Category Archives: Uncategorized

CIMA OCS Feb 2020: Lottie Graphite

Pre-Seen Materials

The pre-seen materials for the February 2020 CIMA case study were released last week and I’ve had time to read through the materials and prepare my own SWOT analysis of the company.

You can find the official document from CIMA on your study planner here – it will require you CIMA ID and login.

Astranti Case Study Course: Lottie Graphite

I used Astranti to pass the OCS exam and would fully recommend their case study course with a particular focus on the mock exams and feedback.

FebOCS

SWOT Analysis: Lottie Graphite

A good place to start when faced with the pre-seen materials is to prepare a SWOT analysis, as the outcome will give you some focus areas when preparing for the OCS exam.

Below are some initial thoughts from me on the Lottie Graphite scenario.

Strengths: Strong Identity and Links to Community

Lottie Graphite is based in Gawland which has a high wage economy but despite this fact the majority of the 1000 employees are in Gawland. To quote the pre-seen;

“They believe the culture of the company is key to its success and that this would die if removed from its native and its dedicated workforce”

What’s more, there is also a mention that they run a public factory once a week.

This engagement with the local community will really create strong ties in the area and promote the brand as an open, welcoming and trusted company.

This compliments the fact that the company is a global player that manfactures over 300 hundred million pencils, yet they act like a local employer and remain highly visible in Gawland.

Weaknesses: Budgeting

The pre-seen often points to the company being open to change and very innovative in it’s thinking, as illustrated with the PEXECO pencil.

However, the finance department is still using dated methods like incremental budgeting with a top down approach with gives little motivation or incentive to the functional teams and management that carry out the day to day operations.

This method of budgeting is time saving and straightforward to produce but perhaps a move towards zero based budgeting or even beyond budgeting would a viable option given the profile of the company.

Involving the functional managers in budget setting and looking at the whole cost base from zero may take longer, but it the benefits would improve motivation within the team and potentially improve the Operating Profit Margin of 8.71% in 2019.

Opportunities: Feland Expansion

The clear opportunity I can see in the pre-seen is the expansion into the region of Feland, however countries within this region are becoming more developed and there is a demand for Lottie Pencils there.

It would be a great way for the company to try to really establish itself among the big five pencil manufacturers in the world.

Threats: Competitors

The competition in the industry is fierce as there are thousands of pencil manufacturers all over the world. But Lottie Graphite has established itself as a major player in the market with it’s focus on innovation and developing it’s strong brand.

Nevertheless, there are low barriers to entry in this market and the threat of competition will also be there. There was a concern with lower cost producers in the Far East, but fortunately for Lottie Graphite cheaper pencils produced there tend to have quality issues. But should those lower cost producers find a way to combat the quality issues, it could have be repercussions in the industry.

 

A final point to remember with the OCS exam is the fact you are playing the role of Finance Officer, where your role will be based around preparing the budgets, management accounts and providing analysis. You will not be expected to make or advise on strategic decisions.

Good Luck with your CIMA OCS exam preparation!

 

 

CIMA 2019 Syllabus

Planning for the CIMA Syllabus Change

Are you ready?

The updated CIMA syllabus for 2019 comes into effect from the 4th November 2019, which means students sitting objective tests from that date onward will be tested on the new 2019 syllabus which is geared towards finance in a digital age.

However, the first set of CIMA case study exams to be examined under the new syllabus won’t be until February 2020. 

But fear not for those students who do FAIL a November 2019 case study under the old 2015 syllabus as you will still get one chance to pass the next case study sitting in February 2020 under the 2015 syllabus.

By now, hopefully all students are aware of the transition arrangements you could be facing and how best to approach them to ensure you do not waste any time with your studies.

Transition Tool

If not, CIMA have this excellent transition tool that will help you plan your path to becoming qualified under the new 2019 syllabus.

The CIMA 2019 Syllabus

The qualification structure itself has not changed, there are still the three pillars (enterprise, performance and financial) and there are still case study exams to be completed at each level (operational, management and strategic).

It’s only a change in terms of content with a focus on Finance in a Digital World, it stems from a shift in the mindset that management accountants are simply not just cost controllers but should be creating value and leading the transformation in business.

This below video from CIMA sums it up nicely.

Operational Level

2019OP

The biggest changes here are with the E1 paper that has practically been overhauled with a shift lots of new content “Managing Finance in a Digital World”.

In the 2015 syllabus, CIMA looked at other departments like HR and marketing but now it’s been replaced with how finance interacts with the organisation (point E below).

Meanwhile, P1 looks the same in terms of the structure however, more subtle content has been added like big data analytics and spreadsheet modelling, which reflects the current trends in industry.

Students studying F1 in the new syllabus will be pleased to hear that Group Accounts have been moved into the F2 paper, while the only addition to the syllabus is IFRS 17 Leases.

Management Level

2019M

E2 has shifted it’s focus from Project Management to Managing Performance, there is a new section on this paper focused on business models and value creation. While the human aspects of the old 2015 paper now look towards managing people and projects.

P2 Advanced Management Accounting remains the same in name as the 2015 syllabus but there is now a bigger focus on activity based management and responsibility centres while areas like the learning curve and budgeting have been reduced.

Finally, F2 sees a new topic “D. Integrated Reporting”. The subject of group disposals have been removed, although this is replaced by the former F1 topic of group accounts. The accounting standards that are examinable have also been updated, i.e. IFRS 15 Revenue from contracts are now included.

Strategic Level

2019S

The main shift from the 2015 to the 2019 syllabus with E3 strategic management paper is role of information systems has been replaced with digital strategy and how technology has impacted the strategic process.

P3 has seen the old subjects like cash flow risk, currency risk, interest rate risk and hedging techniques moved to the new F3 paper. While the 2019 syllabus for P3 contains the new subject of “cyber risks”.

