13 CIMA Study Tips

Trying to squeeze out the most of your CIMA study and revision time could be the difference between a pass and a fail on exam day.

free CIMA resources and study tips

Here are 13 (lucky for some) study tips that you might not have considered.

1. Take Breaks

Sometimes taking a break from your CIMA study will give you energy and a fresh focus when you return to the books. Never under estimate the power of closing the books for a few hours/days when you’re feeling bogged down.

2. Teach Other People

Have you ever tried to explain deferred tax or learning curves to your friends or family? If you can, you should have no problem on exam day.

3. Find A Routine and Stick to it!

Do you work better in the mornings? If so, keep your study times to the mornings rather than struggling in the evening times.

4. Use Memory Maps and Post-It Notes

As exam time approaches I tend to plaster my walls with key theories, formulas and revision notes so I can study when staring aimlessly at the wall.

5. Eat a healthy diet

I don’t want to start preaching about super foods and quinoa but it’s obvious that eating healthy helps your body and mind, rather than eating takeaways in the lead up to exam trying eating healthy, you’ll be amazed how much more energy you will have.

6. Sleep

Not during the exam or study time, but make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the exam, staying up revising the rational planning model the night before the CIMA E2 exam might seem like a good idea but a solid 8 hours sleep is much better.

7. Study Groups

It can be difficult if you are a distance learner but by forming CIMA study groups you will get the chance to bounce around ideas off each other and it’s a great to learn.

8. Think positive

Ok, this step is no good if you haven’t put the hours in studying but you should approach the exam in a confident, positive mood to give yourself the best chance of coping the stresses of exam day.

9. Go for a run

I’m not trying to turn everyone in salad eating marathon runners but it’s proven that exercise helps strengthen the mind as well as the body. It will put you a positive mood ready to hit the books.

10. Mock Exams are your friend

Putting off mock exams is a great way to fail exams, you shouldn’t be afraid of testing yourself in exam conditions. Having pages of pristine notes might look nice but will mean nothing if you can’t pass the exam.

11. Don’t dwell on the past

When studying for CIMA exam resits, you need to use the failure as a learning experience and not to dwell on it. Look forward, ahead at what’s in front of you and how you will pass the exam.

12. No Distractions

It’s easier than ever these days to check facebook, twitter and instagram. CIMA study time should be focused without distractions to get most from it – study for 45-60 minutes periods at a time WITHOUT DISTRACTIONS. 

13. Have a “Exam” Strategy

Do you know how you will approach the exam? You should have a clear picture of what you’re about to face, how many questions, the time per question, what to do if you are not sure with a question (flag it and come back later, of course). Going into the exam without a strategy (crying is not a strategy by the way) will make it even tougher to pass first time.

If you have any other CIMA study tips that you use that haven’t been mentioned above please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Good Luck and Happy Studying 🙂

CIMA SCS: AutoAuto Financial Analysis

The below article on the CIMA August 2017 SCS exam AutoAuto has been kindly provided by the good people at Viva Tuition.

CIMA SCS August 2017

The August 2017 Strategic Case Study deals with AutoAuto, an electronics and design company that sells to large car manufacturers. In this article we’re going to look at the financial statements presented in CIMA’s pre-seen for both AutoAuto and one of its main rivals, Primnav.

Income Statement Analysis – AutoAuto

AutoAuto’s Consolidated Statement of Profit or Loss signals trouble in the form of falling revenues and an even bigger decline in net profits in 2017.

Revenues declined 7% in 2017 while net profit fell by 19%.

We can really only speculate as to why this might be, but there is reason to suspect that AutoAuto lost one or more of its major car manufacturer customers in the past year.

Numerous references are made throughout the pre-seen as to the size of AutoAuto’s customers and also to the company’s reliance on relatively few of these. It’s also plausible that one or more of these large car manufacturers put pressure on AutoAuto to lower its prices and this has negatively affected their revenues and profits in 2017.

Whereas some years ago the four products that AutoAuto currently sells would have been considered cutting-edge and they could have charged a premium price for each, these products have all started to become commonplace in the industry, affecting AutoAuto’s ability to charge high prices for them.

This is another possibility for the poor performance in 2017.

AutoAuto – Research & Developement down

Looking elsewhere in the income statement, it’s concerning that the company’s research and development expense has declined by 7% in 2017. A company like AutoAuto relies on its intellectual property which forms the basis for future product developments and assures their continued growth.

The company’s researchers are being asked to do more with less now.

Income Statement Analysis – Primnav

Primnav’s income statement makes for far happier reading.

Revenues rose by almost 9% in 2017 while their net profit rose by almost 7%. The fact that Primnav’s revenues are over twice as high as AutoAuto’s may very well be a result of the fact that they serve the aftermarket (i.e. end consumers and garages) whereas AutoAuto does not.

