R01 - My First Exam - My Thoughts

Hi all,

I sat my first CII exam on Friday R01. I did pass, I am awaiting full result but I would guess it wasn't a pass by much.

I have been a Paraplanner for 6 months and this was my first exam. I actually studied for longer than initially planned partly due to the fact when I tried to book an exam I could not get a May space, I was then booked in for June but this got cancelled two days before (clash with bookings at exam centre).

Without doubt I felt I was very prepared for the exam and had put the time and effort in, these were my thoughts on the exam:
1. The questions were much harder than any past papers/mock questions - I know it seems to be a general theme on here but the way they were written they seemed tougher.
2. Technique - I was told before R01 is probably the only exam where time is on your side. From the mock exams I found I would only need around an hour maximum. I found I had time to go through in depth, flag questions, go back and then a complete final check, this no doubt gained me a couple of additional marks.
3. Don't Panic - I did have a panic when I read the first 15 questions, I thought these questions are so much harder, I have learnt so much but I cant pass this etc basically I was very negative. I took some deep breaths, calmed down and then found a rhythm to it. Doesn't work for everyone but I actually made a tally of all the questions I was 99% confident were correct which helped ease the pressure. I think from the first run through I knew I had around 35 questions correct then there were another batch where I was fairly optimistic my answer was correct. For the first 88 questions of course you can guess luckily and by process of elimination can usually leave yourself a 50/50 guess.
4. Read, Read, Read - I would say its important to embrace Financial Planning and read around the subject. I read many of the industry magazines which get sent to work, Financial Times, Podcasts etc. Although not all will be relevant to exam your general knowledge in the area can really help, I am often surprised what I have retained through listening/reading an article.

The content is no doubt very dry with R01. Hard to get into and you need very broad knowledge.

Good luck to all those taking.




  • harpoonharpoon Member


    Thanks for sharing your experience, I found the same when I did R01, I paniced at first because I had to flag most of the 1st 25 questions. I just went steadily through the remainder and when I'd finished when back to the questions I flagged and eliminated the answers that seem far out and then picked the most likely out of the remaining ones. Good luck with your other exams, let me know if I can be of any help.

    Out of interest what are the industry magazines you're referring to? The only one I get is the email from Money Marketing.


  • Hi Mark,

    Thanks a long road ahead but I think the learning curve of R01 has been good for me. I think like most exams its a case of putting in the work and effort and should be fine. Sounds like your R01 experience was similar to mine I am glad its over I think if I had remained flustered I would have probably not have passed.

    With regards to the magazines at the firm I work for we get Money Marketing and NMA (New Model Adviser) sent through each week by post. They are not cheap but if work is subscribing I find some content relevant. When a new issue comes through I take the time to have a read, I think it all certainly helps as can see how theory applies in real life.

    If you are into Podcasts NMA, FT Moneyshow amongst many others are all interesting. Well worth a listen on the commute.



  • harpoonharpoon Member


    Thanks for the info. I'll check those out.


  • I know how you felt James - I had this exact same feeling with R02: I really thought I was going to fail the exam as the questions were completely different to any I had seen before (I was able to use the Aviva exam guides as this was 3 years ago now). It's such a huge relief when you take your hands away from your eyes to see that you have passed the exam!

    Congratulations on your achievement, and good luck for your future studies. You don't need to take the exams in order, but you have got arguably the most boring one out of the way first

  • Hi Andy,

    Thanks, R01 was certainly very dry with its content, that aside the syllabus was so broad. I also found so much overlapped but too the point it was repeating itself a lot.

    I was aware R0 exams certainly are not easy, I did expect the questions to be tough its just annoying no mock papers really provide similar questions. I completed a degree five years ago as a mature student and actually found exams fairly straight forward as all written exams and you could have certainty on what you are likely to be tested on. The multiple choice element of R0s make it sound easy but far from it especially with the multi-response questions.

    I am doing R02 next. I definitely can revise smarter for this one. For R01 I don't think I underestimated it but being my first I know I wasted time making notes for the sake of making notes etc partly in my head you think you are achieving something and getting revision done.

    Do you have any R02 revision tips? I know there are many calculations to learn then luck of the draw how many come up in exams. I was planning on learning formulas early to embed them in my head rather than try and learn to late.

    I know generally my day to day work helps with the exams. There is some knowledge I have as I sit in client meetings there are many things I have come across. I do speak to people who work for the larger firms doing R0 exams in many cases they know Pensions inside out but that aside have little reason to be involved in personal tax etc on a day to day basis.



  • I'm not sure I've got any surefire tips, but the basics: learn gilt yields - the running and redemption yield formulae. Also, bonds, onshore and offshore. I always struggled with that, and the CII keep asking the questions!

    Other than that, I would purchase question banks, either from CII or an external company - BrandFT is rated by a lot of people, not just here in the Big Tent but in the wider community too. I can't comment on how effective they are as I got away with using the CII question banks with the study text.

    I don't know where you are based, but if you are in the South East, the Sussex CII runs revision days in Crawley on a regular basis, and I found them very useful. There may be similar events around the country so worth checking with your local institute's website.

    All the best


  • James it is funny you should post this as your experience was pretty much a carbon copy to when I did R01!

    Flash forward 12 months, I have 1-5 done and sat R06 this week. You'll find that panic will try creep back in especially for R03/4 which I personally found the most demanding but like you said, try channel that energy into moving slow and working things out logically. I think R04 was the only exam I used every last second for. So my first tip would be to not rage through it like a bull in a china shop and go through with accuracy.

    Secondly, I would like to back Andy's point up, I used Brand FT from R02-6 and I must say I think it has been the difference between me passing first time round to having to re-sit.

    Finally, don't burn out. I think I fell victim to this in recent weeks. Remember, although studying is important a break is needed once in awhile!

    Good luck with it and if you need anything drop me a PM.


  • Do you have any revision techniques? I have just started looking at RO1. 'First exam'

  • Thank you! I shall take a look

  • R01 is a really tricky exam. I have lost count of the number of times students have siad they did loads of work, studied using the CII guide and practised questions on RevisionMate and elsewhere, yet they got to the exam and it was way harder than anything they had practised on. Atatched some info on our own study gudie and App which we use with all our students. And we regualrly achieve 1005 pass-rates with thjis exam so we sure know what its like and what we are doing. Good luck to all sitting it Luiza

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