CIMA OCS May 2017: Exam Results

The students who sat the CIMA OCS Exam in May 2017 will be frantically refreshing their email accounts this morning in anticipation of their exam results!

I don’t usually focus the blog on exam results day but I’ve realised the OCS exam is an important milestone for a lot of students and as recent results suggest, it’s actually one of the toughest in terms of students passing first time.

In my recent article on CIMA Case Study Tips: August 2017, I highlighted the fact that OCS students really struggled with the Feb 2017 sitting of the exam – you can see that only 45% of students passed the Feb exam which is quite a drop from the 64-67% in previous exams.

CIMA Exam Results

So with his in mind it seemed a good idea to focus on the OCS exam results that were released today and what students should be following their results.

CIMA Case Study Exam Results Explained

Once you’ve got your results email, whether you’ve passed or failed you will want to know a bit more on what the results mean! How have they arrived at your mark?

The following video from CIMA will explain:

I’VE PASSED: What’s next for me?

CIMA Case Study Exam Results

If you’ve passed the CIMA OCS exam then CONGRATULATIONS! Take time to celebrate and enjoy the result but not too long as you should already be thinking about your next steps on the Management level.

Below are a series of articles I’ve previously written that you may find useful.

CIMA Study Prime: P2 Course

Passing the CIMA E2 Exam!

How I Passed CIMA F2 Exam

CIMA Objective Test Courses

I’VE FAILED: What’s my next steps?

MCS and SCS Exam Results

Well, first of all, don’t be too downbeat.

As we have seen with the previous OCS sitting in February 2017 a lot of students found it tough going.

Secondly, you should get yourself ready to re-take the OCS exam for the August sitting, it’s no coincidence that CIMA release the pre-seen materials for the next exam sitting one day after the exam results are released!

So you have one day to shout and swear about your exam results but the OCS pre-seen material for August is released tomorrow! (Friday 23rd June 2017)

So you need to get your mind back in gear for another attempt at the OCS exam.

If you are struggling for motivation, you can read how I passed the OCS exam in 2015 here. Meanwhile, below are a series of links that will help kick start your preparation for your re-sit.

CIMA OCS August 2017 Astranti Course – with pass guarantee

CIMA Case Study Tips: August 2017

CIMA connect site

CIMA Case Study Tips: August 2017

The third set of CIMA case study exams in 2017 will soon be upon us, we are still waiting for the pre-seen materials to be released for the August 2017 sitting but nevertheless I would urge students who planning to sit these exams to start thinking about them now!

CIMA Case Study August 2017


Astranti Case Study Course

As always I would strongly recommend students to make Astranti their first port of call when approaching the case study exams. The pre-seen materials have yet to be released for the August exams but you can expect to see the preview videos from Astranti on this site when they are released.

But to take full advantage and guarantee yourself a pass mark (see the Astranti Pass Guarantee), their full OCS, MCS and SCS courses cover everything you need to pass the August 2017 CIMA case study.

CIMA August 2017 case study tips

  • Study Text 1: how to approach the exam.
  • Study Text 2: syllabus content that is easy to digest.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis: where it all begins! video analysis of the pre-seen.
  • Strategic Analysis: how to understand the scenario from a strategic point
  • Top 10 Issues: a tutors view on the top 10 issues with the case study scenario
  • Industry Analysis: a look into the industry surrounding the case study.
  • Masterclass 1: live session with CIMA tutor on how to pass the case study.
  • Masterclass 2: another live session focusing on CIMA syllabus revision.
  • 3 Mock Exams: based on the actual case study (with marking and feedback!!).
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – a favourite CIMA topic that should never be under estimated!!

You can find full details of their courses for all levels below for the August 2017 exams.

OCS Course – August 2017

MCS Course – August 2017

SCS Course – August 2017

CIMA Case Study Pass Rates

CIMA case study exam tips

It’s been a while since I have looked at the pass rates for the CIMA case studies but the latest set of results that were released for the February 2017 case studies make for interesting reading.