Primnav has also taken care to ramp up its R&D expenditure over the year – the spent 22% more on R&D in 2017 than in 2016 which means they are preparing for the future by innovating and generating fresh ideas.

Statement of Financial Position – AutoAuto

The Consolidated Statement of Financial Position for AutoAuto again shows signs for concern. Total assets rose by just 0.2% in 2017 with indications that the company may be divesting physical assets as property, plant and equipment have fallen by 6% over the last year.

AutoAuto needs to take care that it does not fall into a vicious cycle whereby a lack of investment leads to weak or negative revenue and profit growth which in turn leads to less being available to make the necessary investments to position the company well for the future.

The one bright spot is that AutoAuto has paid down long-term debt over the last year with gearing (long-term debt / [long-term debt + equity]) falling from a very high 64% in 2016 to a more sustainable 50% in 2017.

Statement of Financial Position – Primnav

Primnav’s Consolidated Statement of Financial Position indicates that they are investing much more aggressively, with total assets rising 9.8% in 2017.

A good chunk of that investment has gone into intangible assets, meaning that Primnav is acquiring intellectual property in the form of patents, software etc all of which are playing an increasingly important role in a car industry in which software competence and the electrical components that go into cars are key differentiators.

Primnav issued shares in 2017 and it’s noteworthy that they pay out a very generous 85% of net profits in the form of dividends to their shareholders. This may make them an attractive stock to own as investors are guaranteed a yearly payout which may make attracting equity funding easier.

Financial Analysis Summary

In summary, there are reasons to be concerned for AutoAuto.

They may need to consider moving into aftermarket sales to generate another revenue stream. The pre-seen indicates that the company is positioning itself for big developments in the area of self-driving vehicles and it has already invested significantly in this area. However, the return on those investments are far from guaranteed and may be a long way off. It seems AutoAuto is noted for the quality of its products but those products are becoming common features of today’s vehicles. The company needs to innovate to survive and I’m concerned that their lack of investment in R&D expenditure and intangible assets over the last year may hurt them in the long-term.

This article was a snippet of what’s available from VIVA Tuition’s SCS AutoAuto materials for the upcoming August exam.

You can also visit their YouTube channel for more information.

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

The CIMA P1 Management Accounting is a tricky little paper pass but it’s one of the more interesting papers as it builds your knowledge of Management Accounting and the various concepts involved – and, after all, this is why we are studying for the CIMA qualification!

Over half (60%) of the P1 Management Accounting is concerned with;

  • Cost accounting systems
  • Short-Term Decision making

So with this in mind, I hope the below resources and videos help you on your way to passing the CIMA P1 exam first time!

CIMA Study Text

The starting point for your CIMA P1 studies will be deciding what study text to use, I use a mixture of the Kaplan study materials and the free online Astranti P1 study text – this means I can study on the go and anywhere with an internet connection – and best of all it’s easy to digest (when compared to BPP) and it’s free!

Traditional Costing Vs ABC (Activity Based Costing)

I’d suggest you get a clear understanding of the different cost accounting systems and in particular understand the differences between them all.

A recurring theme in the P1/P2/P3 papers is the reference to Activity Based Costing. So the below video is a great illustration of the differences between traditional costing and ABC.

Understanding the theory and logic behind ABC is really important – I can’t stress this enough – as it’s likely to come up the OCS Operational Case Study exam as it’s a really relevant topic in the case study format.

Linear Programming

CIMA P1 Linear Programming

Is one of the tougher areas in the P1 syllabus and there was an excellent article in the FM magazine a while back that caught my eye.

It’s a relatively simple process to calculate the optimal manufacturing mix when two
products are subject to one limiting factor, but P1 candidates need to know how to find the best combination in cases where two or more resources are restricted.

This is where linear programming comes into it’s own.

You can read the full article on the P1 subject of linear programming by Cathy Shirley in the FM Magazine here.

CIMA P1 Revision Class

For students that are self studying or distance learning, the absence of class room based training can be a difficult hurdle to overcome but the online Astranti P1 revision master classes are a great way to bridge that gap.

You get over 10 hours of videos that covers the whole syllabus and is a great way to revise the P1 paper.

You can find the CIMA P1 masterclass here.

Mock Exams

You will need to have covered sufficient P1 mock exams in order to ready for exam day. That means testing yourself in exam conditions and being confident in your ability to handle the time pressure with the CIMA P1 objective test.

I use a combination of the Kaplan exam kits, the Astranti mock exams and the Practice Tests Academy P1 exam kits.

pass your CIMA exam first time

The Practice Tests Academy have an unrivalled bank of question for each CIMA paper with over 500 mock exam questions on P1 – you get detailed feedback and can mix and match the exam questions to focus on the areas where you are weaker.

