Watson Martin’s ten top revision tips
The September exam season is fast approaching for CIPD Advanced candidates. It can be a stressful time particularly if you are juggling your studies with a demanding job or a busy family life. But don’t panic, when it comes to doing well in your CIPD Advanced exams, we know what we are talking about and are here to help! Watson Martin consistently achieve a higher success rate than other CIPD centres. Our most recent results were particularly impressive with 80% gaining a pass or higher compared to 75% nationally. In the challenging Human Resource Management in Context (HRC) exam, only eight candidates throughout the country achieved the top grade of distinction, two of which were awarded to Watson Martin candidates.
So, how do you make the most of your revision time? What strategies should you employ to achieve the best possible result? You will already be familiar with your own learning style and revision techniques but we hope these ten top tips will give you an extra boost to ensure you are well prepared for your forthcoming CIPD exams.
- Attend the exam preparation workshops
All candidates who undertake the CIPD Advanced Diploma with Watson Martin are able to attend specifically tailored workshops before they sit their exams to help them with the revision process. Evaluation revealed that 99% of students described these workshops as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ with nine out of ten describing the tutor’s knowledge as ‘excellent’. There are four prep workshops coming up in early September, two for each exam. Candidates can choose which date to attend so make sure you have booked your place.
- Ensure you have a revision plan
If you haven’t already done so, make a revision plan. It is important to be honest with yourself about how much time you will realistically have available for revision activity. Read through your workbook, the core text and workshop notes and then summarise the key points on to A4 paper and then on to cards or Post-it notes. Revise in 45 minute bursts with a 10 minute break in between.
- Read a quality newspaper regularly
Try to read a daily quality newspaper (Times, Telegraph, FT, Independent, Guardian) to show that you are familiar with external events that have the potential to impact on the workplace. Online access to newspapers are more flexible as you can browse by subject area. Sunday editions can provide a useful summary of the week’s events if you can’t commit to a daily read.
- Practise, practise and practise again past exam questions
There are plenty of past question papers available. The more you do the better prepared you will be. We believe at least 60% of your total revision effort should go into practice papers. WM candidate Rebecca Henningattributes her recent distinction in HRC to the effort she put in around past papers.
“Both exam workshops were incredibly useful and communicated top tips and clear advice on how to give yourself the best chance. Knowing that I could also get in touch with my adviser at any time to ask questions, or ask her to read over practice questions was incredibly useful – believe me practising timed questions is the key,” she says.
- Read the examiner’s comments and be familiar with the GAC
Review the comments by external examiners on past exams on the CIPDwebsite after you have completed your practice paper. See what they said previous candidates did wrong and then ask yourself if you would have passed, and be truthful! The exams are marked using the same General Assessment Criteria (GAC) as the other Level 7 modules and it is important to be familiar with these standards too. From our experience, candidates who take the time to understand what the examiners are looking for, can demonstrate excellent practical and professional skills, as well as a thorough understanding of HRM knowledge, are those most likely to achieve top marks. The CIPD student webinar ‘Preparing for CIPD Advanced Level Exams’ which is available on the CIPDwebsite, is a useful resource.
- Don’t try and learn everything
Be selective in what you learn. It’s more important to achieve a depth of understanding with some critical views on models and theories rather than adopting a scattergun approach and knowing a little about everything. Our exam workshops will help you understand the key elements and identify where any gaps in your knowledge may be.
- Do your research
Half the marks for both HRC and Leading Managing and Developing People (LMP) are for the Case Study which candidates are provided with in advance. Our exam prep workshops will support you but help yourselves by doing the research before you attend. For example, if the case study is set in Oxfordshire, know the labour market stats. If the sector is education, read around the subject and think practically about solutions. We will populate our VLE with relevant materials for the case study to help you with this part of the exam. You can also follow us on Twitter: WMP_CIPD. We provide regular tips and signpost to useful literature, news and website articles.
On the day …
- Be aware of the pitfalls
Time management on the day is vital. Both exams are three hour papers and you should divide your time equally between the case study – section A – and the five out of a choice of ten questions in section B. Ensure you have enough time to complete all the questions. The CIPD will not mark your paper if you only complete four out of five questions and so you will fail even if the rest of your answers are brilliant.
- Read the questions carefully and write a plan
Use the reading time at the start of the exam wisely. Read all the questions carefully and decide which ones to answer. Highlight key command words as you go along. Spend two or three minutes writing a plan of what the question is asking before you start each question and stick to it. Remember if you are running out of time in the last question, include your plan as part of your answer. It could mean the difference between a pass and a fail.
- Do not brain dump
Sticking to your plan is really important. Do not just launch into the question and brain dump everything you know on the topic in the hope it might be relevant. It won’t be. It is very important that you answer the actual question that has been set and do not write a general answer about the topic based on everything that you can remember!
And finally … Good luck!
The Level 7 Advanced Diploma is the most widely recognised professional qualification in HR and the highest level of CIPD qualification, providing a broad range of practical knowledge and skills. Being “fully CIPD qualified” is essential for most senior HR roles. For further information about all courses and qualifications provided by Watson Martin please call 020 7932 2760 or visit: www.watsonmartin.com
“I was so pleased that my hard work paid off and for anyone else tackling CIPD exams – with hard work, prioritisation, determination and positivity… anything is possible!” Rebecca Henning