Tag Archives: CIMA Exam Tips

Practice Tests Academy



The good people at Practice Tests Academy are offering The CIMA Student readers 20% off ALL OF THEIR CIMA Materials!!

The offer runs from Monday 19th November to Monday 26th November – to take advantage use the discount code 20thecimastudent

CIMA Objective Test Materials

PTA have expanded their materials from being a CIMA question bank to providing a full end to end course for CIMA objective tests. Here is a summary of what’s on offer.

Free Trial

You can try the practice test academy mock exams/question for free, you can tackle 20 to 30 questions on the CIMA objective test of your choice.

Single Mock Exam – 12 GBP

A single mock exam is available from PTA to test yourself in exam mode, 60 questions in 90 minutes to see if you’re ready for the real thing! You get feedback on the questions you got wrong and it ties it back to the CIMA syllabus and learning outcomes so you know which area to focus your revision on. A handy tool!

Exam Practice Kit – 55 GBP

The Practice Tests Academy offer “question banks” of 500 questions that allows you to customise your exam practice, you can use revision mode or real exam mode. You can practice, practice, practice and focus on your weak areas with the feedback service offered.

I used the Exam Practice Kit when I passed the CIMA P2 Exam First Time last year, so I can vouch it served me well – you can read more about how I passed P2 here.

Complete Course – 129 GBP

This rising CIMA tuition provider has also branched out into offering full CIMA Objective Test courses which give students a host of materials. What catches my eye is obviously the video lectures that come with the course.

Distance learning as a CIMA Student is difficult to say the least, so any tutor support is a great way to increase your knowledge and confidence of passing ANY CIMA exam!

I have yet to use the complete course offered up by the Practice Tests Academy, so cannot offer my personal experience, but below is a example of what you can expect.

CIMA Case Study Materials

As well as offering up Objective Test materials, the Practice Tests Academy are also delivering materials and resources for the CIMA Case Studies.

There are three sets of materials available;

  • Preperation: how to prepare for the case study exam
  • Revision: a look at the syllabus content that could come up.
  • Case Study: pre-seen analysis and a look at the key topics you could face.

The Practice Tests Academy have worked in conjunction with VIVA Tuition for their case study materials in order to harness on their strengths and deliver better quality materials for CIMA Students.

Remember, this exclusive 20% off ALL Practice Tests Academy materials for The CIMA Student readers expires at midnight on Monday 26th November – so don’t forget the discount code 20thecimastudent


CIMA Materials – 40% OFF BLACK FRIDAY!

Astranti CIMA

Astranti are having a mega BLACK FRIDAY sale starting today and are offering students 40% OFF all of their materials for the operational, management and strategic level – including all of the OCS, MCS and SCS case study materials.

It caught my eye as I plan to sit the MCS exam in February 2018 and will be using the Astrani MCS materials for my studies.

Remember, for those facing the prospect of a CIMA case study exam, the February sitting is potentially the best to sit a case study a you get around 60 days in between the pre-seen materials being and the exam itself. I wrote a brief article on it here.

Astranti Case Study Courses

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I will be using the Astranti materials for the next MCS sitting and have already started preparing a study plan on what I need to cover and when.

A reminder that the pre-seen materials are released before Christmas for the February exams (OCS pre seen is released on 8th December and MCS, SCS both released on 15th December).

So it’s a great opportunity to get plenty of study in before the exam comes around in mid to late February.

To claim the 40% discount add the discount code BLACKFRIDAY40 at the checkout – offer is applicable from Friday 24th November to Monday 27th November 2018.

Astranti Objective Test Materials

I used the Astranti P2 masterclass to good effect when passing my P2 exam earlier this month, while there are plenty of other resources that will help you with your next CIMA objective test.

Whether you are taking an operational, management or strategic level paper, Astranti are offering a full 40% OFF of all CIMA resources for the next couple of days.

Who says Black Friday is just limited to discounted flat screen TV’s and electronics?

CIMA P2: Throughput Accounting

Throughput Accounting is a modern management accounting technique that offers an alternative view to the more traditional cost accounting.

It’s all about identifying the constraint or limiting factor in the production process and exploiting it to maximise profit. It allows management to focus efforts to make the best possible use of the limitation.

Theory of Constraints “TOC”

Goldratt’s Theory of Constrains is a methodology that is covered in the CIMA P2 syllabus and can be applied to systems that are unable to fulfil their goals or targets. Goldratt suggests that any process is only as strong as it’s weakest link and all effort should be focused on removing the constraint by following a five step process.

The constraint in a manufacturing environment is also referred to as a “bottleneck”

  1. Identity Constraint
  2. Decide how to exploit the constraint
  3. Sub ordinate other activities/non-constraints
  4. Elevate the constraint
  5. Repeat the process

These five steps ensure the organisation has an ongoing improvement that is based on the identified constraints or weak links.

And it’s measurements are given via Throughput Accounting – which Goldratt describes as key performance measure.

Throughput Accounting

Is also known as the rate at which the system generates money, it is measured in monetary terms and naturally linked to profitability. Therefore, the objective is achieve the maximum possible throughput profit or “flow”.

Throughput Accounting is based around achieving the maximum possible net profit in a limited time frame with limiting conditions. The formulas used and and a scenario based example is the best way to illustrate how Throughput Accounting can be used and the principles behind it.

Formula and Ratios

Throughput $ = Sales Revenue less Direct Material Costs

Throughput Accounting Ratio (TPAR) = Return per factory hour/Cost per factory hour

Return per factory hour = Throughput $ per unit/Time per unit

Cost per factory hour = Total factory cost/Total time available

The two key formulas here are the Throughput $ and the TPAR – the other formulas are required to understand how to calculate the TPAR.

Below is a scenario of limiting factors and how throughput accounting can be applied as how to maximise profit.

Throughput Accounting

Production Plan to Maximise Profit

The TOC Theory of Constraints in this scenario is the fact the total machine hours is just 32,500 yet to fulfill the demand required we would need 35,000 hours  (15,000*2)+(5000*1).

To calculate the production plan to achieve the maximum profit we need to find the Throughput value per machine hour, which we know is the Selling Price less the Materials/the total machine hours per unit.

