I can’t believe we are already over halfway through February and, for many of you, this means just seven weeks or so before the first round of Chartered Insurance Institute exams.
There were over 20,000 diploma exam sittings in 2009 and this year is set to be even higher.
It is encouraging to see advisers getting on with the task in hand but it is also disappointing that the pass rates last year were not as high as I would have liked or expected. I know a great many good advisers who certainly know their subject matter, yet some still fail when faced with a formal exam.
There are two main reasons for this – one is simply lack of preparation but the other is a lack of understanding exam technique.
To address this, the Personal Finance Society has embarked on a communication programme to help members and I would like to share some of our hot tips with Money Marketing readers.
To start with, it really is worth investing in the learning materials, the study text is a must, Revisionmate (which comes free) and I would recommend purchasing past exam papers.
Tell the examiner what you know – they don’t know you know it
Attend as many training and revision days as you can. Sign up to the provider academies and consider joining a PFS study group. We are running 24 around the country before the April sittings, covering five of the “J” subjects.
When it comes to the dreaded day – and yes most people feel this way – you need to understand how to get maximum marks.
Here are my top 10 tips:
1: Remember that the CII uses a positive marking system, which means that the examiners are trying to give you marks, rather than penalise you.
2: Write legibly – use bullet points to get your answers across rather than reams of prose.
3: Show calculations and workings to demonstrate understanding – the final answer is only worth a fraction of the marks.
4: Answer the question written down, not the one you hoped for or want to answer.
5: Answer the question in the manner asked (list / state / explain briefly / describe etc).
6: Make it easy for the examiner by not hiding your answer.
7: Where relevant, use and reiterate the information in the tax tables.
8: Tell the examiner the date and year of the tax regime that you are referring to.
9: State the obvious, such as the basic rate of income tax, as this may pick up an extra mark.
10: Tell the examiner what you know – they don’t know you know it.
There is a fuller guide on the PFS website which anyone can access, not just members. We genuinely want to see a significant increase in the number of people passing first time. Good luck with your studies and I hope you find some of these tips helpful.
Fay Goddard is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society