Category Archives: CIMA Exam Tips

CIMA F3: Capital Asset Pricing Model

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) is a CIMA F3 subject that CIMA students often struggle to get their hands around.

Astranti’s Ultimate Guide to CIMA F3 has highlighted this as one of the harder topics in F3, it’s easy to fall into the trap of memorising the formula without understanding the underlying principle.

Alternatively, students can immediately be put on the backfoot with faced with a new formula with a funky Greek symbol.

In this blog post I aim to explain the principle and logic behind the CAPM formula and how to apply it on exam day.

Let’s start with the formula itself before we take a step back and actually think about what it’s trying to achieve.

What is the Beta β Factor?

Before we get into the formula and some calculations, let’s focus on the Greek symbol for Beta (β).

The Beta factor is simply a measure of the systematic risk of a security or equity relative to the market portfolio.

Simply put, it’s a measure of volatility or risk.

The starting point would be a Beta of 1.0 – this is the benchmark for listed companies – it indicates the average risk in the market.

Let’s say Company A has a Beta of 1.0 at the start of the fiscal year, six months later the Beta drops to 0.65, this would indicate the risk profile has decreased significantly. It’s a less risky proposition to invest in but the returns would also reflect that and be at the lower end.

Had the Beta increased to 1.65, this would mean the risk profile has increased and investors would want to see a higher return for their investment due to the volatility.

Here are some real life examples of Beta factors as at 4th January 2023

Alphabet INC (GOOG) 1.06

Amazon (AMZN) 1.19

Apple (AAPL) 1.22

Netflix (NFLX) 1.28

Tesla (TSLA) 1.91

I’ve put together some household names, with the relatively safe havens of Google, Apple and Amazon with their Beta factors just over the market average.

While you can see that Tesla, given their current climate with Elon Musk’s antics and the squeeze on the automotive industry, has a high beta factor of 1.91.

Systematic Risk and Unsystematic Risk

Now we understand our little Greek friend β, let’s focus on the types of risk involved when thinking about the Capital Asset Pricing Model.

Whenever a person wants to invest in a stock or a company invests in a project, there is always risk attached. The return on the investment will ultimately be higher or lower than expected, unless you invest in gilts or government bonds, risk is unavoidable.

There are two types of risk when investing.

Systematic risk and unsystematic risk, the Beta factor is a measure of the systematic risk of an investment.

Another way to think about systematic risk is by calling it Market Risk – it’s unavoidable, you cannot take any measures to avoid systematic risk completely. It will always be there.

Unsystematic risk, however, can be reduced or even eliminated entirely by diversification as it relates to the risk of individual company or sector. So by having a broad portfolio of investments, you will be reducing the unsystematic risk of a single investment.

The below chart nicely pulls together both types of risk and how to eliminate the unsystematic risk, while illustrating the fact systematic risk will always be there regardless on how much you diversify.

The Market Risk Premium 

The final piece of the puzzle is the Market Risk Premium of the formula, highlighted in yellow below, this is the difference between the risk free rate and the market rate over the same period.

Effectively giving you the Market Risk premium, which is the excess of market returns over those connected with so called risk free investing in Government bonds.

The Capital Asset Pricing model boils down to the principle that returns made in shares in the market should be higher than the returns made on risk free investments.

For example, if the risk free returns on Government bonds is 5% and the market returns are 8.5%, then the Market Risk Premium is 3.5%. Simple really.

Now we understand the various elements of CAPM, we can piece them together with some exam question examples.

CIMA F3 CAPM Exam Question Examples

  1. The risk free rate of return is 6%, while the average market return is 11% and company X’s beta is 1.45. What is the cost of equity?

Ke = Rf + (Rm – Rf) x β

? = 6% + (11% – 6%) x 1.45

? = 6% + 5% x 1.45

? = 6% + 7.25%

Therefore, cost of equity (or minimum expected return) is 13.25%

Given the risk involved, investors would be looking for a return of 13.25%. To give context, we can use the same example and change the Beta to 0.5 and show the impact on the cost of equity.