Product A $175 (275-90)/2 hours = $92.50

Product B $125 (325-165)/1 hour = $160

With this mind, we need to exploit the constraint by maximising the production of Product B as it gives the highest throughput value and filling the rest of the time with Product A to achieve the maximum profit in these conditions.

Proposed Production Plan

Product B: 5000 units x 1 hours = 5,000 machine hours

Product A: 13,750 units x 2 hours = 27,500 machine hours

Below is a summary of the financials based on this production plan.

CIMA P2 Exam Tips

You can see the total throughput profit (which is considering just the direct materials as a variable cost) gives over 2m profit.

However, the factory (or total fixed costs) need to considered and this is based on the number of units in the original demand and not the proposed production plan as the fixed costs will be incurred regardless of any constraint.

The final result would be a total maximum profit of 421,875.

TPAR – Throughput Accounting Ratio

Finally, let’s look at the TPAR based on the above scenario and see what that tells us.

The TPAR ratio is calculated on each product and is done by dividing the Return Per Factory Hour against the Cost Per Factory.

TPAR - CIMA P2 Exam Tips

You can see that both products have a ratio above 1 which means that the product will be profitable – in simple terms in means that the throughput profit is greater than the fixed costs. In fact you can see that Product B gives a TPAR of a whopping 3.15, so making over three times profit in relation to the fixed costs.

CIMA P2: Transfer Pricing

Transfer pricing is a subject that crops up on the CIMA P2 paper and here is my take on the subject.

What is Transfer Pricing?

Transfer pricing is common place among multi national corporations where there are high volumes of “inter-company” activity. Companies tend to use transfer pricing to lower their overall tax bill of the group.

Rather than get bogged down with lengthy theory and explainations, I feel the best way to explain is to illustrate with simple examples.

Company NOT using Transfer Pricing

CIMA Transfer Pricing

  • Here you can see a traditional relationship between different departments within a business.
  • Division A makes purchases of raw materials for 80 and after production in A they add labour costs of 20.
  • Division B finalises the product and incurs costs of 40 and sell the product to the end customer for 200.
  • You can see straight away while the Group as a whole has made a profit of 60 from this production, the manager of Division A will be reporting a loss of 100, while his counterpart in Division will be reporting a mega profit of 160.

Company USING Transfer Pricing

CIMA Exam Tips

  • In this instance, the company has an internal agreement to charge a transfer price between divisions.
  • Division A has charged 150 to Division B, while the selling price to the end customer remains the same at 200.
  • You can see the transfer pricing DOES NOT IMPACT the total profit made by the group when consolidated, but it allows each division within the company to be measured efficiently and effectively
  • Therefore, increasing the motivation of the individual division managers to be more cost effective and improve efficiency within the department, which, in turn, improves the profitability of the division and group as a whole.

In the first example, where transfer pricing is not employed the management of division A have no incentive of meaningful performance measurement as they will always considered to be loss making.

Transfer Pricing and Tax Implications

One of the main reasons why large multi national companies use transfer pricing is to accrue profits in countries that have a lower tax rate.

Using the figures from the above example I have illustrated the tax implications if Division A is based in a country with a tax rate of 5% while Division B is based in a country with a tax rate of 20%

CIMA Transfer Pricing and Tax

  • It’s obvious that the company who has implemented transfer pricing will be paying a much lower tax bill due to the fact most of it’s profits are made in Division A where there is a much lower tax rate.
  • However, transfer pricing must be set within the scope of the law and it can become a complex matter. 

The above examples are very simple in terms of the numbers and structure of the business but the underlying principle of transfer pricing remains the same.

Methods of Transfer Pricing

So now we have established what transfer pricing is and the benefits to be made by accruing profits in countries with lower tax rates (within the scope of the law). Let’s take a look at the different methods on how the Transfer Price itself can be calculated.

Cost Plus Price Model

One of the most simplest and common approaches (especially with high volume producing businesses) to be employed is the cost plus price model. This is where the group agrees that the selling business unit will add a fixed percentage to their costs as a base for the transfer price.

Cost Plus Price Model

  • The agreement is for Division A to adopt a fixed cost plus price model of 20% for their transfer price to Division B.
  • Which is fine at the current levels of costs, as both divisions and the group overall are making profits.
  • However, the manager of Division A has realised he can increase the profits of his division by increasing costs – BUT TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE GROUP AS A WHOLE!

CIMA Transfer Pricing

  • Here we can clearly see the dysfunctional behaviour that can be encouraged by using a cost plus price transfer pricing system.
  • Division A manager is happier as he made double the profit by doubling his costs but Division B has made a big loss on this and lead to an overall loss at group level.

In fact, if any divisions are set to lose money on a deal then they will more than likely refuse to do so, even at the expense of the company. Of course, decisions can be made at a group level which enforces the trade between divisions at any cost but it would be demotivating for the buying manager as they lose autonomy.

Minimum Vs Maximum Transfer Price

A more common sense and goal congruent approach is to ensure that firstly the group can make a profit overall, then deciding on the minimum transfer price that can accepted by the selling division and the maximum transfer price that can be accepted by the buying division and them agree on the price somewhere in the middle of the that range.

In the below example I’ve also thrown in the possibility that Division A can also sell the goods directly to an external party.

Determining Transfer Pricing

  • The selling division (A) determines the minimum price of 200 – as they can sell it externally for this price, so the transfer price must at least match this.
  • The buying division (B) has costs of 100 and selling price of 350, so the maximum they could pay would be 250 as a transfer price.
  • This gives the group a transfer price somewhere between 200 and 250 to be goal congruent and suit all divisions involved.

Finally, you can see the transfer price of 200 has been agreed and both divisions make an equal share of the 100 profit made by the group.

CIMA P2: Learning Curves

It’s taken a while for me to get back on track with my CIMA P2 studies but here I am with an article on Learning Curves which is a feature of the CIMA P2 syllabus.

CIMA P2 Exam Tips

The Learning Curve

The learning curve relates to the observed tendency that workers become adept at a task, the more often they perform it. Hence the task will take less and less time the more often it is performed.

