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Time management

Money Marketing deputy editor Gregor Watt continues his journey towards QCF level four and realises that he is going to have to make sacrifices to fit in study time

Well, I thought it was going to be difficult finding study time, I just did not realise how hard.

In the month since the last Adviser Evolution, progress on the study has been painfully slow. Trying to find some time at work has been nearly impossible and outside of work has not been much better.

Having already agreed to attend several functions and events as well as the other evening class I am already signed up for combined with trying to have any sort of social life has left most of the remaining time allocated for either eating or sleeping. With the Christmas entertaining season already here, the demands on my time are not going to get any easier. Something is going to have to give but, without cutting back on sleep, it is difficult to see what.

But at least the Christmas holidays are in sight. The way that Christmas and New Year’s Day fall this year means the paper is missing two issues and should mean that the so far elusive free time becomes more available. Reading about financial regulation may not be anyone’s idea of a fun night in but it is only slightly less tedious than watching repeats of Only Fools and Horses.

But this month has not been a total washout. I now have all my study material and I have received my full membership of the CII, with all the benefits that entails, and thanks to my new contact at the CII, the very helpful and friendly and ruthlessly efficient Cristina, I have enrolled for my first exam and on Monday, January 11, I will sit CF1.

Revisionmate recommends 60 hours of study time for each chapter, which equates to about eight working days

Also on the plus side, I am starting to discover the benefits of the online study and revision tools available. So far I have only tried the CII’s own system Revisionmate but the benefits are very easy to see.

Although it does not feel that long ago since I was in full-time study, aside from a short stint at college to do some journalism exams, it is in fact more than 10 years since I last attempted to learn anything.

Having forgotten what it is like to sit down with an unread, unopened text book knowing there are thousands of words to plough through is not something that filled me with enthusiasm. But using the online revision planner and simply typing in the date, at the click of a mouse I now have a schedule of when I need to have started reading which chapters and at what date they need to be completed. Simply breaking the study programme into chunks has already made it seem much more manageable.

The facility to track progress through each chapter has also struck me as a useful one although perhaps it will be more useful when I get further into the study programme. If I could not manage to get through the first chapter (all 21 pages of it) without regular breaks I really would be struggling.

Finally, the quick revision tests on the site give the double benefit of a break from reading as well as a very quick test of how much of the information has sunk in.

Again, this facility will probably start to come into its own as I start to get further into my programme of study. Much of the information included in CF1 is fairly straightforward to anyone who has worked in or around financial services for a while and after six years or so of writing about the industry if I can’t explain why inflation is generally positive for someone in employment and has a detrimental effect on someone relying on their savings, I should probably give up now.

The only thing that has slightly jarred with me so far has been the length of time that Revisionmate recommends for studying each chapter. In total, it is suggesting 60 hours of study time, which equates to about eight full working days.

As it suggests taking fiveand-a-half hours to get to grips with the first chapter, this could be slightly on the cautious side but I suppose it is better to be slightly over-prepared than risk coming up short.

If the estimation is anywhere near accurate, I am going to have to find some extra time from somewhere. In addition to reading up on the statutory responsibilities of the FSA over Christmas, I will also be trying to find time to consider the question of which I am going to have to do without – work functions, a social life or sleep?


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