CIMA Case Study Pass Rates

OCS – Operational Level

Generally speaking 2 out of 3 students pass the OCS exam first time based on the 2016 exam sittings, however, this dropped dramatically in the Feb 2017 OCS sitting when only 45% (less than 1 in 2) passed the exam. 

This tells me that the OCS exam is probably one of the hardest exams to pass the CIMA qualification. Why?

Well, the OCS exam will be the first time students are sitting this style of exam and it takes a lot of preparation and exam practice to get yourself ready.

Students are also under estimating how tough this exam will be.

My advice for students taking the OCS exam for the first time to make sure you prepare in advance for the exam, refresh your knowledge of P1, E1 and F1 and make sure you spend enough time on digesting the pre-seen materials and mock exam practice.

MCS – Management Level

The next level up actually has very good pass rates considering, in theory, it will be a tougher exam to take in terms of content than the OCS. This just echoes the previous point I made with the OCS – by this stage, students will have had the experience of the OCS under the belt and won’t face any surprises on exam day.

Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that MCS students shouldn’t prepare as much as the OCS, it just suggests that the MCS students have a better understanding of whats required.

Personally, I am still struggling to find the time to complete my P2 exam but once I have the MCS exam will be my next stop! (More than likely it will be the Nov 2017 sitting).

SCS – Strategic Level

The pass rates for the SCS exam are also surprisingly encouraging. The pass mark over the last few sittings have been in the 60-65% region, which should give students who are tackling this exam in August that passing first time is achievable.

Again, SCS students will be well versed in taking the CIMA case studies and will be well aware of the expectations and demands on exam day.

The CIMA Connect site is a great source of information for students taking any of the case studies in August and I would recommend regular visits to the discussion boards there.

CIMA August 2017 Case Studies: Important Dates

The below timetable gives you all of the useful information you need in regards to the August 2017 CIMA case studies.

I’ve highlighted, in my opinion, the most crucial dates of all – the release of the pre-seen material!!

The OCS materials are released this time next (23rd June 2017) with the MCS and SCS pre-seen materials released in the following weeks.

CIMA August 2017 Exam Dates


Good Luck and happy studying!!

CIMA P2: Transfer Pricing

Transfer pricing is a subject that crops up on the CIMA P2 paper and here is my take on the subject.

What is Transfer Pricing?

Transfer pricing is common place among multi national corporations where there are high volumes of “inter-company” activity. Companies tend to use transfer pricing to lower their overall tax bill of the group.

Rather than get bogged down with lengthy theory and explainations, I feel the best way to explain is to illustrate with simple examples.

Company NOT using Transfer Pricing

CIMA Transfer Pricing

  • Here you can see a traditional relationship between different departments within a business.
  • Division A makes purchases of raw materials for 80 and after production in A they add labour costs of 20.
  • Division B finalises the product and incurs costs of 40 and sell the product to the end customer for 200.
  • You can see straight away while the Group as a whole has made a profit of 60 from this production, the manager of Division A will be reporting a loss of 100, while his counterpart in Division will be reporting a mega profit of 160.

Company USING Transfer Pricing

CIMA Exam Tips

  • In this instance, the company has an internal agreement to charge a transfer price between divisions.
  • Division A has charged 150 to Division B, while the selling price to the end customer remains the same at 200.
  • You can see the transfer pricing DOES NOT IMPACT the total profit made by the group when consolidated, but it allows each division within the company to be measured efficiently and effectively
  • Therefore, increasing the motivation of the individual division managers to be more cost effective and improve efficiency within the department, which, in turn, improves the profitability of the division and group as a whole.

In the first example, where transfer pricing is not employed the management of division A have no incentive of meaningful performance measurement as they will always considered to be loss making.

Transfer Pricing and Tax Implications

One of the main reasons why large multi national companies use transfer pricing is to accrue profits in countries that have a lower tax rate.