This is quite a simplistic way to look at the learning curve but there are many factors to consider when applying the learning curve and ultimately, understanding when and how to use it.

The official CIMA terminology for the learning curve can be found below:

Learning curve is the mathematical expression of the commonly observed effect that, as complex and labour-intensive procedures are repeated, unit labour times tend to decrease. The equation usually relates the average time taken per unit/batch to the cumulative number of units/batches produced.

– CIMA Terminology

History tells us that the “learning curve” was first observed during the construction of World War 2 aircraft. It was discovered, that, as workers gained more experience building complex aircraft it actually took less time to complete each. And not only that, but the rate at which learning took place was actually predictable.

In reality it was found that the cumulative average time per unit decreased by a fixed percentage each time the cumulative production doubled.

Learning Curve Example

The illustration below is using a learning rate of 80% and gives you a clear overview of the numbers involved.

Cumulative average time learning rate: 80%

Batches Cumulative average time per batch (hours) Cumulative total (hours)
1 100.00 100.00
2 80.00 160.00
4 64.00 256.00
8 51.20 409.60
16 40.96 655.36
32 32.77 1048.58
64 26.21 1677.72
128 20.97 2684.35
256 16.78 4294.97
512 13.42 6871.95

Nevertheless, there is a more scientific way of generating this information above, in the form of an equation, which is expressed as The Learning Curve Formula.

And knowledge of how to use this formula is required for the P2 exam.

The Learning Curve Formula

The learning curve formula is simply expressed as y=ax^b

  • y = cumulative average time taken per unit
  • a = time taken for first unit
  • x = total number of units
  • b = the index of learning
  • where b = the log of learning rate/ the log of 2

It’s a simple equation but perhaps the complex part is using the log tables when calculating the index of learning, as you may not be familiar  with how to apply them on your calculator? I know it was relatively new to me.

While the formula itself gives you the answer for the Cumulative Average Time Taken Per Unit (Y), the CIMA P2 examiner might also ask you to calculate the Index of Learning (b). So it’s important to understand each element of the formula.

P2 Example Question on Learning Curves

CIMA P2 Exam Questions

So to see this formula in action let’s go through it step-by-step.

Q – Company B has a learning rate of 90% and the total time to make the first unit is 8 hours, use the learning curve formula to find out the average time per unit for 16 units

The above question gives us the following information:

a = 8 hours x = 16 units b = ?

  • First of all we need to calculate (b) the index of learning by using log tables.
  • So b = log of 90%/log of 2
  • To calculate this on any scientific calculator you need to press the following:
  • LOG, 0.9/LOG, 2 = -0.152
  • Therefore, the index of learning (b) is -0.152
  • Now we are in a position to complete the question.
  • 8 x 16^-0.152 (8 hours multiply 16 units to the power of -0.152) = 5.25
  • Therefore, the cumulative average time per unit (y) = 5.25 hours
  • Finally, we need to multiply this by 16 units (16 x 5.25) = 84 hours. 

Q – Calculate the index of learning when the learning rate is 80% and it takes 100 hours to produce 1 batch (I’ve used the table in the first illustration as a base for this question).

Here we know the learning curve formula is y=ax^b and b is the index of learning which can be calculated using log tables.

  • b = log of 80%/log of 2
  • Therefore, the index of learning b = -0.32192
  • We can cross check this with the table in my first illustration to prove it’s the correct answer.
  • So let’s use this data to calculate y based on 64 units.
  •  y = 100 (hours taken on first unit) x 64 (number of units) ^-0.321 (the index of learning). Remember the formula y=ax^b.
  • Therefore, based on productions of 64 units, the cumulative time per unit (y) would be = 26.21 hours which is the same figure displayed in my original table.
  • This confirms that the index of learning we calculated is correct.


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 OCS February 2017: Mavis Venderby

CIMA Feb 2017 OCS Exam Tips

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the OCS February exam last Friday 9th December and the case study in question is called “Mavis Venderby”.

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

I posted an article earlier this month on CIMA Case Study Advice: February 2017 that will give you some more pointers and advice on how to approach the case study and the different resources available to you – ranging from post exam kits to study advice.

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

Mavis Venderby: Who are they?

The company in the OCS exam, Mavis Venderby, produces (manufactures and retails) wooden beehives. Here are a few key pointers and background information taken from the pre-seen materials.

  • Family run business that’s been in operation for 70 years.
  • Mavis Vendery sells all products direct to customers.
  • There is a shop on site in the factory but the bulk of sales are made online or via telephone.
  • The company recently moved premises with plenty of scope for expansion.
  • The company is equally owned by the managing direction Thomas Venderby (Mavis’ son) and Jacinta Cory (Mavis’ great grandchild).

Mavis Venderby: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

The below video is a preview of the Astranti pre-seen analysis on Mavis Venderby, I would suggest to go through the pre-seen materials once by your self and make notes then watch the full video from Astanti and line up your comments against the tutors.

It’s a crucial part of understanding the pre-seen as it lays down the foundation you need to pass the OCS first time.

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

Mavis Venderby: Strategic Video Analysis

The strategic analysis of the company should be done next. Again, I would suggest drawing up a list of Mavis Venderbys strengths and weaknesses with a SWOT analysis. Then watch the Astranti video to see if you’re on the right track, it will also give you a fuller picture of the company.

But you can still find the full set of videos on the February OCS here.

Mavis Venderby: Top 10 Issues

The top 10 issues is a great way to give you some focus for your studies. The tutor identifies, in their opinion, what the most likely topics and questions will crop up on exam day based on what’s available in the pre-seen materials.

But you can still find the full set of videos on the February OCS here.

CIMA E2: Company Culture

CIMA E2 Culture Exam Tips

Understanding company culture is part of the CIMA E2 syllabus and is an easy one for most people to relate (assuming you have some experience in the workplace).

Culture is described as a combination of beliefs, values and standards of behaviour that are inherent in an organisation.

Company Culture

For example, you might work in an office where, despite the normal working hours being 9am to 5pm, your colleagues all arrive early at 8am. This pattern of behaviour tends to influence others to arrive at the same time, likewise if no one is in the office until 9pm but stays late then this company culture would also influence others in the work place.

