The final objective test is done! I passed the CIMA E3 exam last week at the first attempt, which means the SCS exam and PER stand in the way from becoming a CGMA member! Ah, so close.
Nevertheless, the CIMA E3 exam was tougher than I expected and that was illustrated by the marginal pass score of 100 I got.
Exactly right on the money. Perhaps I should be a sniper with such deadly accuracy when searching for these pass marks.
I felt pressure going into the E3 exam, knowing it’s one of the “easier” papers based on the fact it doesn’t have a mountain of numbers and calculations to perform.
However, do not fall into the trap you’ll breeze this paper – it’s still a tough nut to crack with a lot of theory and models to apply.
Here are my four top tips to pass the CIMA E3 objective test first time.
The CIMA Objective Test pass rates paint a happy, smiling picture of the E3 strategic management exam. With 75% students passing it first time, which is considerably higher than the 61% and 62% for the P3 and F3 exams.
But you should prepare in the same meticulous fashion as you did to pass your previous exams. Don’t expect to pass by just turning up!
Less Emphasis on Time Management
I finished the E3 exam with 20 minutes to spare, so do not worry too much about the time pressure of the exam. Follow the strategy by picking out the shorter, easier questions first and answer them. Come back to the longer questions later.
But don’t panic about the long scenario, based questions. You will have time to give them careful, considered thought.
I can’t stress enough the importance of mock exams. They are the key to passing any CIMA exam and you should make sure you have covered the whole syllabus before attempting them, taking full mock exams too early will damage your confidence.
CIMA Code of Ethics
I had a couple of questions that referred to the CIMA code of Ethics. Revise the principles behind them and how to apply them in ethical situations. Although I’m sure by the time you reach E3, you will be well versed in them anyway.
The 5 mock exams are a great way to get ready for exam day.
Alongside this course, I always purchase the Kaplan exam practice kit as another source of tried and trusted questions. I’ve followed a similar pattern now for the last few exams so I don’t want change my way of working too much!
The CIMA objective tests are difficult to pass, there is no doubt about that.
The computer based, 90 minute, 60 question, multiple choice exam may sound easy (in theory) – everyone seems to roll their eyes when you tell them it’s a multiple choice exam but the reality is that can be brutal to pass given the time constraints and the dreaded “select all that apply” questions.
So having passed the F2, P2 and E2 objective tests in the last 18 months or so and having gathered advice from other students, here are my top tips and resources to help you pass your next CIMA objective test first time.
The CIMA Student 4-3-2-1 approach
As CIMA students, we all like an acronym or model to follow and I’ve devised a 4-3-2-1 approach when it comes to studying for a CIMA objective test. This approach came to mind when I was trying to summarise my own methods and by listening to other students who have been successful when it comes to passing CIMA objective tests.
As you can see from the graphic above, there are four stages or layers of preparation and work that goes into CIMA objective tests.
The Foundations (4)
Before we even begin to think about the exam and what to expect on exam day we need to lay the foundations. The obvious starting point is our CIMA syllabus and study texts for the exam.
Often students may make the mistake and skip straight ahead to try their hand at mock exams, or after a few chapters of their study text will believe understand the content and will attempt the mock exam, fail miserably and become disheartened.
Concentrate on learning the syllabus and cementing your knowledge step by step by taking the practice questions at the end of the chapter. As well as confirming you understand the chapter, it will also prepare you for the mock exams later on.
Mock Exam Practice/Revise Weak Areas (3)
Once you’ve covered the syllabus, your should start preparing for the exam by taking mock exams. At first, I would suggest to take a mock exam at your own pace and not to exam conditions.
The benefits are three fold here.
You will discover your weak areas of the syllabus
You will be prepared for the style of questions you will face.
You will build confidence ahead of the exam.
Once you have identified the weak areas of your knowledge, spend time revising the subjects in more detail.
Seek other resources like technical articles from the CIMA connect website, speak to other students or find tuition videos online that will help explain these problematic areas.
I would highly recommend using the technical articles from CIMA if you’re stuck on a specific topic.
Mock Exams in Exam Conditions (2)
Now we are reaching the peak of our preparation for the CIMA objective test.