Ke = Rf + (Rm – Rf) x β

? = 6% + (11% – 6%) x 0.50

? = 6% + 5% x 0.50

? = 6% + 2.5%

Therefore, cost of equity is 8.5%.

As the risk profile of the investment is lowered, so are the expected returns.

Alternatively, you might be faced with a question that asks you to derive the Beta factor from the equation.

The formula and logic remains the same, you’ll just need to re-arrange the formula so the Beta becomes the calculated number and not the cost of equity.

  1. Company Y plc. is giving a return of 17%, while the stock exchange as a whole is giving a 14% return and the risk free return on government issued bonds is 6%. What is the Beta (β) of Company Y plc?

Ke = Rf + (Rm – Rf) x β

17% = 6% + (14% – 6%) x ?

STEP 1: deduct the 6% from both sides of equation

11% = (14% – 6%) x ?

STEP 2: calculate the market risk premium

11% = 8% x ?

STEP 3: flip the ? to front of equation by diving both sides by 8%

? = 11%/8%

STEP 4: calculate the Beta by dividing 11% by 8%

Beta (β) = 1.375 (or 1.38)

The Capital Asset Pricing Model Summary

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) shows the minimum required return (cost of equity) on a security, investment or project and it’s dependent on risk.

Risk can be defined as Unsystematic risk that can be negated by diversification, or Systematic Risk, but this is always inherent in the market or investment and is measured by the Beta (β) factor.

Risk averse companies or investors will seek investments or projects with a lower Beta factor. While those chasing higher gains and rewards will look towards investments with a higher Beta .

Once you’ve grasped the concept of CAPM, you should be practicing multiple choice questions to sharpen your skills for exam day!

Good Luck!

CIMA Black Friday SALES!

It’s that time of year when we are awash with Black Friday Sales and the market for CIMA materials is no different!

I am a keen advocate of Astranti and Practice Tests Academy having used both tutition providers in my own quest in becoming a fully qualifed CIMA accountant in 2019.

Practice Tests Academy have 25% off ALL of their CIMA materials, including their newly created case study packages. I used ther P2 exam question bank to great success when passing P2.

Meanwhile, Astranti have a whopping 40% off all CIMA materials until 29th November – their case study courses were the staple of my resources.

With the November case studies winding up this week, it’s a good time for students who are looking to take a February 2022 case study to think about their study materials.

Remember the pre-seen materials for the February 2022 exams are already published!

OCS Feb 2022 Exam: TreadCushy

In this recent blog post I look at the famous topics of costing, budgeting and outsourcing in context of the Feb 2022 OCS pre seen materials.

MCS Feb 2022 Exam: Frinta

The Frinta case study scenario looks like a really well run company, but I picked out a couple of focus areas from the pre-seen materials. Read my MCS blog post on Frinta here.

SCS Feb 2022 Exam: Pixlwizz

The final blog post on the upcoming case studies is around a software company called Pixlwizz, I took the time to develop my own SWOT analysis of the company based on the pre-seen materials. Read it here.

*Just a reminder, I am an affiliate of both CIMA tutition providers but I wouldn’t recommend any provider I don’t have first hand experience with myself, the support helps keep my website and maintenance costs down.

Practice Tests Academy


CIMA Mock Exam Questions

I have been a keen advocate of the Practice Tests Academy mock exam questions since I passed my P2 exam using their mock exam question bank of over a million questions, well not quite a million, but over 500-600 questions on the finer arts of advanced management accounting.

I really like the history of the company and I believe it will strike a chord with a lot of students and qualified members.

The founder was struggling herself with finding enough question practice to pass CIMA exams a few years back, so when she eventually qualified she decided to start her own company providing CIMA practice questions.

They have over 500 exam questions for each CIMA objective test but they have since gone to grow their range of resources and now offer full objective test packages with video tuition.

However, there are three main reasons why I found their resources a great help.

  • Depth of question bank.

The sheer volume of questions you have available will help you overcome your weak areas of the syllabus. Practice makes perfect and you can definitely get a lot of practice with these CIMA practice exam questions.

  • Mock exam results per category/syllabus area.