You can read more about them here and take a look at the P1 Mock Exam resources here.

The CIMA Student P1 Exam Advice

The CIMA objective tests are a tough nut to crack, especially with papers like P1 and F1 when you have to answer 60 questions in 90 minutes. So you need to make sure you have a time management strategy when sitting the exam.

Here is my P1 exam checklist, if you can answer “YES” to these questions then you are in a good position to pass the exam first time!

  • Have you covered the whole syllabus?
  • Have you taken more than one full mock exam in exam conditions?
  • Have you used the CIMA connect website to
  • Have you spent the final two weeks before the exam taking mock exams and practice questions?
  • Have you identified your weak areas of the P1 syllabus and revised them?

Finally, watch this video on time management strategy for the CIMA P1 exam.

Studying CIMA with OneNote

Studying CIMA, especially the further you progress, is becoming tougher and tougher in these modern times.

Juggling a full time job, family demands and trying to have a life yourself outside on the daily grind means it’s even harder to squeeze in time to study CIMA.

I should know, it feels like I have been studying P2 for a life time now, in fact I had it on hold for a few months due to other commitments at home, but I am trying to get back on the horse, so to speak.

Using OneNote with CIMA Studies

And one resource that is really helping me to study on the move is Microsoft Onenote.

It’s an online virtual notebook that I have installed on my laptop and mobile phone (it’s free by the way) and it’s allowed me to access, edit and read my CIMA P2 notes any where!

So on the commute to work I can open OneNote on my mobile and read through my P2 notes, before I get to sleep I can pick my phone, open the app and continue where I finished on the commute to work.

The program itself is really powerful too, it’s not a basic notepad. You can snip, screen print, insert excel files, draw notes, shapes, comments… Share the notebook, add pages with subpages, add checklists, photos.

When you make changes to the notebook (on any device) it automatically saves it, so it’s available when you next access it from anywhere.

CIMA and OneNote Examples

  • You can see the below example of my P2 notebook with brief notes on Direct Product Profitability DDP, and a couple of screen shots from my study text to show examples and developments in DPP.

2017-07-12 09_30_25-1. Activity-based approaches to costing - OneNote


  • This shows the shows inside the notebook, so I have chapter 1 with sub pages underneath that in the notebook hierarchy.

2017-07-12 09_30_47-1. Activity-based approaches to costing - OneNote


  • Here you can see all of the options within OneNote – you can directly insert spreadsheets, files, pictures and even video into your notebook.

2017-07-12 09_34_17-1. Activity-based approaches to costing - OneNote

Furthermore, it’s integrated with all Microsoft applications like word, excel, outlook which makes it even more versatile. If you are using Excel to illustrate transfer pricing you can immediately drop into your OneNote book (on the transfer pricing sub page you created of course 😉)

Quite simply, it’s brilliant and it’s free.

I can access my full set of notes anywhere and even squeeze in some revision while waiting at the dentist, although having my tooth pulled is just as painful as some of the P2 syllabus but nevertheless I always have a choice to study.

So now, no more excuses! And no more multiple note pads with print outs, folders and post it notes everywhere.

It’s all in OneNote.

Even their social media team has a sense of humour too.

2017-07-12 10_00_31-Microsoft OneNote on Twitter_ _@theCIMAstudent Aw, shucks. 💜_

So excuse me, I need to review my notes on Activity Based Costing while I wait for the bus to come.

CIMA SCS August 2017: AutoAuto

The final set of CIMA pre-seen materials were released last week and the case study in question is so good they named the company twice – welcome to AutoAuto!

CIMA SCS August 2017

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA on the SCS August 2017 case study here.

The SCS exam has surprisingly good pass rates with around 2 out of 3 students passing the exam each sitting. These numbers should bode well for students taking the exam next month.

AutoAuto: What we know?

Based on the pre-seen materials released by CIMA here are some key highlights on what we already know:

  • AutoAuto is an electronics design company which specialises in modern computer technology for cars and other vehicles.
  • Their business model is based on producing “ground breaking” technology.
  • The company is 15 years old and was founded by 3 people who previously worked together in research dept for an electronics company.
  • The company was floated on the Upload stock exchange 5 years ago with the 3 original owners retaining 10%, 8% and 7% share of the company respectively.
  • AutoAuto’s mission statement is “Making Vehicles Drive Themselves”

AutoAuto: Pre-Seen Analysis

Here is where you should be beginning your pre-seen analysis, firstly by reading through the materials yourself. Secondly, re read them again and make your own notes.

