How to smash your CII revision

How to smash your CII revision

If you have decided that 2021 is the year that you will tackle your CII exams you’ll be thinking about the best way to take on your revision.

The CII may be your first professional qualification, and, as many adults have not taken exams since their school or university days, we are here to share some of our tried and tested techniques for getting the most from your revision and helping you to memorise the important information that will help you to smash your exams.

We’ve got a few blogs lined up on this topic, the first area we’ll cover is how to make the best use of the resources available to you using our funnel technique.  

Revision funnel


So let’s start with your textbook. The purpose of the book is to teach you its content and help you understand the information; this means they are very heavy on detail. We would recommend that you read through it once (at least) and as you do, create your next tool – your notes.


The objective of your notes is to shrink down the mass of information by highlighting what is important. There are different learning styles, so use whatever system works for you – colour coded, tabbed, mind maps – the aim is to condense the information in the textbooks to more manageable chunks, the stuff that you really need to know for exam success. The key facts books are a great resource to support you in minimising the text.

Revision cards

Thirdly, revision cards. Take one area of your notes and write the key subjects on one side of an A6 card, adding the main elements that you need to know on the reverse. Here, you are breaking down whole sentences into pointers for your brain, reminders that prompt you to recall the detail. If you don’t fancy making your own, you can use ours which you can select under CII Study Support


At this point, it’s good to test your knowledge and what you have retained using practice questions. There is a limit to the subjects your exam will cover, and so by doing practice papers, you may well come across similar questions to the ones that you get in your real exam. Use these to highlight areas you need to go back to and do more work on. The CII website is a useful tool – sections are highlighted as exam guides, and these include a practice paper. We also provide additional practice questions for each chapter along with our revision cards and within our online CII revision portal.


As you get closer to your exam, it’s worth going back to your textbook to review the checklists at the end of each chapter. Run through these and ensure you can answer the test questions, and that you are comfortable with all the learning outcomes. Top tip – we suggest you review these checklists the day before your exam!


The day before your exam, complete more practice questions. You should find that you have greater success with them this time around. We can’t stress enough how useful this part of your revision is!

Revision cards

Getting towards the bottom of the funnel, now go back to your revision cards to test yourself. Can you recall all the detail you know, just by looking at the subject? Go through them and reduce the cards until you are left with the ones you can’t remember and need to do more work on.

Luggage stuffing

The final part of the technique is what we call ‘luggage stuffing’ – these are the last bits that are hard to remember, but you need to pack into your brain, e.g. acronyms, statutes, industry bodies. You only need to remember these for a short time. Our top tip – remind yourself of them just before you go into sit your exam and once invigilation has started and you have shown your blank paper, jot them down. That way, you can empty your mind of them and focus on the task in hand.


So if you are starting on your revision, give the funnel method a try – and look out for our next blogs, which will cover memory tips, faster reading and tomatoes!