Charles Handy describes culture as “The way we do things around here”.

You may believe that management looks at company culture as a topic with low priority in the organisation but in reality it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ensuring a companies culture is consistent with the organisations future direction and strategy is critical to strategical success!

Having a positive company culture such as being a Corporate Social Responsible employer will help attract and retain top performing staff.

Also when there are so many companies out there competing for the top talent, they need to stand out and offer more than just an attractive salary, so being renowned for having an excellent company culture that keeps employees happy and engaged will be key to the company achieving long term and sustainable success.

Charles Handys Cultural Model

Charles Handy suggests there are four over-riding types of culture inherent in an organisation. Let’s take a look at them.


First up is what is known as the “power” culture where is typically one central source of power who makes all of the decisions and the employees have to follow. It’s commonly seen in smaller companies where the owner is the manager/director.

There are few procedures and rules as there are no need for them. The owner makes the decisions and that’s that!

The Power Culture can also be described as the web culture. For instance, the spider that made the web controls and dictates what happens – it’s one central source of power.


The “task” culture focuses on getting the job done and can be associated with project management or complex matrix organisations. The employees are focused on getting their job done and not so concerned with their place within the company.

It requires good communication with a clear emphasis on getting the job done and going home for the day – as opposed to concentrating on the team spirit or relationships within the company.


Is found in workplaces like the government offices or large bureaucratic companies. Unlike the power culture, the role culture has lots of formal rules and procedures that must be followed by all employees.

There is a formal structure in place with every employee having a clear set of roles and responsibilities that must be followed. It’s clear that each role and position in the company has it’s part to play but employees must not cross the boundaries of their roles and responsibilities.


Finally the person culture exists to satisfy the individual rather than the team or the collective. It’s commonly found in sales organisations where the salesmen work independently and for their own benefits (commission on sales).

It can also be linked to legal work such as barristers and legal representatives who work for themselves.

In the person culture, each individual operates independently.

CIMA E2: Managing Change

Syllabus area D of the CIMA E2 paper revolves around managing change through projects. It’s covers 30% of the paper so you need to know enough detail to be able pass the E2 objective test.

CIMA E2 Resources

Lewins 3 step model of change

Our good friend Lewin is back with another model, this time it’s his theory on the 3 step approach to successful change management.


The first is based around unfreezing the current behaviour in the work place so when the change happens, it will be a smooth transition and successful project.

It also gets staff ready and motivated for the change, thus is crucial as if the staff do not buy in to the proposed changes, then chances are it will fail.

You need to remember the 3 C’s here.

Consultation: here management would actively involve their staff and get ideas from them on how to implement the change. Therefore, effectively getting everyone on board for the change.

Communication: the reasons why the change is happening needs to be communicated properly to all staff. Otherwise, morale will suffer and the execution of the change will not happen smoothly if no one understands why this is happening?

Counseling: finally, in the unfreeze stage, management need to deal with the issues raised from the staff about the proposed changes. Making sure people’s grievances are dealt with. The benefits of the change may need to be communicated again so everyone is happy with the direction that will be taken.


This is when the change is actually happening and can be done in various forms – Lewin suggests change should be facilitated through;

Project Management: this will ensure the whole change process is managed effectively and the end targets are met.

Change Agents: these are specific people who are brought into the process to gain peoples buy in and they are responsible for the making the change successful.

New Procedures and Rules: once the change has taken place, the new procedures are rules will need to established and effectively communicated to the rest of the staff to ensure the change implemented will work long-term and staff are comfortable with the new rules.


Once the new behaviours and approaches have been implemented, we then enter the RE-FREEZE stage. It’s key that staff and management do not fall back into the old ways, so the new approach must be “re-frozen” into the company culture and way of doing things.

This is usually done by:

Individual Rewards: by rewarding employees who are following the new changes, this will encourage others to follow suit and ensure the change implemented is successful.

Disciplinary: likewise, for those members of staff who are not following the way of working, they should be disciplined for failure of adopting the change.

Communication: this is key in all areas of the change management process and it also shouldn’t be forgotten in the final stage. By communicating the benefits of the change again, this will re-inforce the idea the change will benefit all involved.

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Process

Another model that could be tested in the CIMA E2 exam is Kotter’s 8 Steps in the Change Process. It maybe a challenge to memorise all of the models and theories that are in the E2 syllabus but you should approach them in a pragmatic.

For example: Kotters 8 Step Change Process and Lewin’s 3 Step Model of Change are on the same topic so you can relate them both together to get a better understanding.

This of Lewin’s 3 steps as a high level view of what Kotter is saying with his 8 step change process. The diagram at the bottom of the article illustrates the point I am trying to make. But first, let’s look at the 8 steps that Kotter is talking about.

  • Establish a sense of urgency.
  • Create a guiding coalition.
  • Develop a change vision and strategy.
  • Communicate the vision and strategy.
  • Empower staff and remove any barriers.
  • Short-term wins.
  • Consolidate the gains.
  • Anchor in the culture.

By understanding the 8 steps in the order Kotter has mentioned above you can see they all fall into the same three categories Lewis mentioned: Un-Freeze, Move and Re-Freeze.

CIMA E2 Exam Tips

Lewin’s theory is illustrated with the 3 arrows on the left hand side of the above image, while Kotter’s 8 steps in the change process are illustrated by the text next to each arrow.

I got this idea to combine the two theories when watching the CIMA E2 astranti master class – having this additional resource works well for me as I am self studying the whole syllabus – so tutor advice is always welcome! So these masterclasses have been invaluable to me.

The Week Ahead – 21 November 2016

free CIMA resources and study tips

It’s the final week of the CIMA November case study exams as the SCS students get to grips with their scenario of ADF.

Here are a few exam tips for the SCS students to think about:

  • Get some rest – don’t spend the night before the exam studying until the early hours of the morning.
  • Eat healthy – while it might be tempting to eat a full English breakfast before your exam, it won’t do you any favours.
  • Be confident – you’ve studied well and prepared yourself for success – be confident walking into the exam hall.
  • Don’t forget the new unseen material – you might want to churn out all of the pre-seen materials you have been looking at for the last 6 weeks but remember to consider the new material you see on exam day.