As mentioned, F3 now contains more content on cash flow and currency risk while the old content in 2015 now has a digital focus and the strategic applications of financial accounting.

Key Points

  • The exam formats remain the same.
  • The new objective tests start on 4th November 2019.
  • The new case study exams start from February 2020.
  • If you fail a November 2019 case study exam, you can re-take it in February 2020 under the old 2015 syllabus.
  • The transition tool from the 2015 syllabus to the 2019 syllabus can be found here.
  • CIMA does not expect any significant change in pass rates, the 2019 exams will not be “tougher”.

For can find further information on the CIMA 2019 syllabus direct from CIMA here.

Passing the CIMA E3 Exam!

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.

E3result.png

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.

Be Prepared

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.

Mock Exams

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.

Resources Used

StratE3.png

I used the full CIMA E3 course from Astranti, which comes with tuition videos that support the study text and chapter questions.

The 5 mock exams are a great way to get ready for exam day.

Kaplan.png
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!

Good Luck if you’re sitting the E3 exam next!

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 SCS Aug 2018: Finch News Group

2018-07-11 10_57_11-August 2018 SCS pre-seen material.pdf.png

The CIMA SCS August 2018 case study is around a very interesting multimedia and news company called Finch News Group and the pre-seen materials were released last week.

It sounds like a great case study to get stuck into as I’m sure we are all aware of the media. Whether it’s digital, newspaper or social. So it’ll be easy to relate in some respects – good luck to those taking the exam next month!

You can find the official SCS pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

Meanwhile, below are the usual preview videos posted by Astranti.

Pre-Seen Analysis: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Strategic Analysis: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Top 10 Issues: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

I’ve used the Astranti the materials for the OCS exam and took the full course when passing the MCS exam earlier this year, so I know their materials and tutor support will get over in the line in the SCS!

The full SCS Astranti course currently has a £150 discount that runs until Monday 16th July – just use AUGUSTSCS18 at the checkout to take advantage.

What’s more, they so confident you will pass the SCS exam they offer a pass guarantee.

You can find full details on the SCS course with pass guarantee here.

SCS Course Contents:

  • SCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

CIMA MCS Aug 2018: Montel

2018-07-05 10_48_25-August_2018_management_pre-seen.pdf

The CIMA August 2018 sitting of the case study exam is only six weeks away. This means the pre-seen materials have been released and students should be analysing them from cover to cover by now!

You can find the official pre-seen materials for August MCS from CIMA here.

CIMA Case Studies: The Four Stages of Preperation

Having passed the OCS and MCS exams first time myself, I believe there are four key stages for prepearion required for passing the CIMA case studies.

Syllabus Knowledge Refresh

Refreshing your syllabus is a good idea while you wait for the pre-seen materials to be released but it’s also key to refer back to the syllabus content for F2/P2/E2 during the next weeks during your exam prep – as you’ll need to revise your weak areas that have been highlighted from mock exams.

Pre-Seen Materials

Next up, you’ll need to get to grips with the pre-seen materials. Go through the materials by yourself first, making notes. Then use your study materials, classroom lectures or video resources to add more depth and understanding to your notes.

I’d also suggest to make a summary of the key points of the whole document on just two sides of A4. This will be easier to remember and recall on exam day. 

Mock Exams

I’d be very surprised if any students pass a case study exam without attempted at least one (you should take three) mock exams in exam conditions. CIMA case studies are notoriously time pressured and you’ll need to be prepared and have an answer planning technique to help you get the most of the 3 hours available.

Take mock exams!!!

But only once you have digested the pre-seen materials and refresh a high level review of the syllabus content.

Review: Mock Exams and Pre-Seen

Finally, you’ll need to reflect and learn from how your mock exams went. While also referring to the pre-seen materials and syllabus content to improve your weak areas.

It might sound alot of work (it is!) but with the right planning and commitment you can pass the MCS exam first time.

You can read how I passed the Feb 2018 MCS exam here for inspiration. 

CIMA MCS Montel: Top 10 Issues

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 MCS here.

CIMA MCS Montel: Pre-Seen Analysis

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 MCS here.

CIMA MCS Montel: Industry Analysis

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 MCS here.

MCS: Astranti Full Course

The MCS course from Astranti is worth looking into if you’re after a full comprehensive set of resources, what’s more, the course comes with a PASS GUARANTEE.

MCS Course Contents:

  • MCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

CIMA OCS Aug 2018: Thomas Fine Teas

2018-06-26 10_13_15-August 2018 OCS Pre-seen - students.pdf.png

The August 2018 Operational Case Study pre-seen materials are now available and students sitting this exam are advised to make this 29 page document your bible for the next 6 weeks!!

You can find the pre-seen materials for the August 2018 OCS from CIMA website here.

CIMA OCS: Pre-Seen Analysis

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

CIMA OCS: Industry Analysis

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

 CIMA OCS: Top 10 Issues

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

CIMA OCS: Mock Exams

I find that Mock Exams are the best way to gain confidence and get REAL practice of what to expect when you sit the OCS exam. However, it is important not to rush into sitting the mock exams straight away.

You should make sure have understood the pre-seen materials and covered all of the necessary revision before sitting any mock exam.

But don’t fear if you fail the first one or two, the idea is to improve your technique and score with exam exam, so hopefully you pass the 3rd exam with flying colours!

To get a feel of what you can expect on exam day, you can take the free OCS mini mock from Astranti before taking the 3 full mock exams that are based on the Thomas Fine Teas case study.

Astranti Mock Exam Testimonial

2018-06-26 10_03_48-Astranti_ CIMA Operational Case Study Mock Exams.png

You can find out more information about the Astranti Thomas Fine Tea mock exams here.