Then I would suggest to watch the below video to get the insight of a CIMA qualified tutor on the AutoAuto case study.

You can find the full set of videos on the August 2017 SCS here.

AutoAuto: Top 10 Issues

The top 10 issues video delves into the pre seen materials and picks out the biggest issues and challenges AutoAuto is facing. Giving you some real solid focus areas for your SCS revision.

It’s not to say these questions will come up on exam day but there is a strong chance some of them might!

You can find the full set of videos on the August 2017 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

Finally, the full SCS course for the AutoAuto case study covers an extensive array of materials and subject matter for exam day – ranging from the video analysis to online revision classes with mock exams and tutor feedback and marking.

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 August 2017: Aurora

CIMA MCS Aug 2017

The August 2017 MCS pre-seen materials have landed from CIMA, the case study is based on a company called Aurora and the official pre-seen materials can be found here.

The MCS exam from CIMA combines the knowledge you have learnt from the E2, P2 and F2 objective tests and puts it together in the format of a case study based exam. And the six weeks period beginning now is crucial for students taking the exam in August.

I posted an article earlier this month on the August 2017 case studies with advice on how to handle and be prepared exam day.

Aurora Automotive: What we know

  • Aurora specialises in cars and is focused on the mid-market for small hatchbacks, family saloons, sports cars and people carriers.
  • Aurora has acquired many smaller companies other time which has created the Aurora group.
  • They are striving to operate in a environmentally friendly manner.
  • The company was setup and is still based in Westland and is listed on the Westland stock exchange.

The Company Mission Statement

Our mission is to supply high-quality vehicles at a reasonable price for worldwide customer satisfaction.
Our vision is to build exciting, efficient, reliable and safe cars that customers will wish to buy and drive.

*The above information was taken from the official CIMA pre-seen materials

Aurora: Pre-seen video analysis

Once you have read through the pre-seen materials from CIMA and have had time to digest them and make your own notes, I would suggesting aligning your thoughts with the below Astranti video. The tutor covers all of the key information and will get you thinking on the specific areas of the CIMA syallabus you should be covering.

You can find the full set of videos on the August 2017 MCS here.

MCS: Astranti Full Course

If you found the pre-seen videos helpful then the MCS course from Astranti is worth looking into as they provide a clear study plan with LOTS of materials, mock exams and support to help you pass the MCS.

CIMA OCS August 2017: Premium Trains

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the August 2017 OCS exam – the company in questions is called “Premium Trains”  and you can find the official pre-seen material from CIMA here.

For those interested in the Astranti videos on the Premier Trains OCS pre-seen materials you can find it directly here.

When the pre-seen materials are released I usually take the approach of previewing all of the Astranti pre seen analysis videos but to make things more specific I’d thought I would run the process OCS students should be taking when analysing the pre-seen material.

CIMA August 2017 OCS

Make a Study Plan

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of creating a realistic and comprehensive study plan when preparing for the CIMA OCS.

It’s the first step to success and will ensure you have considered all areas you need to cover and how and when to cover them. You might want to dive straight into the pre-seen material but a detailed plan of the next six weeks is crucial.

The above study plan by @accountantshiv is a great example of how to plan your time, you might prefer to look at it week by week rather than day by day but nevertheless, don’t under estimate the power of a good plan!

If you’re looking for a starting point of what to cover then I would recommend looking at the August 2017 OCS Pre-Exam Kit from the CIMA connect site.

Read through the Pre-Seen Materials

Now is the time to get yourself familiar with Premier Trains pre-seen materials that have been released by CIMA. You can find the full pre-seen materials document here.

I’d suggest to read through all of the materials first before making any notes or reading any other resources. It’s easier to digest and believe me, you will be reading it more than once so don’t frantically start making notes just yet.

Make your own notes

Ok, now you have a Study Plan for the CIMA OCS exam and have read through the pre-seen materials. Now is the time to go through each section of the pre-seen materials and make your own notes.

Highlight key information and add comments that links the materials to specific CIMA topics you have covered in E1, P1 and F1.

Also highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the company in question.

  • Do they have excessive amount of debt on the balance sheet?
  • Are they over reliant on one specific customer?
  • Do they need to invest heavily in new equipment/fixed assets?
  • Are they potential threats in the market place of new entrants?
  • Is the demand decreasing for the product or service?

Watch Analysis on Pre-Seen

The above preview of the pre-seen analysis on Premier Trains from Astranti is an excellent resource to align your notes made against that of a qualified CIMA tutor.

Now you can add more depth to your pre-seen analysis made in the previous step. I’d also recommend in getting the videos on the strategic analysis and top 10 issues. It’ll give the perfect footing when preparing for the OCS exam.

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

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

Good Luck to all OCS students!