Top Tips to Help you Pass High Level Exams

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CISI / CII / IFS Exam tips

 

This article contains tips to help you pass any high level exam, in particular Level 6 and Level 7 Investment Exams.

 

Students frequently leave the exam room at the end of their first Level 6 Investment paper in a real state. Why? Many complain about the totally unexpected or ‘unreasonable’ questions that they were faced with; but there is often one real reason why they are so upset – they have not prepared well enough to tackle the paper.

 

Many students would have felt prepared following several hours of comprehensive study and note taking. However, even in these circumstances, the preparation may not have been as good as it could be.

 

We always say to our students that first they have to take on board the fact that they are about to sit a really tough exam. They will need to be equally prepared in both technical understanding and exam technique. So where do we start? Here are a few simple tips:

  1. Any quality exam institute will be testing from the syllabus it has prepared for the subject. Always go to this first to see exactly what is expected of you. The syllabus learning outcomes should specify the extent to which your abilities will be examined. Will it be simple knowledge of an area, a more detailed understanding of how or why something works or will you have to apply your knowledge to deal with different scenarios even to the extent of making specific recommendations and justifying them?
  2. Once you understand what the syllabus covers, you need to gather appropriate study resources to fill the gaps. Often, institutes provide a primary study text and some students relying heavily on this, will expect to pass. A word of warning however. Many students leave exams bemoaning the fact that a particular question cannot be found in the primary text. Examiners always justify their actions by stating that they test from the syllabus and not any one textbook – even the Institute’s own! We always recommend that students read very widely around subjects. There is a wealth of information out there in books, magazines and on the internet. We have found that you have to read widely on a complex topic, just to understand its workings and potential application. The more you read, the better.
  3. If possible, find students that have taken the exam themselves. Can your peers give you any tips? How hard was the paper when they did it? Were there any recurring themes from past exams? Such snippets of information can be really useful in preparing you to take the paper proper.
  4. Practice with past exam and other mock papers. In our opinion, this is as essential as studying the subject matter. If you don’t look through any past papers at all, you will have little or no idea what to expect and you run a very high risk of getting stuck on exam day. Passively looking through past papers is not enough – you need to actually do some. Run these to exam time conditions and don’t sit there answering questions with a text book on your desk. The key to this exercise is to look at the gaps in your knowledge or your exam technique. What don’t you still know? Do you understand a subject but have just failed to answer the particular exam question properly? As you can see, you are actually going through a learning process each time you do a mock paper. The important thing is take your mistakes into account and prepare to be able to improve for the next mock and so on.
  5. Finally, always expect the unexpected. Psychologically, unexpected questions really throw students off course. They may only be worth a small proportion of the marks overall but their impact on exam performance can be disproportionately negative. With higher level papers, the examiner will want you to be able to deal with unusual looking scenarios or sets of data. More often than not, if you know the syllabus, you will be able to look ‘through’ the information provided, interpret it correctly and deal with the questions posed. The more active studying you carry out beforehand using different examples combined with exam practice, the better prepared you will be.

 

A revision course run by a reputable training organisation can often be invaluable in tying up the ‘loose ends’ of your preparation for a paper. Good sessions will focus on all of the points made above to give students a structured, informative and interactive session, maximising their chances of success.

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What Clients Say About Us

  • Dan RoddyTraining & Development Manager, Rowan Dartington

    Our firm has worked with Glascow Training for several years now, during which time we have called on Cris’s considerable expertise numerous times. Cris has coached CISI exam candidates at all levels and the results have been excellent. The feedback from colleagues who have sought assistance has always reflected his excellent knowledge of both the technical topics and of exam craft. As a training manager I particularly value Glascow Consulting’s responsiveness and flexibility in providing us solutions that fit our needs and Cris’s insight and advice is highly recommended.

  • Richard BeardRelationship Director

    The Pension Transfers revision course was highly informative and well structured including time to practice past questions. The mock exam provided was also very useful and very detailed answers. What has also impressed me is the speed and quality of response from Cris to technical questions which I have asked following my attendance on the course. I believe that Cris’s help was instrumental towards me achieving a pass particularly as I had no practical experience in the subject.

  • John RadcliffeRelationship Director

    Cris thanks for your help during and after the CISI Pension Transfers and Planning Advice course, I found the course and your support invaluable.  My understanding and approach to answering the questions was much improved giving me more confidence in approaching the exam.  It was good to be able to have a wider debate and discussion around the aspects of the syllabus for which I needed more clarification particularly when I don’t work in the industry.

  • Mark RobinsonDirector & Chartered Financial Planner

    I attended a 2 day workshop in London with Cris in preparation for the first sitting of the new CISI Level 6 Certificate in Advanced Financial Planning exam (March 2020). Having come from doing CII exams Cris was able to clearly explain how the CISI exams differ and guide me through the key parts of the syllabus. His style of teaching had the right balance of intensity and detail without overloading or confusing me and I left feeling in a much more confident and focused position. As a result I passed the exam with Merit and would have no hesitation in recommending Cris to anyone looking to improve their chances of passing.