CIMA OCS: Case Study Exam Tips

I passed the OCS exam myself a few years ago now, but you can read my thoughts on how I passed the Flores Rosa OCS exam here.

Good Luck and Happy Studying!

CIMA MCS: How I passed it first time.

MCS

I’ve never been a bingo fan, but I was delighted to see the “two fat ladies – 88” and the wonderful green background of the word PASSED.

But before I go into how I passed the CIMA MCS exam, I’ll start with my initial thoughts on receiving the results.

Passing CIMA MCS: Initial Thoughts

I was of course delighted to get the PASS on the email this morning as passing any CIMA exam is a relief and sense of satisfaction! The 6 week wait between the case study exam and the results is a killer though, as you go through a range of emotions.

A bit like an alcoholic trying to give up vodka.

First, after leaving the exam hall, there is the thought “Yes! I’ve done the exam.” I can relax and you’re confident you’ll pass. But as the days and weeks tick on you start to doubt yourself as you talk to others.

Shit! I forgot to mention this and cover that on the exam… And then you forgot half of your answers and start to doubt yourself even more. Then you get nervous about results day.

Finally as you’re only days away you just get angry with the whole thing and cannot wait any longer. Frantically refreshing your email in the morning of exam results like and alcoholic checking their bank balance the morning of payday getting ready to run down the off licence.

Anyhow, I’m digressing.

Joy and Disappointment

My sense of joy at passing the CIMA MCS, however, is tinged with disappointment at getting a score of 88.

You might think that’s a bit crazy and I don’t want to sound arrogant or ungrateful but I’ll explain why:

1) I felt leaving the exam I had done very well, a good pass score at least.
2) I have first hand experience of working in shared service environment, so I was already at an advantage.
3) It sounded like the variant I sat was one of the easier ones, so what score would I have got if I had the tougher variant?
4) The exam prep went well, the mock exams were all passed with good scores.

Plus, I felt I had really applied myself to the exam and had the right preparation heading into the exam. A bit like a boxer primed for a heavyweight title fight in the shape of his life, so with everything seemingly in my favour I felt I would score 100+ (bearing in mind this out of 150, so 100+ should be expected with the conditions I felt I had).

It makes me wonder how I would fare further down the line when my confidence is not as high, will I be able to get over the F3/P3/E3 exams first time?

Then what about the SCS? 

Anyhow, there is time to tackle these questions once I have digested the fact I am now the holder of the CIMA Adv Dip MA title. 🙂

How I passed the CIMA MCS Exam first time

CIMA Feb 2018 Case Study

Before I started to think about the pre-seen materials being released, I needed to have a plan and structure for following two months.

That plan looked a bit like this:

  • Revise syllabus content from P2/E2/F2
  • Understand MCS exam structure
  • Read previous MCS examiners report
  • Analyse preseen materials
  • Delve further into P2/E2/F2 syllabus based on issues identified from pre-seen
  • Take mock exams 1/2/3
  • Review mock exam feedback
  • Re-read preseen materials making 2 pages of key points.
  • Relax.
  • Re-read feedback from mock exams and revise weak areas raised in feedback.
  • Relax (try to!).

Of course I didn’t stick to the plan 100% in terms of timing but it gave me structure and ensured I didn’t waste anytime in the build up to exam day.

CIMA MCS Materials Used

As you know from my previous blog posts, I used the full Astranti MCS course and found it to be packed with resources, videos, materials and classes.

In fact there was so much I didn’t manage to watch all of the tuition videos, which perhaps in hindsight was a bad idea on my part.

  • MCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • Tuition videos
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance
  • Pass Guarantee

Lessons Learnt

2018-01-13 10_33_00-February_2018_management_pre-seen_V2.pdf

What I found the most useful from the Astranti MCS course were the mock exams with feedback. The mock exams you take on the course are actually based on the pre-seen materials and case study you are sitting (in my case Nortan) – it’s an invaluable experience as it’s as close to what you will face on exam day.

Planning. You must plan your time accordingly and make sure you cover all bases, the key to passing the CIMA MCS exam first time is having a balanced script.

You must have the technical knowledge, pre-seen details, know how to apply them, industry examples and the ability to draw conclusions and make recommendations in the exam.

Also, there was a little gem in the Astranti MCS course, it is the Study Text Part 2. 

This is a condensed version of the E2/P2/F2 syllabus, it was a great resource for me during the 6 weeks study preparation. It had all of the syllabus content I needed at the right level of detail.

It would almost be impossible to go through your previous study texts and found this bite-sized version (well, there is still 700 pages!!) is perfect. I could find the section I needed and revise in the right level of detail – in some cases you just need a high level view to jog your memory.

The CIMA Student MCS Study Tip

free CIMA resources and study tips

Finally, I would like to point to the importance of planning your answer before you start answering the question in full.

I would spend about 20% of my time in the question (so in a 45 minute question I would spend 9 minutes) planning my answer.

This involves identifying the requirements and creating some headings of areas I want to cover in my answer. Then I add a few sub points underneath the headings, linking the syllabus content, pre-seen information, industry info and ethics (if there is any to consider).

Then I would finally add all of the meat to the bones of the answer.

Planning my answer in this manner made sure I stayed on track and didn’t ramble off point, as you can see I did in my opening paragraph or two here.

Good Luck to students sitting May case study and hope all of the February case students got the result you wanted!

 

CIMA OCS Feb 2018: King Crystal

2018-01-02 10_02_21-Feb18_OCS_preseenmaterial_0.pdf

The CIMA February 2018 OCS exam is based around a scenario called King Crystal.

Here are some thoughts from me on what to look out for when analysing the pre-seen materials for King Crystal – hopefully it will set you on your way to a first time pass next month!

CIMA OCS: King Crystal Pre-Seen Analysis

Firstly, you can download the official pre-seen materials for King Crystal from CIMA here.

