CIMA PER: Practical Experience Requirements

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I had a request on twitter a few weeks back about the Practical Experience Requirements (PER) that are needed to obtain the fully fledged CGMA designation.

So with this in mind and the fact I am beginning the strategic level myself, it seemed the perfect time for myself to delve further into this subject which you may have not even thought about!

What is PER?

Well, let’s start at the beginning.

What exactly is PER you might say?

It’s about fulfilling the practical experience that is required in order to be considered a competent chartered global management accountant.

As a CIMA student/member you’ll need to have 3 years relevant work experience under your belt and fulfil a certain criteria that is measured by the CGMA Competency Framework (more on that later…).

As a student you’ll need to submit the relevant work experience using the MAT Membership Application Tool – here you will record your practical experience against the CGMA competency framework – it will need to verified by your line manager or something at who can prove you fulfilled the criteria.

Finally, once you’ve passed the SCS exam,  it will be assessed by CIMA to determine whether you have gained the sufficient experience and then be awarded the CGMA designation. 

When do I need to take action?

I imagine most student’s leave this part until they have passed the final exam and then realise they need to submit their PER.

However, you can begin to complete the PER as soon as you begin studying CIMA – as long as you have demonstrated the professional experience in the workplace.

And that’s something I have started to myself since researching this blog post as it will save time when I do finally complete the strategic level.

As well as reading this article, I would suggest you to take a look at the official CIMA PER Guidance here – this will explain in detail;

  • What is PER and why it’s required.
  • The CGMA Competency Framework.
  • The criteria you need to fulfil.
  • How the MAT (Membership Application Tool) works.
  • FAQ’s

In summary, I would suggest all students (especially those with 3+ years’ experience in finance) to start your PER now and document your practical experiences in line with the CGMA competency framework.

Not only will you be a step ahead when you complete the strategic level, recording the experience as and when we complete it will ensure its accuracy and help the verification process.

How do I take action?

Let’s take a look first at the CGMA Competency Framework to see what kind of practical experiences we need to submit and get verified.

The hierarchy of the CGMA competency framework is split into four levels with Level 1 based are the four knowledge areas which we are already familiar with from our case study exams (see the core in diagram below);

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Level 2 is what is known as the competency category you can see listed out in the above disagram – for example, the first one under Technical Skills is “Financial Accounting and Reporting”

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Level 3 is the proficiency level of the category, which is clearly shown in the above illustration.

Meanwhile, Level 4 is the competency required to fulfil that specific proficiency level. This is ultimately the professional competency we are aiming to demonstrate in our PER.

Completing your PER

Now we understand whats behind the competency framework we can begin our application.

I’ve just recently begun to the complete the PER application by logging into MY CIMA account and selecting the Updated PER option in the MY CIMA menu.

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It’s actually quite easy and self-explanatory to complete despite my initial trepidation.

You start by entering your personal details and then your employment history with timelines – now you have the chance to select the Level 4 Competency’s we looked at earlier.

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For example; I selected the following competency:

Level 1: Technical Skills

Level 2: Financial Accounting and Reporting/Transnational Accounting and Closing Process

Level 3: Advanced

Level 4: Simply, improve and harmonise existing and complex processes and systems for accounts reconciliation’s and month end closing.

So remember, it’s the Level 4 competency I am documenting here.

Once I have added how I have demonstrated this skill (500 words maximum) I save it on my application, but then it will need to be verified by my line manager.

You can do this by adding a verifier to each employment role you listed on your application, it’s quite straightforward, nothing too tricky.

Once you are ready you can submit it for verification.

Just to clarify, it doesn’t matter if you are still on operational level, you can still add the professional experience to the PER and get it verified by your manager/designated verifer.

It’s the final step of submitting the PER application to CIMA can only be done once you have passed the final Strategic Case Study exam.

If you’re still none the wiser, then take another look at the Official CIMA PER Guidance from CIMA, or you can leave your comments below and I will do my best to answer ASAP.

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CIMA SCS May 2018: Couchweb

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Students sitting the SCS exam May 2018 will be dreading the next few weeks ahead of them, but to honest it’s where we (as students) all want to be! One more exam!!

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the May 2018 SCS exam Couchweb a couple of weeks ago, so you should already be well versed with the materials. Below are a few visual aids to help you on your way.

You can find the official SCS Couchweb pre-seen analysis from CIMA here. 

Couchweb: Pre-Seen Analysis

Here it begins. The pre-seen analysis video from Astranti below will get the ball rolling for your SCS exam next month.

You can find the full set of videos on the May 2018 SCS here.