  • Charlotte MetcalfeAssistant Investment Manager

    I was lucky enough to have Cris Glascow as my tutor for the Chartered Wealth Masters. I cannot recommend him enough, I really believe there is no other tutor like him.  His approachable and relaxed nature made the whole learning experience really enjoyable. The depth and breadth of his knowledge is truly incredible and unique. I believe this gave us the real X factor to pass. No question was too much trouble for Cris. His clear teaching style with multiple methods, wealth of experience and speed and efficiency in responding to queries really makes him stand out from the industry. Cris played a momentous part in helping me qualify and I am forever grateful to him.

  • Jonathan DilleyAssociate Investment Manager

    I had the pleasure of learning from Cris as I was studying towards my CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management. Whilst studying with Cris I was continually impressed by his depth of knowledge, his wealth of experience as well as his ability to teach and encourage everyone on his courses. He adapts his tuition and material to the groups strengths and weaknesses which I feel is crucial when undertaking such qualifications that require a depth of understanding beyond that which most candidates would possess when begging the qualification.

    I would give Cris and Glascow consulting my highest recommendation, I not only completed my qualification in a timely manner but also learned gleaned valuable skills from Cris that without his tutelage I certainly wouldn’t possess today.

  • Kevin Bray, FPFSFinancial Planning Director

    Having recruited two trainee advisers for the company I wanted to be sure they were given the best possible training for their level 4  qualification. The decision was taken to find the budget to bring in someone who could help them get through this first time. I had concerns that a centrally organised workshop may not be the answer from previous experience as larger groups are not always effective for every individuals learning style it also meant I could not dovetail the training with their work commitments. I needed something bespoke and I needed the right trainer with the right attitude. 

    I ascertained that Cris Glascow came with CISI approval so that satisfied my due diligence. I made contact with him and found him to have a flexible attitude and a professional approach. We agreed that he deliver bespoke training events for my trainees as part of their exam preparations. 

    I never had any doubt in the fact they would pass all elements required first time with the expert help of Cris. They are now level 4 qualified with an embedded knowledge of financial services which they could not have gained from just reading the workbook.

    I was sufficiently impressed with Cris that I subsequently asked him to train myself and a newly hired Senior Adviser colleague in the new CISI Pension Transfer & Planning Advice exam. This presented a fresh challenge as it was a new exam and he had to teach us in a subject neither of us had experience in ( DB Pension Transfers) With his help we both passed this exam at the first time of asking which just goes to show " you can teach old dogs new tricks!

    Cris Glascow is an excellent financial services trainer. He has had a 100% success rate with our team and I cannot recommend him highly enough.

  • Victoria YungPerformance Measurement

    Cris Glascow was my tutor when studying for the CISI Level 7, Chartered Wealth Manager qualification, which I achieved in 2014. Cris was a brilliant tutor, not only did he cover relevant topics but he explained them in a very clear and concise manner. One of the most valuable parts of the support were the mock exams provided. They were set at the appropriate level, they were marked quickly and relevant feedback was provided. To have a well prepared, approachable and knowledgeable tutor is so important when studying for the CISI exams especially at higher levels and as such I would strongly recommend Cris as a tutor to anyone studying for CISI qualifications. He is an excellent tutor.

  • Robert ClarkeInvestment Advisor

    I am very grateful to Cris for helping me with my studies for the Applied Wealth Management CISI exam. Cris is an expert in all areas of course material and I have no doubt in recommending him to anyone looking to pursue financial qualifications.

    Cris was also very approachable outside of teaching hours which showed his genuine passion for teaching.

  • Samuel TaylorAssistant Investment Manager

    Cris tutored me through the CISI Wealth Management program and under his guidance I passed all three modules on first attempt. His advice and tutoring were invaluable, and he made himself available to answer questions and help out at all times of day. His customised questions and detailed answers were particularly useful. Thanks Cris, I'm sure I couldn't have done it without you

  • Matt DickinsonInvestment Manager

    Cris stands out as someone that genuinely understands both the content of his training material and the individual needs of those taking the course. His training sessions are well paced and flow naturally between topics, with sufficient time reserved for open conversations and individual questions. Cris succeeds in creating an engaging learning environment which is supported by an impressive pass rate. I would happily recommend him to anyone and will certainly be working with him again.

  • Neil WinkworthSenior Manager 

    I was fortunate enough to have Cris deliver training to me for a number of CFP modules to me at a big 4 consultancy. Cris was fantastic from start to finish - most notably he knows his subject matter inside-out, delivers this knowledge and responds to questions in a logical and methodical manner - breaking complex concepts down into manageable chunks - and with a sense of humour. I highly recommend Cris to anyone considering training within his fields of expertise.

  • Katherine TaskerInvestment Manager

    I had the pleasure of being taught by Cris for my Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification. Cris is enthusiastic, incredibly knowledgeable on his subject matters and teaches in a way that is easily understood. He is incredibly supportive, not only whilst in the training session but also by responding to questions on the material in personal study time. I felt well prepared for each of the exams I sat having been taught by Cris. Cris’ achievement record speaks for itself and I would be happy to recommend him to anyone who is looking for an excellent trainer for financial services exams

  • Sebastian TaylorInvestment Adviser

    I was fortunate enough to be taught by Cris for the revision course for Portfolio Construction Theory and the Applied Management course. His level of knowledge was second to none and I found his teaching methods to be very clear and easy to understand. Any questions I had out of class were answered very thoroughly and timely, even late at night and also on the weekends. I have no doubt that my pass success was attributable to Cris. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to study towards a financial exam.

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