Once you have analysed the materials I would suggest using the Astranti video series to add more depth to your notes and get you thinking about what could come up on exam day.

The below video is over 1 hour long and is a great starting point.

Having used these materials when I passed the OCS a couple of years ago (and currently using them for the MCS exam next month) – I’ve have found that the pre-seen materials contains lots and lots of hints, tips and suggestions on what will come up on exam day.

Don’t neglect any page!! Not even the introduction!!

Every single page of the pre-seen contains an insight to how the company operates, strengths, weaknesses and you need to ensure you have covered this detail and understand how to tie it back to the Operational Level syllabus.

CIMA OCS: King Crystal

I’ve taken a screenshot of the analysis made just on the first page of the pre-seen and you can see the amount of notes and points made by the tutor.

And this continues throughout the King Crystal pre-seen, the level of detail you can take from the pre-seen is huge so your immediate attention in the first few weeks should be focused on this.

Another nice touch, when watching the Astranti video, is the fact the tutor mentions that King Crystal could well in fact be based on the real life company Dartington.

So get yourself familiar with the UK company Dartington – It’s a great way to understand the scenario and industry that King Crystal operate in.

As well as the pre-seen analysis, Astranti also cover Strategic Analysis, Industry Analysis and the Top 10 Issues for King Crystal.

You can find the full set of videos on the February King Crystal OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

Finally, I wrote a general article of the February CIMA case studies for all levels with some advice and tips on the approach to take – you can find it here.

Good Luck and please feel free to share your own advice in the comments section below.

 

CIMA SCS November 2017: Steelcast

CIMA Nov 2017 SCS

The final set of pre seen materials for the November 2017 case studies were released last week – it’s the final step for some students – and the case study is based on a company called Steelcast.

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

Here are facts about Steelcast and further down you can find some preview videos on the pre-seen analysis by Astranti.

Steelcast: Who are they?

  • The company was founded in 1896 and was incorporated as Steelcast 1910.
  • They produce luxury watches and are regarded as one of the worlds leading luxury brands.
  • Steelcast was listed on the Hiland stock exchange in 1982.
  • They do not sell direct to the customer but through retailers.
  • Their mission statement was created in 1930 and reads;

“We make watches for leaders, who wear them with pride.”

Steelcast: Pre-Seen Analysis

Analysing the pre-seen materials should be your first port of call when starting your SCS exam preparation. The below video should get you started on thinking in detail about how to interpret the pre-seen.

You can find the full set of videos on the November 2017 SCS here.

Steelcast: Top 10 Issues

Once you’ve gone through the pre-seen in detail you should have a rough idea of what topics you could face on exam day, if not the below video is recommended viewing! The tutor goes through, based on the pre-seen, what could come up on exam day.

You can find the full set of videos on the November 2017 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

Finally, the full SCS course for the Steelcase case study contains all of the mentioned videos alongside masterclasses, mock exams, ethics pack, advice and guidance from the tutor – what’s more it comes with a pass guarantee.

You can find full details on the SCS course with pass guarantee here.

SCS Course Contents:

  • SCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

*you will require login to CIMA connect to access pre-seen materials and the image above is a screenshot taken from the CIMA pre-seen materials.

CIMA MCS 2018 Exam Planning

I’ve been studying the P2 exam for what seems like an eternity now, but with the exam scheduled in around 4 weeks I have started to think past the P2 exam (probably a big mistake), and look at the 2018 CIMA Exam timetable for the case studies.

And I’ve noticed a massive benefit by sitting the MCS exam in February 2018 compared to the other sittings, you get a massive 60 days gap between the pre-seen materials being released and the first exam day of the February MCS.

I’ve looked at the gap between the pre-seen materials and exam dates for the May and August MCS and you only get 50 days and 46 days respectively.

CIMA 2018 MCS

The one caveat being that that of course the Christmas and new year period has to be taken into consideration – am I really going to study for the MCS during the Christmas break?

Usually not, no.

But knowing I have the possibility of extra time to digest the pre-seen materials (and turkey dinner) it would be foolish not to use this time to my advantage if I am in a position to take the February 2018 MCS exam.

I think at this level any marginal gain or advantage you can make for yourself could be the difference between a pass and a fail. 

So if you are close to a case study exam, I would strongly recommend to get yourself in a position to do so before the pre-seen materials released in mid-December. Rather than waiting for the May or August case study sittings.

And conversely, sitting a case study exam in August could be tougher given MCS students would have only 46 days between pre-seen materials and exam day and the fact it will be over the summer time when I’d rather be on holiday enjoying the sunshine rather than sweating of an exam.

Now, I need to get back to the P2 studies to make sure I get that pass mark before the 15th December!!!

Good Luck to those sitting any exam before the end of 2017 – make it count!

5 Tips for CIMA Case Study Exams

It’s been a while since my last post but, as most of you reading this will know, quarter closing at work has been a manic time and allowed very little time for me to post any new blogs.

In fact, the pre-seen materials for the MCS and SCS exams have been released but I have still yet to post any preview videos. But don’t worry they will be up in the following few days!

But here is a great article full of pearls of wisdow from Justyna at the Practice Tests Academy on how to pass the CIMA Case Study exams.

21

CIMA Case Study Pass Rates

Pass rates for CIMA Case Study exams are not impressively high – do you know why? The case study exams are completely different from the objective test exams and there’s a specific approach you can take in order to plan, organise, manage and finally succeed. There are certain things in case study exams that make a huge difference to what it takes to pass or fail.

I’d like to share with you my thoughts on what are the things you should do if you want to significantly increase your success chances in any Case Study exam.

Why should you listen to me?

Well, for the last few sittings Practice Tests Academy has been helping CIMA Students tackle the MCS exam, so I got a lot of insights from the students on what they are struggling with.

