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Weighing up your options is crucial

As mentioned in the final issue of Mortgage Strategy in 2002, the last published average pass rate for CeMAP paper one was for the period of January to October and was just 39.6%. In the absence of objective research, the reasons for this comparatively low pass rate can only be speculated upon. Reasons that have been suggested include the fact that few candidates deal with the contents of the paper one syllabus on a day-to-day basis so are less familiar with the subject matter than is the case for syllabuses for papers two and three; the contents of the study manual are seen as more detailed and demanding than is the case for papers two and three; and it is perceived by some that the syllabus is not relevant to the work of mortgage advisers.

Whatever the reasons for the relatively low pass rate, mortgage advisers who are required to pass this paper will no doubt have included, along with their other new year resolutions, a resolution to pass this examination as quickly as possible.

Over the course of the next few weeks, this column will be focussing on providing guidance for candidates who will be sitting their CeMAP paper one examination in the coming months. The importance of planning and undertaking an effective programme of study prior to sitting the examinations has been covered at length in previous issues. However, one point that paper one candidates often do not appreciate is the weighting of the syllabus and the consequences of this for the balance of questions in the examination. The syllabus is divided into three sections as follows:

•Section A: Indicative weighting 40%

Legislation, regulation, enforcement and compliance (units 1 and 2 of the IFS study manual).

•Section B: Indicative weighting 30%

Legal, taxation and economic factors (units 3, 4 and 5 of the IFS study manual).

•Section C: Indicative weighting 30%

Products, services and providers (units 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the IFS study manual).

From the above information, it is clear that a significant number of marks in the examination will be allocated to the contents of the first two units of the study manual. Of these units unit two, which is titled &#39Regulation of the financial services industry&#39, is by far the most substantial. Consequently, the majority of the marks allocated to this first section of the syllabus will be based upon the contents of unit two. Candidates should be aware of this as a failure to understand fully the contents of unit two will result in a high risk of not achieving the 70% pass mark and also of suffering a sectional fail on section one of the syllabus – a sectional fail is where a candidate scores less that 50% on a section of the syllabus. Any candidate receiving a sectional fail will be required to resit the full exam again.

The emphasis placed on the importance of unit two in the IFS study manual should not detract from the fact that the examination paper will contain questions on all nine units. So good knowledge and understanding of all units is required, but there will be more questions based upon unit two than on any of the other units.

The IFS produces three specimen question papers which are helpful in providing guidance on the contents and structure of the questions that will be encountered in the examination. The relative importance of unit two is reflected in these papers where it can be seen that a significant number of questions focus on this unit.

The papers should be attempted at the end of a structured programme of study and as part of a period of revision leading up to the examination. Part of the value of working on these papers is that they not only highlight areas of weakness, but also confirm subject areas that have been well mastered. The results of each attempt at these papers will serve as a benchmark to enable candidates to assess their level of knowledge.

One final thought – while the pass rate for CeMAP one has not been particularly high over the past year, the achievement of a pass at the first attempt is within the capabilities of all candidates. A structured and effective programme of study is a prerequisite to success – there is no short cut.

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