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Trust Me – The J02 Exam

In this article, Nikita Phillips, Candidate Support and Business Development Adviser at BTS, discusses the J02 – Trusts exam and her experience of sitting this unit.

Once I finished my diploma in Regulated Financial Planning in 2022, I immediately set my sights on the next challenge. As someone who has always aspired to achieve fellowship, I understood that obtaining my diploma was just a stepping stone in my continuous quest for knowledge and growth.

I therefore contemplated sitting the AF1 – Personal Tax and Trust Planning exam as my next unit. I enjoyed R03 and I have always had a keen interest in tax.

However, upon reviewing the examining body feedback for AF1, it became apparent that numerous candidates lacked the necessary trust knowledge needed for this exam.

Consequently, I made the decision to avoid that mistake and opted to tackle the J02 exam to strengthen my trust knowledge.

I had relied on Bespoke Training Solutions to get me through the majority of my diploma exams, but at the time of sitting the exam, it was not a unit BTS supported. Therefore, I had to resort to using the examining body text, which presented quite a challenge, to say the least.

Spoiler alert: Find out about BTS development of J02 study materials below!
Trust Me – The J02 Exam

How is J02 structured?

The J02 exam is available to sit twice a year, usually in March and September. At the time of writing, the next exam sitting is on Tuesday 12th March 2024.

J02 is a two-hour exam, and you will need to provide typed answers to short-answer questions. In total, there are 15 compulsory questions, and the exam has a maximum of 130 marks. Sometimes the 15 questions will also have more than one part, enabling a wider range of topics to be covered in each sitting.

The exam is a Level 4 unit and worth 20 credits and the CII recommend 100 hours of Study.

The nominal pass mark is 55% and the 2022 Pass rate for the J02 unit was 59%. This means that 41% of candidates deferred success on this unit, and I can understand why!

What does the exam cover?

In the J02 exam, you will be expected to analyse and answer questions covering:

  • The structure of trusts
  • Establishing and administering trusts
  • The considerations for trust investments
  • Substituted decision making
  • Wills and intestacy
  • Bankruptcy
  • Relevant aspects of trust planning

What are the challenges with this exam?

I’m going to be brutally honest and say that there are areas in this exam which are not the most scintillating.

Take trust law, for instance, which, in my humble opinion, isn’t the most captivating subject. I found it quite challenging to understand the content, occasionally even dozing off while reading!

Moreover, this exam poses an additional challenge due to its extensive syllabus. Looking at past exams, the CII examiner like to test a wide range of areas, leaving little room for cherry-picking!

Let’s review the September 2023 exam and see what areas were tested in this sitting:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of setting up a trust
  • The administration of a trust following the death of a trustee
  • The circumstances in which a trustee can be appointed to replace an existing trustee
  • The benefits and drawbacks of appointing a corporate trustee
  • The drawbacks of transferring a share portfolio into trust
  • The information required in a trust deed
  • Definition of various trusts
  • Variation of Trusts Act
  • General Power of attorneys
  • Executors, duties and replacement
  • Bankruptcy
  • Distribution of trust funds and potential tax implications
  • Relevant life policies
  • Trust registration service
Trust Me – The J02 Exam
Trust Me – The J02 Exam

It really is a vast syllabus, so you need to allocate enough time to cover the entire syllabus thoroughly, as you never know what might be tested!

When I sat the exam in 2022, I encountered the following question:

– Explain, in detail, how a typical back-to-back arrangement operates. (10 marks)

Guess who hadn’t managed to study about back-to-back arrangements because I ran out of time? Yes, it was me!

If I could turn back time:

If you’re anything like me, you sang that!

If I had the chance to go back in time, I would most definitely take the J02 exam again. This exam enhanced my understanding of trusts and expanded my knowledge in areas like bankruptcy, substituted decision making, Wills and intestacy!

I would, however, ensure that I have a well-structured study plan in place. I must admit, I rushed into taking the J02 exam without much preparation! It is not something I would recommend.

Give yourself ample time and find the right study material that suits you!

And on that note…here’s the exciting news!

BTS will soon (very soon!) be offering support for the J02 exam. So, you now have the option to choose BTS J02 exam support! No more relying solely on the examining body’s material!

I’ve had the opportunity to take a sneak peek at our J02 study guide, and I know it would have made such a significant difference in my J02 experience!

Keep in mind, the materials you choose truly make a difference! Trust me!


You can soon view Our New J02 Exam overview/toolkit to purchase any J02 Study support including Study Guides, Online Workshops and Study Buddy. 

Find out more in depth help and advise to structure your J02 studies by viewing our J02 Study Plan. (Soon to be available).

Chat with other J02 candidates in the dedicated BTS J02 online forum room to help keep up to date , find out any new information and gain help and advise from others.

Trust Me – The J02 Exam
Trust Me – The J02 Exam
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