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Pulling Back the Curtain on the CII’s October 2014 AF2 Exam

Pulling Back the Curtain on the CII’s October 2014 AF2 Exam

The CII has released October 2014’s AF2 exam paper, so now we have an opportunity to take a closer look at the questions that were asked of candidates. We will also highlight some pitfalls to avoid. If you plan to sit the AF2 exam in the near future, this article will help you to gain an awareness of what questions may come your way.

Looking at the questions set in last October’s AF2 Business Financial planning exam has been interesting, and on first glance, it seems straightforward.

The paper can be found here:

Question 1

The big 80-point compulsory question – it started by testing the pros and cons of trading as a company rather than a partnership.  The well prepared student would have been happy with that as a starter for 10.  How to borrow finance followed and then 14 points on taxation – again, the type of information you would not have failed to have revised for an AF2 exam.  A couple of the questions that followed may have been a challenge, but then thankfully there was IHT and shareholder protection. The last question was on auto-enrolment, which again should have been in all students’ revision plans – not a bad compulsory question at all.

Question 2 and 3

These didn’t seem too bad either.  Question 2 was only about a limited company buying premises either themselves or through a SSAS – a very common question in AF2.  Question 3 may have caused a few sinking feelings but not for everyone: calculating operating profit/loss, several ratios and the significance of them.  These questions shouldn’t have been a surprise; ratios come up regularly in AF2. The problem with them, of course, is that you’ve either learned the exact ones that come up…or you haven’t.  There were only 6 points on offer so not a disaster if you hadn’t.

Previous Exams

Interestingly, if students had used the April 2014 paper and model answers as revision, they may have regretted wasting the time; none of it would have helped pass the October paper.

You can see this exam paper by clicking on the following link:

In contrast, April 2013 followed similar themes as the October 2014 paper and would have been useful as a revision aid.

This paper can be found here:

Anyone preparing for the forthcoming April exam should be aware of some of the examiner comments from previous years.

Common Pitfalls

Common pitfalls with this exam, as with many of the other AF exams, are that candidates do not answer the question being asked and not in enough detail.  It’s tempting of course to regurgitate all the information you know on the area being tested, but if this isn’t answering the exact question, you simply won’t get the points.  Having said that, if there are 10 points on offer, you need 10 bullet points to even have a chance of picking up good marks.  Talking of which, the student who can use bullet points to answer questions will save valuable time…and is also every examiner’s dream.  Better to be faced with 15 bullet points, 10 of which are good, than pages of prose where the examiner’s challenge is to find those 10 good points.

Keep Up to Date

Keeping up to date is of course paramount for any good adviser – any changes in legislation are tested by the CII 3 months after they take effect.  It’s worth looking at the section on their website, which has the amendments to J03, to ensure you know when changes will be tested. Using past papers is of course a really good way to prepare – but don’t limit it to just the last one – as already mentioned, April 2014 would not have helped for the following October.

Challenging but Straightforward

AF2 is a challenging exam.  However, it is also fairly formulaic – it only tests the syllabus which means there should never be a curve ball question as can often be found in the AF5 paper.   This is a good thing – it means you can concentrate on studying the syllabus, and once you’ve done that, practise exam technique to use the time efficiently on exam day.  As with all the AF exams there are no shortcuts to success.

Grab the resources you need!

If you’re studying for your CII AF2 exam, and you’re losing sleep at night worrying about how you’ll do, grab our free taster to try out one of Brand Financial Training’s mock exam papers for yourself.  Click the link to download the AF2 mock exam taster now!

Click here to download our free taster mock paper for CII AF2


Over to You…

Do you plan to sit the AF2 exam? Are you feeling confident in your revision?