Couchweb: Strategic Analysis

The strategic analysis of Couchweb will help you identify where the company strengths and weaknesses lie and where they are heading.

You can find the full set of videos on the May 2018 SCS here.

Couchweb: Top 10 Issues

Now you’ve had time to look through the pre-seen analysis and strategic analysis, you should have an idea of the Top 10 Issues with couchweb? If you are still struggling for focus then the Astranti tutors view of the Top 10 Issues will help you on your way to passing the CIMA SCS first time.

 

You can find the full set of videos on the May 2018 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

The SCS complete course boasts a huge amount of materials, advice, videos, mock exams etc etc. I’ve used it to good effect when passing the MCS exam earlier this year so would definteltly recommend it.

What’s more, they so confident you will pass the SCS exam they offer a pass guarantee!

You can find full details on the SCS course with pass guarantee here.

SCS Course Contents:

  • SCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

 

CIMA MCS May 2018: Menta

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CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the May 2018 MCS case study last week, so with this mind here are a list of tips, resources and links you might find useful when studying for the Menta MCS case study in May 2018.

You can find the official pre-seen materials for CIMA here.

Menta: Pre-Seen Analysis

The foundation of your preparation for the May CIMA MCS will begin and pretty much end with the pre-seen analysis you conduct.

This 24 page document is packed full of insight and information on what to areas could come up on exam day.

Furthermore, by having a firm grip on the content of the materials and being able to link them to the unseen on exam day will help you a lot to add depth to your answer and keep it relevant to the Menta case study.

Below is a video from Astranti to your pre-seen analysis started.

You can find the full set of videos on the May MCS here.

How I Passed the CIMA MCS

As you are aware, I passed the previous sitting of the CIMA MCS exam first time by taking the MCS course from Astranti .

However, it’s not as straightforward as signing up for a course and expecting to turn up on exam day and breeze through the exam!

There is a lot of hard work and dedication required in order to get yourself for the exam, as you can see by the MCS exam pass rates over the last 12 months, students are finding it a tougher and tougher exam to pass.

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You read my full thoughts on how I passed the CIMA MCS exam and the process I went through here.

 

CIMA MCS: How I passed it first time.

MCS

I’ve never been a bingo fan, but I was delighted to see the “two fat ladies – 88” and the wonderful green background of the word PASSED.

But before I go into how I passed the CIMA MCS exam, I’ll start with my initial thoughts on receiving the results.

Passing CIMA MCS: Initial Thoughts

I was of course delighted to get the PASS on the email this morning as passing any CIMA exam is a relief and sense of satisfaction! The 6 week wait between the case study exam and the results is a killer though, as you go through a range of emotions.

A bit like an alcoholic trying to give up vodka.

First, after leaving the exam hall, there is the thought “Yes! I’ve done the exam.” I can relax and you’re confident you’ll pass. But as the days and weeks tick on you start to doubt yourself as you talk to others.

Shit! I forgot to mention this and cover that on the exam… And then you forgot half of your answers and start to doubt yourself even more. Then you get nervous about results day.

Finally as you’re only days away you just get angry with the whole thing and cannot wait any longer. Frantically refreshing your email in the morning of exam results like and alcoholic checking their bank balance the morning of payday getting ready to run down the off licence.

Anyhow, I’m digressing.

Joy and Disappointment

My sense of joy at passing the CIMA MCS, however, is tinged with disappointment at getting a score of 88.

You might think that’s a bit crazy and I don’t want to sound arrogant or ungrateful but I’ll explain why:

1) I felt leaving the exam I had done very well, a good pass score at least.
2) I have first hand experience of working in shared service environment, so I was already at an advantage.
3) It sounded like the variant I sat was one of the easier ones, so what score would I have got if I had the tougher variant?
4) The exam prep went well, the mock exams were all passed with good scores.

Plus, I felt I had really applied myself to the exam and had the right preparation heading into the exam. A bit like a boxer primed for a heavyweight title fight in the shape of his life, so with everything seemingly in my favour I felt I would score 100+ (bearing in mind this out of 150, so 100+ should be expected with the conditions I felt I had).

It makes me wonder how I would fare further down the line when my confidence is not as high, will I be able to get over the F3/P3/E3 exams first time?

Then what about the SCS? 

Anyhow, there is time to tackle these questions once I have digested the fact I am now the holder of the CIMA Adv Dip MA title. 🙂

How I passed the CIMA MCS Exam first time

CIMA Feb 2018 Case Study

Before I started to think about the pre-seen materials being released, I needed to have a plan and structure for following two months.