The CIMA Student Website

My E2 revision is cranking up a notch this week as I plan to sit the exam before the Christmas period, so with this in mind I will be looking at the management of people and groups – there are plenty of models and different theories to get stuck into – so my thoughts will go up on the blog later this week.

Good Luck to all sitting exams this week and for those who just finished case study exams you can take a well deserved break (for now).

The Week Ahead – 7th November 2016

CIMA resources and study tips

The OCS students will be counting down the hours until their exam as the Marici Power case study begins from Tuesday this week. Meanwhile, the MCS and SCS students still have a week or two to finalise their exam preparation.

Here a few exam tips for students taking their case study this month.

  • Time Management: divide the number of sections by the time you have available and manage your time effectively. i.e. 4 sections gives you 45 minutes per section – stick to it!
  • Planning your answer: spend the first 5-10 minutes planning your answer, read the requirements of question and plan your answer using headings and sub sections so you have a framework when writing out full answer.
  • Review your answer: make sure (where possible) you have linked the pre-seen materials, syllabus content, industry examples and new materials to your answer.
  • Ethics: always think about your answer in relation to ethics and the CIMA code of conduct. The examiner will appreciate it!


CIMA have announced their third instalment in their Certifed Global Business Services professionals programme with the diploma in global business services.The programme is designed for business leaders, managers and team leaders working in the shared service or global business services environment.

You can read the full press release from CIMA here.

The CIMA Student Website

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks on the site but I plan to get some more articles up this week on my E2 revision as well as another look at the upcoming case studies for the MCS and SCS students.

If you’d like to see anything specific on the site please get in touch via twitter or email on thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com.

CIMA E2: Risk Management

Project management, as you are probably aware due to the nature of may recent blog articles, plays a significant part in the CIMA E2 syllabus. Managing projects in the finance department (or office) is becoming increasingly common place and it’s an area of the syllabus I can actually relate to my work experiences directly.

A key theme in the project management section of the E2 paper is based around Risk Management and how to manage the risks you have identified in the planning stage of the project.

The main model or acronym you should remember is TARA.

  • Transfer
  • Avoid
  • Reduce
  • Accept

Once you have drawn up a list of the risks you need to manage they should all fall into one of the above TARA categories. To get a clearer picture of how this works, each category can be placed in a matrix.

CIMA E2 Exam Tips

If the risk you have identified will have a LOW impact of the business and the probability is also LOW then it would make sense ACCEPT the risk in this instance.

Risk Management Example:

You are running a project that aims to improve the reporting process of the finance department and you have identified a RISK that;

  • The support staff on your IT help desk may become overloaded when your new project commences.
  • This will have low impact on the project itself as the project will be given proirtiy bu the IT helpdesk but this would affect their other duties.
  • Meanwhile, it has a very probable chance of happening due to the small resources on the help desk.

So this risk would be HIGH probability with LOW impact.

Therefore, using the TARA model we would need to take action to REDUCE this risk.

  • This can be done by employing temporary support staff on the IT help desk during the time when the project is up and running to ensure the project support is covered as well as the regular tasks by the IT help desk.

TARA Explained:

TRANSFER:  this would be the case of transferring the risk to another party. This risk would have a HIGH impact of the business but in reality it has low chances of happening i.e. an insurance policy is a common way to transfer the risk.

AVOID: if you have identified a risk with HIGH impact and a HIGH chances of happening then urgent attention would be required to ensure the risk was avoided. In most cases, the task should be not be carried out if an alternative solution can not be found. i.e. the option of renting machinery is an alternative from buying the machinery.

REDUCE: reducing the risk can be carried out in many ways – we’ve used one example above on how risk can be reduced. It’s the type of risk that would have a HIGH impact but is unlikely to happen. i.e. the threat of your IT equipment being stolen, therefore this risk can be reduced by buying additional security for the office.

ACCEPT: or risk retention. Here we are saying we have identified the risk but it’s  not feasible to try to reduce the risk (could be cost related), so we will just have to accept the risk. Projects could take on lots of small risks that will just have to be accepted as it doesn’t make sense to insurance or negate against this risks.

CIMA Case Studies: Know your role!

The CIMA case studies require a different approach to the objective tests. The idea of the case study exams is to place you in a realistic scenario and you will be effectively playing the role of financial accountant/finance manager/finance director – depending on what CIMA level you are on – OCS, MCS or SCS.

OCS Role: Accountant

Using the November 2016 Marici Power scenario, the exact role the OCS students will be facing is the role of assistant management accountant. This information is detailed on the very first page of the pre-seen materials.

Looking at the August OCS pre-seen materials, it appears there was not a dedicated page for the job description for your role in the exam – there was just a brief sentence mentioning you are one of two finance assistants and will be reporting to the finance director.

However, I imagine some students failed to grasp their role and answered the questions from a different point of view. As now (Nov 2016 pre-seen materials) it even gives you the specific tasks you would be expected to perform in this role:

  • Assist with the production of the annual budget.
  • Produce monthly management accounts.
  • Provide information to management as required.

OCS Types of Questions

With this in mind, the types of questions you will face in the OCS exam will be of an operational nature.

  1. Explain the appropriateness of zero-based budgeting.
  2. Explain the benefits of a flexed budget.
  3. Explain the implications of a modified audit report.

MCS Role: Finance Manager

The job description in the MCS Portafone case study exam goes into much more detail and clearly outlines the responsibility and tasks that the Financial Manager for Portafone would be expected to do. You can find the full pre-seen material for Nov MCS here.

There is a clear emphasis on the fact the Financial Manager needs to liaise and consider all functional areas of the business (HR, marketing, sales, operations etc.).

Here is a summary of what’s expected in this MCS finance manager role:

  • Responsible for the management accounting.
  • Liaising with treasury and financial functions.
  • Engage with the wider community.

MCS Types of Questions

The types of questions you are expected to answer will differ from the OCS level, you can see below the types of questions you will face:

  1. Discuss the management of the project and associated risks.
  2. Discuss financial reporting implications of acquiring subsidiary.
  3. Discuss suitability of WACC in calculating NPV and the relevance of NPV to decision making.