Using the figures from the above example I have illustrated the tax implications if Division A is based in a country with a tax rate of 5% while Division B is based in a country with a tax rate of 20%

CIMA Transfer Pricing and Tax

  • It’s obvious that the company who has implemented transfer pricing will be paying a much lower tax bill due to the fact most of it’s profits are made in Division A where there is a much lower tax rate.
  • However, transfer pricing must be set within the scope of the law and it can become a complex matter. 

The above examples are very simple in terms of the numbers and structure of the business but the underlying principle of transfer pricing remains the same.

Methods of Transfer Pricing

So now we have established what transfer pricing is and the benefits to be made by accruing profits in countries with lower tax rates (within the scope of the law). Let’s take a look at the different methods on how the Transfer Price itself can be calculated.

Cost Plus Price Model

One of the most simplest and common approaches (especially with high volume producing businesses) to be employed is the cost plus price model. This is where the group agrees that the selling business unit will add a fixed percentage to their costs as a base for the transfer price.

Cost Plus Price Model

  • The agreement is for Division A to adopt a fixed cost plus price model of 20% for their transfer price to Division B.
  • Which is fine at the current levels of costs, as both divisions and the group overall are making profits.
  • However, the manager of Division A has realised he can increase the profits of his division by increasing costs – BUT TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE GROUP AS A WHOLE!

CIMA Transfer Pricing

  • Here we can clearly see the dysfunctional behaviour that can be encouraged by using a cost plus price transfer pricing system.
  • Division A manager is happier as he made double the profit by doubling his costs but Division B has made a big loss on this and lead to an overall loss at group level.

In fact, if any divisions are set to lose money on a deal then they will more than likely refuse to do so, even at the expense of the company. Of course, decisions can be made at a group level which enforces the trade between divisions at any cost but it would be demotivating for the buying manager as they lose autonomy.

Minimum Vs Maximum Transfer Price

A more common sense and goal congruent approach is to ensure that firstly the group can make a profit overall, then deciding on the minimum transfer price that can accepted by the selling division and the maximum transfer price that can be accepted by the buying division and them agree on the price somewhere in the middle of the that range.

In the below example I’ve also thrown in the possibility that Division A can also sell the goods directly to an external party.

Determining Transfer Pricing

  • The selling division (A) determines the minimum price of 200 – as they can sell it externally for this price, so the transfer price must at least match this.
  • The buying division (B) has costs of 100 and selling price of 350, so the maximum they could pay would be 250 as a transfer price.
  • This gives the group a transfer price somewhere between 200 and 250 to be goal congruent and suit all divisions involved.

Finally, you can see the transfer price of 200 has been agreed and both divisions make an equal share of the 100 profit made by the group.

CIMA Exam Practice Kits

Exam practice kits vary from learning provider to learning provider. Personally, I am a big fan of the Kaplan exam practice kits (the actual text book itself) – there is something to be said for a holding a physical book in your hand while studying!

Nevertheless, there a range of other materials out there that will help you on your way to passing your next CIMA exam.

With this in mind, I noticed that Astranti have overhauled their Chapter Revision Questions with a new style CIMA Exam Practice Kit – it’s been a long time coming as I found their chapter questions very limited and quite clunky to use – so this update to their materials is very welcome!

Astranti CIMA Exam Practice Kits

Here is what you can expect per chapter of the Astranti study text.

  • Learning Questions – 20 short questions that will test your knowledge on the chapter.
  • Exam Questions – 10 longer format questions that are complex scenario based to cement the knowledge you have learnt.

So, in total, each exam practice kit contains around 400-600 questions and they are designed as close as possible as replicating what you will face on exam day. Furthermore, the feedback on each question is much more comprehensive than the old style chapter revision quesitons.

