I remember vividly the days of the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate exams, the predecessors of the CII’s current suite of Advanced Diploma subjects.

The memories are not all through rose tinted glasses either.
I went through a considerable amount of discomfort to do them whilst carrying out my day job; not least the time and expense of gathering detailed enough materials to begin to understand what was required of me in the exams. My boss was supportive too. “ You’re mad to take the exams over those timescales. You’ll never do it.”

Fortunately, such comments were sufficient motivation to prove him wrong!

Even better however, was that by achieving those exams, I was able to impart sufficient knowledge and technique to my colleagues through informal study groups to allow them to pass their AFPC exams first time. With the old G10 Taxation and Trusts paper, we ended up with consecutive 100% pass rates in our groups of around a dozen or so. At the time, the national pass rate was around the 50% mark (AF1 2014 – 53.36%). So what was the magic formula for these successful groups? Simply the following:

  • Someone mentoring the group who was able to relate their previous experiences with the exam and the examiner’s style;
  • Ongoing support both technically and with exam technique;
  • A motivated group of people, committed towards improvement and who were very supportive of each other.

Interestingly, on that last point, life became so much easier for me as the coordinator of those groups when I realized just how their individual enthusiasm rubbed off with each other. If anyone was in any difficulty with their studies, the others in the group were quick to make themselves available to help. You could also see through their interaction how much they were motivating each other, often organizing extra study sessions to go through difficult areas of the syllabus.

Having moved away from a number of the Advanced Diploma subjects over recent years due to my involvement with other Institutes (examining similar subject matter), I did wonder recently whether that ethos would be enough with the current CII Advanced Diploma papers – particularly AF1. Looking through several recent exam reports and other information, in my opinion, the simple answer is yes. These are still the vital ingredients that help to make the difference so that the pass rate gets closer to 100% rather than 50%.

Even better news in today’s environment is the power that the internet has of pulling us all together so that we don’t have to work in the same firm or even live in the same country. We can study on our own when and where we wish but if we need to get support from like-minded colleagues, we can. Add to that the help of a reputable training provider who can offer the technical back up with quality materials and regular contact as well as the ability through forums etc to co-ordinate contact between students and the three point winning formula becomes very much a reality.

You can gain a lot from being part of a study group most importantly for your own exam success but also for helping others too.

I hope that those of you enrolling on the AF1 course over the next few weeks get the full benefits of our approach and that you are ultimately successful. I shall be providing regular updates and tips in respect of the exam as we go along our study journey.

Over the next 12 weeks I will be adding new videos each week into the 10 modules.
I will be adding new questions each week and providing regular updates and tips in on each subject, each week as we progress through until the October exam.

Right now you can join us and get started on the journey with the complete study book. The workbook for module 1 (Income tax) and module 2 (Capital gains tax) with 27 pages of example questions and answers is also ready right now, with video tutorials; for each of the next 12 weeks I will be adding new videos into the remaining modules.

All the best for now – but, remember you can always get me on the AF1 Forum.


[box title=”AF1 exam 2015/16: Module 1 is ready NOW” bg_color=”#66cd00″ align=”center” text_color=”#ffffff”]Designed to cut through to what really matters in AF1; essential study notes, video tutorials, case study workbook with model Q&A and an intelligent quiz. All to help you to learn as quick as possible, save time and ease you through the AF1. Road test module 1 on income tax calculations for yourself.

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