Mock exams in exam conditions will really show where you are in terms of a pass or fail – it’s imperative you take at least 2 or 3 mock exams in these conditions and don’t worry if you fail one or two of them.
Better to fail them now rather than on exam day!!
Analyse where you went wrong, what questions you struggle and if you have adequate time management.
Below is a video from CIMA on how to manage your time in CIMA objective test with a useful strategy on making the most of your time.
EXAM READY (1)
Now you should be exam ready and just days away from facing your CIMA objective test – I would suggest just to do some light revision in the days before the exam.
Maybe looking at your revision notes or flash cards but nothing too heavy.
You should be confident given the amount of work and preparation you have put in, be relaxed but ready to push yourself when exam day arrives!
CIMA Objective Test Materials
Personally, I tend to rotate between a few different learning providers depending on the subject and my needs at the time. Here is a summary of the learning providers you can call upon when studying for your next CIMA Objective Test.
Their study texts for the objective tests are easier to digest than the likes of BPP and Kaplan, which can be technical by nature. What’s more their tuition videos and exam practice kits are a great compliment to the study texts.
Astranti look to minimize your study time by simplifying each chapter with their tuition videos, there are also other nice features like being able to download the audio so you can listen to the materials on the go.
Below you can find details on the Operational, Management and Strategic objective test materials and courses from Astranti.
I really like using their exam practice kits for a couple of reasons.
I find the wording of the questions are very similar to the real thing.
You get a book with 200 questions and can also register the book online to view the questions/answers via the internet.
I also find you can never have enough exam questions to practice and it’s good to get a mixture of different resources and not rely solely on one.
The exam practice kits are only 20 GBP per subject and are well worth the investment for 200 exam style questions.
The team at PTA have now released full courses for the CIMA Objective Tests and are not purely a CIMA question bank.
They have some of the top CIMA tutors around that provide some great video analysis for their full objective test courses.
I use them regularly for their CIMA mock exams but have yet to try their full courses.
Nevertheless, their question bank of 500 questions per paper are unrivalled and the interactive nature and the way the results are broken down so you can see exactly the learning outcomes you have failed is a great way to work on weaknesses and pinpoint the exact part of the syllabus you are weak on.
Here is some great advice from fellow students and our good friends at CSSC Tuition!
EditI managed to pass the CIMA P2 Advanced Management Accounting first time this week and must say I am over the moon with finally getting it out of the way!!
I scored a scaled score of 101 out of 150, bearing in mind you need 100 to pass I just edged over line!! Nevertheless, a pass is a pass and I can move on to the MCS now.
I started studying the P2 materials almost 12 months ago, but after taking a break from studying due to other commitments I finally picked up the P2 books a couple of months ago and managed to pass it first time.
Here are my lessons learnt and materials used for the exam.
CIMA P2 Materials
I signed up for the CIMA Study Prime course at the beginning of the year and found the content was a great mixture of interactive and “plain text” content. I did all of my initial studying in the early part of the year with this course and would recommend it to other CIMA students too – I actually wrote a blog article on this earlier this year here.
But when I picked up the pen again after 6 months away from the books, I was in two minds whether to go through the CIMA Study Prime course materials again. I felt it would be a duplication of work, so instead I looked towards the Astranti P2 masterclass video to refresh my knowledge of the syllabus.
I gave myself three weeks to concentrate on taking mock exams, doing practice questions and mock exams in real conditions using the practice tests academy materials. I had time to revise the weaker areas of the syllabus based on the mock exam results.
However, I still found myself coming up short of a passing grade of 70% which did lead me to panic somewhat in the final few days.
5 days until P2 exam – still looking for an extra 10% to get a pass. Just looking forward to getting exam done now.
But I continued revising the materials and practising my weak areas like the demand/pricing equation and standard deviation (which in fact is a doodle when I compare it to the pricing equations and linear programming!).
I stayed calm on exam day as I know I tend to work better under the pressure of a real exam and to be honest I just wanted to get it out of the way to see where I was – also I felt I couldn’t really do any more work than I had already done.
To summarise, here are my lessons learnt:
Use the final days before exam to keep revising
I was even revising the night before. I’m sure the extra theory I read on Transfer Pricing the night before helped me a great deal in the exam the following day.