CIMA E2 Exam Kit Example

Below is a screenshot of the one of the Learning Style questions:

CIMA Exam Questions

You can see the question is a short, straight forward multiple choice question you would expect on exam day. The feedback is also much more detailed than previously as it goes through the incorrect answers and explains why – a much more useful way of improving your knowledge and exam technique.

And here is an example of a Exam Question you get in the Astranti exam practice kit:

CIMA Exam Tips

The possible answers in these type of questions require more thought and time in the exam itself and tend to be the dreaded “Select ALL that apply” questions. You well usually need to read the question and answers a few times to ensure you have understood what’s required and the scenario around the question is based, rather than the quick wins in the Learning Style questions.

So far Astranti have released their Exam Practice kits for the E1, F1, E2 and E3 CIMA exams with the rest of the exam kits on their way.

You can find out more about the respective levels here.

CIMA Operational Level – exam practice kits.

CIMA Management Level – exam practice kits.

CIMA Strategic Level – exam practice kits. 

Practice Tests Academy

The Practice Tests Academy were the first learning provider I came across that provided an absolutely massive bank of CIMA exam questions for each and every level of the CIMA qualification.

I purchased the P2 exam question bank (that reminds me I need to get back on track with my studies!!) and you can see below the structure of the practice tests academy.

They are split neatly between syllabus section A/B/C/D with a total of around 500 questions in total. Meanwhile, you can take a mini mock exam from the question bank as well as a Mock exam with unique questions or a full Mock 60 questions to exam conditions.

You can find more information about their CIMA mock exams here.

How to pass CIMA exams

Kaplan Exam Practice Kits

A throwback to my first papers I sat with CIMA (E1 and F1 back in late 2014) are the hard copies of the Kaplan Exam Practice Kits I used (and still use to an extent).

I found the Kaplan exam kits a rock solid source of information. The questions, I felt, came very close to the types of questions in terms of the wording, difficulty and layout I faced on exam day.

CIMA Kaplan Exam Kits

The Kaplan exam practice kits include;

  • Kaplans recommended revision approach
  • Exam technique
  • Paper specific information
  • Practice questions with answers (around 200), covering the whole syllabus

However, what I also find is a nice feature is the fact you can register the hard copy of the text book online and access the whole book online. Which can be a great way to sneak in a few hours of revision in the office or on the go.


BES Group: Financial Statements Analysis

The May 2017 Management Case Study pre-seen was published very recently by CIMA. The pre-seen gives us ample financial information to work through and we’ve been digging into the numbers at VIVA Financial Tuition.

CIMA May 2017 MCS

The following article explains some of the main points relating to the financial statements for both the BES Group and its main rival in country E, VES.

BES: Profit and Loss Analysis

Starting with the BES Group’s Consolidated Statement of Profit or Loss and we see healthy revenue growth for the year with an increase of 11.4% compared to the 2015 figure. The fact that BES’s cost of sales figure has increased at a slightly lower rate of 11.1% in 2016 means that the company’s gross profit has improved by an even higher rate of 11.9% between 2015 and 2016.

Cost discipline is vital to this company if it is to maintain healthy profit margins.

This is because it is tied to its single price point (SPP) of just E$1 and has no room to increase prices if costs rise. Clearly BES has been good at keeping costs low because as we move down the profit or loss statement we see increasing rates of growth for the operating profit figures (14.3% increase) and net profit figures (17.9% improvement in 2016). The only slight concern is the increase of 15.1% in administrative expenses and the increasing finance costs.

Overall though, BES’s profit margins have all improved in 2016. The net profit margin (net profit/revenues) was 8.9% in 2015 while it stands at 9.5% in 2016.

Furthermore, James Kotter, the BES Group’s Chairman, mentions in the pre-seen that 2016 saw record levels of revenues and profits. So, all in all, 2016 has witnessed a strong financial performance for the company. 

BES: Balance Sheet Review

Turning to the BES Group’s Consolidated Statement of Financial Position and there are a few problems to contend with.

