How did you spend your Valentine’s weekend? A romantic dinner for two? A walk on the beach?
Sadly, due to a failure to notice that Monday February 15, the date I had selected to sit CF1, comes immediately after Valentine’s Day, I spent most of Sunday reading about the finer points of financial services regulation and ethics.
Sitting an exam at the examination centre that the CII uses in Euston Station in central London is an unusual experience. The written instructions tell you to go to the waiting room next to platform 15 and, well, wait.
Like a slightly bemused Harry Potter, not really believing that the secret entrance to the magical kingdom of CII exams is to be found at platform 153/4, I joined nine other candidates for several different exams in the glamorous location opposite the left luggage office and was duly met by a representative of the CII and whisked away to the not very mysterious Virgin Trains offices above Euston station where the CII uses one of the training offices.
It is almost 10 years since I last sat an exam and I had forgotten how nervous they can make you feel. The experience of sitting an exam has changed only slightly since my last experience. Computer- based assessments have now replaced the paper and pen, at least for CF1 to CF4, and, except for the clicking of computer mice, the exam room was deathly quiet.
A chance meeting with compliance consultant Adam Samuel a week before the exam reminded me of a couple of pieces of simple exam technique. As computer-based exams offer a briefing training period on how the system works and a few minutes spent getting to grips with it is a couple of minutes well spent. Also, most online systems offer you a chance to review any answers before you submit them.
If you take a note of the answers you are unsure of as you go, the CII online system now lets you do this electronically and you get a chance to have another look at them before submitting your answers.
Overall, the exam was an interesting experience. Many of the questions are fairly straightforward but several ask questions that are designed to test your understanding of the subject.
The time given for the exam is a fairly generous two hours, which gives you over a minute for each question. The one big advantage of the online system is that there is no waiting period to get your result. After a slightly nervous pause when I thought my machine had crashed, the screen flashes up a provisional pass or fail when you submit your answers.
I will have to wait for the confirmation letter to get my percentage score but according to the provisional result I got a pass. I am more relieved that pleased to have passed but it is definitely a good feeling to have the first one under my belt.
Gregor Watt Deputy editor Money Marketing