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The April 2015 CII AF4 Exam: Dampening the Spirits of the Ill-Prepared

The April 2015 CII AF4 Exam: Dampening the Spirits of the Ill-Prepared

In the following article we take a look at what was on the April 2015 sitting of the CII AF4 exam, we also include a few pointers to help you if you’re planning on sitting AF4 in the near future.

The AF4 paper has, in the past, received a lot of attention, as at times, it has gone off-piste in terms of structure. By doing so it has completely thrown candidates who have used past exam guides to help them prepare. It was with bated breath therefore that we took our first look at April’s exam paper; here it is:

Question 1

It started off very gently – testing new ISA flexibility. Delegates must have been delighted with such an easy start – only to have their spirits dampened again with questions that tested areas of the investment world that just aren’t covered in sufficient detail in any of the preparatory manuals. We know advanced exams expect a high level of detail on all sorts of technical areas but how far does a student have to go to ever feel prepared for this exam?  Question 1 which included questions on corporate bonds and IPOs we feel really must have tested anyone’s resolve to stay in that exam room for the following 3 hours!

Question 2

This question offered some welcome relief – REITS versus buy to let would have been OK for most and despite some questions we feel irrelevant we hope a lot of the 40 marks on offer would have been achieved.

Question 3

This also offered questions on familiar territory – rebalancing a portfolio, momentum investing, a tiny bit on portfolio performance and correlation – all of these subjects are well covered in R02 and J10, so again we hope the majority of marks could have been achieved in question 3.

Pass Rates and Tips for Exam Success

You need 55% to pass an AF exam so that’s 88 marks. The pass rate in 2013 was 65.65%; in 2014 this dropped to 62.58% – amazingly this is still higher than some of the other AF exams. With October paper of course still to go it will be interesting to see how the 2015 figures fare.

Anyone planning for October’s exam really needs to start their studying early. Last year both papers had the portfolio performance question so hopefully it will come up next time. Use old papers to practise working out performance and comparison to a benchmark.

Last October’s paper can be found here:

You can’t just use R02 to prepare for AF4 – you need J10 as well, and it is becoming more obvious that you need to read and research beyond this as well.

Students also need to always keep in mind that they must answer the question that is specifically being asked – read it several times to make sure you know what is being asked! Decent marks will never be achieved by doing anything else.

Spend your time appropriately too – the first question in April’s exam was worth 4 marks – so at least 4 bullet points were needed. Most people we hope are now using bullet points – they really are all that’s needed.

You also need to check for any legislative changes – these are tested by the CII 3 months after they take effect.

We would like to wish anyone sitting AF4 in October the very best of luck!

Grab the resources you need!

If you’re studying for your CII AF4 exam, and you’re stressing out, grab our free taster to try out one of Brand Financial Training’s mock exam papers for yourself.  Click the link to download the AF4 mock exam taster now!

Click here to download our CII AF4 Mock Exam Paper Taster

Over to You…

Did you attempt the AF4 in April? Did you feel prepared when you entered the exam room?