CIMA E1 Exam and Study Tips

CIMA E1 Exam Tips

CIMA E1 Study Text

Find the right study text for your CIMA studies is crucial and personally I like to vary the tuition providers depending on what exam I am sitting.

For example, I like using the Kaplan texts for the numerical papers as the clear step-by-step approach in their study texts works well for me.

But for the more “wordy” CIMA papers like E1 Organisation Management I tend to use the Astranti study texts as they are written in an easy to grasp manner and they more condensed format, so I can cover the whole syllabus quicker!

Likewise, if I am struggling to under a specific CIMA topic using Kaplan then I will look at the same subject in the Astranti study text to see if another viewpoint on the topic makes it easier to understand and help me pass the CIMA exam first time.

FREE Astranti CIMA E1 study text

Kaplan CIMA E1 study text

Study Planner

CIMA have revamped their self study planners for all their objective tests and they are a brilliant tool in planning your bid to pass E1 first time!

CIMA E1 Study Planner

The study planner covers all of the learning objectives and allows to plan your own schedule with their interactive day by day planner. Not only that, but there are tons of help links to CIMA articles of most of the learning components.

You can find the official CIMA E1 study planner here.

CIMA E1 Revision Classes

A great way for CIMA students who self study to reinforce their knowledge is by attending or viewing recorded CIMA revision classes. It’s a much cheaper way to get the exposure of a CIMA qualified tutor without the astronomical costs of class room tuition.

Here is a 20 minute preview video of the revision classes that are spread over 2 days and contain around 10 hours of materials.

You can find the CIMA E1 revision classes here.

CIMA Mock Exams

There are plenty of mock exam questions from the old style CIMA exams available on the CIMA connect site for E1 organisation management – you can find them here.

They can be a useful way to revise the syllabus content but you’ll need to prepare yourself for the new 2015 exam format for the objective tests and this includes E1 Organisational Management.

The above video gives you an idea on how to approach the E1 CIMA exam and hopefully pass it first time! But you’ll also need some considerable mock exam practice.

Again, I use a combination of the online Astranti mock exams which is a great way to replicating what you’ll face on exam day. But to add more depth to my exam preparation I use the Kaplan exam kits with over 200 questions to make sure I have plenty of experience in answering different types of questions.

You can find the Kaplan exam kit here and the online E1 mock exams from Astranti here..

Industry Articles

To get a firm grip on the CIMA E1 syllabus content, you should also be reading the latest industry articles and real life scenarios and news related to E1.

The CIMA connect has plenty of technical and industry related articles for most of the learning components in the exam.

REMEMBER: you can find direct links to those in your E1 study planner (see resources section i.e. FM article on Public and private sector organisations).

CIMA E1 Exam Advice

CIMA Connect Group

Students starting out on their CIMA journey must not forget to use the brilliant resources on the CIMA connect site. There are plenty of free resources on the E1 organisational management paper; ranging from past exam questions to student discussion on exam tehcnique and study tips.

It’s also a great way to interact with other CIMA students who are studying the same paper as you. Particulary useful if you are self studying or are struggling with a specific topic.

You can find the official CIMA connect group for E1 here.

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Big Data: a hot CIMA topic

big-data-speech-bubble
When looking at the 2010 CIMA study texts you will find very little on the subject of Big Data. But it seems to be a hot topic these days and I am sure the CIMA examiner will look to squeeze in a question on Big Data whenever they can.

The use of Big Data is becoming vital for companies to find that competitive edge or to serve their customers better by understanding their needs.

One of the classic examples of Big Data would be the supermarket industry. The amount of data they gather on their customers is staggering and the introduction of loyalty cards has made it even easier to collect data on consumer habits and trends.

Supermarkets and Big Data

For example, supermarkets realised there was a connection between the purchase of baby nappies and beer. Clearly, the parents would stop at Tesco (or any other retailer) on the way home from work to pick up some nappies and at the same time pick up some alcohol too. So to make it easier for the customer they placed the baby products closer to the alcohol selection. Win, win!