And I can really relate to that as not so long ago I actually passed my own SCS. Also, since I’m working with many tutors within Practice Tests Academy, I got their insights on where do students fall short and the tips how to fix that. Plus I like to “crack” this, to figure the problem out and find an appropriate solution. That’s just the type of person I am. I guess my auditor background comes in handy here.

Tip # 1: Understand what you are dealing with

Do you know why the Case Studies were introduced? They are supposed to imitate the real life conditions. At a certain time in our career, we all work for someone. We are studying CIMA, we want to become a certified and recognised Management Accountant. We need to have knowledge, but we also need to have the business skills. We need to address requests coming from our superiors and tackle them in the most professional way possible. That is exactly what is expected from you on the Case Study Exam.

Treat the examiner as if he/she was your boss. You now the context of the company (as you are working for it – on different levels depending on the CS level you’re attempting), they give you additional tasks and simply put – you need to satisfy them just like you need to satisfy your boss. At work, if you do well your job, you’ll be recognised and maybe you’ll get a promotions. If you answer examiner’s requests, you’ll pass your Case Study exam.

Have a look at the past papers – the tasks and the model answers. You will quickly find out what the examiners want. How they ask questions and what kind of answers they actually expect.

Tip # 2: Understand what a passing script is.

There are many sources of information you can get in order to understand what each particular Case Study is about. Each one is a bit different as you are a representative of a different level in an organisation. And I’m a very pragmatic person so I don’t like to waste hours on understanding what’s I’m supposed to deal with. Life is complicated as is so why not to look for some shortcuts?

For me, the most meaningful shortcut is to sign up with a quality tuition provider and participate in the masterclasses. Of course, we all have our financial constraints, but I do believe this is money well spent. Let me explain.

Look at the past examiners reports. What are they constantly complaining about? That the students do not answer the questions asked. Within PTA, we have just started a cooperation with a brilliant tutor with over 25 years of experience. Paul Russell is now leading Case Studies’ part. Paul has a very successful track of pass rates, so I wanted to organise something online to allow other students around the world to pick his brains, use his experience and knowledge. So we are organising 2 online Masterclasses. The purpose of the Masterclass 1 will be to kickstart students in your journey towards MCS / SCS success. Masterclass 1 should give you a very good feel, very quickly about:

  • what is the case study about,
  • how to use the pre-seen material,
  • how to approach mock exams,
  • how a passing script looks like.

 

Tip # 3: Analyse the Pre-Seen

The Pre-Seen, obviously, needs to be looked at, but it needs to be looked at in the right way. The better you understand the pre-seen, the better you are able to analyse the specific issues that will come up in the exam. So, an in-depth analysis is absolutely crucial to you. And in my opinion, it is just simpler and much faster (we’ve all heard that expression – time is money) to get that analysis done for you. First of all, it is overwhelming to do it yourself. Personally, I tend to postpone things I do not feel comfortable with and that was the same with the Case Studies – I think I started to analyse the Pre-Seen 3 weeks after it was released. For 3 weeks I was just thinking that I should start analysing, but there were always some other high priorities to fulfil… At the end, I paid for the analysis… So, learn from my mistake, don’t postpone it. You can get the Pre-Seen Analysis together with other crucial materials from our site here.

Tip # 4: Industry analysis and real-life examples

You also need to broadly know the industry that you’re operating within because again good business acumen is about providing advice, guidance or analysis that links in with that particular industry. It’s important that you understand some of the things that are currently happening in the industry. Remember, examiners also read the same financial newspapers and there is a big likelihood that they will be inspired by the situation or trend happening on the market. The pre-seen itself gives you a good background on the industry. However a little bit broader research will give you that extra knowledge and that broader awareness that could make a difference between FAIL and PASS.

Industry examples should be used in the real exam as often as possible. A good rule of thumb is to try to include a relevant industry example within each section of your script. And relevant means (let’s take the current MCS as an example) – if the task is about expansion, why not to use Ikea as an example?

Tip # 5: Mocks, mocks, mocks

That whole area is at the core of your success. But in my experience and what I hear from students, we tend to shy away from completing them as simply put, it is hard. Mocks should be performed under exam conditions, which means you need to find 3 hours in a busy day to complete them. You will not perform on the exam day if you haven’t practised under pressurised conditions. If you want to use an exam simulator, you can head to our website and sign up for a free MCS or SCS demo (we give you a possibility to practice a past paper under exam conditions for free).

Here is the link:

https://www.practicetestsacademy.com/cs-free-resources

Hope you found my 5 tips that will make you pass your CS exam valuable.

Practice Tests Academy is offering a lot of free resources >>here<< and also free advice on our blog, website, FB page, Twitter, or YouTube channel.

We’ve just started creating a series of short videos (interviews) aiming at helping students pass their CIMA CS exams.

CIMA OCS May 2017: Exam Results

The students who sat the CIMA OCS Exam in May 2017 will be frantically refreshing their email accounts this morning in anticipation of their exam results!

I don’t usually focus the blog on exam results day but I’ve realised the OCS exam is an important milestone for a lot of students and as recent results suggest, it’s actually one of the toughest in terms of students passing first time.

In my recent article on CIMA Case Study Tips: August 2017, I highlighted the fact that OCS students really struggled with the Feb 2017 sitting of the exam – you can see that only 45% of students passed the Feb exam which is quite a drop from the 64-67% in previous exams.

CIMA Exam Results

So with his in mind it seemed a good idea to focus on the OCS exam results that were released today and what students should be following their results.

CIMA Case Study Exam Results Explained

Once you’ve got your results email, whether you’ve passed or failed you will want to know a bit more on what the results mean! How have they arrived at your mark?

The following video from CIMA will explain:

I’VE PASSED: What’s next for me?

