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What is the Best Order to Sit the CII R0 Exams in?

BTS Director Luiza joined Sam Oakes from the Financial Planner Life Podcast to discuss one of the most commonly asked questions about studying for the CII R0 exams: What is the best order to sit the CII R0 exams in?

1. Is there a one size fits all approach to the right order?

That’s a very short answer – no there is not. There are different schools of thought in relation to this, and any of them can work.

2. What order do candidates commonly do their R0 exams in?

This varies. Some candidates sit them in numerical order, so R01, R02, etc. This can work fine. Sitting the R0s in this order still means that the flow of exams is sensible in terms of the crossover of knowledge between papers (such as with R02 and R03). Most start with R01, whichever overall order they are using. Some have their exam order influenced by their employers, so perhaps they work for a pensions firm so the R04 exam is more of an immediate priority. Other go for more of a random selection – honestly, there are so many models out there used by candidates.

What is the best order to sit the CII R0 exams in
What is the best order to sit the CII R0 exams in
What is the best order to sit the CII R0 exams in

3.  What order do BTS most commonly use with their clients?

The R0 that BTS recommends as a good starting point is the R01 Financial services, regulation and ethics paper. This is mainly due to the fact that many companies and academies ask potential candidates to have passed this before they will be accepted, as this shows that individuals are committed to the process, and also have the academic ability plus drive to pass an R0 exam. From there we suggest candidates move onto the R05 financial protection exam.

This is widely viewed as an easier paper, though having sat the exam myself again in December 2020 it was trickier than expected (I still passed with a good score!) The next R0 we then tackle is R03 personal taxation, the paper with the lowest countrywide pass rates.

From there BTS recommend candidates tackle the R02 investment and risk paper. Then, onto R04 pensions and retirement planning. By now many candidates are a bit ‘R0’d out’ having gone through the big hitters that are R02 and 3.

The pensions paper is a bit of a killer – not just because each area is hard to understand without some study (and BTS support!) but due to the volume of areas candidates must understand and be able to apply for an exam pass. So many different bits of knowledge are required (who coined the phrase pension simplification??) and this makes the R04 paper tougher, but still eminently passable. The last paper BTS suggests candidates attempt is the R06 financial planning practice.

This is an exam based on two case studies released a few weeks before the exam sitting. Candidates need a combination of good base knowledge, lots of study and applying the right question answering techniques to get an exam pass. 

4. What are the key things to look out for when planning your exams in terms of what you sit when?

Look at which papers cross over into others. A good example of this is R02 and R03 which should be sat in succession as there is so much crossover. The R04 pensions paper should then ideally be sat after these two R0s for the same reason. The R06 financial planning practice papers needs knowledge from all the other R0s so is a good one to sit last.

5. What can throw your plans off track?

Many things can throw a candidate’s plans off track. Failing an R0 is one of them. Sometimes you need to sit an exam once to understand the key techniques needed for a pass. The R03 paper is a classic example. Until you actually sit the exam you don’t appreciate how tight time is. And remember, once you have your level 4 diploma qualification no one will know how many times it took you to pass an exam. You can argue that having to sit a paper more than once actually leads to a greater depth of knowledge in the subject matter.

BTS have collaborated with the Financial Planner Life Podcast to answer some of the topical questions candidates have around studying for and passing the CII R0 exams.

See more on the Financial Planner Life R0 playlist.


Browse all R0 Exams, including an overview of each and exam resources BTS supply to help you pass your R0 exams.

Find out more in depth help and advise to structure your R0 studies by viewing our R01, R02, R03, R04, R05 and R06 Study Plans.

Chat with other R0 Diploma candidates in the dedicated BTS R01, R02, R03, R04, R05 and R06 online forum rooms to help keep up to date , find out any new information and gain help and advise from others.

Read another insightful article on ‘Is there a Right Order to Sit the R0 Exams In?’ to find out more advice on the best order to sit the R0 Exams.   

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