The two main issues relate to indebtedness and liquidity which we will see are even bigger problems for BES’s rival, VES. Because there is no detail given as to what non-current liabilities is comprised of, it’s difficult to say exactly what the firm’s level of gearing is. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume that all of the non-current liabilities section is made up of long-term debt.

If we make that assumption, we see that BES has gearing (long-term debt/equity) of 66% which is very high. Furthermore, current liabilities exceed current assets with BES having a current ratio (current assets/current liabilities) of 0.6 and a quick ratio ([current assets – inventory]/current liabilities) of 0.4.

Ideally, you would want to see those above 1.0. This means that BES does not have enough liquid assets to cover its short-term obligations such as trade payables, short-term loans etc.

Competitor Analysis: VES

Now we consider BES’s main rival in the single price point (SPP) category of the value retail sector, VES. VES has revenues about one-third the size of BES’s. This is due to their lower sales prices and smaller store sizes along with the fact that they have fewer stores.

They demonstrate an even better ability to control cost of sales than BES with an increase of just 7.4% compared to revenue growth of 8.5%.

The good news stops there however!

As we move down through the Statement of Profit or Loss we see real problems with distribution costs rising 26% and administrative expenses rising by a massive 42% in 2016. This completely undoes the good work done in securing higher gross profits and by the time we get to the net profit figure we see that it has decreased 54% in 2016 to just E$1.8 million.

VES’s operating (operating profit/revenue) and net profit margins (net profit/revenue) are much lower than their rivals, standing at just 3.4% and 1.2% in 2016 respectively.

VES’s Statement of Financial Position demonstrates the same problems as BES’s, only worse. The company’s cash is just E$200,000 and the quick ratio ([current assets – inventory]/current liabilities) is just 0.2.

Furthermore, if we again make the assumption that non-current liabilities is comprised entirely of long-term debt obligations, then VES’s gearing (long-term debt/equity) stands at a massive 101%.

VES now faces a situation where its operating profit barely covers its interest payments – its interest coverage (operating profit/interest expense) has fallen from 3.1 in 2015 to just 1.8 in 2016.

The one ray of light I witness on VES’s balance sheet is the fact that their assets seem to work harder than BES’s in generating revenues. VES’s total assets are just one-fifth the size of BES’s yet, as we said before, they generate revenues that are one-third the size of BES’s. VES’s asset turnover ratio (revenues/capital employed) is 2.1 in 2016 compared to BES’s figure of just 1.0.

This article is a snippet of what’s available as part of the complete Smarter Study Pack. The pack includes almost four hours of pre-seen and industry analysis, mock exams weighted in accordance with official exams, financial ratio analysis and much more (

Don’t forget to check out VIVA financial other great free MCS May 2017 articles here and here for more great insights ahead of your exam

Visit their YouTube channel for free, exclusive video content

CIMA F1 Exam Tips

CIMA F1 Exam Tips

The CIMA F1 exam Financial Reporting and Taxation can be a tough exam to pass. It’s heavily weighted towards financial accounting and reporting – it makes up 45% of the syllabus – so it’s the core area for your studies and revision.

You must be comfortable with the end to end financial accounting process and the production of the following financial statements;

  • Statement of Financial Postion
  • Statement of Comprehensive Income
  • Statement of Changes in Equity
  • Statement of Cash Flows

Meanwhile, there are a host of IFRS’s and IAS’s you will need to get grips with, previously on the blog I have covered IAS 24: Related Party Disclosures and Deferred Tax which are both examinable topics in F1.

CIMA Study Text

Before getting stuck into the F1 syllabus content, choosing your learning provider is key and will shape the weeks of study and revision ahead.

Kaplan, BPP and CIMA Study are the big names out there (personally I use Kaplan for the exam kits and CIMA Study when looking at complete study packages).

But the ideal starting point would be taking advantage of Astranti’s free online study text for the CIMA F1 Financial Reporting and Taxation paper. It’s free, you can study wherever you have an internet connection and it’s easier to digest than some of the more technical texts like BPP.