CIMA Case Study Exam Results

If you’ve passed the CIMA OCS exam then CONGRATULATIONS! Take time to celebrate and enjoy the result but not too long as you should already be thinking about your next steps on the Management level.

Below are a series of articles I’ve previously written that you may find useful.

CIMA Study Prime: P2 Course

Passing the CIMA E2 Exam!

How I Passed CIMA F2 Exam

CIMA Objective Test Courses

I’VE FAILED: What’s my next steps?

MCS and SCS Exam Results

Well, first of all, don’t be too downbeat.

As we have seen with the previous OCS sitting in February 2017 a lot of students found it tough going.

Secondly, you should get yourself ready to re-take the OCS exam for the August sitting, it’s no coincidence that CIMA release the pre-seen materials for the next exam sitting one day after the exam results are released!

So you have one day to shout and swear about your exam results but the OCS pre-seen material for August is released tomorrow! (Friday 23rd June 2017)

So you need to get your mind back in gear for another attempt at the OCS exam.

If you are struggling for motivation, you can read how I passed the OCS exam in 2015 here. Meanwhile, below are a series of links that will help kick start your preparation for your re-sit.

CIMA OCS August 2017 Astranti Course – with pass guarantee

CIMA Case Study Tips: August 2017

CIMA connect site

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!

A New Year – a NEW approach!

free CIMA resources and study tips

2016: A Year in Review

I’ve been writing thecimastudent.com blog and website for over 12 months now and I feel the time is right for a change in approach for 2017.

The idea behind the site was to help my own progress through the CIMA qualification. I felt, by going into depth and writing articles on CIMA topics I struggled with, this would help my own learning and help vary my study methods.

I also hope this has helped other students in the process.

Alongside this, I tried to keep students up to date with what’s happening in CIMA and some industry news with “The Week Ahead” blog posts every Monday. In fact I tried to keep to 3 blog posts a week which, in hindsight,  was a bit ambitious and perhaps diverted some time away from my CIMA studies itself.

Looking back over 2016 I’ve also come to realise what a big importance the CIMA case studies play in students lives. My most popular articles are based around the OCS, MCS, SCS and the pre-seen materials – so I plan to keep a strong focus on them in the coming year with more articles on students approaches to passing case studies and more practical hands on advice.

I’ve also learnt myself what a tough task it is to pass the CIMA objective tests – as was well documented with my two failures with the F2 exam earlier last year. It was a steep and expensive learning curve that I hope has helped others along their way.

Looking ahead to 2017

I hope to receive more student submissions for the site and open the doors a little bit for others to share and offer advice on what works well for them.

But in terms of the content I personally write, I will be focusing on quality rather than quality. Rather than having 3 shorter articles a week, I would rather have 3 in depth articles per month – this change in approach should allow me more time to devote to my studies (as my MCS exam looms after P2), while the longer articles will offer more depth on the topics I am studying.

Next year I will be focusing the “CIMA Study Prime” course I have enrolled in for the P2 exam – as always I will share my opinions on how I find their materials and P2 course.

Happy New Year (and happy studying!!).

Pass Your CIMA Exams First Time

The Practice Tests Academy founder Justyna Wachulka-Chan explains, using her own experience on passing CIMA exams, how students can also pass their exams first time. 

pass your CIMA exam first time

I bet you have often wondered what does it take to pass a CIMA exam on your first attempt?  The bad news is that there is no one-fits-all solution, BUT there are some tips you can take in, incorporate in your studying routine in order to increase your chances of passing.

Sometimes we need a little help or guidance from others. I know that perfectly as I have failed and then passed CIMA exams last year.

That inspired me to create a guide for CIMA students explaining my point of view and what does it take to pass an exam. Hopefully you will find it beneficial. This guide can be downloaded for free from here.

The CIMA 2015 Syllabus

I always say that passing an exam, especially according to the 2015 syllabus, is not only about the knowledge, but also about the exam technique you have – I need to stress that here! Of course, your knowledge has to be impeccable, but you also have to train how to answer the questions under exam conditions.

In this way you learn how to quickly assess if actually you are able to answer that particular question and how long that is going to take you.

When you approach a question, you need to very quickly realize what is the topic that it covers and you HAVE TO be honest with yourself. If it’s something that you don’t know or you always had issues with, don’t spend a lot of time on this question. Just cross out the obvious wrong answers. If you are then left with two options, just go with your guts.

Pick an answer and flag this question for later review, so in case you have extra time at the end of the exam, you can always come back to it. But decide something quickly. Don’t spend more than half a minute on this question if you know that you are not really familiar with the topic.

Exam Practice is Key for CIMA exams

CIMA Mock Exams

What I’m trying to say here is that unless you practice enough before the final exam, you may waste your precious answering time on trying to depict how everything works.

Sometimes that extra 2-3 minutes is what you need in order to PASS.

I hear quite often that some students reached 97 points… That means that if only they managed to answer 1 more question, they would have passed. Maybe they didn’t have enough time (wrong time management) or simply they were too stressed after throughout the exam and especially after seeing that “5 minutes to the end” reminder. Do you see where I’m getting at? Why to create that situation if you can avoid it just by practicing some online questions beforehand.

Practicing is a key to your CIMA success.

Practicing will accelerate your learning and should help you cement your knowledge in preparation for your exam. So if you have a possibility to practice more and more questions that you have not done before, take this chance and do it. It will only help you. If you don’t know where you can find plenty of questions to try, Practice Tests Academy site offers 500 interactive questions per each CIMA paper.  These questions have been designed to copy the style and format of questions found in the real CIMA Objective Test exams.

The Real World and CIMA Objective Tests

CIMA is constantly claiming that their examination style is adjusted to the needs of the employers. And I really believe so. Just think about it….