Don’t neglect the theory
It might seem like a wise idea to skim read the wordy part of the syllabus – especially with P2 and F2 – and jump to the questions and calculations but you need to make sure you have covered all bases.
i.e. Calculating an acceptable transfer in the question is all well and good but can you also explain the difference between a Two Part Tariff and Dual Pricing?
Mock Exams – don’t get too disheartened with poor results
I found that the questions I faced in the mock exams felt tougher than the exam itself, maybe this is down to a combination of things. One of them being I tend to perform better under stress of an exam.
But don’t get down with your mock exam results or question practice. Best to iron out your mistakes before exam day and approach the exam with confidence.
Have an exam strategy
You will be pushed for time in the exam. Be smart – answer the easier short style questions first. Build confidence and move on.
This is nicely explained in the video below.
The CIMA Objective Tests are tough, there is no hiding place as I learnt when tackling my first one with F2 which I failed twice before passing – however, since then I have managed to pass E2 and now P2 first time – so it is possible.
I’ve decided to go down the route of using the CIMA Study Prime course for my next upcoming exam – P2 Advanced Management Accounting.
Although I used the Astranti materials to great effect when passing my last exam (E2) first time with a scaled score of 121, I wanted to see what else was on the market and the official study materials from CIMA seemed like a good fit.
Having started work on the P2 course a couple of weeks I thought I would share my thoughts on the CIMA Study Prime course so far.
CIMA Study Prime P2 Course
For those of you not familiar with the course contents, here is what I got when I enrolled on the P2 CIMA Study Prime course earlier this year.
The main reason I choose the course was for the 120 hours of e-learning content – which I feel I will need with the P2 exam as most student experiences I’ve read from the CIMA connect site have been negative and stories of students struggling to pass this paper!
All of the other features and content of the course is an added bonus for me at this point. But I also like the idea of having tutor support by email or phone (within 24 hours) so if I am really struggling with something, then I can reach out for advice.
Another reason why I chose the CIMA Study course is the fact they are partnered with Kaplan and I always purchase the Kaplan exam practice kit for each paper I am sitting, so I know the structure and format of the study texts and exam kits included in this course.
First Impressions of CIMA Study Prime
Firstly, I was pleased to receive an email and invitation for an introductory web session to formally get an understanding of all of the materials included in the course.
The introductory webinar also gave those who attended a chance to submit questions to the host about the course contents and what to expect.
What was particularly useful, was the Study Guide 2016. This document gives you a 7-8 week plan on how to cover the Study Units in the course with the final 3-4 weeks on revision and exam question practice.
There are two approaches to studying the course contents.
You can use the Online Study Text 2016 provided, which covers all of the syllabus in the usual text book structure.
Or, like I am choosing to do, is to use the Study Units as a base for your studies rather than going through the study text page by page.
The advantage (I hope!) by using the study units rather than the study text is the variation of the materials and content. So far I have completed the first three study units and have been very impressed! Here are my thoughts on what I like and what I don’t like!
CIMA Study do state that the whole syllabus is covered in the study units but it’s just a different way to digest the information.
The below screenshot is an example of one of the study units for the P2 Advanced Financial Performance course.
The content is clear, in-depth and easy to understand.
There are links and further reading on each area, so you can delve further into the subject if you are struggling to understand it.
The variation of study methods i.e. text, graphics, interactive video and review questions makes it a brilliant resource.
At the end of each study unit there is a 45 minute exam question to go through with the suggested answer – while there is also a summary of the topics covered and what you should have learnt.
I noticed a few typo’s in the text with some of the example questions and answers, which took me a little while to re-read and understand there was a typo!
Not very mobile friendly – it would be brilliant if you could access the CIMA Study Prime course via a mobile app. But sadly, that’s not the case.
So far, so good with the CIMA Study Prime Course and I’ll update my progress as I go further into the course.
My second attempt at the F2: Advanced Financial Reporting paper resulted in my second failure. This time, though, it’s more demoralising than the first sitting!
