So, what does working smarter and working harder look like? Here are our top ten tips for passing your CII AF exam first time.
- Start early. Few people go into the exam over-prepared. You’ll have done enough exams by now to know how you work best – a steady long-term revision plan or a last-minute cram! But don’t forget, the CII recommend at least 150 hours of study for a written AF exam (AF7 is 100 hours). Unless the exam you are sitting is ‘your subject’, most people will need something approaching this amount of time.
- Make a plan. Over a 6-week period, this 150 hours amounts to about 25 hours per week. This will need to be planned and structured in around your other commitments. However desperate you are to the pass the exam, get your life/work/study balance right and allow time for family and downtime.
- Build in treats/rewards. Some people like revision; most don’t so make sure you reward your commitment to the cause.
- Know yourself. Identify where your technical knowledge is both weak and strong. Focus your revision in the areas you are weakest. How do you know? Complete a practice question at the start of your revision under exam conditions and then mark it.
- Know the exam. Each exam does tend to have recurring themes that get tested on a frequent basis, and other areas that only come up from time to time.
- You learn by doing. Don’t just read stuff – this is passive, and most people retain little of what they read. Write notes, memory cards etc
- CII Case study book and RevisionMate. If you buy a CII case study workbook, for most subjects you’ll also get access on-line to past exam papers, the Diploma level study text and multiple-choice revision questions.
- FREE AF past exam papers. To download three CII past exam papers, click here. Log in (you will need your CII membership number and password), click on the knowledge section on the top of their website, select learning support, past exam guides and choose the AF exam guide you want.
- Mix up your revision. Learning doesn’t all have to be something which requires dedicated ‘study time,’ you can be learning while you commute, drive or jog.
- It’s not all about knowledge. Most people who fail the AF exam will do so because their exam technique wasn’t great; not through lack of knowledge. AF exams, aren’t about remembering lists; they are about applying knowledge. The information provided in the case study is there for a reason – so use it! Ensure that you use those free past CII exam papers to practice your technique. For most people, this is what will make the difference.
Prepare well and be successful first time. Good luck!