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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
The Kaplan exam practice kits include;
Kaplans recommended revision approach
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.