This is a really highlight for me and a valuable tool. The final results you get from the simulated mock exam provides you with a detailed summary of what syllabus areas you struggled with so you can immediately focus your next steps on those areas.

It’s clear, concise and a great way to reflect on how you fared with the practice exam.

  • Answer feedback

When getting a question wrong, the explanation given was detailed but yet simple enough to understand and learn from. The below video is a walk through of the CIMA P3 question bank package to give you an idea why I rate them so highly.

PTA & Kaplan Co-operation


Their recent co-operation with Kaplan has caught my eye as they offer Kaplan materials with over a 20% discount off their normal selling price.

Now you have the option to study using the official Kaplan study text and revision cards, while complementing with the PTA exam question banks and video lectures.

Practice Tests Academy also offer full courses for the CIMA objective tests which include;

  • CIMA qualified tutor lectures (each chapter in Kaplan book has a video lecture)
  • Printable summary notes
  • End of chapter questions
  • 600 question mock exam bank
  • Contact with CIMA tutor for Q&A’s.

Below is a video from the Practice Tests Academy founder on what this co-operation with Kaplan means for students.

A final point to note is that Practice Tests Academy will upgrade your resources from the CIMA 2015 syllabus to the CIMA 2019 syllabus free of charge when they are released early November 2019.


CIMA Strategic Level: A few thoughts…


It’s been a quiet few weeks for me on the blog.

This was due to a killer workload during December and year end. Those that follow me on twitter would have seen a few accounting situations that I found myself in!

It seems the busy time at work is over, well, for now, so I have decided to focus again on my CIMA studies and the F3 Financial Strategy paper.

I’ve been studying for at least 90 minutes everyday for last few weeks and will attempt the F3 exam early March, but it feels right to reflect a little bit and share my own observations and experiences with the CIMA strategic level so far.


I definitely have more motivation to study CIMA these days, I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel with just 3 exams left to pass.

I just want to get F3, E3 and the SCS done and dusted.

I felt I was drifting a bit with the F2 and P2 papers on management level, so a word of advice for students still on Management level, keep going! You’re almost at that final level and believe me it’s not as hard as you think (for reasons I will explain).


I feel more comfortable now on Strategic level, I know the syllabus, the exam format and the base I have given myself with the CIMA Operational and Management level fills me with confidence that I can complete the strategic level sooner rather than later.

I used to doubt myself when faced with tough areas i.e. the F2 exam preparation was horrible when I look back, I felt areas like WACC were going to be beyond me. But I passed the exam (eventually)… so I know I can get through it if I apply myself and put the hours of work in.

I have confidence in the exams too.

We all know the CIMA objective tests now like the back of our hand, I have strategies for the exams and I’m ready to hit the ground running.


So far in my F3 studies I haven’t felt too much connection with the F1 and F2 papers, in fact the CIMA P3 paper has felt closer in terms of the syllabus.

Which is a good thing for strategic level students – having passed P3 a couple of months back – it’s helped with approaching the CIMA F3 subjects of equity financing and beta factors, for example.

There has been a definite overlap between the P3 and F3 papers, which can only be a good thing!

Real Life Situations

Another bonus I have found while studying for P3 and F3 exams is the fact I can relate to it more, there are more examples of the syllabus content playing out in front of us.

Whether it’s from Corporate Governance situations (see the Patisserie Valerie accounting scandal) or share issues and understanding why Royal Mail shares have dropped 11%.

It feels more tangible than applying the Learning Curve from P2 or other areas of costing that seem to be obsolete unless you work in a manufacturing environment!

So don’t let the strategic level seem like a insurmountable challenge, you might find it “easier” than tackling the management level.

All in all, I might look back at his blog post in a few months time when I attempting my 5th resit of the F3 paper and laugh. And think what the hell was I on about..

But at the moment, I can feel the momentum is building towards a big strategic level finish for myself.

Here’s hoping I can crack the F3 paper at the first attempt. If not, I will bring my sleeping bag and camp outside the Pearson VUE centre until it’s passed!

Good Luck to all CIMA students out there in 2019!

