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Training day to calm nerves

Tutor’s corner

Gary Hale, Director, HK Wealth Managers
Gary Hale, Director, HK Wealth Managers

I write this as I study for my first AF exam, which is tomorrow. I am sitting AF4 investment planning in Edinburgh. It is amazing how quickly the exams come around.

I have to be honest and say it is very challenging studying part-time but it does have its positive side and I have learned a lot from the AF4 investment planning course.

I am naturally nervous about the exam and working on as many sample questions as I can to practise the exam technique required.

Since I last wrote, I attended an AF4 CII face-to-face training day. It was an excellent day and I would recommend anyone studying for the AF exams to attend one. This is the first CII training day I have attended and I will be attending more. I will also be encouraging the CII/PFS to ensure there are sufficient resources to provide as many of these courses as possible – my course was over-subscribed.

It may be helpful to understand what is involved and I will share some study/exam tips I picked up on the day. One of the main points I noticed was that many of the attendees had already passed the J06 investment principles subject which is on the main syllabus for the AF4 exam.

Delegates regretted not studying and sitting the J06 and AF4 at the same time. Consider this option.

Other key points include:

  • Exam is in two sections, A and B, with 160 marks in total and lasts three hours – you have therefore only about one minute to spend per mark.
  • Average pass mark is around 55 per cent, therefore you need to get at least approx 100 marks correct to pass.
  • Read the question carefully first before reading the case study. Many of the questions can be answered without even looking at the case study, saving you time.
  • A large proportion of marks are for calculations, so learn the calculations and formulae.
  • Read the question carefully to establish what they are asking for and highlight – calculate, state, explain, describe, identify.
  • Do lists and bullet points to keep answers to the point, makes it easier for markers which will help you gain points.
  • Keep your handwriting neat as this will help the marker and you.
  • State the obvious and you will get marks.
  • In calculations, always state the formula before working out the steps and answers. Always show all steps of the calculations. Even if the answer is wrong, marks can still be gained.
  • Because the questions use case studies, it does not mean the questions are harder.
  • J06 knowledge is essential for the AF4 exam.
  • Read question, look at the points/marks available, look for key words.

If you have a narrow fail on an exam, it is recommended that you appeal for a remark to the CII as many of these are passed second time round.


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