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!

CIMA E2: Ansoff’s Matrix

The topic of Ansoff’s Matrix is covered in the E2 syllabus when looking at strategy and to be more specific, it’s used in the strategic choice part of the strategic planning process.

Quite simply put, Ansoff’s matrix is designed to look at the market in which the company operates in and the products which the company is looking to sell, then based on the current conditions/situation of the market and products a strategic choice can be derived.

Ansoff’s Matrix

The below image is a clear representation of Ansoff’s Matrix with the strategic choices laid out in each quadrant of the matrix.

CIMA E2 exam tips

Let’s take a closer look at each box.

Market Penetration

This strategic choice should be applied when the product is already existing and so is the market in which the company wants to operate.

This would be the most ideal situation as the company will look increase the revenues and profitability of the business by penetrating the exisiting market with their proven product.

It is considered a low risk strategy as no product development is required, which means R&D costs will not exist meanwhile, if the market for the product is also there, then no research or market creation will be required which also reduces costs.

A company may seek to eliminate the weaker competitors in the market by using economies of scale to offer the product at a lower price to the market. This will increase their market share as well as driving out weaker competitors.

How do companies do penetrate the market?

Well, there are several options and avenues a company may seek to take. Increasing their advertising and marketing in the market will help penetrate and attract customers – they also might seek to modify and innovate the product so it becomes more attractive for consumers.

Overall, this would be the ideal situation and is considered the least risky of the strategic choices but it shouldn’t be seen as an automatic way to success and growth.

Ansoff was always quick to point out that the company must still possess a competitive advantage for market penetration to be effective.

Product Development

Next up is the product development stage.

This is when the market is existing but the product is new and still needs to be developed somewhat.

For example, Apple would have taken this strategic choice when developing and launching the version of the Apple Watch. They already had a devoted customer base (market) based on their strong brand but wanted to release a new product – the Apple Watch.

This would involve product development, research into customers needs as well as what the competition was doing. Apple would also have to consider the costs of producing a new product – new machinery, technology as well as the time and effort in training the workforce to produce and sell the new product.

There is also no guarantee of success with a new product. It might have completely flopped and failed to make a profit or even cover their costs. On the flip side, it might exceed expectations and also increase the market share of the company and bring new customers to the market.

So you can see this strategic choice carries a higher risk and is more cost involved but the upsides are also there for every one to see.

Market Development

As you can see from Ansoff’s Matric, the market development strategy should be employed when the product is existing but there currently isn’t a market for it to be successful.

This can also be referred to as “market creation”

This is usually done by a company re-positioning the product to a different market segment by the way of advertising and brand awareness.

A company may find it’s product is stagnating in the current climate and decides to look towards a new market to enter.

This was the case with Lucozade who felt their market was limited as it was seen as a drink to aid recovery from sickness.

However, they made the decision to promote it as a sports drink and also develop the product to fit that market. It resulted in a whole new customer base and increased their market share and sales figures at the same time.

A lot of big global corporations use this strategy to increase their dominance in their market and leverage of the strong brand and identity by appealing to new customers.

Diversification

Finally, the strategic choice of diversification will be chosen if a company is trying to create new markets with a completely new product. This is a massive risk as there are no indications it will be a success.

However, it’s usually used when trying to turn around ailing companies in a stagnate market place. Management may decide to completely diversify their strategy and product line by making a new product and taking it to a new market.

It could turn out to be a stroke of genius, however, if the company are confident their new product is revolutionary and will create a significant demand in the market.

Costs, of course, will be high as the product will need to be developed while the market will also need to be created.

Generally speaking there are two types of diversification.

Vertical Integration – involves taking over a supplier or a customer to increase the chances of success in the marker place.

Horizontal Diversification – means developing a complimentary product to whats already being produces. i.e. a company who makes household vacuum cleaners could diversify by launching a range of commercial cleaning products – it’s a similar product but would appeal to a whole new market.

CIMA Case Study: Industry Analysis

Students who want to pass their CIMA case study exam will need to develop their knowledge and understanding of the underlying industry. It’s been highlighted in many of the examiners report that students had a basic (if any) knowledge or current industry conditions and failed to apply them to the case study exam.

Personally, it also helps me understand the scenario better if I can relate it to real life situations rather than  a fictitious company CIMA has developed for the exam.

Here you can find a insight on the industry for each level of the upcoming CIMA case study exams in November 2016.

OCS: Marici Power

  • What is the industry history behind Solar Power?
  • What are the current industry trends?
  • Who are the biggest players in the market?
  • What are the biggest selling products for Solar Power companies?

Here are a few useful links and resources on the solar power industry.

10 Solar trends to watch out for in 2016

Solar markets around the world

The EnergyTrend website

You can find the full industry analysis video on Marici Power here.

MCS: Portafone

  • Who are the biggest players in the telecommunications market?
  • What are their best selling products and why?
  • What are the industry forecasts?
  • Can you give some real-life industry examples?

The industry analysis for the MCS exam: Portafone will, in effect, cover more than ONE industry. You will have to think of the hardware and software for mobile phones.

So mobile handsets as well as the network and telecommunications industry. If you’re still struggling to get to grips with it all, the Astranti video below will give some more focus.

Deloitte top five telecoms trends for 2016

The industry handbook: The telecommunications industry

Euro-monitor: Mobile phones industry

You can find the full industry analysis video on Portafone here.