That plan looked a bit like this:

  • Revise syllabus content from P2/E2/F2
  • Understand MCS exam structure
  • Read previous MCS examiners report
  • Analyse preseen materials
  • Delve further into P2/E2/F2 syllabus based on issues identified from pre-seen
  • Take mock exams 1/2/3
  • Review mock exam feedback
  • Re-read preseen materials making 2 pages of key points.
  • Relax.
  • Re-read feedback from mock exams and revise weak areas raised in feedback.
  • Relax (try to!).

Of course I didn’t stick to the plan 100% in terms of timing but it gave me structure and ensured I didn’t waste anytime in the build up to exam day.

CIMA MCS Materials Used

As you know from my previous blog posts, I used the full Astranti MCS course and found it to be packed with resources, videos, materials and classes.

In fact there was so much I didn’t manage to watch all of the tuition videos, which perhaps in hindsight was a bad idea on my part.

  • MCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • Tuition videos
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance
  • Pass Guarantee

Lessons Learnt

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What I found the most useful from the Astranti MCS course were the mock exams with feedback. The mock exams you take on the course are actually based on the pre-seen materials and case study you are sitting (in my case Nortan) – it’s an invaluable experience as it’s as close to what you will face on exam day.

Planning. You must plan your time accordingly and make sure you cover all bases, the key to passing the CIMA MCS exam first time is having a balanced script.

You must have the technical knowledge, pre-seen details, know how to apply them, industry examples and the ability to draw conclusions and make recommendations in the exam.

Also, there was a little gem in the Astranti MCS course, it is the Study Text Part 2. 

This is a condensed version of the E2/P2/F2 syllabus, it was a great resource for me during the 6 weeks study preparation. It had all of the syllabus content I needed at the right level of detail.

It would almost be impossible to go through your previous study texts and found this bite-sized version (well, there is still 700 pages!!) is perfect. I could find the section I needed and revise in the right level of detail – in some cases you just need a high level view to jog your memory.

The CIMA Student MCS Study Tip

free CIMA resources and study tips

Finally, I would like to point to the importance of planning your answer before you start answering the question in full.

I would spend about 20% of my time in the question (so in a 45 minute question I would spend 9 minutes) planning my answer.

This involves identifying the requirements and creating some headings of areas I want to cover in my answer. Then I add a few sub points underneath the headings, linking the syllabus content, pre-seen information, industry info and ethics (if there is any to consider).

Then I would finally add all of the meat to the bones of the answer.

Planning my answer in this manner made sure I stayed on track and didn’t ramble off point, as you can see I did in my opening paragraph or two here.

Good Luck to students sitting May case study and hope all of the February case students got the result you wanted!

 

CIMA OCS May 2018: Mansako

The May 2018 CIMA Operational Case Study pre-seen materials have been released and this time it’s based on a company called Mansako.

You can find the pre-seen materials for the May 2018 OCS from CIMA website here.

2018-03-23 15_23_14-OCS May 2018 - PS - final version_0.pdf

CIMA OCS: Pre-Seen Analysis

The cornerstone of your work and revision for the OCS will be based around the pre-seen materials, there is a wealth of information, clues and pointers on what to expect on exam day so it’s crucial you re-read and make notes on the pre-seen materials.

To get you started, below is a preview video from Astranti on the Mansako pre-seen materials.

You can find the full set of videos on the May OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

CIMA OCS: What do we know?

You are Finance Officer for Mansako and you will be supporting the Finance Manager with the preparation of budgets and monthly management accounts. There is also mention of annual financial reporting and the queries that could come up regarding this.

  • Mansako is a luxury leather good company founded in 1971.
  • They are listed on the Lowerland stock exchange.
  • Mansako suffered when entering high-end luxury market, sales and profits dropped dramatically from 2012-15.
  • A new creative director was appointed in 2015 and a change in product range meant that sales went back up to $218.5m but profits were only $9.8m (4.4% net profit margin).
  • Company has 1400 employees – with 50% of staff based in production.
  • Mansako’s senior management team has seen alot of recent changes the current management team are quite young.
  • 72% of sales revenue comes from Lowerland, with 14% from Europe, 7% from Asia, 6% North America and 1% from ROW.

The above information was taken from the pre-seen materials and you can already see a few potential areas for questions on exam day.

While their sales revenue has been restored to normal levels $218.5m, operating profits are quite low (4.4%) this indicates Mansako’s overheads are higher than they should be.

  • Do they have an effective budgeting system?
  • Are they negotiating the right deal with suppliers?
  • Are they over-staffed?

CIMA OCS: Mock Exams

You should know my thoughts on how much I value taking mock exams in mock conditions and this also applies to case study exams. It helps build your confidence and really tests where you are in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

To get a feel of what you can expect on exam day, you can take the free OCS mini mock from Astranti before taking the 3 full mock exams that are based on the xxx case study.