CIMA P3: Reflections on Failing

2018-10-01 11_18_28-Start

If you follow me on twitter you would have seen that I failed the CIMA P3 Risk Management exam last week.

P3 Exam Initial Thoughts

Failing the exam was a bitter pill to swallow as I was full of confidence although there were nerves given the fact it was my first objective test at strategic level.

When I saw the FAIL on the paper printed out from the exam centre I was disappointed although not surprised as the exam itself felt really tough and full of wordy questions, a couple of which I felt I was just guessing at.

So when I got my final result confirmed the score of 95 was just as much as a relief as it was frustrating.

I was probably two or three correct answers from passing the exam, so I know it was borderline on getting a pass mark and it gives me something to build on heading into the resit. I honestly felt I had scored around 80 or so after leaving the exam and I felt I may need to resit the whole syllabus in detail but 95 gives me hope!

P3 Lessons Learnt

Having had almost a week to get over failing the CIMA P3 exam, I’ve had time to reflect and draw up an approach to ensure I pass it next time!!

Focus on Weak Areas

I know it sounds obvious. But I had a few questions come up during the exam which I knew immediately I would struggle with. The P3 syllabus felt so broad, it was difficult to cover all areas in the detail I wanted to, however, that’s just a sign to work harder!

Interest Rate swaps was a key one, as i had a couple of questions on this and just had to take a guess at the answer.

Revise the Theory behind the calculations

I sometimes find myself guilty of practicing the calculations too much without understanding all of the logic behind the approach and what it means. Being able to articulate what you’re doing and why is needed!!

Stay Calm in the Exam

I used the exam approach of skimming through all 60 questions and answering the short “easier” questions in first 10/15 minutes to get some confidence and some time in the bank. However, when I saw the length and detail of the questions I did begin to panic inside.

I was worried about the time pressure, so I felt I was trying to read the questions quickly but ended up in some cases having to re-read the question which cost me more time.

The ironic thing is I finished the exam with 6 or 7 minutes left!?

In hindsight, I should have stayed calmer in the exam, used my time more carefully and perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this blog post now!

CIMA P3 Resit Approach

I don’t want to rush the resit attempt, even if I was close to passing with my score of 95.

Instead, I plan to get some more exam practice questions and go through the official CIMA syllabus and make sure I can am comfortable with the learning outcomes in whole P3 syllabus.

What’s more, I plan to really go into detail with Interest Rate Swaps and also look back some topics from P2 exam, as I recall two questions that mentioned IRR and I’m sure I covered this in P2 rather than P3 so my mind went blank during the exam.

Hopefully I will be 110% ready to take and PASS the P3 Risk Management by the end of October.

CIMA: Getting Motivated

CIMA: Exam Tips

It’s been almost two months now since the February MCS results came out and I’ve yet to start studying for my next exam. I’m really struggling to get back on the horse, so to speak. You can probably tell as the content on the blog has as slipped in recent weeks.

I was so relived to pass the MCS and having invested so much energy and effort in the exam, I needed a few weeks break and this few weeks has seen the last two months slip by without as much as opening my P3 study materials.

Getting Motivated Again

I know the strategic level will be a tough nut to crack and perhaps subconsciously I am delaying my studies, but I’d planned to take the strategic case study in Feb 2019 – with the premise I’d pass P3, E3, F3 by then but that now looks a tall order.

Self Studying CIMA can be a lonely path and it’s easy to get side tracked and down tools completely while you consider your next move and how you’re going to study for the next exam.

I’m also struggling for motivation even though I am on the final level.

Two at a time

Back in March I pondered if taking two exams at a time (P3 and E3) would be manageable as this was as a strategy I used at the very beginning when sitting F1 and E1 together in the same week (managed to pass both first time).

Of course, the operational exams were “easier” but nevertheless studying for two exams at a time worked then and it might actually help to study two different topics at the same time i.e. the variation might compliment each other and keep things fresh when studying.

I also have a couple of weeks of holiday coming up in June but I’d still have 12 weeks of study for P3 and F3 followed by 3 weeks of revision and take the exams at the end of August, then, should I fail one exam I;d give myself the month of September to take any resits needed.