SCS: ADF – Anderson Dairy Farms

  • What is the history of dairy farming?
  • How has it advanced with technology and mechnisation?
  • What are the latest market trends in dairy farming?
  • How have supermarkets impacted the industry?

The SCS case study exam focuses on the historic industry of dairy farming, so there is plenty of information out there. Here are a few links and resources you might find useful.

Challenges and trends in the dairy industry.

US dairy: industry trends and initiatives.

10 trends to impact dairy farming.

You can find the full industry analysis video on ADF here.

CIMA E2: Porters Five Forces

Porters Five Forces is a topic that came up in my recent CIMA E2 studies and it was a model I was not that familiar with. Maybe it came up in my E1 exam but that seems a long time ago now.

PESTEL analysis (Policital, Environmental, Social, Technology, Economical, Law) is used to understand the global business environment from an external point of view but to really get to grips with the position of a business we need to understand industry factors like;

  • Who are our competitors?
  • Do we have a diverse customer base?
  • Will our suppliers start charging more?
  • Are there lots of suppliers to choose from in our market?

This is where Porter’s Five Forces can be applied to analyse these industry factors and help the business make better business decisions.

Porters Five Forces: CIMA E2

This model has become one of the most important business strategy models ever developed so CIMA students need to know it inside out – especially with the E2 exam.

It’s used to understand how profitable an specific industry is, so companies who are considering entering the market will now whether or not it’s worth doing. Alternatively, it can be used for companies operating in a specific industry to understand if they need to adapt their business model to remain profitable or perhaps even consider leaving the market they are operating in.

If all of the factors are considered to be HIGH – then the market will be considered LESS profitable to enter OR the company will need to find additional ways to remain competitive in the current climate.

Here is a run through all five of the forces and what they mean.

Competitive Rivalry

This factor is considered high when they are lots of competitors out there currently on the market or there is little different between the products on offer – giving the customer more choice and more of a chance to shop around.

There also maybe exit barriers in the market meaning it’s not financially feasible for your competitors to leave the market. Likewise, you could be facing a competitors that has big financial backing and a strong reputation making it an unattractive proposition to enter the marker.

Threat of New Entrants

Is it easy for new businesses to enter the market?

i.e. There are no significant start up costs or highly technical skills required to produce the products or services. If this is the case, it’s likely that you will face a lot of competition in the market place and the prospect of new entrants entering the market on a frequent basis could affect your sales and profitability.

However, if you currently operate in a market that is difficult to enter then it’s wise to start thinking about how you can harness your current position and dominate the market without danger of new competition.

Buyer Power

Does the balance of power lie with the customer?

And can customers switch between the competition easily?

If so, then the market is considered less profitable and steps will need to be taken to address that if you already operate in the market – alternatively it is seen as negative point for businesses who want to enter the industry.

Supplier Power

Consideration has to be given to your supplier (or potential suppliers) also – if you are tied down to just one supplier for the raw materials or goods you require then you will be at the mercy of their pricing/delivery times.

The cost of changing suppliers might also be a complication and of additional cost of the business. If the supplier power is high then industry is seen to be less profitable.

Substitutes

If your product is easily replaces by an alternative then it’s a risky industry to enter or operate it. For example; your supplier may increase prices of materials which means your prices will also raise to remain profitable – but if the customer can easily replace your product with a substitute for a lower price than you are charging it will impact the profitability of the company.

If this factor is HIGH the market is seen to be LESS profitable.

This makes Porters Five Forces an invaluable tool for evaluating the industry you are operating or wish to operate in. If you find most of the forces are LOW then it’s a perfect market that operate in.

However, even when you’ve done the full analysis of the industry in relation to Porters Five Forces, and the majority are HIGH, it still maybe a profitable market to enter if you can negate all of the risks that have been identified.

CIMA Student Webinars

Webi

You may think you have exhausted all of the free resources, CIMA exam tips and help available from CIMA but you’ve probably overlooked the student webinars that are held by the CIMA learning support team and tutors.

What are Student Webinars?

You shouldn’t get the webinars confused with the CIMA syllabus content, you won’t find in-depth detail on costing models or financial instruments.

The webinars are geared around FOUR main areas.

  1. Exam structure
  2. Exam preparation and tips
  3. Question styles
  4. Common sticking points for students.

Every paper (I believe) will have a student webinar you can attend or access the pre-recorded webinar that was help.

If you are attending the webinar live you can ask the tutor specific questions on the practice exam, which is a great way to address any concerns you have.

My Experiences with Student Webinars

I watched the pre-recorded the F2 Student Webinar last week and it was held by a Kaplan learning professional who went through one of the practice exams that are available from Pearson VUE and gave plenty of tips on how to approach the exam.

It was over an hour long and contained some interesting information on the F2 exam itself that I wasn’t aware of.

For example; it explained that there are 28 questions that are “one from four multiple choice”, 13 questions with “select stated number of options” and so on. Which is very useful information for those sitting the exam for the first time.

Capture.PNG

Some of the points raised were common sense and most students would be aware of them but there are also some great insights to how the exams are structured.

It could give you an extra mark or two on exam day so I would thoroughly recommend you watch the webinar before sitting your next CIMA exam.

How to sign up for Student Webinars?

Well, you can find a list of the student webinars that have already been recorded from the CIMA website here. Meanwhile, the live student webinars that are due to be scheduled can be found here on the CIMA website.

All you will need is your CIMA ID number, name and address when signing up to access the webinars.

Please feel free to share your experiences with student webinars below or any other advice and tips for other students.