How to pass the CII R06 Financial Planning Practice Exam

How to pass the CII R06 Financial Planning Practice Exam

By Luiza Todd | 30 May 2021

The April R06 exam results came out on Friday 28th May. BTS could see many successful candidates posting both their R06 and level 4 Diploma certificates on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

But what about those candidates that ‘deferred their success’ this time around? It's never nice to fail an exam, so how do you pass the CII R06 Financial Planning exam, ideally first time around?

R06 is usually the final R0 unit that candidates attempt, normally to round off their Diploma, and attain their level 4 qualification and Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). The Financial Conduct Authority requires this from advisers wishing to carry out regulated activities with retail clients.

The exam has good countrywide pass rates. The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) release these each year. 

Current pass rates show an increase from 67% in 2019 to 78% in 2020.

2 case studies, 3 hours, buy a provider R06 analysis and learn it. Easy, right?

Nope!

The word on the street and in the pub (pre and post pandemic) is that the R06 exam is easy. Candidates see the pass rates, compare them to some of the other R0 units and think passing is going to be a relative ‘walk in the park’.

An R06 analysis is duly purchased (not many candidates bother to read the compulsory CII R06 study guide), and the questions and answers worked through. So why is this not enough for some candidates? And why do some candidates attempt R06 multiple times if it’s so easy?

The answers are not in front of you…

Unlike R0 units 1-5 in the R06 exam candidates do not have the answers in front of them. All they have is each question and a blank screen to fill. Let’s face it, with the likes of R01-5 if you really did not know an answer you could resort to the ip, dip, sky, blue method. And sometimes the answers tripped something in your memory that helped.

The R06 exam is scarily different when faced by that blank screen.

No provider can predict all the questions that will be examined

Nor should they be able to. Otherwise, how is this a suitable test of a candidate’s fact-finding, analysis and recommendation skills? The R06 exam is all about bringing together the technical areas individuals have learnt on R0 units 1-5, but more importantly it’s about applying this knowledge to the two exam case studies.

A provider may correctly guess a question area, but their wording and question slant is likely to be different from the exam version. As a result, if a candidate has simply learnt these questions and answers regurgitation of said answers is unlikely to result in maximum marks scored.

Before you type a thing first consider each question carefully

Before you type (or write) a thing jot down on your scrap paper the key words in the question stem. Does the question want you to ‘list’, does it want you to ‘explain’, is it generic or does it include words such as ‘specific to the case study’?

Which part of the advice process is it testing you on? Remember the R06 exam is going to ask you to complete questions based on all the stages of the financial advice process. Is the question looking for factfinding answer, factors, some comparisons, or a recommendation with rationale?

Unless candidates take a few minutes to try and clearly identify the nub of each question they run the risk of giving generic answers when the question wants specific ones, giving fact find answers rather than factors, and so on…

Look at the marks available for each question

Combined with what the question is asking you to do (list, explain) this will give you a good idea of how many different points you need to ideally get down. So if the question says list and it has 8 marks you need a minimum of 8 different points (ideally at least 10 just in case the examiner does not agree with some of your frankly fab- in your opinion- answers).

If the question is asking you to recommend and justify make sure your answers do both – have a column headed up ‘recommendation’ and another ‘justification’. You want to make it as easy as possible for the examiner to find your answers and award you lots of marks.

Typing out War and Peace for a question that only has 6 marks is probably going to be a bit of a waste of your valuable time. It’s amazing how many candidates type a lot down, come up thinking an exam pass is in the bag, and then are very shocked on results day.

Answer the question you are being asked…

If the question wants you to ‘recommend’ a product, make sure you do just that. Typing out ‘life policy’ will probably get you absolutely no marks as that is not a recommendation.

If the question wants a product to cover death or serious illness don’t just recommend a WOL or term assurance policy – that obviously only covers the case study client if they die. Not what the question was asking for…

If you are recommending a life policy to mitigate an IHT liability make sure you put it in trust (and say which type of trust) otherwise you are simply compounding the client’s problem.

How do BTS support their candidates?

BTS support R06 candidates in several ways.

We always suggest you start with our R06 study guide as this gives you a solid introduction to the question answering techniques that are so crucial in the R06 exam.

BTS produce an analysis of the two case studies in an e-Learning format. We have analysed every single sitting of both R06 and J08 which was what this unit was previously known as. So, we like to think we have a bit of experience.

We also run two-day workshops. Over the course of two days, delegates work with a BTS facilitator to work through some possible technical areas that may be examined, and practise some of the questions and answers we have produced, in a group environment. Attendees benefit from being in a group with other R06 candidates. All are in the same position, and it’s amazing how much input from your peers can help your own examination processes.  It’s also very common for little study groups to be formed going forward to the exam.

Don't just take our word for it...

"After starting my career just over a year ago at True Potential LLP I can now happily state I've now passed R06 and I am now level 4 qualified. A special thank you to Bespoke Training Solutions Ltd and Luiza Todd FPFS CFP for their classes, books and app all which helped me immensely".

Alexander Grange Dip PFS | True Potential | May 2021

"Just a very quick message to let you know I got my R06 result just now and it’s a pass so now I’ve got the Diploma! There is absolutely no way I could have done that without you. Thank you so, so much for all your time energy and optimism. I was rather deflated when I failed it first time around because I didn’t understand why. It was therefore very encouraging when I started with you and the BTS team and realised where I had fallen short in terms of exam technique, and how to beat the CII at their own game!"

Frederick Hervey-Bathurst DipPFS | Trainee Financial Adviser | May 2021

"8 months, 6 exam, endless hours of study after work/ home schooling etc and I've officially completed my diploma. Special thanks to Bespoke Training Solutions Ltd Luiza Todd FPFS CFP for the fantastic support and study guides all the way through."

Shelley McMillan DipPFS | Mortgage & Protection Adviser | May 2021

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How to pass the CII R06 exam