Student Success: Interview with a new CGMA member!

This is the first in a series of interviews with newly qualified CIMA members – hopefully it will act as an inspiration and a motivational tool for current and new CIMA students.

Andrea Murphy recently passed her final CIMA exam (the Strategic Case Study) and was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site.

Q – Why did you choose to study CIMA over other accounting qualifications?

Andrea – I think CIMA is a good all-round qualification in comparison to ACCA. I started out doing ACCA then switched over after completing 3 exams. I think CIMA not only gives you a good financial understanding but also a good business understanding meaning skills can be used in a variety of roles. 

Q – When did you qualify as CGMA and what was your first reaction when passing?

Andrea – I qualified in April 2016 and I was in complete shock! After so long studying it was a sheer sense of relief. My result came through at 6am and I hadn’t slept at all the night before! It was such an emotional time due to the fact of knowing how hard I had worked and I had finally achieved success. 

Q – Did you learn with classroom tuition or home study?

Andrea – I learnt with a combination of home study and classroom. I funded the majority of the qualification myself therefore I mainly studied using the text books. I was lucky to have been funded by my company while I was on my last 3 exams so I studied for 2 OT strategic exams and my SCS exam in the classroom. 

Q – What were your biggest challenges when studying?

Andrea – As I self-studied for a large part of the qualification, my biggest challenge was discipline. I had to be really disciplined in order to get through the material. I had to make sacrifices in terms of my time in that I spent most weekends and evenings studying. 

Q – What materials did you use while studying for CIMA and why?

Andrea – Whilst self-studying I used mainly Kaplan. I found Kaplan really easy to follow and very thorough. Whilst in the classroom I used BPP because my employer had an agreement to use them as a provider. Whilst I did think BPP were helpful, in terms of material I prefer Kaplan. 

Q – What advice would you give for students are self studying CIMA?

Andrea – The main advice I can give is to advise you put the time and effort in! If you do this you are sure to succeed. Without putting the time and effort in, you will struggle. There is a lot of material to get through but it is do-able!

Q – You must have passed exams under the 2010 and 2015 syllabus, how does it compare?

Andrea – Yes I did. In my opinion, the 2010 syllabus was better for the Enterprise pillar as you were able to put your point across and explain it whereas under the 2015 syllabus it’s just a right or wrong answer. Also, the 2015 syllabus contains questions such as ‘select all that apply’ which I didn’t enjoy. It is good however that you get an instant result on your OT exams instead of having to anxiously wait for 6 weeks!

Q – Did you find the 2015 objective tests “harder” to pass than 2010?

Andrea – It is hard to compare with them being so different.

The pass mark is higher under the 2015 syllabus being 70% compared to 50% however the questions are multiple choice. You would expect a multiple choice question to be relatively easy but it isn’t! If I had to pick I would probably say the 2015 is harder due to the fact that you can’t explain your answer or obtain marks for your workings like you could under the 2010. 

Q – What advice would you give current CIMA students on how to get qualified?

Andrea – I would say putting the time in is key. I personally don’t think you can get qualified by not putting adequate time and effort in. You will need to make sacrifices but they will be worth it! 

Q – Did you use your experiences in the office to help your CIMA studies? If so, how?

Andrea – As with any job, you have to be punctual, disciplined and organised. These are all skills  needed to study, particularly self-studying. I had a study plan for each paper which I stuck to and I included in this dates and times for when to study. 

Q – How did you study for exams? Any special revision advice or techniques?

Andrea – I always had a study plan for each paper which I worked backwards from the exam date. I aimed to finish the syllabus with at least 2 weeks for revision and question practice. Question practice is definitely key for OT exams. I also created a brief summary for individual topics on A3 pages which I stuck up in our living room, much to my husbands delight!

Q – What are your plans now you are a CGMA member?

Andrea – My plan is to move up the ladder in terms of my career. I am currently a financial analyst which I thoroughly enjoy however I have done the role for 2 years and I feel it is time for a new challenge. I am keen to get more experience in a different role to broaden my knowledge. I am unsure where my career will take me but I am excited for the future!

Q – Any final words of wisdom for CIMA students?

Andrea – Keep going!! There were many times I felt like giving up but I got there in the end. I have shed many tears of frustration over the last few years but it was all worth it! It’s a small part of your life that is tough, but it’s not forever! There will come a day when you no longer have to give up every weekend and feel guilty for enjoying yourself 🙂


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