SCS Role: Senior Manager

The final level in the CIMA qualification revolves around strategic decision making and the role you will be facing in the SCS is that of the Senior Manager.

In this role you will be typically reporting to the board of directors and will be advising on special projects and strategic decisions. So there will be no need to answer questions on the preparation of budgets and so on.

The pre-seen materials for the last two SCS exams have been quite vague with the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Manager in the case study scenario.

SCS Types of Questions

As role of senior manager you will need to be tuned into the impact of the decisions made to all stakeholders. Below is an example of the types of questions you can expect.

  1. Evaluate strategic investment.
  2. Establish priorities for different business units.
  3. Evaluate implications of awarding building contract.

CIMA Case Study Exam Tips

CIMA publish post-exam kits for all of the case study sittings and it’s well worth reviewing the published documents.

You can find the pre-seen material, exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report – by reviewing all of these documents together you can get a clear view of the whole end-to-end case study exam process.

August 2016: OCS post-exam kit

August 2016: MCS post-exam kit

August 2016: SCS post-exam kit

You can also find the historic exam kits on the CIMA connect site. It’s a great way to learn from other students mistakes made in previous exam sittings as well getting familar with the approach needed on exam day.

CIMA SCS November 2016: ADF


The final round of pre-seen materials for the November 2016 CIMA case study exams were published yesterday and the SCS students will focus on a company called ADF (Anderson Dairy Farming).

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA on the SCS November 2016 exam here.

This SCS exam signals the end of the CIMA journey for those students who face it next so the next six weeks represents the most important in your CIMA studies!

With this in mind, the pre-seen video analysis provided by Astranti is the perfect starting point for getting to grips with the materials published by CIMA yesterday.

Good Luck!

ADF: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

SCS students will be taking on the role of Senior Manager in the Anderson Dairy Farming Company (ADF). So the tasks and questions you will face will be of a strategic nature as opposed to the more operational and mid-managerial level.

But first, we must get to grips with the pre-seen materials for ADF.

I would recommend going through the materials yourself, make notes and highlight the key information – then watch the pre-seen analysis from Astranti and align your notes accordingly.

Below is a pretty big preview video (57 minutes) of the full pre-seen analysis.

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

ADF: Strategic Analysis

By now, you should know the pattern we are going to take!

The strategic analysis of ADF should be under-taken so you get a firm grip on the strengths and weaknesses of the company and their overall strategy.

What markets are they operating?

What customers are they targeting?

What gives them their competitive advantage?

What are their competitors doing? 

The ideal model to use is the SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Anyhow the Strategic Analysis video will give you a great platform for understanding the strategy behind ADF.

You can find the full set of videos (including Strategic Analysis) on the November SCS here.

ADF: Top 10 Issues

Once you have understood the strategic analysis and performed the pre-seen analysis, you should have an idea of the kind of questions that will come up on exam day.

However, this can be very subjective and given the amount of information you need to digest it’s an almost impossible task to identify all of the syllabus areas and likely issues that could come up on exam day.

This is where the Top 10 Issues video gives you a focus and advice from a CIMA tutor on what they believe will come up on exam day regarding the ADF case study. It’s a great way to focus your studies in the lead up to exam day.

You can find the full set of videos (including the Top 10 Issues) on the November SCS here.

Astranti SCS Pass Guarantee

Finally, the full SCS course for the ADF case study covers all of the resources you will need for exam day – ranging from the videos mentioned above to online revision classes with mock exams and tutor feedback and marking.

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 OCS November 2016: Marici Power

It took CIMA a couple of days longer than expected, but the pre-seen materials were released this afternoon for the OCS exam. By now, hopefully, you will have refreshed your knowledge of the E1, P1, and F1 syllabus areas you passed not so long ago.

Because you will be expected to use the knowledge and key theories/models from those CIMA papers in your OCS exam in November.

The more you can relate the case study scenario to the relevant areas of the syllabus then the better chance you have of passing the CIMA OCS first time.

The case study for operational students is based around a company called Marici Power. They offer solar power solutions to commercial and private customers. Your role, as assistant management accountant, is to assist with the production of financial information like annual budgeting, monthly management accounts as well requests from management.

You can find the official pre-seen material for the November 2016 OCS from CIMA here.

Marici Power: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

You have six weeks to digest and pick out the key information in the Marici Power pre-seen materials. So the preview videos from Astranti are a great way to focus your studies and pick up some useful tips and tricks on how to analyse the pre-seen and what information to be aware of.

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

Marici Power: Strategic Analysis

Once you’ve understand the pre-seen materials and made your notes regarding Marici Power, you should be thinking about the strategical analysis of the company. So what are their strengths and weaknesses? What is the mission and strategy of the company?

Thinking about the case study from a strategic point of view will help you add more depth to your answers on exam day and help highlight the threats and opportunities the companies face.

You can find the full set of videos (including Strategic Analysis) on the November OCS here.

Marici Power: Top 10 Issues

If you’re still concerned about the content of the exam, then the Top 10 Issues video brings together all of the information in the pre-seen materials of Marici Power and highlights the most likely topics to crop up on exam day.

I found it a brilliant way to make myself more comfortable about the exam and gave me some specific concrete areas to study on before exam day.

You can find the full set of videos (including the Top 10 Issues) on the November OCS here.

Astranti OCS Pass Guarantee

If you’re impressed with the preview videos from Astranti, then the full OCS course offers much more; including three mock exams with marking and feedback. (based on the Marici Power pre-seen materials).

While the masterclasses are live full day sessions with the tutor to go through all theory and practical advice on how to pass the OCS.

Astranti are so confident you will pass the CIMA OCS exam first time, they offer a pass guarantee to all students.

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

OCS Course Contents:

  • OCS 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 Case Study Advice: November 2016

The seemingly never-ending cycle of CIMA Case Study exams is beginning to rear it’s head again with the pre-seen materials for the operational level case study being released next week.

So for students who are sitting case study exams in November, here is a run down of the best resources and what you should be doing if you want to pass the CIMA case study first time.

