'Technique, not technical knowledge' hinders exam success - Professional Planner

‘Technique, not technical knowledge’ hinders exam success – Professional Planner

According to former FASEA National Exams Manager Farrell Platt, the problem is technique rather than technical knowledge holding back exam candidates trying to pass the counselor exam.

Speaking at a webcast hosted by the Financial Advisers Association, Platt cited his experience assessing the problems candidates had in their answers to exam questions.

“It’s mostly about the technique, not the technical knowledge,” Platt said. “I know this from history and because I know how the exam fits together.

Candidates who fail the exam will receive feedback in three areas: financial advice, regulatory and legal responsibilities; applied ethical professional reasoning and communication; and subfields of financial construction.

FASEA previously offered wider feedback on where advisers were struggling, including the use of Chapter 7 of the document Corporations Act to advice statements and financial services guides.

“Do [candidates] i need to get chapter 7 out Corporations Act and start reading it cover to cover? Definitely, in your time, because it’s a fantastic read,” Platt said. “But for exam preparation purposes… RG 175 is much easier to read than. Corporations Act. It does not replace or contradict; comes from it. It’s easier to get your bearings.”

Platt also recommended RG 78 and ASIC Information Sheet 259 for further reading on breach reporting, another area identified as a concern by FASEA.

Lock it up, Eddie

Platt pointed to multiple-choice questions as a style that advisers can stumble upon, especially for candidates who don’t have significant exam experience.

“Read the question carefully, don’t rush it,” Platt said. “Don’t assume anything.” Don’t bring anything that doesn’t belong, just stick to the question.’

Platt said the candidates he’s worked with “jump into solution mode” too quickly.

“By rushing in and assuming you’re going to miss key points. Look for keywords or main points that you need to work with.”

Unlike “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” there’s no phone call to a friend or asking the audience options, but Platt showed how you can quickly cut the options in half.

“Sometimes it’s easy to get rid of the two that don’t belong there and you do a process of elimination to get to the smaller task.”

Platt said this is the process of getting the exam to do the work for the candidate.

“The test is there to help you. If you take those points and let the exam do some of the work for you, you’ll have a much smoother experience and be able to get to the other side.”

Having reached the last two options, which Platt describes as key and counter, the question can be reassessed.

“Look at the keywords to guide you to what’s next,” Platt said. “That will lead you to the key and the slanderer will simply disappear. Lock it and move on to the next question.”

A little empathy for those who are struggling

AFA chief executive Phil Anderson admitted he beat the heat by coming to support colleagues struggling with the exam.

“It’s just not an explanation when I say they’re not going to pass because they don’t have the technical knowledge,” Anderson said.

He pointed to a number of factors that affect a candidate’s ability to pass the exam, including problems with thinking, language difficulties or problems using technology effectively.

“I tried to emphasize that we still believe there are many good counselors who can pass the exam.”

The October expansion was a polarizing move with data from Adviser Ratings show most of the advisers did not believe an extension should have been granted.

Data delivered from the Enterprise Controller to the Professional Planner this week showed that 650 candidates had signed up for the July exam although it could not confirm how many candidates sat within their eligibility granted by the extension.

Earlier in the year, ASIC presented figures to a parliamentary committee showing that 882 advisers on the FAR were eligible for an extension, although Wealth Data believes this number is close to four digits.

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