Multiple choice examinations are a particular type of assessment. In their most basic form, they are a means of testing memory and knowledge. The science of designing multiple choice questions has evolved over the years and because of the associated financial services regulatory requirements, the multi choice paper is increasingly being shaped into a measurement of competence.
The way that examiners assess competence using multiple choice questions is to design them in a way that allows the candidate to apply their knowledge rather than simply recall information.
So here are some examples, the first a traditional, knowledge style question and the second a more competence-based question (correct answers are A and C respectively).
What is the name of the organisation responsible for the regulation of the financial services industry?
A. Financial Conduct Authority
B. Association of British Insurers
C. Department for Trade and Industry
D. General Insurance Standards Council
Which of the following examples illustrates how an intermediary might plan to meet their training and competence obligations?
A. Introduce a new pay band and reward management system that takes into account the conflicts of interest requirements
B. Introduce an appraisal system and a personal development planning function
C. Arrange for a Training & Competence review to produce a gap analysis report and an action plan for necessary T&C measures
D. Introduce a recruitment policy to take on only qualified and experienced staff and take up full references on appointment
The key message in this section is to be prepared for the paper you are about to sit. The level of the examination will determine whether the questions are knowledge based or whether they are more competence related. Reading through past papers and mock papers will help you achieve this understanding.
Written answer papers
Remembering the words and what they mean is only part of exam success. Even if you are able to recall the right information, you still have to know how to use it.
The only way to develop this skill is through practice. It is about finding out what the exam paper requires, and then learning how to create an answer that is accurate and to the standards demanded by the examiner.
It is therefore a good idea to obtain copies of past papers and mock papers so that you can see how questions are structured and learn what is required of you.
Ideally, a past paper practice exercise should be completed with a comparison with a model answer. This way, you can see exactly where you were on track and where you went astray.
Within your revision timetable, it is wise to include some time that will allow you to sit mock exams, even if these are on your own at home. Create an exam environment for yourself as far as possible and work through a past paper. Or if you prefer, run through past paper questions at the end of each revision session to consolidate your revision and get used to putting together information in an examination format.
Obtain a copy of a relevant past examination paper or mock paper and read through it carefully so that you can fully understand how it is structured.