RES Exam Passing Mark

One of the most controversial question regarding the RES exam has to be the passing mark.

According to CEA website, passing mark for each exam paper is 60% and is subject to review by CEA.

Whether you are academically strong or the ‘cannot study type’, 60% sounds pretty doable isn’t it?

Then why all the stories about people failing over and over again?

My deduction – the result is based on bell curve.


In this recent poll, 22 exam candidates who took the September 2020 exam participated in the poll. As you could see in the chart above, they are spread across 7 different course providers with 10 from RCN, 4 from Pioneer, 2 each from Hastor, RIA, SEAA and 1 each from Benchmark and IEA.

It is widely known that the RES exam is extremely challenging and the passing rate is relatively low. How low is low? Well, out of the 22 candidates, only 6 (27.3%) passed the exam in their first attempt which means the majority would have to retake in November 2020 or in 2021.


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Whether you are retaking or taking the exam for the first time. I strongly suggest you put together a study plan that covers the entire exam syllabus as posted here. Another important step that I highly encourage everyone to do is to find out your learning style. A self assessment link is available here.

Why is this important? Because I know so many who have sacrificed their sleep, family time, weekends and more but yet they keep failing. One of the possibility could simply be they are not studying in the most optimal way their brain is designed for. Imagine trying to transfer water into a cup using your bare hands? That is exactly what a lot of people are doing to themselves.


When I put the poll results side-by-side comparing both papers, it seems rather apparent that the passing rate for Paper 2 is higher where over half (63.6%) managed to clear Paper 2 on their first attempt as compared to 40.9% for Paper 1. The same trend for those taking their papers for the second time, more will clear Paper 2 compared to Paper 1.

What we can learn from this is that you might have to modify your revision strategies accordingly. If you prepare well ahead, spend more time on Paper 1. If you are running out of time, perhaps you should aim to clear Paper 2 first so you can fully focus on clearing Paper 1 the next round.

Looking for more tips from those who passed? Another common observation among them is how they approach the exam paper. Instead of doing the paper sequentially from Section A (MCQs) followed by Section B (Case Study) and Section C (Short Answers), most of them starts with Section C first before working on Section B and finally, Section A.

The reason for doing so is because every question in Section C carries 2 marks and their strategy is to go for a quick win while the mind is still fresh. Attending additional revision classes and buying mock exam questions book have also contributed to their understanding of the various topics.

I understand not everyone has the budget to spend on additional studying material or classes but if affordability is not an issue, I would think it is a good idea to invest in yourself and shorten the process of getting the license. After all, to re-sit for the exam will cost you more time and money.