In a corporate world you are overloaded with information, with data. But you need to act fast when your boss comes and ask you a question.

You need to know where to quickly check and give the answer. The times of providing an answer a day later by giving a lengthy report are gone. In most cases, you have a dashboard and you need to understand what those numbers mean. In the current format of CIMA exams you can see exactly that.  They check if you understand the concept, not how much you know about it (like it was before). And that is what employers are looking for.

So personally I think those tests are more adjusted to the fast-paced work environment and therefore better for you as they teach you to become more agile in your daily work.

A Rational Approach to CIMA Exams

My recommended approach, based on my own and other students’ experience, focuses on:

  • Setting practical exam deadlines. You need to set an upper-limit to your study-endeavor, which then introduces an element of direction and inspires achievement. Despite being on-demand, you need to be swift in your approach to your CIMA education. Taking too much time may result in a higher opportunity cost in the job market whilst taking too little will backfire.

 

  • Covering all aspects of the syllabus. You need to study the textbook, almost to the point of memorizing it. OTQs will test your knowledge across most (if not all) areas of the syllabus, your understanding of concepts, and your ability to apply to simple contexts.

 

  • Practicing plenty of mock exams. Plenty of it. Practice exams fine-tune your approach, including essential time-management skills. It also develops a sense of confidence which will at best inspire a lasting habit of preparing whilst at least provide you an edge over the nerves usually implied while taking an exam.

There is no room for complacency and you will need to work hard to be successful!

If you’d like to read more on this you can find the free ebook on how to pass CIMA exams from the Practice Tests Academy here. Meanwhile, their extensive set of mock exam style questions can be found on their website here.

CIMA Subscription Fees

The annual CIMA Subscription Fees email reminder appeared in my inbox recently so I thought it would be a good time to also remind fellow students not to forget to pay it!

CIMA Student Subscription

Remember, if your membership is not up to date you cannot enter for any CIMA exams!!

The annual student subscription costs 108 GBP but if you contact CIMA directly there is an option to spread the payment over a few months, alternatively you can also pay via direct debit to make it easier for some students.

TIP: Are you funding all of your CIMA studies and fees by yourself? Well, even if your employer does not support your CIMA tuition it is worth asking if they will pay your subscription fee.

A lot of companies will be willing to cover this 108 GBP annual fee even if they won’t pay for your books and exams! It’s worth asking your boss or HR department.

CIMA Student Subscription Benefits

What exactly do you get for your 108 GBP a year? Well, actually a lot more than just being able to enter your exams and continue your CIMA journey.

You get access to FM student apps, while you also have the option to join in any local CIMA events that are taking place in your area. The biggest advantage, in my opinion, is having access to the CIMA connect and all of the study articles, exam tips and so on.

You read about the full CIMA student benefits here.

Perhaps there is something here you had access too but didn’t realise!

The CIMA Student Journey in Cameroon

CIMA Student, Nkunde C Mbong, who is on the management level on CIMA and faces the MCS exam in November, shares her experience of being a CIMA student in Cameroon and the challengers she faces.

Webi

image from CIMA connect

Being a CIMA Student in Cameroon

Cameroon is a country in the Central Region of Africa with about 25 million people. However, despite this population, there are only 7 CIMA members in Cameroon as of September 2016 and only one CIMA tuition/learning partner, gaining this status late last year – 2015.

This should let you know, CIMA in Cameroon hasn’t been very popular.

However, there is currently a healthy growing population of CIMA students, but the journey is still not a smooth one. Before Cameroon finally got a CIMA tuition provider, CIMA students generally had to self study or travel out of the country to engage in CIMA.

Most students here choose to self study and it was a great challenge where to get the CIMA texts! A common solution was to have them ordered from Ghana for those who could afford, which wasn’t an easy feat.

Even with the texts, self study proved difficult especially when studying alone as there weren’t many other CIMA students to study with [and that’s if at all you even knew one, because I didn’t when I started]. Moreover, some concepts were extremely difficult to understand without further explanations, and there weren’t known CIMA members to seek help from.

Further, with the then really bad connectivity issues in the country, making proper use of online resources wasn’t really an option.

The challenges ahead

Doing CIMA was just a challenge to many and it just tells me anybody who chose to do CIMA then, among the other more popular professional options available, really knew the benefits and difference in being CIMA certified.

The challenges were numerous!

Using old texts, texts not arriving on time, if ever, having to travel far away to write the then paper based exams, having to still pay PEARSON VUE centres because they complain of not having many students who register to write with them, and the greatest challenge was just sitting studying by yourself, with no support whatsoever because your family and friends have no idea about the relevance of what you are studying, it being so unpopular in Cameroon.

You see, the idea and advice in Cameroon is “Do something which sells” – CIMA was unknown and therefore wasn’t selling like other professional certifications in the field.

Eventually, the tendency was many students failed to complete and become certified especially when they got a job which gave them a level of comfort because our employers too didn’t know CIMA. Some just altogether gave up because of all the challenges.

A new dawn for students in Cameroon

However, last year 2015, the 7 CIMA members in Cameroon driven by their passion for CIMA decided to come together and create a better platform for the CIMA students and members in Cameroon.

They decided to forge an enhanced path for CIMA students and prospects, gain recognition and ultimately let Cameroon know that we are a unique brand, business leaders who will soon take over reign in companies and institutions.

It was like a new dawn in Cameron for CIMA. They organised the first CIMA seminar and participants were made up of some CIMA students and others, and they were informed about CIMA and its benefits.

Many students were encouraged to continue as the CIMA members pledged their support to them. Alas, the CIMA students were excited to meet CIMA members! Later that year, we got our very first tuition partner in Cameroon!!

Members and students were very excited at this progress. Students could now get books from Cameroon and have the option to study full time or part time from our own CIMA learning partner, along with other benefits!

