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CII exam marking queried as student repeatedly fails by 1 mark


A paraplanner has voiced frustration with the Chartered Insurance Institute’s computerised exam marking scheme after failing four exams by just one mark each.

Financial Options Group paraplanner Simon McGovern says he wants to become a full adviser, and so sat the CII’s R01 and R04 exams.

His first attempt at the R04 exam on pensions and retirement planning saw him fail by three marks, scoring 62 out of 100 where the pass mark is 65.

He then sat the exam three more times, and failed each time by one mark. After failing at the fourth occasion, the CII informed him they had remarked his third exam and he had actually passed.

McGovern then moved on to the R01 test on financial services, regulation and ethics. However, he failed this twice, once also by one mark.

When McGovern queried the situation in June and asked for a review of his failed exams, the CII said the exams were marked by computer, according to emails seen by Money Marketing.

The CII said it could not remark the R01 exam.

McGovern pointed out the contradiction and asked the CII to refund some of the money he had spent on the exams, but says the body initially promised to investigate and has then ignored him.

He says: “What I’ve experienced has been a little sinister, to say the least, but they also appear to not deal with complaints well, or at all. I’ve had no response for the best part of a month, where they initially said ‘give us five days’.

“At the end of the day I’m a customer, I pay a fee each month to get discounts on exams and be a member of the CII and [Personal Finance Society]. It’s clear they just don’t value the customer.”

McGovern says he is in limbo, not wanting to take more exams without clarification that his old exams were properly marked.

He says: “That’s the most frustrating bit right now. I feel like I should keep on studying, but at the same time I’m not going to dedicate another few weeks of studying to get the same outcome.”

A CII spokesman said the body would not comment on its electronic marking system or McGovern’s case without written authorisation from him.



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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I cannot see how the CII could get these marks wrong when the answers are multi choice and multi answer. There should be no room for error in the marking process, unlike the AF exams where you could gain/lose a couple of marks as the answers are written and human error can and will occur occasionally, hence the reason you are allowed to ask for a remark.
    But on the R0 exams this should not be happening. Based on the fact that Mr McGovern has failed on a number of occasions over varying exams and not just by one mark but by a few other marks as well, it surely is more likely that the exam is just being failed each time in my honest opinion.

  2. Welcome to our world Simon…

    Every-one is lining up to suckle on teats of the cash cow, that is, financial services and its clients

    May your pockets be deep and your tenacity be un-wavering

    To this end, I am not saying exams should be easy and/or free.

  3. Would suggest that he aims higher that the absolute minimum required to pass the exam.

  4. David Cathcart 12th July 2017 at 8:11 pm

    The point is there is a massive financial incentive for the CII to fail candidates, especially knowing that potential advisers need to pass predetermined exams in order to be able to practice. They even refuse to provide you with physical evidence or feedback of the questions you answered correctly and incorrectly. Why should you not question their making scheme, you have every right to, given that you paid not an insignificant amount of money for this.
    The CII have a long history of having incorrect information in their study text and when questioned about this they resort to the same old answer, we don’t test you on what you know, we test you on whats in the study text (whether or not this is completely incorrect). I know I have had first hand experience of this. It is appalling. My advice to Simon is to kick the CII into touch and sit your exams through the LIBF, they are a much more professional institute with an impartial marking scheme.

  5. Paul Edgeworth 12th July 2017 at 8:23 pm

    My guess is that the CII may have remarked one of the papers on perhaps finding that one of the multi choice questions was either poorly written, ambiguous or perhaps finding that the wrong answer was programmed into the automated marking system. This may have been highlighted if a higher than normal fail rate was evidenced on a particular question. Hence if correcting such a mistake, then this extra mark may have been enough to give the candidate a marginal pass rather than a marginal fail. Seems most unfortunate for anyone to fail by just 1 mark so many times, but I feel that this may be more to do with the candidate rather than any suggestion that the CII were looking to extract additional resit fees.

  6. Struggling to understand. A pass is a pass, a fail is a fail. It’s quite absolute. It’s a qualified profession and until you have the required knowledge, you shouldn’t pass and be able to do damage to client outcomes. Simple really. Am I missing something? The IMC exams, that’s different, as there’s a variable pass mark, meaning you could pass on one sitting and fail another with higher marks. I should stop giving the CII ideas….

  7. I’m not sure on my opinion on this one. I’m very much of the persuasion is a pass is a pass and so, if you hit 65 marks then great. That said, if you’re only scraping a pass then have you revised/studied enough?

    Conversely, the CII exam questions can be incredibly badly worded and sometimes do not give enough information to answer the question with 100% confidence. When I sat R04 and passed it, by more than a scrape I might add, there were several questions which i highlighted to the CII and in turn received a free exam “voucher”. How many candidates failed by a couple of marks because of those errors i wonder?

  8. This very thing has just happened to me! I wrote the IF1 in November 2018 and again in January 2019 and on both occasions I’ve failed by just one mark. At first I thought it was just purely unlucky but the second time around getting the exact same mark I thought it was an absolute joke! I contacted the CII customer service to ask them to verify my questions and answers to get a second opinion and they refused to.

    Considering the fact that I advised them there are errors with their RevisionMate question pack – I did the practice questions a few times and noticed on several occasions how the same question answered the same way would show correct once and the next time incorrect.

    My point being, if there are online faults with their revision material, what’s to say there aren’t online faults with their MCQ’s?

    They’ve argued that the exams are done on the City & Guilds IT system and therefore is definitely not faulty but after reading this thread I have my doubts and suspicions.

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