I felt well prepared and felt confident when I finished the exam – so it was a blow to see the words “fail”on the provisional result at the exam centre. I’ll wait for the official result and scaled score to gauge how close or far away I was for a pass mark.
The main challenges in the exam today were choose three from the options below; if any area then this was the one I felt weaker today. The F2 Advanced Financial Reporting paper is a real tough – achieving the 70% pass mark, it seems, is a really BIG ask.
Which makes me wonder how I will fare further down the line?
I’m also pondering whether to shelve this subject for now and move on to E2 and P2?
It feels like I have been staring at this subject for so long no seems to be going in any more.
Anyway, for those preparing for CIMA objective tests you might want to watch this video below from CIMA on how to approach the exam.
The CIMA objective tests are the meat on the bones of the CIMA qualification and you will need to pass nine objective tests in total (plus three case studies) to become fully qualified so it’s imperative you find the right resources for you.
Astranti offer a comprehensive package of materials for each CIMA objective test, so whether you starting your life as a CIMA student, or you’re looking for a new learning provider I would suggest taking a look at what they have to offer.
Astranti CIMA Objective Course Content
Well, the objective test courses are packed with materials and resources to ensure you have the sufficient knowledge and enough mock exam practice to achieve the pass mark required. Whether it’s the operational level,the management level, or the final strategic level of the CIMA syllabus, the core content of the Astranti CIMA objective test resources remain the same.
Here’s a breakdown of the complete package.
Study Text – printable and online version for full study text for the objective test your require. It gives simple explanations and understanding and, I would say, is lighter than the wordy BPP text.
Chapter Revision Questions – after every chapter there is a set of revision questions that gives you the chance to cement the knowledge learnt from the study text.
3 x Online Mock Exams – each mock exam contains 60 challenging questions taken from all areas of the syllabus. Detailed feedback is provided so you can learn from your mistakes and understand where you went wrong.
Tuition Videos – around 10-13 hours of tuition videos come with most of the objective test course, this is great for students who need that visual aid and “class-room” feel of learning.
CIMA Revision Master Classes – over 10 hours of pre-recorded master classes for your choose subject. The purpose of these master classes is to reinforce the knowledge you already have as well giving some key exam tips on how to pass CIMA exams.
Tutor Support – the course provides a tutor monitored forum that allows access for students to ask questions and seek further clarity on questions or topics they are not sure of.
Tuition Video Preview
Below is an example of the CIMA F1 tuition video you can expect when enrolling on the full objective course.
There are around 13 hours of videos available!
Recorded by a professional and experience tutor.
Master Class Video Preview
Meanwhile, here is a sneak preview of the master class video on the CIMA F1 syllabus – the master classes are the perfect way to consolidate your knowledge and pick up some handy hints for passing CIMA objective tests.
Full CIMA Objective Courses
You can find the full CIMA objective test courses from Astranti below and if they are not to your liking, then they offer a full 7 day money back guarantee.
I’m a keen user of the Astranti materials as they helped me pass the CIMA operational case study at the first time of asking last year – you can read about that here.
I also used their materials also for my latest F2 exam (which I failed – you can also read about that here) but I only used their study text and mock exams, so I would definitely encourage people to use ALL of the materials available to give yourself the best possible chance of passing your exams – I’m hoping their master class videos for F2 will be give me that bit extra needed to pass my re-sit exam.
Studying CIMA via distance learning and self funding gives you a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to WHEN and HOW you study but it also throws up some tough questions you need to address.
Trying to pass your CIMA exams at the first attempt gets tougher and tougher the further you progress in your studies and you’ll need to squeeze out any advantage you can when preparing for the exam without the help of classroom tuition and tutors on hand.
Studying CIMA in the class room is a great (possibly the best) way to achieving a pass mark in your next exam but without the support of your company to fund your studies it can be a major challenge to progress with your studies.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of alternative resources out there you can use to supplement your own studying methods.
An affordable way of tackling your CIMA objective tests would be to cover the syllabus yourself with the CIMA study texts (either from Kaplan, BPP or Astranti) and then take a CIMA masterclass from Astranti to ensure you have understood ALL of the key areas of the syllabus.