What good news it was for us students.

By April 2016, following another CIMA orientation seminar, attended now by even more students as the news of CIMA was getting around and the network was growing, an executive body was created by a unanimous decision to steer CIMA activities in Cameroon, made up of CIMA students and members.

Students connecting and sharing ideas

From then on, whats-app groups were created and students were able to know each other, and study with others depending on their CIMA level or just provide support.

This was when I also met for the first time someone at my level – I was so excited to discuss my struggles and difficulties with someone I knew was in the same level with me – and would therefore understand. This was the same type of exchange going on among many other CIMA students now across Cameroon.

We shared ideas, exchanged resources and directed others where/how to get help from the now available online resources with our now much better internet connection, and how to go about simple processes such as connecting with other students worldwide via CIMAconnect.

We were all now connected to each other, and surprisingly, the network kept growing! Who knew there were so many CIMA students in Cameroon – all struggling in their own corner.

Next, it was another seminar targeting college students (as prospects) and employers, and the CIMA Cameroon steering committee just kept creating a really good platform for us students to succeed.

Limited materials from learning partners

As it is, the CIMA community in Cameroon is now growing and learning has become much easier. Many who dropped out, are now getting interested again and some more are registering as students. The struggle was real, but it’s not all gone.

As our learning partner is still in it’s infancy, it doesn’t yet offer tuition for all levels and some students located in different towns are unable to benefit from the tuition they provide, but the CIMA Cameroon steering Committee is really a great support now to the students and as mentors too.

Basically, the common challenges now are those which I believe are common to many CIMA students such as fees etc. We are now a proud CIMA community in Cameroon!

There will be more insights from Nkunde in the coming months as she progresses further in her CIMA journey. 

You can follow her on twitter here

E2: Project Management

What is Project Management?

Project management is a topic that crops up in the E2 syllabus and the official definition from CIMA can be seen below:

“The integration of all aspects of a project, ensuring that the proper
knowledge and resources are available when and where needed, and above
all to ensure that the expected outcome is proceeded in a timely, cost-
effective manner” – CIMA Terminology

Project management is human activity that achieves a clear objective against an agreed timescale. The follow types of activity can be seen as “projects”:

  • A one off event.
  • A budget and set of resources to achieve a specific goal.
  • A project manager organising the project.
  • A clear objective with an agreed timescale.

The Project Management Institute (PMI)

Was setup in 1969 and is a non-profit professional organisation for project management and has around 500,000 members and counting.

They provide a framework and set of standards that project managers should adhere to. The PMI also offer a host of different courses and accreditation’s their members can take and they range from CAPM (Certified associate in project management) to the PMP (Project management professional).

For more information on the PMI you can visit their website here.

9 Key Areas of Project Management

The PMI have identified the 9 key areas of project management that need to be understood and managed correctly if projects are to be successful.

They are the core objectives of the project and they need to be met.

  • Scope: In order to provide clarity and ensure team members stay focused, a clear scope of what the project covers and doesn’t cover is crucial. Otherwise tasks can wonder off track and lead to non-value added time.
  • Time: Another key objective is time. The project should have a realistic time frame and act as a deadline for when activities need to be completed. It’s no use have an open ended project otherwise results will be never be achieved.
  • Cost: The project board and directors will be keen to keep costs under control too, otherwise the benefits gained in the project may not outweigh the expense occurred in delivering the results to the business.
  • Resources: The right resources and expertise should be allocated to the project otherwise the delivery will be in danger.
  • Quality: The end customer will want to receive the required quality they was set out in the deliverable’s. If the quality is not met then the project will deemed to be a failure.
  • Procurement: The materials purchases need to be kept under control and also the quality needs to the be maintained. A focus on procurement is crucial for the project manager.
  • Integration: The project should be well managed and integrated into the business at every possible stage. There needs to be sufficient control and well planned tasks.
  • Communication: Possibly the biggest point to consider, ALL stakeholders need to be well informed and communication to the end customer and business should be clear, concise and on a regular basis.
  • Risks: They need to be understood by the project manager and minimised at every opportunity.

Who are the Stakeholders?

The project manager is responsible for co-coordinating and communicating to the project stakeholders on a regular basis. But they also need to consider the importance of each one and act accordingly.

Here are a few of the stakeholders to be considered.

  • Project sponsor
  • Project board
  • End Customer
  • Board of directors
  • Project team
  • Suppliers

Stakeholders who hold little interest and power will require minimal effort and time invested into them, whereas the stakeholders with a lot of power should be at the forefront of the project managers mind.

Stakeholder Mapping

Mendelow’s Matrix is used to map the important of the stakeholder so the project manager can see what action he needs to take with each group.

mm

For example, the end customer would be considered to have HIGH power and HIGH interest so, according to Mendelows Matrix, should be Managed Closely.

Whereas the project team would have HIGH interest but LOW power so they will would fall under the Keep Informed category. This of course is dependent on the project itself and the dynamic of the company but you get the idea on how this works!

Project Success

In order to achieve the goal of a successful project all of the points above need to be considered and the appointment of the project manager and coordination of the project team members are crucial.

Project Manager – needs to have excellent communication skills and will need to inspire his team to achieve the results required. They will also need to be able to present and communicate to a range of different stakeholders.

The Project Team – will need to be well organised and familiar with the project management process. They will also need to be team players and be able to identify problems and risks and build solid working relationships with a range of different departments and areas of the business.

If projects are beginning to wonder off track then the project manager can go the project sponsor or board and look for further support. This could be in the form of more resources, expert advice or a change in scope or deliverable’s of the project if they are deemed to be unrealistic.

All in all, the project team will need to have the right blend of experience, skills and be able to create a good team spirit to achieve the results required.

« Older Entries