It’s the small details like this that Big Data can pick out and allows the business to cater for every aspect of the customers needs.

Big data allows you to draw on vast quantities of data to spot unusual trends and correlations that would be usually difficult to spot.

GARNERS THREE V’s

In a 2001 research report Garner identified three key challenges that organisations face – Volume, Velocity and Variety.

VOLUME – increasing volumes of data mean there is a lot more to manage and harder to extract key information from it.
VELOCITY – there is an increasing speed of data in and out, means data can quickly change. So analysis needs to be quick to spot and react to the changes.
VARIETY – the range of data types and sources of data can be varied making analysis difficult. Data in different IT systems can hard to link and analyse together.

There are 7 key stages to Big Data collection:
1. CAPTURE – what kind of data is needed and how will it be captured?
2. STORAGE – Big Data sets need physical systems that can take up vast amount of space – also need to be secure!!
3. CURATION – Once the data is captured it needs to be organised, controlled and maintained. Daily upkeep of the data.
4. ANALYSIS – The process of interpretation the data. Splitting it out into categories or make links between different types of data.
5. VISULATION – Once analysed, it needs to be put into illustration in a clear digestible format.
6. SEARCH – Once compiled, you must be able to search the data to find what you want. i.e. Google!
7. DATE SHARING AND TRANSFERS – Data must be able to be shared with those who need it.

Big Data is also massively important in marketing – by using twitter, Facebook, chat rooms and forums – companies can build up a picture of consumers and this kind of personal data is unique due to the personal nature.

It can also help identify new customers by using demographics and it also help discover new niche markets by grouping people in terms of interests and behaviour.

It’s a relatively new topic in CIMA but it’s one of the more interesting topics as you can relate to everyday life. So don’t get caught short when studying for your next case study exam – as understanding and applying Big Data could make a BIG difference in passing your next exam.

Outsourcing: A False Economy?

The E1 paper (and the Operational Case Study) could throw up a question on outsourcing. It’s a topic I am really quite familiar having worked in a couple of environments where the company were outsourcing services.

In some instances, it felt like the cost savings made by the company by outsourcing their finance function was actually a false economy. As the quality of the work delivered by the outsourcing provider would ultimately cost the company money as they wouldn’t have accurate and reliable good to make strategic decisions.

OUTSOURCING: An explanation

Outsourcing is the contracting out of services and aspects of the organization to specialist providers. There are two types of competencies that should be considered.

THRESHOLD COMPETENCIES – must be good processes but easy to imitate and they hold no source of competitive advantage.

CORE COMPETENCIES – something you are able to do that drives competitive advantage and it’s very difficult for your competitors to imitate.

Advantages:

  • Cost – the main reason for outsourcing comes down to cost. Large companies will benefit from economies of scale. Reduced capital expenditure and deduced headcount and labour charges
  • Quality – the supplier may have skills and expertise that adds additional value to the products.
  • Focus – company can focus on core areas of the business and increase their competitive advantage.
  • Buyer Power – the outsourcing market is so big, you exercise buyer power to negotiate better deals.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Loss of core competencies – losing core competencies will soon see sales drop and the brand will be damaged and overtaken by competitors.
  • Cost Issues – cost savings may not be realized in the long run.
  • Damage to morale – staff redundancies could affect morale of the existing employees.
  • Damage to brand and company reputation – if your customers are dealing directly with the outsourcing provider they could damage the brand of your company with poor service.
  • Risk of loss of confidential information.

 

Outsourcing, of course, can be very beneficial to a company and in fact improve the services and efficiency of the company. For example, outsourcing the AP function can save the company headcount and they can leverage on the expertise of the provider who should have better and more efficient processes to perform the accounts payable activities.

Moreover, the company can now focus their efforts on the activities that actually add value in maximising revenue.

Outsourcing is one of the very first topics in the E1 syllabus. It’s so common place in the modern business world a lot of CIMA students who are working in a finance function of large companies will have first hand experience of the reality of outsourcing.