Astranti offer pre-recorded CIMA masterclasses for ALL of their papers that students can buy for a fraction of the price of classroom tuition. It’s the perfect way to revise and consolidate the knowledge you have already picked up.
Each objective test has a “masterclass” that was filmed over two days and covers the whole syllabus area. The video content also contains a live chat feed dialogue where students asked questions during the class that the tutor answered.
Here is what you can expect with the full CIMA masterclass for the CIMA objective tests.
Over 10 hours of content on the specified course (E2, P2 etc. etc.)
Filmed over two days and covers in detail the key syllabus areas
You can pause, rewind and stop the recording at any point.
Features exam style questions.
You get a free printable study text to go alongside the masterclass video.
You watch a preview video below of the P2 Masterclass here to get a feel of the content and the structure.
Astranti recommend you should watch these masterclasses at least 1 or 2 weeks before sitting your CIMA objective test to give yourself the best chance of passing.
Astranti P2 Masterclass preview
You can find the full set of CIMA masterclass videos for each level at the links below.
The cost of around £100 to £120 per masterclass is barely 10% of the price you’d pay for classroom tuition with either Kaplan and BPP and comes highly recommended from other students who have taken them and passed their next CIMA exam.
After a couple of weeks of taking a break from CIMA, I’ve decided to throw myself back into my F2 studies and focus of passing the exam I failed recently. Perhaps I should have got onto my revision straight away after failing while the knowledge was still fresh but I really wasn’t in the mindset to look at the books.
Nevertheless, when looking at the F2 area of the CIMA connect website – I hope you all use the CIMA connect site, if not you can find it here – and I came across a couple of really interesting discussions on how to approach the CIMA objective tests.
If you’re not familiar with CIMA Objective Tests under the 2015 CIMA syllabus then here is a brief summary of what to expect:
90 minutes to complete
60 questions (multiple choice, fill in the blank, calculation questions)
70% is the pass rate (42 out of 60 – or scaled scored of 100 out of 150)
Must be proficient in each area of the syllabus
Below is an extract from CIMA connect site where a student is offering advice on how he passed these new style exams. It’s certainly given me food for thought.
When you first start the exam, run through all the questions, and I mean all, as fast as you can. If you have a question where you immediately know the answer, do so. If you know part or are unsure, answer and flag, skip long questions and calculations but note down what number they are on your pad.
This way you’ll have:-
a) answered all the easy questions, and banked the time
b) know how many longer questions there are
c) at least flagged up ones you are unsure about
d) know how many you have no idea how to answer (hopefully not many)
Once you’ve done this, you can take stock, you only need 42 to pass, if you’ve already answered that many, great, if not, you know how much work you have ahead of you for the next hour or so (F papers definitely take longer for the first cycle, I think I did both E2 and E3 in about 20-25 minutes, F papers took about 30 for that first run).
What you do next is up to you, you can start on the non calculations, try to answer the ones you weren’t quite sure about, or crack on with the calcs. Personally, unless I was sure of them, I’d leave them for later.
However, you should be able to do a few cycles of questions, adding more into pile A and removing Bs,Cs and Ds. Never leave early and keep at it.
Given the fact I failed my F2 exam recently, the above approach sounds a very interesting and pragmatic way to approach the exam. As I know I felt flustered in the opening 15 minutes of the exam when I was faced with tough questions and lost some confidence.
Although, I am wondering if the above approach could be counter-productive if you struggle to find the “easy” questions and you’re left with 50 questions still to answer?
Objective Test Experience – Help!
If you have any other advice on how to the pass the CIMA objective tests then please feel free to leave your comments below.
You can view the whole discussion from where I took the above advice from here.
The main focus for the last couple of months has been on the CIMA Case Study exams but now, with the February exam sitting under way, it’s a good opportunity to look at how to pass the CIMA objective tests.
CIMA 2015 Syllabus
Under the new 2015 syllabus, the CIMA objective exams have had a complete revamp. Each paper (E1, P1, F1 etc) is now a computer based exam that lasts just 90 minutes. And instead of answering lengthy questions in a written paper you will be faced with a succession of shorter questions that range from multiple choice, small calculations and “fill in the blank” questions.
While it may sound easier in theory, the feedback from students has been mixed with time pressure being the main point of frustration.