Then I’d have 11/12 weeks to pass F3 before the February 2019 pre-seen materials were released on 17 December 2018. Therefore, reaching my target of taking the SCS exam then.

But is this a risky strategy?

  • Taking P3 and E3 at the same time.
  • Will I have the motivation to study hard during the summer months July/August?
  • Is it dangerous to have such a strict targets – especially when self studying.
  • Is it realistic?

These are the questions I have going round in my head at the moment, anyhow I have the P3 and E3 materials so I plan to make a start on my studies this week and then I’ll make a decision and book my exams for end of August should I decide to sit both.

How do other CIMA self-study students prepare and plan for the exams? Any tips on how I can achieve this target of taking the SCS in February next year or should I just focus on one exam at a time?



CIMA P2 Exam Tips

CIMA P2 Syllabus

CIMA P2 Syllabus

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

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

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

CIMA P2 Study Text

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

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

CIMA P2 – Net Present Value and IRR

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

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

CIMA P2 Study Planner

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

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

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

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

CIMA Mock Exams

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

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

CIMA P2 Exam Strategy

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

The CIMA Student Advice

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

There are no shortcuts though.

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

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

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

CIMA Connect and P2 Technical Articles

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

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

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

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

Happy Studying CIMA P2 and Good Luck!

CIMA Case Study Tips: February 2018

CIMA Feb 2018 Case Study

The CIMA case studies represent a significant milestone in the professional qualification and require the appropriate planning, hard work and dedication.

With this in mind, and the fact I am sitting the MCS exam myself in February 2018, I’ve decide to release CIMA case study tips article earlier and add more depth to it.

CIMA Case Study Approach

Before we go into the various resources from CIMA and Astranti I believe it’s worth starting with the approach required with the case study. As it’s very different to the approach required to pass the CIMA objective tests.

Know Your Role

Remember you are playing the role of accountant/manager/director of an imaginary company created by CIMA. So you should answer your questions from that point of view. But don’t waffle on in your emails to the boss about how your weekend was! Keep it relevant and to the point but use the structure and format as if you were responding to your boss’s request to evaluate pricing decisions.

Business Acumen

CIMA are encouraging us as students to show our business acumen in the case study exam, so when showing your technical knowledge don’t keep it to factual and dry – you’ll need to apply to the pre-seen and new information – make observations and recommendations on how the business can use it to their advantage, like you would be expected to the real world.

Cover All Bases

Make sure you submit a balanced exam paper, cover all bases that CIMA are looking for. Remember, there are 4 areas that CIMA are looking for us to cover in the case study exam – as I mentioned you need to showcase your business, people and leadership skills alongside the technical skills we have already picked up from the objective tests.

  1. Technical Skills
  2. Business Skills
  3. People Skills
  4. Leadership Skills

Know the Pre-Seen

There is no excuse for not understanding the pre-seen materials inside out, there are 6 weeks or so between the pre-seen materials being released and the exam itself. Don’t remember it word by word (as of course the pre-seen is available on exam day itself), but we need to link all of the information to give a us a clear picture of the company, industry and the strengths and weaknesses we face,

Industry Knowledge

Knowing the industry your case study is operating will give you some valuable information on real life trends and news. Showing this on exam day is a great to score marks and give some context to your answers.

Technical Knowledge v Hands On Case Study Revision

Having watched the Astranti keys to passing the Case Study video earlier this week, I noted not to go overboard in studying the E2/P2/F2 syllabus I’ve already covered. I had initially planned to spend most of time in next week or two studying the technical content but I plan to scale that down a bit – and go back to syllabus content in conjunction with the pre-seen materials and mock exams.

Exam Technique

There are a few elements to this.

Firstly, you’ll need to plan your answer efficiently, identifying the question requirements and planning the content of your answer before fully committing to writing out the full answer.

Then you’ll need to make sure you don’t overrun with time, if there are 4 sections to the exam then you should spend 45 minutes on each section, no more.

Then break it down even further. Split the 45 minutes into sub sections, or allocation 10 mins for reading and planning, 25 minutes for completing full answer and 10 minutes for reviewing to ensure you have covered the points you planned.