Astranti Mock Exam Deadlines

To get the full benefit of having the mock exams marked with personalised feedback, the below deadlines are recommended for the three mock exams for the May OCS exam.

2018-03-23 10_28_49-CIMA OCS Mocks

You can find out more information about the Astranti Mansako mock exams here.

CIMA OCS: Case Study Exam Tips

Finally, below is a video on the things you must do before the OCS exam (it was taken from the February but the points remain the same for any of the OCS exam sittings!).

Good Luck and Happy Studying!

CIMA P2 Exam Tips

CIMA P2 Syllabus

CIMA P2 Syllabus

The CIMA P2 exam is a tough one to crack as there are lots of calculations to consider as well as some more complicated theory. However, having passed the P1 exam already you will have the platform already to build on your knowledge and successfully pass the CIMA P2 exam first time!

I found that syllabus section C: Long-Term Decision Making can feature quite heavily in the exam, as the subjects are easy to test in the objective tests. i.e. calculations on NPV, IRR and payback etc.

So make sure you spend enough time practising these types of questions in your revision!!

CIMA P2 Study Text

Before you get started with your CIMA P2 Advanced Management Accounting studies you should be aware that Astranti offer free online study texts and I found them a great way to study on the go (as well as for free!).

You can pick up a free online version of the CIMA P2 study text here.

CIMA P2 – Net Present Value and IRR

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I feel there are certain areas of the P2 syallabus that are easier to examine. And one of these areas are Net Present Values and Internal Rate of Return, as they are calculation based.

NPV’s are relatively straight forward but IRR (and MIRR) can be trickier to understand but the below video explains these discounted investment appraisal techniques in more detail.

CIMA P2 Study Planner

Fail to plan is planning to fail. <— said a wise person.

With this in mind, you should really make sure you plan your CIMA P2 studies to ensure;

  • You have enough time to cover the whole P2 syllabus.
  • Have 2-3 weeks of revision and mock exam practice at end.
  • Schedule your exam date so you have a target and motivation to study.

This is all common sense stuff really but if you struggle to plan your time effectively then you should take advantage of the CIMA P2 Study Planner direct from the CIMA connect site. It will help you stay on track and ensure you reach the milestones along the way.

CIMA Mock Exams

Once you have covered the whole syllabus, the key to passing any CIMA exam is make sure your have enough exam practice under your belt. I use a mixture of the Kaplan exam practice kits and the practice tests academy online mock exams.

Making sure you can handle the P2 exam in real exam conditions will give you confidence to handle the exam on exam day.

CIMA P2 Exam Strategy

I’d also suggest to have a “strategy” on how to approach the exam as you will be under time pressure and you need to be smart with your time. I’ve mentioned this several times on different blog posts but the video from CIMA below explains a great way how to approach the CIMA objective tests.

The CIMA Student Advice

You can read how I passed the CIMA P2 exam here for my full thoughts on how I passed the exam; but to be honest it was one of the tougher exams for me as I was exempt from P1 due to the transition from to 2015 Syllabus but nevertheless it is still possible to pass the exam first time.

There are no shortcuts though.

You must put in the hours in terms of covering the syllabus, testing your knowledge and having the right exam preparation in terms of real mock exam practice in exam conditions.

But there are also lots of resources out there that can help you, use the CIMA Connect Site to engage with other students and look through the CIMA P2 technical articles.

I often found these articles a great way to get my head around theory I couldn’t quite grasp from my study text.

CIMA Connect and P2 Technical Articles

For example; login to CIMA connect and select the study resources for CIMA P2 Advanced Management Accounting;

  • Select; Article and
  • Lead Learning Outcome; C2 Discuss Pricing Strategies
  • And it will show give you a link to a CIMA technical article on the subject.

2018-03-21 10_45_53-Study resources _ CIMAconnect

It’s a great resource that can often be overlooked by students.

Happy Studying CIMA P2 and Good Luck!

CIMA Case Study Tips: May 2018

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Having sat the CIMA MCS exam last month I thought I would base this blog post around the lessons I learnt from my experience in studying for the Feb case study exam.

I am still waiting for my result to come (March 29th) but I hope this advice will be helpful for students sitting a CIMA case study exam.

 

May 2018 Case Study Planning

I took my plan from the February case study exam and have mapped it out for all three levels for the May 2018 exam to give you an overview of how I planned my time according to the Astranti MCS course I took.