Advantages of NEW style CIMA Objective tests
You sit the exams on demand and pass them at your own pace
Results are readily available straight after exam
Shorter exam time of 90 minutes
As you can see, there are many plus points about the new style objective tests but don’t mistake this for meaning that they are easier – far from it – you will still need to cover the whole syllabus in detail. And the pass mark is 70% – so it’s tougher in that respect.
As my company isn’t supporting my CIMA studies I’ve researched the best online CIMA providers and resources. First up, I would recommend using Astranti financial training for your CIMA resources.
Here is an example of what you can expect from Astranti when using their CIMA Objective Test kits (based on P1 paper)
Full Study Test (online and printable)
Chapter Revision questions
Mock Exams (marked by tutor, with detailed feedback)
CIMA Qualified Tutors
Ongoing Tutor Support
Additional resources (mini-mock exams)
Online Forum and Student Discussion
The main plus point for me are the mock exam and detailed feedback from the tutors. I’ve stated this many times, but the key to passing any CIMA exam is to take lots of mock exams and get them marked by a professional tutor.
Astranti offer the full P1 course for £149 – which includes all of the materials mentioned and is cheaper than BPP, Kaplan and CIMAStudy. And I would thoroughly recommend them if you are looking for value for money.
Alternatively, you can make it even cheaper by selecting elements of the course you want to purchase. Personally, I just select the chapter revision questions and mock exams. But it’s flexible and up to each individual.
CIMA Tuition Videos
Being a self study student has it’s pros and cons and I definitely find that not having classroom tuition is a big disadvantage. Nothing can replicate that one on one interaction with a qualified CIMA teacher – it can give you the edge when it comes to passing CIMA exams.
Nevertheless, the next best would CIMA tuition videos and Astranti offer hours and hours of online lectures with their CIMA objective test courses too.
For example, the P1 paper mentioned above currently has no videos but if you are sitting the F1 or E1 (pictured below) papers then you access the full range of videos that cover the whole syllabus.
Astranti offer the the Tuition Videos for £129
Or you can include them into the full course package for total of £229
Personally, I haven’t used or purchased of the Astranti tuition videos yet but I am looking towards them the further I progress and the harder the subjects become.
CIMAstudy.com is the official provider of CIMA resources and materials and they offer a whole range materials for the new objective tests. They offer two packages; the regular CIMA Study package and a CIMA Study Prime package.
Here is what you can expect with the CIMA Study package:
120 hours of e-learning content (no videos)
Mid module questions
CIMA aptitude test (replicates real life exam)
Interactive case studies
Tutor response in 48 hours email only
However, the CIMA Study Prime package offers these additional features:
Acorn are a smaller learning provider but they provide classroom training as well as CIMA home study packages. If you’re based in the UK then you can check out their class room training schedule, otherwise I will focus on their home study materials.
Here is the breakdown of what you can expect when using the Acorn Platinum Kit packages for the CIMA objective tests:
Acorn study materials
Objective test practice kits
Home study kit
Access to the materials lasts for 12 months and prices range from £120-150 depending on if you buy hard copies or .pdf versions. However, Acorn also offer a Kryptonite Kit that costs £200 for and you get ALL of the materials to keep on a USB stick.
What makes Acorn a good study option are the On-demand tutorials that give you FULL syllabus coverage in sound and animation. You can access these videos on iPhone and Andriod too.
If you want to get a feel of their materials please visit their FREE demonstrations here.
Their full brochure can be found here and to read about the exclusive 10% discount on ALL of their products for readers of this website click here.
If you are self studying for the CIMA Objective Tests you really should explore all of the options available when it comes to selecting the right training provider.
If you are more comfortable with working with products from CIMA itself, then I would suggest you look at http://www.cimastudy.com – the prices are very reasonable although the one drawback is the lack of tuition videos and the material can be harder to digest. There is also the option to study with BPP and Kaplan if you’re looking for a company with a string reputation and tradition with CIMA.
Although if you are happy to shop around when looking for CIMA Objective test materials I would suggest looking at Astranti and Acorn. Both offer great quality materials and offer good value when compared to the more established names.