CIMA Connect Resources


If you don’t visit the official CIMA connect site when preparing for your exams then you are missing out on a host of resources.

All of the below mentioned resources are linked to the CIMA connect site where you will require your login. And they are specially for the MCS exam and it’s an exam I will be sitting in February (you can find similar resources for OCS and SCS on CIMA connect).

How to analyse the pre-seen material – article by David Harris

MCS Exam question walk-through – article by CIMA

Student webinar: facts and techniques on how to pass the CIMA MCS

CIMA MCS Feb 2018 What’s App group – a thread created on by a student on the CIMA connect site.

Astranti Case Study Course

In my opinion, the Astranti case study courses are unrivalled when it comes to the CIMA case studies as my first hand experience with the OCS exam a couple of years ago.

The full OCS, MCS and SCS courses cover everything you need to pass the February CIMA case study.

I have enrolled on the MCS course for February and will be posting blog updates during the course to share my feedback with other students.


  • Study Text 1: how to approach the case study
  • Study Text 2: syllabus content from the previous objective tests
  • Pre-Seen Analysis: video analysis of the pre-seen from astranti tutor
  • Strategic Analysis: strategy based on the case study scenario
  • Top 10 Issues: the most likely issues to be tested on exam day
  • Industry Analysis: the case
  • 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 overlooked.

OCS Course – February 2018

MCS Course – February 2018

SCS Course – February 2018

Other CIMA Tuition Providers

I like to promote and mention other CIMA learning providers outside of the big guns of BPP and Kaplan and there are two or three that I have been spoken to and used their materials to some extent and would also recommend to check out;

VIVA Financial Tuition – they have sent me a few articles on previous case study exams that were published on the site. You can read an example of their financial analysis on SCS exam AutoAuto here.

Practice Tests Academy – I use them for their mock exams for the objective tests but they have also started to release resources for the CIMA case studies and definitely worth checking out.

Important Dates – February 2018 Case Studies

Below is the schedule of important dates to remember – don’t forget you still have plenty of time to get prepared before the pre-seen materials are released!

CIMA Case Studies

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 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!

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.


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.


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


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.


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.

CIMA August ’16 Case Study: REVISION CLASSES

I don’t usually have two articles on the same day but I noticed Astranti have their final revision classes coming up for the August case study exams and thought I would share the details for those who are not aware.

Are you worried about the CIMA case study exam coming up?

Is this your first case study exam and you’re looking for that final push to get exam ready? 

If so, these LIVE revision master classes will help calm your nerves and give some crucial tips on how to pass the exam.

Revision Class Content

As you can see, the whole day case study revision class covers a lot of information:

  • In depth walk through of the post exam guide to clarify exactly what the examiner is looking for.
  • Pre-learned paragraphs and how to use the syllabus theory appropriately.
  • Time-saving tips.
  • Key comments from exam markers – learn where other students have gone wrong.
  • Depth of answer – how to integrate theory, detail and dept to your answers.
  • Industry examples and analysis.
  • Review of the best scripts from other students.
  • The top 10 likely issues based on the pre-seen material.

Revision Class Dates

You can find full details below on the revision class content/prices for the operational, management and strategic levels.

OCS August Case Study: Saturday 6th August 2016

MCS August Case Study: Saturday 13th August 2016

SCS August Case Study: Saturday 20th August 2016

If you cannot make the day the class is you held you can still access the recorded version of the class – although there isn’t much time between the class and the exam itself!!

August Case Study Exam Dates

Just as a final clarification, the screenshot below shows all of the dates for the August case study exams taken from the CIMA website.


Good Luck to ALL students taking the case study – please get in touch if you’d like to share your experiences and case study exam tips.

Finally, for those that are interested, I got in touch with Pearson VUE and asked if it’s possible to use pen and paper in the exam to make notes and not the whiteboard and pens that are currently provided.

Personally I find it off putting to use the whiteboard and pen and would much rather use pen and paper – I found I needed a lot of space when making notes and calculations when taking the F2 objective test! I’ll update on this site if I get any feedback from Pearson VUE.

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