what do we suggest?

  • If you already have some industry experience on the subject that you are sitting, then sit the CII exam guide at the start of your revision. Whether you are sitting R01, R02, R03, R04 or R05, you will get the exam guide when you enrol for your exam. Sitting this at the start of your revision might be a painful experience, but it gets you used to the style of the exam. It will reinforce what you know and identify where the gaps in your knowledge are.
  • Sit this exam paper again around a week away from your exam sitting. This makes sure you sit the CII exam guide at least twice. There is nothing else that is available that is likely to be as close to the standard in the actual exam that you will sit.
  • In addition, you will also automatically get access to the CII RevisionMate multiple-choice practice questions. Although these are intended to test your learning, these aren’t a million miles away from exam standard. So make sure that you use them – you have paid for them as part of your exam entry.
  • Make sure you sit as many other additional practice questions as you can. These can be purchased from various training providers. Additional question packs are also available from the CII for R01, R02, R03, R04, and R05 for a relatively small additional cost. In our opinion, these are well worth the money.

The emphasis here is the need to complete practice questions under exam conditions. You might have noticed that nowhere, so far, have I talked about reading the study text from cover to cover. I accept that somebody with relatively limited experience of a R0 exam subject matter may need to read some of the study text first. For many, we believe that the best way to prepare for the R0 exam is to practise as many questions as you can (using the study guide as a reference source).

As the England football team have found, success is about investing time in what really matters. Success in your exam will be driven by not only how hard you work, but how effective it is. Practice makes perfect and rarely have we seen such a clear example of this as in the 2018 World Cup.

Click here for a link to our unique audio material.

Prepare well and be successful.

The Diploma Doctor

r0-exams

Thinking of taking the CII R0 exams?

The CII R0 exams are a hugely popular way of achieving Diploma status. Some people have no other choice than to sit all six R0 exams; others sit some of the R0 exams to accumulate CII credits towards Chartered status.  Either way, how difficult the exams are to pass is of interest to anyone who is thinking of taking the CII R0 exams.

R0 exam results – 2017

The CII have recently published the pass marks for the R0 exams in 2017. These are the most up to date exam results published by the CII.

Exam 2017 2016 2015 2014
R01 64.46% 57.01% 58.71% 59.41%
R02 62.79% 57.92% 54.00% 55.99%
R03 48.71% 50.46% 50.90% 54.55%
R04 55.04% 54.07% 49.53% 54.09%
R05 78.26% 72.11% 71.25% 68.73%
R06 73.40% 73.23% 71.27% 67.56%
R08 83.32% 83.75% 92.51% N/A

Source: CII website

What do these tell us?

In simple terms, everything appears to be ‘steady as she goes’. Overall, there is some positive news. There has been an improvement over the year in all subjects except R08 (which was already comfortably the easiest R0 subject). The biggest improvements are with R01, R02 and R05. This is great news as R02 is considered one of the hardest exams to pass due to the subject matter and the number of multiple response questions, and most people don’t like regulation.

Click here to see out R02 blog.

On the down side, R03 continues to be the hardest exam. In fact, people are finding it even harder. This is largely due to time pressure and what you are required to do in the time given. You need to know your stuff, practice lots of questions and on the ball to pass this one.  Click here for our look at R03.

How can we help?

We provide MP3 study material for R01-6 and R08.  They should be used in conjunction with a study text and practice questions such as the CII’s RevisionMate questions. There’s never enough time to study for exams so our MP3s provide a convenient way of making use of time such as commuting, walking, in the gym… That’s why our audio study material have proved popular with so many people in the past.

Click here for details of our R0 exam audio material.

Until the next time, prepare well.

 

The Diploma Doctor

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