So, what does working smarter and working harder look like? Here are our top ten tips for passing your CII exams 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 recommends 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 sure you are clear on your cii exam dates, and have a suitable amount of time to prepare yourself fully.
- 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 pass, 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.Try and get ahold of some cii past papers, have a look through various financial advice sites or services, or even try and get some cii mock papers, so you know roughly what you can expect.
- One of the simplest exam technique tips: You learn by doing. Don’t just read stuff browsing the cii website– this is passive, and most people retain little of what they read. Write notes, memory cards etc to ensure you’re engaging with your cii knowledge
- CII Case study book and RevisionMate. If you buy a CII case study workbook, for most subjects you’ll also get access to online cii mock papers and cii past papers, as well as the Diploma level study text and multiple-choice revision questions.
- FREE AF cii past papers. To download three CII past 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 you cii 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 CII past papers to practice your technique. For most people, this is what will make the difference.
Prepare well and be successful first time. Good luck!