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 🙂

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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 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!

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.

 

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!

Passing the CIMA Gateway Exam

CIMA students who are taking the gateway route can be find extremely tough to be exam ready and confident enough to pass the MCS exam.

But Nkunde C. Mbong did just that.

Here are a few words of wisdom from Nkunde on how she PASSED the CIMA Gateway Exam.

CIMA: Exam Tips

In an earlier article, I highlighted some of the difficulties Gateway Students faced and how this may have contributed to the low gateway pass rates, especially when compared to the management level case study results.

After a one time try, I passed with a pretty impressive score and this is how I did it.

Prepare for Success

  • So, this might be obvious, but I’m still going to put it out here just in case. It is important that gateway students purchase all 3 management level papers and carefully go through it all [plus the gateway/management case study text].

    Having a Masters in Accounting and Finance, I was tempted to bypass F2 (and some P2) because it was most of the technical material which I had covered in my masters, and also because I realized the case-study exam was void of calculations.

    This is obviously a mistake because even though calculations are absent, the case-study will need you to be able to interpret these calculations for decision making.

    So even if you can calculate it, the focus will be on your interpretation of it, so it is important to study it all again with that in mind.

    Besides, I realized CIMA takes them all a step further, so you are bound to see topics you may never have come across before. In addition, going through all the 3 papers enables you familiarize yourself with CIMA concepts, expectations, key areas and application.

Cover the CIMA Syllabus

  • I did self-study throughout my preparation for the gateway exam but I studied all 3 papers at the same time. That is, my weekly study program comprised of 2 days for F2, 2 days E2 and 2 days P2. So, I was studying 6 days a week. I did not concentrate on 1 paper, finish it before going on to the next and so on. I believe doing all 3 at once keeps them all fresh in mind and is obviously logical in this case.
  • After successfully going through all 3 papers, I went through the management case study, practiced, and when I felt comfortable enough that I’d grasped what was really required of me, I started revising while doing tons of practices and mock exams (By the way, I made sure to finish studies before the pre-seen was launched and by that time, I was focused on revision and practices).

Make the Mock Exams Count!

  • That leads me to the next important tip. I tell you, doing mock exams was as clarifying as the revision itself because they help you determine if you have understood the concept and can deliver in the exam.

    So, I did mocks tirelessly and they help a lot to reduce revision time. If you don’t have enough time to revise all papers, doing the mocks will help you gain balance across the papers and chapters, just the way CIMA will test you.

    Mock exams are available online via several tuition providers and some even provide some mocks for free.

Online Forums and Whats App Groups

  • Another thing I found very valuable were online forums and resources. After the pre-seen is released, WhatsApp groups dedicated to the case study only are usually created.

    I happened to be in one of these really good groups where we shared ideas, answered questions, clarified doubts and provided useful materials and online links to where we could access useful resources.

    It was really helpful. Also, CIMA connect was good – they usually have an “ask an expert” session just before the exam and sometimes webinars.

    Similarly, there are online tuition providers who analyze the pre-seen and offer these analyses for free. The more you connect with people, the more information you get.

Become Familiar with the Exam Conditions

  • Lastly, at the end of the day when you have studied the course work, the pre-seen and covered enough mocks, if you are new to Pearson VUE like I was, be sure to familiarize yourself with it too.

    Despite me downloading the Pearson Vue app and getting a practice session with it, during the exam proper, I almost went to the next question while trying to find how I could re-read the task I had been given.

    Luckily, I was given a warning which made me cancel that action, though I spent some good seconds figuring out how to get back to the task given from the answer page where I was. Time management is already a killer during the exam, so avoid wasting even a second (or failing to answer a question by mistakenly going to the next one as I almost did) by making sure you are already familiar with the Pearson Vue layout.

    Passing the gateway exam is a joy, but you need to put in the effort, know CIMA case study requirements (especially the competencies and the weightings), can manage the exam time given, remember the role you are playing and stay confident!

    All the best to the gateway students!