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Testing times

Studying for the ACII while holding down a full-time job can be a challenge. Anna Barnes offers some tips on how to keep both balls in the air

If you are just starting to sit your CII exams, I hope to provide you with some insight into how studying alongside a full-time job has worked for me and can hopefully work for you too.

It's all about time management. We all have other commitments and, if you're anything like me, you probably thought you would never sit another exam again after coming straight out of university, but to acquire the skills and expertise in this field of ours, it is essential to gain knowledge and understanding of insurance.

So picture this: you've just bought the book and you have no idea where to begin. Before even attempting to start studying, I would advise you to create realistic targets and deadlines. You can even create a plan through RevisionMate, as it shows the amount of hours you should spend on each chapter.

When it comes to studying, there are a number of ways to approach it. If your employer allows it, spend some time in the office revising. This works well as any query you have can be answered by a colleague. You can also go to the library or even find a quiet room at home to study. If you have plans all weekend, do your studying during the week - after you've finished work or even before. It seems to be even harder when the sun is shining for once in England but you can always do your revision outside.

As your work experience develops, it follows that you are given more tasks and responsibilities and you will be less inclined to study out of work as it is important to rest and clear your mind. Therefore, I think it is very important to complete the ACII qualification as quickly as possible.

My priority is to pass each exam at the first sitting in order to avoid the resit process and extra study cost. My overall objective is to complete the ACII qualification within three years. Then I can concentrate on my career development 100%.

Now, turning terms of retention - after learning the second chapter, you'll probably have forgotten everything you learnt in chapter one. With so much information being thrown at you, it's very easy to forget what you did a few days ago, never mind a few weeks ago. To ensure this doesn't happen, have the key facts booklet at hand, or complete your own notes for each chapter. If you read those for five minutes, just before bed, or at another convenient time, you'll be amazed how much you know and retain later on.

Be strict with yourself and utilise your time wisely; it's easy to say the words 'I'll do it later' and watch another TV programme but it can wait. Use your success in your studies as a reward. You won't regret it.

Anna Barnes is compliance & technical services assistant at NMU

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