5 simple tips to pass the IBBI valuation examination

Most candidates take up the exam soon after completing the 50 hours – in order to make the best use of their memory. In all this hurry, not much of real learning happens. Without adequate knowledge, passing the IBBI valuation exam is difficult.

5 simple tips to pass the IBBI valuation examination


The valuation examination for securities or financial assets (SFA) has a low pass percentage. According to estimates, only 10-12% of the candidates who appear for the test become valuers. With such low pass rates, we often get requests for suggestions/tips to clear this exam.

So, here are 5 tips;

1. Don’t ignore easy areas

Many candidates lose hope reading caselets/case-study on valuation which run into 7-8 lines or longer. Several bright candidates (experts in accounting, taxation) have confessed that they simply don’t understand the meaning of the contents in a case study. We will tackle cases in a separate post. What we would like to highlight here is even within the core valuation topics there are many theory areas. One such is topic of entity or business strategy analysis. This includes Porter’s five forces, ADL matrix, core competencies and a few others.

These are easy to understand and score in the examination. Unfortunately, many candidates are not aware of the existence of these topics in the syllabus and instead spend more time and energy handling complex areas like option valuation etc. Our suggestion is to invest a little more time in these easy-to-read areas and reap disproportionate benefit in the exams.

2. Master the basics of bond valuation (fixed income securities)

Since we don’t have prescribed books for IBBI’s valuation examination, one is left to ‘construct’ one’s own sources. If your RVO provides you reading material covering all areas, do refer those materials. Most candidates find bond valuation a difficult area.

We suggest you refer a good book on this topic. Institutes such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) may have covered this as part of their finance papers. Bond valuation is a foundational element of all things in valuation. It is not a standalone topic. Your very equity DCF method has its underpinnings in bond valuation.

Once you gain expertise in bond valuation, you will be able to handle any valuation problem – be it in equity or derivatives or the topics in corporate finance. Such is the versatility and omnipresence of the principles of bond valuation.

3. Read professional ethics

This might be a dry and boring area. But the good part is it is so small an area, and yet carries a disproportionate weightage of 4%. For comparison, just visualize the difficulty of this with, say, macroeconomics which carries 3% weightage. Macroeconomics has four major areas - national income, fiscal policy, monetary policy and the business cycle. We are not advocating choosing one topic over another. Instead, we are highlighting how certain areas are easy but often gets ignored.

Despite this, a mistake many candidates make is to postpone Professional Ethics to the last minute and eventually give only a cursory ready before exam day. This area is essentially a memory game and a wordplay challenge. Do read this topic a couple of times and solve multiple-choice questions (MCQs). In our opinion, there is no other equivalent topic where you can score with certainty.

4. Get familiar with open-source spreadsheet software

We had covered in a related post how LibreOffice or OpenOffice have many differences compared to Microsoft Excel. Several candidates have ‘grown up’ with MS Excel and intuitively use Excel commands on LibreOffice on the exam day and get frustrated with the results.

A few days of acquaintance with these open office products ahead of the IBBI exam day will be helpful. If you can visit the NISM center before your scheduled exam date and enquire about the software installed in the systems (and prepare accordingly) it would be a great advantage for you.

5. Learn concepts, acquire knowledge

Last, but not the least, this an important tip. Much of the time in the 50-hour education course is spent in solving probable examination questions. We have discussed this in a related post. In-depth learning usually does not happen. We can’t blame RVOs because the allotted time is only 50 hours requiring coverage of vast areas.

Most candidates take up the exam soon after completing the 50 hours – in order to make best use of their memory. In all this hurry, not much of real learning happens. Without adequate knowledge, passing the IBBI valuation exam is difficult.

We suggest a different approach. Plan your exam date based on your level of understanding of the full syllabus. If you think 3 or 4 months of self-study is necessary, take that time. This could be before or after the educational course – usually it is the latter. But you must remain committed to this plan.

The reason most RVO faculties suggest taking the exam immediately is because though candidates would like to postpone taking the exam, they don’t utilize the intervening time with additional preparation. With the passage of time, students tend to forget crucial concepts learnt in the classroom. Therefore, in that context, taking the exam early is good.

But what if you are committed to learning? Then a solid 3 months of preparation and appearing in the exam has a better chance of success than simply appearing for the exam immediately after the educational course. If you are serious about a long-term career as a valuer, the 3 months is a lifetime’s worth investment.

The syllabus prescribed by the IBBI for the valuer’s exam is an interesting mix: a combination of valuation tools, economics, accounting, corporate finance, ethics etc. Whatever you learn must help you not only pass the exam, but also help in your professional career. Approach the course with this mindset.