Category Archives: P1

CIMA P1: Management Accounting

It may seem odd but the CIMA P1 Management Accounting paper is the toughest exam students will face if we look at the historic pass rates.

The overall pass rate for P1 is just 45% with only 50% passing it first time, to give you some context, this is much lower than the strategic level P3 exam which is 54% overall pass rate and 62% of students pass first time!

With this in mind, this blog post is designed to help students pass the CIMA P1 exam under the new 2019 syllabus first time.

What’s new in 2019 P1 syllabus?

A newly added P1 syllabus area is ‘rationales for costing’.

This is a new addition but it should be familiar knowledge from your previous studies such as AAT or the CIMA cert paper BA2.

It contains basic costing knowledge – being able to identify cost classifications such as material, labour and overheads while also being able to identify costs by behaviour such as fixed, variable and so on.

While this is not too difficult it’s important not too gloss over the basics as its fundamental knowledge and new exam questions have been written specifically to test this aspect.

Cost Accountant Vs Management Accountant

One interesting addition is that CIMA want you to know the difference between being a ‘cost-accountant’ and a ‘management accountant’.

These terms may be used interchangeably in job roles, however, the new syllabus content is keen to portray a management accountant as a much higher-level strategic decision maker and is surely indicative of CIMA trying to raise the profile of the profession. And rightly so.

Similarly, we have inclusion of the CGMA cost transformation model, which CIMA have published themselves, to explain how effective costing can actually become part of a company’s competitive advantage.

As anticipated, with a nod to the new future of finance 2019 syllabus, CIMA have included the shiny new subject of digital product costing. A new topic which will hopefully be as interesting as it is relevant for students.

Here you will need to know the difficulties of ascertaining a product cost for, let’s say, E-books and software downloads. Also you should understand the benefits of using a digital costing system in this new part of the P1 syllabus.

The P1 Basic’s Remain

Nevertheless, the majority of the P1 syllabus remains the same as CIMA expects students to have a firm grasp of the core costing knowledge.

Students are still required to perform the reconciliation of marginal and absorption costing profits and know the usefulness of each method.

In terms of other costing techniques – there is still throughput accounting, ABC and standard costing too.

We are still expected to tackle topics such as linear programming, time series analysis, break even calculations and risk techniques.

Budgeting for Success

Budgeting, of course, is still big in this management accountancy P1 syllabus.

We are still expected to perform budget calculations in regards to fixed, flex and cash budgets and to know the differences between a functional, master, and principal budget.

Types of budget like zero-based budgeting, activity based budgets and rolling budgets are considered core knowledge in P1, meanwhile, the subject of Beyond Budgeting has dropped down from P2 into the P1 paper.

We also have a extra learning outcome relating to ‘stress testing budgets’ which is basically the ability to assess how vulnerable a budget is to a stressful event(s) such as loss of a major customer or supplier.

Could the numbers cope if supplier prices were to rise 20% for example or rental prices were increased on company premises?


Joint product costing has been raised in prominence but interestingly enough CIMA have removed environmental costing and quality costing from the syllabus.

Both are frequently examined areas for operational case-study so a decision to remove them at P1 will have impact on the OCS exam going forward.

In addition to this, CIMA P1 students are no longer required to learn about the modern-manufacturing environment (TQM or Just-in-time production and McDonaldisation have been removed) – these topics may appear elsewhere on other papers – but not P1 any longer!

Variances are still an important part of the syllabus – we need all of these – including the ‘much disliked’ fixed overhead variances splitting into capacity and efficiency.

In terms of advanced variances, planning & operational are staying with us, so are sales mix and quantity variances. However, you may be pleased to see that material mix and yield variances are being removed for new exams.

The CIMA Student:  P1 Exam Tip

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As a final note here – remember CIMA can ask you for backward variances – where you are told the solution and you need to work backwards to find what ‘actual hours’ or the standard rate must be.

These involve a good knowledge of variance formula’s – so work hard on this area!

On the whole, the new P1 exam seems more straightforward, modern and aligned with later papers such as OCS and the P2 paper. Pass rates are yet to be announced under the 2019 syllabus but I have a feeling they will be better than the 2015 syllabus P1 results.

So good luck with your CIMA P1 exam/resit – try to get through this transition from 2015 to 2019 as soon as you can!

CIMA P1 Exam and Study Tips

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

CIMA P1 Study Text

The foundation of your CIMA P1 studies will be from the study text you choose, whether it’s BPP, Kaplan or other learning providers like Astranti or Acorn. The study text you choose should be suitable for your learning.

I like to use a mixture of the Kaplan and Astranti study texts. I find Kaplan is clear and easy to digest with their pragmatic approach to explaining the key theories. However, I also like to use the free study texts from Astranti.

  1. Because they are free!
  2. I can access them online
  3. The writing style is a bit more personal then Kaplan or BPP.

FREE Astranti CIMA P1 study text

Kaplan CIMA P1 study text

Study Planner

Planning your studies is crucial to passing the CIMA P1 exam. It gives you a timeline of what to cover, when to cover and how long it should take you.

Without sufficient planning you might find yourself studying P1 for months on end without feeling any closer to being ready for the exam!

CIMA’s new and improved study planner is interactive and allows to create your own day by day planner to help keep you on track for exam success.

Another top benefit is the links to the CIMA articles and past exam questions of each learning component in the P1 syllabus.

How to pass CIMA P1 exam

You can find the official CIMA P1 study planner here.

CIMA P1 Revision Classes

Students who self study and just use the study texts to pass their CIMA exams will be missing out on class room tuition and tutor advice. But I find using the Astanti revision master classes a great to cover the whole syllabus and pick information I may have missed when studying the materials myself.

Watching the full revision master class about 2-3 weeks before you sit the P1 exam will give you a better chance of achieving the pass mark!

You can find the CIMA P1 revision classes here.

CIMA P1 Mock Exams

Once you’ve covered the P1 Management Accounting syllabus it’s time to think about taking some mock exams. Again, finding a mixture of different resources in regards to mock exam practice is the best.

You can find past exam questions (in 2010 format) from the CIMA connect site here.

But I would also recommend using the Kaplan exam kit – contains over 200 questions in the style of the new CIMA objective tests – while using the Astranti mock exams which replicate the full 90 minute scenario you will face on exam day.

Kaplan P1 Management Accounting exam kit.

Astranti P1 mock exams.

CIMA P1 Industry Articles

Relating the P1 syllabus to real life scenarios is a great way to really get to grips with the subject you’re studying. And to do that, I would suggest locating as many industry examples or CIMA documents from the CIMA connect site to help you in your learning process.

If you’re struggling to find examples then remember to check the P1 study planner provided by the CIMA connect site – as they have links direct to the articles – under the resources column (see below).

CIMA P1 Industry Articles

The operational level of the CIMA qualification covers the implementation of strategy as well as reporting on the implementation of the strategy. It’s focus is purely on the short term.

The P1 paper focuses on management accounting through four main streams; Cost accounting systems, Budgeting, Short-Term decisions making and dealing with risk.

CIMA P1 Connect Group

Finally, I have already mentioned the CIMA connect group several times already but it’s a great source of information for students looking to pass the CIMA P1 exam.

Not only will you find the study planners and industry articles, you can also interact with others students who taking the same exam as you and boucne some ideas and share study tips.

You can find the CIMA P1 connect group here – it’s worth checking the student discussion here every week or so to see what’s happening and pick up some useful exam tips.