Corporate Governance

The CIMA F1 paper is focused on financial accounting but don’t fall into the trap of forgetting the more wordy areas of the syllabus.

You may find yourself concentrating on the accounting adjustments and accounting standards but topics like Corporate Governance play a key role and can be source of easy marks. 

Below is a video from Open Tuition on the subject of Corporate Governance to give you an insight into this CIMA F1 topic.

Mock Exams

If you are a regular reader of the website and blog then you will know the importance I place in testing yourself with mock exams. And I’ve recently come across one of the most comprehensive CIMA mock exam resources around.

The Practice Tests Academy have an unrivalled bank of question for each CIMA paper and the F1 Financial Accounting and Taxation paper is no different.

CIMA F1 Mock Exams

You can read more about them here and take a look at the F1 Mock Exam resources here.

The Practice Tests academy have other 500 questions for the F1 syallbus where you can test yourself in study mode or timed exam conditions with 60 random questions on F1.

You will receive feedback on your incorrect answers and an summary at the end of each mock exam to give you the focus areas for your revision. It’s a great tool and goes above and beyond the usual exam practice kits offered by Kaplan and BPP.

*However, personally I also use the hard copies of the Kaplan exam practice kit.

CIMA F1 Revision Class

There is no better way to compliment your F1 studies than by watching the F1 revision classes that are available online.

Especially for those students who are self studying, the addition of watching revision classes from a qualified CIMA tutor can be invaluable and may shed light on some of the tricker areas for the F1 syllabus you have been struggling with.

You can find the full details on the full F1 revision masterclass here.

The CIMA Student F1 exam advice

There is a lot of emphasis (and rightly so) on the CIMA Objective test question styles and making sure you have covered enough objective test mock exams in your revision.

However, I believe you can still learn and really test yourself on the F1 syllabus by answering questions in the longer format.

i.e. going back over longer style questions to ensure you have a full understanding of the subject in question. This will give you a greater chance of achieving a pass mark on exam day.

You can find old exam questions on the CIMA F1 paper by visiting the CIMA connect website and searching for the “Past Questions and Answers” in the study resource type.

CIMA F1 Exam Questions

Finally, if you can answer “YES” to the following questions then I’d suggest you are ready to take the CIMA F1 Financial reporting and taxation.

  • Have you covered the whole F1 syllabus study text?
  • Have you taken 2/3 mock exams to exam conditions?
  • Have you used a mixture of resources? (videos, revision cards, mock exams etc.)
  • Do you have a strategy on how you will approach the exam? (time management)

Good Luck with the CIMA F1 Financial Reporting and Taxation exam!

CIMA SCS May 2017: Fizz

CIMA SCS Fizz Exam Tips

The final round of pre seen materials were released for the May 2017 sitting of the CIMA case study exams. It revolves around a company called “Fizz” and your role in the exam is that of Senior Manager.

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

Earlier this month I posted some advice for students who are taking case studies in May and you can find that here.

It’s also worth checking out the CIMA connect SCS homepage here where you will find resources, tips and advice from students in the same boat as you!

Fizz: Who are they?

Here is a quick overview and few highlights taken from the pre-seen materials for the Fizz case study

  • The company was founded in 1890 by the Clann family
  • The original products were mild tonics aimed to settle stomachs.
  • Fizz was listed on the Northalnd stock exchange in 1962 with the Clann family still holding 18% of the company.
  • “Froot” is the companies most popular drink, it’s a carbonated soft drink and has a growing global market.
  • Fizz also sells spring water (still and sparkling) – the water is collected from a spring close to the Fizz factory in Northland.
  • Their main competitor is a company called Quench who also has a franchise right to sell a global brand cola drink.

Fizz: Pre-seen video analysis

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

Fizz: Strategic Analysis


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

Fizz: Top 10 Issues

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

SCS: Full Astranti Course

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