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R03 Personal taxation

Personal taxation is one of the six core units that make up the CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. It accounts for 10 of the 100 credits that are needed, which may lead you to think that it is easier than the R0s that are worth 20 credits. It’s not! Many BTS candidates say that they find the personal taxation a real challenge.

The aim of this unit is to ensure candidates understand the UK taxation system and can analyse different financial advice scenarios and apply relevant knowledge during the advice process.

The R03 exam is one hour long and there are 50 questions to answer. 39 standard multiple-choice questions (MCQ), and 11 multi-response questions.

Exam format: 1-hour multiple choice exam

Exam Recommended Study Hours Credits Nominal pass mark
R03 50 hours 10 65%
Exam R02
Recommended Study Hours 50 hours
Credits 10
Nominal pass mark 65%

What are the challenges with the R03 unit?

For anyone new to taxation, R03 can be a tough subject.

Taxation can touch on many parts of our life, and any one tax can be relevant to lots of different areas. Take income tax as an example. Even at its most simple, income tax impacts on earnings, savings, investments, and gains made from certain products. So, how can a new student understand income tax if they have no idea of what investments or products are available?

If the right study path isn’t chosen, new learners can be overwhelmed by R03.

Another often-discussed challenge with R03 is timing. Candidates have one hour to answer 50 questions, quite a few of which can be calculations. These calculations can take a while, particularly if the candidate looks at the calculation question and thinks ‘I don’t know where to start.’

It’s also worth mentioning here that the R03 exam is an application exam. It’s not just about learning facts and then restating those facts. The CII R03 requires you to have a strong base knowledge that you will then apply in different ways, to different ‘mini-scenarios’ that will make up your exam questions.

National pass rates published by the CII for R03 personal taxation unit are often the lowest of all R0 exams.

BTS R03 Study Toolkit

To help you to build your R03 study plan, we have put together a range of study and training options in our BTS R03 Study Toolkit. Toolkits contain several options to suit different candidate needs and preferences. These include printed and digital resources, e-Learning modules, workshops, and practice question banks.

BTS Toolkits for R01 to R05 all follow the same approach: the STEP model. BTS have found over the years that this leads to the best exam results for candidates. This approach and the options within our BTS Toolkits are tried and tested on tens of thousands of learners over our long record of regulated exam support. As a result, BTS have a first-class market reputation for R0 support.

Our mission is clear:


The BTS R03 study guide takes the wide syllabus of different subjects, and structures them in a logical order.

The R03 study guide is a complete replacement for the examining body textbook but is written in a different way. It is crammed with graphics and examples, so that you can build you knowledge step-by-step. BTS study guides always keep an eye on how we can bring the subject matter to life as much as is humanly possible! You’ll also get exam relevant content and questions, with a thread of BTS humour thrown in for good measure; anything that can help you remember the subject.


BTS R03 training receives fantastic feedback, as you can see from the testimonials below.

BTS Associate facilitators are skilled at bringing key subjects to life through examples, visuals and exam style practice questions. They will paint pictures to help unravel the technical details of the various investments so that you understand them and can then apply that understanding to exam questions. This includes providing you with processes that you can apply to different question types, and tips that help you to remember, and more importantly be able to apply, key facts. 

group of people sat down with a trainer facilitating in the foreground

Click here to access the current schedule of R03 support workshops.


BTS e-Learning is ideal for individuals who learn best using visual, online and interactive tools. It allows you to work through your R03 studies at your own pace, with the BTS team behind you all the way. The BTS R03 e-Learning module covers the most heavily weighted subjects. This includes:

– Income tax

– Capital Gains Tax

– Inheritance Tax

– Direct and indirect investments

– Taxation of trusts

You can dip in and out of the eLearning as and when you have some study time.


The BTS R0 Study Buddy app replicates the CII exam standard as closely as possible. There are two volumes of R03 questions available for purchase – each giving you 200 questions to practice on. BTS designers sit the R03 exam every year, and train tens of thousands of students. All this experience is packed into our App questions.

The exam itself will still feel a bit harder, after all you are in an exam with all those associated nerves, but the App will make sure you have experience is applying your knowledge to different styles of exam questions.

A photograph of a tablet on a desk with the study buddy app on the screen

Find out more about how the Study Buddy app can help you and how to purchase it on your device

What sort of feedback do BTS receive from the R03 candidates we have supported?

"I am pleased to say that I sat my R03 exam yesterday and passed it for the first time. I have followed Luiza's podcast with Sam Oakes, posts on Linked In, messages on other candidates' successful exam posts, articles written for likes of Professional Paraplanner and via these it has been drilled into me that R03 is the toughest exam out of all of the R0's. Oh boy, BTS is not wrong! I have never felt so much exam time pressure! I did run out of time with two questions unanswered but I am surprised that I scored the highest mark (86%) in this exam out of R01, R02 and R04. I followed Jeff Scholes strategy in approaching R03 questions and it worked a treat. But you know what helped me the most? Your study buddy app. I downloaded both volumes and I found the app very useful. It is the best thing out there and it was the first time I used it and I am sure that I would not have got the mark I did if it wasn't for practising the exam style questions on the study buddy app. You have got this bang on mark. It helped me fly through the first 15 questions but CII's question style got complicated after this.

Thank you so much and I will definitely be using the study buddy app for R05."

Mohammed Din | Paraplanner | Mattioli Woods | July 2021

"After failing the R03 with only 50% on the first attempt using only the CII text book I was feeling really disheartened. I took some advice from some of my peers who were also on the St James’s Place Academy to try switching to BTS for my study material.

I purchased the R03 e-Learning module which I found really simplified the CII learning outcomes and within 2 weeks from my first attempt I achieved a 94% pass!!

I have since gone on to purchase the R02 study guide which I am also finding very easy to understand and I am hoping for another great result in the very near future!"

Leigh Bolland | Associate Partner | May 2021

"I have two members of staff sitting the R0 exams at the moment. It’s fair to say that they struggled making progress with the standard CII books. Having been introduced to Bespoke Training Solutions I am delighted to say that one colleague passed both R02 and R03 first time around. My other colleague, after two unsuccessful attempts at R03, successfully passed it having studied using material from Bespoke Training Solutions. Both said to me that the Bespoke Training Solutions books were far more user friendly than those from the CII. They were also very impressed with the training day courses run by BTS. I recommend BTS to all students studying for their R0 exams."

Andrew Mackie | Partner | February 2021

"Delighted to pass R03 this morning, three down and three more to go! Thank you BTS! The workshops were invaluable and the study material from Bespoke Training Solutions Ltd was high quality."

Craig Rees | Financial Adviser | April 2021

BTS R03 Learner Journeys

Click on the profiles below to find out how recent BTS candidates achieved their R03 success:

Insights, help and advice for R03

Below, you will find a range of recent articles providing insights, help and advice for this R0, we hope you find these useful. Remember if you have any questions on your journey feel free to get in touch with the BTS support team.

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