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Doing your homework

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  • 10/08/2001
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Preparing for your CeMAp exams may seem like a daunting task, but with self-discipline and planning you will find the process a lot easier

So, you have mentally tuned into studying for your CeMAP qualification. You have registered with the Institute of Financial Services (IFS) and your study text has arrived in the post. It looks daunting and you are wondering how, with all the work, family and social commitments in your life, are you going to prepare yourself to pass these examinations?

It comes down to two elements: self-discipline and planning.

Initially, you need to plan your target exam dates. With exam sittings for paper three each quarter, you should anchor your plans to an end date and work back from there. Many students prefer to attempt paper two first, in order to gain confidence. Paper two examines concepts and product knowledge, which a typical CeMAP student may be more familiar with. Getting paper two out of the way before tackling paper one, gets candidates into the swing of studying and builds self-confidence.

Whatever subject you choose, you need to plan a self-study programme of reading, self-testing, mock paper practice and revision for each syllabus.

Assuming you start work today, allow yourself 10 weeks to study for each of paper. Aim to book yourself in for a paper one exam in 10 weeks, a paper two exam in 20 weeks and a paper three examination at the first available quarterly sitting after that. Commit the study programme to paper and pin a copy of it somewhere that you will see regularly. Put the dates on your wall planners, in your diary and in your personal organiser if you use one.

Next decide what will be in your study timetable. In the first two papers, the syllabus sub-divides neatly. Paper one divides into three sections ‘ giving you three weeks for each section, plus a week for revision. Paper two divides into four sections ‘ two weeks for each section plus two weeks for revision.

In each two-week period you will need to:

l Read the sections within the IFS course book.

l Test yourself using the test questions contained within it.

l Re-read the areas you feel less confident about.

l Re-test yourself.

Only you know when you can commit quiet time to study. However, you will need space to close yourself away, without interruption so you can concentrate your mind on studying. Consider carefully when and where this can be achieved. Try to establish when your mind is best suited to learning. Is it morning, afternoon or evening? If you know this or you have an instinct for it, plan your quiet time accordingly.

‘Little and often’ is a good old adage. Try not to cram. If you can dedicate five hours each week, try to spread this out to sessions lasting no longer than two hours.

Many people find that using flash cards are useful. These are small pieces of card onto which you write down key information from the syllabus. Compile a set of cards for each section, hole punch them and bind them using a treasury tag. Keep the set of cards on you and flick through them whenever you have a few moments to spare.

If you have access to a PC, the IFS e-Learning package is well worth acquiring. The package covers all three papers and works through the screens, helping to reinforce the learning gained from reading through the course book. Each section contains tests which are automatically marked, and you receive feedback on areas you need to revisit.

Audio tapes are also available for all CeMAP papers. Each module is addressed in a lively discussion format, with regular summaries and highlighting of key points. It will act as a guide through the material and included essential information on exam technique to help you achieve success.

When you have completed each two-week cycle, you will want to spend some time revising the whole syllabus before you attempt the exam. IFS revision notes are available. These are a condensed version of the study text and enable you to work steadily through a revision programme, without feeling bogged down by the sheer volume of learning text. Remember also to use each set of your flash cards in rotation during this period.

Seek out a revision course closer to the examination. A syllabus specialist will be able to:

l Teach you the finer points that will gain you time and more marks in the exam;

l Set and review with you a number of mock examination papers;

l Revisit the areas of the syllabus that most commonly trip students up.

If you adopt the tips above, you will stand a much better chance of being successful. Passing first time will save many hours of additional study time.

Study aids available:

IFS e-Learning Package for CeMAP

Individuals: £150+VAT

Open Access: £600+VAT

IFS Revision Notes: Papers One and Two (to be updated July 2001), £15 each, or two for £25.

Audio Tapes: all papers

(available September 2001)

Cassette: £19.95 inc VAT

CD: £24.95 inc VAT

For further information, mail order and an e-Learning demonstration disk please contact: Nikki Brice at the IFS on 01227 818636 or e-mail mailorder@ifslearning.com quoting reference SS001R. Alternatively visit www.ifslearning.com

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