2022 CII Exams: Mapping the Route Ahead
With the release of next year’s written CII exam dates, now is a good time to think of how different units can contain overlapping content and how this might affect when units are taken.
The exam dates can be found here:
Taxation and trusts – AF1/R03/J02
As the CII state on their website, it is assumed that candidates already have the knowledge gained from a study of Personal Taxation (R03) and Trusts (J02) as well as elements of Financial Protection (R05) or equivalent before sitting the AF1 exam.
AF1 also has its own case study workbook entitled: AF1 Personal tax and trust planning. This is very useful for acquiring the additional technical content that the diploma level units might not cover in enough depth.
With the units in the Advanced Diploma testing application of knowledge, it is crucial that candidates use the case study workbook and/or past exam guides to ensure they practise in full in preparation for the exam. The key to passing any AF exam is in the preparation and understanding that knowledge must be applied to the case study.
AF1 is often the first exam students take after the Diploma. This is a good idea as the knowledge gained from studying AF1 is also useful for AF4 and certainly for AF5.
There will always be calculations within the AF1 exam, and these are tested at a much higher level than is possible within the R03 exam. Practising how to set these out is crucial; candidates must show all their workings out and here is where marks can easily be picked up. Even if the final answer is incorrect, marks will be awarded for demonstrating the correct process.
Investments – AF4/R02/J10/J12
AF4 has cross-over with R02 and in particular J10. Many students choose to sit J10 just before tackling AF4 as so much of what is learned will be useful grounding for the AF exam.
All of these investment exams cover asset classes, investment advice, portfolio construction, investment ratios and analysis, as well as investment performance and reviews.
Within the J12 syllabus, more specialist areas of investment are tested – for example, depositary receipts in the equities section, much more detail on warrants and foreign exchange. The dealing, settlement, and clearing chapters are of course only relevant to the J12 module, but much of the rest of the syllabus is covered elsewhere, so if you have already completed R02 and J10, then J12 might be a natural progression.
Calculations are also tested within the AF4 exam and the same applies here as it does with AF1; ensuring that you show all your workings out so marks can be awarded for process.
Pensions – AF7/AF8/J05/R04
The pension transfer exam AF7 requires detailed knowledge of pension income options/decumulation and death benefits and so again there is some cross-over with R04 and J05 but perhaps not as much as some of the combinations above. AF8 also draws on knowledge from the other pension exams.
J05 can have small calculation questions whereas AF7 rarely has a calculation question.
AF5: Financial Planning Process
AF5 is about applying knowledge and experience from other financial planning exams, so we do recommend that this is one of the last ones to sit.
It is also important to note that whilst there may be overlapping content, the AF, RO and JO units themselves differ in terms of style and format. It is really up to you whether you feel you can cope with two exams within a few days of each other but now that the CII has started to move away from setting exam dates over a three-day period in April and October and is instead staggering them, this may make it easier to choose to sit overlapping exams closer together.
Next year, you will see that there will be four sittings of R06 and three sittings of other units as follows:
R06 January, April, July, September
AF1 February, April, September
AF4 February, May, September
AF5 February, May, September
AF7 February, May, September
With an extra April or May sitting, this 2022 programme is particularly useful for those students wishing to take AF exams next year.
The J0 units will continue to be tested just twice a year in February and September.
It can seem complicated choosing which exams to take and when, but taking some time to look at the options, consider the syllabus, and then map out the route ahead can make things much clearer and hopefully save you a lot of studying time!
Mock papers are a must to help prepare for all exams but in particular with AF and JO exams to ensure you understand the type of question that is asked and the level of detail required to gain a pass.