CS3CS5

The general idea is that you spend;

  • 2 weeks before pre-seen release date on syllabus refresh and ethics.
  • 2 weeks focusing on pre-seen materials.
  • 3 weeks on mock exams, reviewing feedback and final revision.

I also included the dates on the Astranti Master Classes for each paper, I found the timings of these classes were great.

The first one is scheduled after a couple of weeks after the pre-seen materials are released and the second master class is scheduled just a few days before the exam to make sure you have covered all bases and ask any final questions from the mock exams or your revision.

But you can apply this same principle and schedule regardless of what materials or learning provider you are using.

For example, instead of sitting the Astranti masterclass on the above dates, you can use the same time reviewing other resources and the CIMA pre and post exam kits on the CIMA connect site.

Astranti Case Study Course

I used the full MCS course for the February 2018 exam last month and was happy with the materials and support I received. In fact there were some materials I didn’t even manage to look at in great detail.

For those interested, you can find the full details on the course contents below.

OCS Course – May 2018

MCS Course – May 2018

SCS Course – May 2018

Practice Tests Academy

Practice Tests Academy – I have used these guys a lot for mock exam questions on the objective tests but they are also releasing more and more materials on the CIMA case studies.

VIVA Financial Tuition

VIVA Financial Tuition – they have sent me a few articles on previous case study exams that were published on the site and they are new CIMA learning provider that are also providing more and more case study materials.

You can read an example of their financial analysis on SCS exam AutoAuto here.

The 4 Stages of CIMA Case Study Exam Prep

Having gone back over the study plan I have identified there are four different stages I went through when preparing for the MCS exam.

Syllabus Knowledge Revision

Don’t wait until the pre-seen materials are released before starting work on the case study exams. As you still have a few weeks to brush up on the CIMA syllabus you studied leading up to the case study exam.

Now don’t get too hung up on covering every page of your text books when refreshing your knowledge, it’s not needed.

Plus there is no chance you will cover everything in the detail you want.

I found this time leading up to the case study a great way to get my mind back into study mode so I could hit the ground running when the pre-seen materials were finally released. 

Pre-Seen Materials

As soon as the pre-seen materials are released you should focus your entire efforts on this document, making your own notes and using the resources and pre-seen videos you have on the case study.

Having made a thorough analysis of the document you should have a clearer picture of what areas to study in more detail.

A great way to do this is map out your own strategic analysis of the company using SWOT analysis. Below is a brief example of what I mean, but you should be able to pick out all of this information from the pre-seen materials.

Strengths: Does the company have a unique product? How can they exploit that?

Weaknesses: Are costs spiralling out of control?

Opportunities: Can the use of new technology create a new innovative product?

Threats: Are their low barriers to entry in the market place?

The answers to the above points will give you the framework to continue your revision in the lead up to taking your first mock exam.

Industry Analysis

I’d also like to mention a sub point here when tackling the pre-seen analysis, looking at industry analysis is a great way to give the pre-seen materials more context and you’ll find yourself being able to relate to the scenario much more.

For example; I knew pretty much nothing about the oil industry when the pre-seen materials came out for the Feb MCS and it wasn’t until I could connect the dots between the pre-seen materials and real life situations in the oil industry that I felt more comfortable with my revision. 

Mock Exams

I’m always banging on about the value of mock exams and I’ll always stand by that but to really benefit from there you need to consider three things.

  1. Don’t take them too soon
  2. Sit them in exam conditions
  3. Get them marked or feedback from a tutor

If you rush straight into taking a mock exam too soon you will fail, and fail quite miserably.

There is no need to damage your confidence as this stage, you should have make sure you have a firm grip on the pre-seen materials, know what’s expected of you in your role in the exam and know how what technique or writing style is required.

Secondly, if you don’t sit at least one mock exam in exam conditions then you will really struggle on exam day with the time pressure and conditions. It’s key not to cheat yourself when taking mock exams by either looking at text books or not sitting them in exam conditions.

Finally, getting them marked by a tutor is a great way to see where you and what you need to focus on.

Otherwise, you will find it difficult to move forward and progress. I found it invaluable to get the feedback from Astranti as the tutor comments really helped me evaluate where I was and what I needed to do in the next one.

Revision of Pre-Seen and Mock Exams

Once you have taken a mock exam you will then have focus areas you need to brush up on, whether it’s F2 consolidated accounts or E2 management theories. You should use the time in between taking mock exams to cover the areas have identified as being yoru weak areas.

I’d also suggest to use this time to read the pre-seen materials every now and again, it will help you cement the information so it becomes second nature on exam day.

Important Dates – CIMA May 2018 Case Studies

2018-03-05 14_15_29-CIMA - 2018 Exam timetable

Good Luck!!