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Simply the test

As expected, June turned out to be a hectic month, during which I took on 33 new clients. As if that was not enough, I was also trying to help out some very unfortunate Equitable Life members.

Having received an updated syllabus for the Cemap bridge paper from the Institute of Financial Services, which was due to replace the one I had been working on with effect from the beginning of September, I decided to book my exam for the last possible day in August.

Having chosen this particular date, it did cross my mind that, in the event that I failed, I would not have enough time to retake the paper before the final instalment of my diary appeared in Money Marketing.

I had been feeling confident, knowing that I would have to put in a few more hours towards the end of the month to be fully prepared. So, to have the motherboard on my server break down for two weeks was not conducive to a relaxed working environment in which to prepare myself.

Having said that, I had been doing more mortgage business than usual and I discovered that parts of the syllabus helped me understand some of the more obscure looking requirements and procedures adopted by some lenders.

On the day before the exam, feeling confident that I knew my stuff, I decided to attempt a specimen paper under exam conditions. I am not sure whether I would do this again, as I gave myself a nasty shock by failing the middle section, where two answers were required. A phone call to my coach at Scottish Widows Bank clarified where I had strayed and gave me reassurance.

I was pleased to have got over 85 per cent in the other sections but nonetheless this did induce a mild panic attack.

The specimen papers are helpful as they refer you to the relevant sections of the syllabus and you do see similar themes coming up, only with slightly different wording.

I woke up on the day of the exam no more bad-tempered than usual, although I do wish I had not agreed to take my wife, daughter, mother-in-law and my mother-in-law&#39s sister to Leeds so they could go shopping. I do not think that a discussion on the finer points of curtain-making was on the Institute of Financial Services&#39 short list of do&#39s and don&#39t&#39s on the morning of the exam.

However, I arrived in good time, located the exam centre and set off for a double espresso. One last look at a lender&#39s legal remedies on default and in I went.

After a 15-minute play with the computer, I took a deep breath and clicked on “Begin”.

The case studies produced no real surprises and my confidence was gradually building. When I finished the following 30 multiple-choice questions, I was ahead of time.

Bearing in mind the previous day&#39s failure in the middle section, I went very slowly through these six questions. It was only now that my palms stopped sweating.

I found the exam room particularly warm and so I would recommend light, comfortable clothing.

I then proceeded to the final section which, once again, was fairly straightforward. I finished with 15 minutes remaining and used this time to go back to questions where I had flagged due to varying degrees of uncertainty.

Although the general advice is to stick with your original answer, my revision session also highlighted the need to familiarise yourself with the question and read it carefully before diving in. I did change the odd answer – one or two because I managed to come up with a better informed guess and one where I had totally misread the question, so it was worth looking back over it.

I clicked on “Finish” and went to get my results. One or two other people were also waiting, so I was asked to take a seat in the waiting room while the result was printed. After what seemed like an eternity, a man brought the folded paperwork to me.

I proceeded to the lift without looking as I did not fancy a load of pimply teenagers (who I hoped were sitting their driving tests, not the Cemap examination) to see a grown man weep. But once I was alone in the sanctuary of the lift, I opened the paperwork. Pass with merit-

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