Post Exam Kits – August 2016

Learning from previous exam sittings is a great way to boost your chances of passing the CIMA November case study sittings. CIMA have provided all students with the previous exam papers for the August case study exams with the suggested answers – for ALL FIVE variants as well as other

The home page for the post exam kits (links below) will direct you to the;

  • Pre-seen material
  • Case study exam paper
  • Suggested answers
  • Examiners report
  • Exam marking guidance

TIP: As of writing, the examiners report and exam marking guidance for the August sitting are not yet available but if you search for the May 2016 case study post exam kits you will find these documents for that sitting there.

The examiners report – a topic I have written about here – is another brilliant free document provided by CIMA that will give you tips and advice on how to pass CIMA case study exams first time.

OCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

MCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

SCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

Case Study Master Classes

For those students who are self studying for the case study exams, the master classes hosted by Astranti offer TWO full days of live classes with one of their CIMA tutors – and it’s a great way to supplement your existing study resources.

The first one is based around the keys to passing the case study exam, while the second master class is scheduled a week before the actual exam date and packs in a whole day revision on the case study scenario and the likely questions that could crop up.

The video below is an example of the master class that was held regarding the SparkSpace scenario with the August 2016 MCS exam.

The dates of the master classes for the November case study exams are listed below:

OCS Master Classes: 8 October 2016 and 5 November 2016

MCS Master Classes: 15 October 2016 and 12 November 2016

SCS Master Classes: 22 October 2016 and 19 November 2016

Case Study: Full Course Contents

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive set of case study materials then Astranti also offer a full course with a PASS Guarantee – I passed the OCS last year by using their case study materials and they are really developing a strong reputation with their resources.

  • Study Text 1 – focuses on what you need to pass the case study.
  • Study Text 2 – summaries the key areas from the whole syllabus.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis – tutors detailed analysis of the pre-seen material.
  • Strategic Analysis – uses models & key theories and how to apply them in the exam.
  • Top 10 Issues – identifies the top 10 issues that could come up on exam day.
  • Industry Analysis – gives you the current industry trends for your case study.
  • Masterclass 1 – live session with tutor on keys to pass the case study exam.
  • Masterclass 2 – live session with tutor on revision of case study scenario.
  • 3 Mock Exams – with detailed feedback based on the actual case study scenario.
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – often overlooked but this comprehensive guide covers Ethics and how to apply it to the CIMA case studies.

You can find full details of their courses for all levels below and dates when the pre-seen material is released for the November 2016 exams:

OCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the OCS exam is released on the week commencing 19th September 2016.

MCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the MCS exam is released on the week commencing 26th September 2016.

SCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the SCS exam is released on the week commencing 3rd October 2016.

Acorn Financial Tutors

Another learning provider who offer CIMA case study materials are Acorn and readers of this website can claim an extra 10% discount off ALL CIMA materials.

Their latest list of CIMA case study materials can be found here.



Currently (offer ends 30 September 2016), the hard copy of their full Integrated Case Study kit has been reduced to £240 from £360 – so you can order it for £216 by emailing your request to thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com

Study Support: Whats App Groups

Whats App groups for student discussion around the upcoming case study exams also seems to be an idea that is growing with every passing exam sitting.

I was part of one for the OCS last year and, if you don’t need getting lots of updates and messages on Whats App (you can always turn notifications off), I found it very interesting to hear other students points of views about the pre-seen material and how they were handling their revision. Not everything was helpful but from the point of view of a student who is self studying it’s very much worth joining.

The sign up for the Whats App groups can be found on the CIMA connect site – here is the link for the OCS November 2016 group. I couldn’t find anything for the MCS or SCS on the CIMA connect site but I am sure they will be created shortly – or you could even start one yourself.

Good Luck and Happy Studying!

CIMA E2: Business Strategy

The official CIMA terminology for strategy is:

“A course of action, including the specification of resources required, to achieve  a specific objective”. 

For a more detailed definition, Johnson, Scholes and Whittingham define strategy as:

“The direction and scope of an organisation over the long term, which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a changing environment, to meet the needs of the markets and to fulfil stakeholder expectations”

The importance of formulating a business strategy is key to the business achieving and/or maintaining their competitive advantage. It also provides a clear direction and allows the management to focus their decision making on the strategic objectives of the company.

A business strategy should co-ordinate all elements of the business in a structured planned approach and will build on key competencies to ensure the customers demands are met.

Approaches to Business Strategy

There are four main ways of approaching a business strategy and employing one will depend on the size of the company as well as the industry.

Planned Strategies (The Rational Planning Model)

The Rational Planning Model (pictured below) is a example of a planned strategy of a company that is put in place by the directors. It’s a detailed and (can be) complex process to put in place and can take many months – it consists of these four main areas.

  1. Strategic Analysis – can use PESTEL or Porters 5 forces to analyse the external environment whole SWOT analysis can be used for corporate appraisal.
  2. Strategic Choice – models like NPV, IRR and payback evaluation can be used to choose when strategic option to take.
  3. Strategic Implementation  – need to consider policies and strategies to implement for ALL areas of the business.
  4. Strategy Evaluation and Control – measuring the performance against the objectives.

Below is the flow and detailed steps that make up the rational planning model – it’s an alternative way of showing the four main areas of Planned Business Strategies.



While there maybe plenty of added advantages by employing a planned strategy such as providing a clear framework and strategic direction for all areas of the business, it can also be criticised in some respects such as time commitment – large businesses will need a lot of time to complete all of the mentioned steps and could become obsolete by the time the planned strategy has been completed.

This also means the cost will be high – from staff time to using strategy consultants. Meanwhile, the company could end by being constrained by the planned strategy and not take new opportunities or adapt to changes in the business environment.

Emergent Strategies


image taken from stanford social innovation review

These strategies are more inclined to be used in dynamic fast paced industries like high technology where opportunities and threats arise quickly so the company needs to adapt.

Emergent strategies emerge during the course of normal business rather than being planned as mentioned above. Either due to opportunities that pop up (i.e. buying a competitor) or specific threats need to be addressed (i.e. a new innovative product is released by a competitor).

Emergent strategies can be combined with planned strategies – bring a planned and emergent strategy together is called “crafting”.

