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Using the composition of the RE to your advantage

Published

2011

Wed

20

Jul

A very important part of one’s preparation for the regulatory examinations is to gain insight into the composition of the question paper. While some may have learnt the hard way, there is an easier option: the explanatory notes issued by the FSB in March this year. We quote freely from this document in the article below with our remarks in maroon.

This document explains the four levels of questions and then discusses how it is applied in the question paper:

The layout of the RE 1: Key Individual Category I, II, IIA, III and IV
 

Level 1 questions
(knowledge)

28%

22 Questions

Level 2 questions
(comprehension)

40%

32 Questions

Level 3 questions
 (application)

20%

16 Questions

Level 4 questions
 (analysis)

12%

10 Questions

The layout for the RE 5: Representative

Level 1 questions

30%

15 Questions

Level 2 questions

40%

20 Questions

Level 3 questions

20%

10 Questions

Level 4 questions

10%

  5 Questions

As the purpose of the level 1 regulatory examination is to ensure that financial advisors and representatives understand their regulatory role and responsibilities, the emphasis was placed on the “comprehension” or understanding and application of the legislation.

The two so-called “lower order” thinking skills, knowledge and comprehension, comprise 68% and 70% of the two level 1 examinations, respectively.

It should also be noted that random selection of questions are used. In other words two people may write the same examination, but will not receive the same questions. However, the complexity of their examinations will be the same as the layout of the examinations is exactly the same.

The reason for the random selection of questions is to limit the leakage of questions. The questions bank will therefore have a longer lifespan and as a result the cost of the examinations can be contained as ongoing question development can be limited due to questions being used for a longer period of time before retiring the questions.

One should also understand that there is a limit to the number of questions that can be drawn from each of the tasks in the qualifying criteria. “Over-exhaustion” could lead to new questions becoming more and more difficult.

Standard practice in examinations is to include “easier” questions at the beginning and end of each examination, and the more difficult questions should be situated more towards the middle of the examination – commonly referred to as the “bell curve”:

The layout of the examinations is designed to obtain a bell curve effect.

The rationale for the bell curve is that a person’s concentration level peaks more or less during the middle of the examination, and therefore it's appropriate to deal with the more complex questions during the middle of the examination. Starting off with easier questions and finishing with easier questions is also more positive for the candidate writing the examination.

One must bear in mind that each question is only worth one mark. Some candidates have elected to attend to all the short questions first while their minds were still fresh, leaving the lengthier, more difficult questions for last.

As they say in golf: you drive for show, but you put for dough.

If I had to choose between a 300 meter drive and six inch put (which both count as one stroke), I know what my choice would be.

 
Source: Paul Kruger: Moonstone Information Refinery (Pty) Ltd
 
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