Why it’s wise to use past papers when preparing for an exam
Here are just a few of the many reasons why past papers are an extremely important and highly effective part of any revision schedule.
No doubt you’re planning to use past papers when preparing for your financial services exams, possibly because you remember teachers encouraging you to do precisely that when you were sitting exams at school – and they did so for good reason!
Improve your time management
A past paper is an ideal way to understand the amount of time you will have to spend on each question on the actual day of the exam. That’s why it’s always best to complete such papers under self-imposed exam conditions. Work somewhere quiet with no distractions, with internet and phone alerts all turned off, and a timer set. Make it as close to the real thing as you can, perhaps by getting a friend or family member to act as an invigilator. That way, you’ll also gain an insight into the focus you’ll need once you’re sitting the test for real. NOTE: If you happen to be studying for the R01 or R02 exam, our E-Mocks include a fully timed online mock exam for practice.
Learn how marks are allocated
Clearly, questions are weighted differently depending on the complexity of the questions. Once you understand how – and why – points are allocated, you will be better placed to manage your time during your paper.Here's why past papers are an extremely important and highly effective part of any revision schedule. Click To Tweet
Understand how exams are structured – and what language they use
Familiarise yourself with past papers to appreciate how the exams are laid out, and the wording used in different types of questions – that way there will be no surprises on test day when you might well be feeling a tad nervous. Equally, if certain papers have extra information printed in them, it’s no bad thing to know in advance where this can be found.
Excellent writing practice
For written exams, working on past papers is a great way to undertake a trial run of transferring the information in your head into a written format. Unfortunately, knowing the information isn’t enough. You also have to be able to communicate it clearly and accurately to the examiner. If calculations are involved, it’s also important to know how (and where) you will be expected to set out any workings.
Giving yourself feedback
After you’ve worked on a past paper, you will be able to assess your efforts via the exam guide to analyse what you have done right (or wrong!) and whether your efforts would have been enough to earn you a pass were it for real. NOTE: For the R01-R05 exams, our mock papers include a correct answer rationale to give you further explanation as to why that answer is correct.
Adopting this approach affords you invaluable insight into the syllabus topics in which your responses are confident and correct, as well as those where a little more revision may be required. And, of course, this allows you to tweak your revision schedule accordingly.
But be sure not to lose heart too much if your marks in the initial trial runs aren’t what you would have liked them to be. After all, that’s the whole point of practising! There will generally be room for improvement. And past papers are a useful tool or indicator of what you can do, not a crystal ball. Learn where you went wrong and try again. You may need to work through each paper more than once to ensure you’ve mastered all the necessary knowledge and techniques.
Finally, past papers make revision interactive and real, in a way that simply reading information – or even taking notes – isn’t. They offer a way of knowing whether the information you have been learning has truly stuck.
Grab the resources you need!
If you’ve already reviewed the CII’s past papers and would like even more practice, our mock papers are an excellent way to cement that information in your head. For R01 and R02, our E-Mocks allow you 3 months of online access to short quizzes of 10, 30, or 100 questions, or a fully timed mock exam. All our mock papers offer a free taster, so you can try before you buy! Navigate to your chosen exam via the main menu on this page.