For example; a new innovative product was released by a competitor, so Company ABC decides to develop a similar product not to lose their competitive advantage. This development will be an emergent strategy that’s need to be crafted alongside their planned strategy and existing business operations (as it will share factors like production timings, marketing strategies and allocation of funds.


Is a short term strategy based approach that is employed in smaller fast paced businesses who cannot realistically undertake the full strategic planning process.

This approach was taken on by lots of businesses during the economic downturn from 2009 as uncertainty made it harder to predict. The strategy is adjusted and developed constantly using a series of small scale changes to reach the overall strategic direction.

The public sector is an area where incrementalism is used as there are a wide range of stake holders to satisfy making it harder to take a longer approach used with planned strategies. Therefore, a shorter “middle ground” approach would suit all parties involved.


This approach is used in smaller companies who have an entrepreneurial leader who likes to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.

There are no formal strategies in place and this allows the business to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. There is little plan and direction in terms of the business strategy to be employed but this allows for a very dynamic and flexible business that can grow quickly by adapting to the market conditions around it without the constraint of a rigid business strategy.

Nevertheless, this “slap-dash” approach can also allow for a lack of focus on strategic decision making and the thinking and approach of the company may become inconsistent with it’s core values.

How I Passed CIMA F2 Exam

It was a case of third time lucky when taking the CIMA F2 exam this week – I finally got the PASS mark I desperately needed – the official scaled score from CIMA was 108 out of 150 and proficient in all areas of the F2 syllabus!


Ah, what a relief!

How I Passed the F2 Exam

As you are probably aware, I am self studying the CIMA qualification without any classroom tuition and looking back at my first two sittings (especially the first one) I was under prepared despite feeling relatively confident on exam day.

I knew F2 would be a tough exam for me as I barely got a pass mark and scored just 50% on the F1 paper back in November 2014 when sitting it under the old syllabus (it was 50% needed to pass the exam!).

Despite covering all of the CIMA study text for F2 and taking a few mock exams I was missing some of the key theory behind F2 – in particular Financial Instruments, Group Accounts, and interpretation of Financial Ratio’s (so pretty much everything!). While I was confident after scoring quite well in the mock exams I wasn’t able to apply the theory to different scenario’s in the exam.

The second attempt I felt more prepared, spent more time studying the theory and using more exam questions (this time from Kaplan as well as Astranti). But I narrowly missed out with a score of 94.

For the third attempt, I really put the hours in and studied every day for two weeks leading up to the exam. Covering all 200 questions in the Kaplan exam kit and even purchased the Astranti F2 master class.

Fortunately it paid off in the end and there seems to be no shortcuts when trying to pass these CIMA objective tests!

Here are a few of my lessons learnt:

CIMA F2 Exam: Lessons Learnt

  • Study, Study, Study: to get the results and achieve the pass mark you really need to put the hours and study all areas of the syllabus with the right mix of theory and questions practice. You can never take enough practice questions or mock exams.
  • Push Yourself: tackle your weak areas when preparing for the exam, really focus on the parts of the syllabus you struggle with – otherwise you can expect to fail.
  • Speak to other students: speak to other students in the same boat as you, there are plenty of Facebook groups, whats-app groups and the CIMA connect site gives you the chance to contact other students. Do it and exchange ideas, tips and advice.
  • Never Give Up: after failing the F2 exam for the second time I was disheartened and was tempted to move on to a different paper – but someone actually commented on the site and suggested to re-take it as soon as possible as I was so close to the pass mark and the content will still be fresh in my mind. That was probably the best piece of advice I could have been given.

Keep going and if you put the hard hours of study in you will see the benefits when getting your results! 

My F2 Resources

Astranti F2 Master Class – ten hours worth of revision classes on the F2 syllabus including practice questions and exam tips.

Kaplan F2 Exam practice kit – 200 F2 exam style questions from Kaplan (you can access it online too).

I’ve also updated the My Progress page with the current status of my studies – one step closer to the end!

F2: Failed again

My second attempt at the F2: Advanced Financial Reporting paper resulted in my second failure. This time, though, it’s more demoralising than the first sitting!

I felt well prepared and felt confident when I finished the exam – so it was a blow to see the words “fail”on the provisional result at the exam centre. I’ll wait for the official result and scaled score to gauge how close or far away I was for a pass mark.

The main challenges in the exam today were choose three from the options below; if any area then this was the one I felt weaker today. The F2 Advanced Financial Reporting paper is a real tough – achieving the 70% pass mark, it seems, is a really BIG ask.

Which makes me wonder how I will fare further down the line?

I’m also pondering whether to shelve this subject for now and move on to E2 and P2?

It feels like I have been staring at this subject for so long no seems to be going in any more.

Anyway, for those preparing for CIMA objective tests you might want to watch this video below from CIMA on how to approach the exam.

Good Luck!

CIMA MCS August 2016: SparkSpace

The CIMA case study scenario for the upcoming MCS exam in August is based around a company called SparkSpace. This marks the beginning of the study period for those students taking the exam, all of your preparation and planning to pass the CIMA MCS first time can start now!

You can find the official pre-seen material for the August 2016 MCS from CIMA here.

SparkSpace: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

Understanding the pre-seen material is crucial to achieving a pass mark on exam day. Astranti are the market leaders in case study materials with their series of video analysis a must watch for all students.

Below is a preview of the pre-seen analysis for SparkSpace.

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

SparkSpace: Strategic Analysis

The strategic analysis of the MCS scenario SparkSpace is up next, here you will begin to understand and think about the mission and strategic goals of the company. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Are their strategic goals in line with ethical issues?

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

Wise Choice Hotels: Top 10 Issues

The Top 10 Issues video gives you a focus on the types of questions and areas you could expect to see on exam day. The tutor goes into detail why they believe these types of questions and areas of the syllabus will come up on exam day – a useful tool and video that will help you pass the CIMA case study.

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

Astranti MCS Pass Guarantee

I passed the OCS last year using the Astranti videos (pre-seen analysis, Top 10 issues and Strategic analysis) and would thoroughly recommend them.

Here is what is included in the course.

  • 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

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

Good Luck!

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