CIMA Masterclasses

P2

Studying CIMA via distance learning and self funding gives you a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to WHEN and HOW you study but it also throws up some tough questions you need to address.

Trying to pass your CIMA exams at the first attempt gets tougher and tougher the further you progress in your studies and you’ll need to squeeze out any advantage you can when preparing for the exam without the help of classroom tuition and tutors on hand.

Studying CIMA in the class room is a great (possibly the best) way to achieving a pass mark in your next exam but without the support of your company to fund your studies it can be a  major challenge to progress with your studies.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of alternative resources out there you can use to supplement your own studying methods.

An affordable way of tackling your CIMA objective tests would be to cover the syllabus yourself with the CIMA study texts (either from Kaplan, BPP or Astranti) and then take a CIMA masterclass from Astranti to ensure you have understood ALL of the key areas of the syllabus.

CIMA Masterclasses

Astranti offer pre-recorded CIMA masterclasses for ALL of their papers that students can buy for a fraction of the price of classroom tuition. It’s the perfect way to revise and consolidate the knowledge you have already picked up.

Each objective test has a “masterclass” that was filmed over two days and covers the whole syllabus area. The video content also contains a live chat feed dialogue where students asked questions during the class that the tutor answered.

Here is what you can expect with the full CIMA masterclass for the CIMA objective tests.

  • Over 10 hours of content on the specified course (E2, P2 etc. etc.)
  • Filmed over two days and covers in detail the key syllabus areas
  • You can pause, rewind and stop the recording at any point.
  • Features exam style questions.
  • You get a free printable study text to go alongside the masterclass video.

You watch a preview video below of the P2 Masterclass here to get a feel of the content and the structure.

Astranti recommend you should watch these masterclasses at least 1 or 2 weeks before sitting your CIMA objective test to give yourself the best chance of passing.

Astranti P2 Masterclass preview

You can find the full set of CIMA masterclass videos for each level at the links below.

CIMA Operational level Masterclasses here.

CIMA Management level Masterclasses here.

CIMA Strategic level Masterclasses here.

The cost of around £100 to £120 per masterclass is barely 10% of the price you’d pay for classroom tuition with either Kaplan and BPP and comes highly recommended from other students who have taken them and passed their next CIMA exam.

Good Luck with your next CIMA exam!

How to pass CIMA Objective Tests

The main focus for the last couple of months has been on the CIMA Case Study exams but now, with the February exam sitting under way, it’s a good opportunity to look at how to pass the CIMA objective tests.

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CIMA 2015 Syllabus

Under the new 2015 syllabus, the CIMA objective exams have had a complete revamp. Each paper (E1, P1, F1 etc) is now a computer based exam that lasts just 90 minutes. And instead of answering lengthy questions in a written paper you will be faced with a succession of shorter questions that range from multiple choice, small calculations and “fill in the blank” questions.

While it may sound easier in theory, the feedback from students has been mixed with time pressure being the main point of frustration.

Advantages of NEW style CIMA Objective tests

  • You sit the exams on demand and pass them at your own pace
  • Results are readily available straight after exam
  • Computer based
  • Shorter exam time of 90 minutes

As you can see, there are many plus points about the new style objective tests but don’t mistake this for meaning that they are easier – far from it – you will still need to cover the whole syllabus in detail. And the pass mark is 70% – so it’s tougher in that respect.

For more information on the how the syllabus works you can find the official point of view from CIMA here, or Astranti have a guide and a sample test too.

How to pass CIMA Objective tests

Astranti Financial Training

As my company isn’t supporting my CIMA studies I’ve researched the best online CIMA providers and resources. First up, I would recommend using Astranti financial training for your CIMA resources.

Here is an example of what you can expect from Astranti when using their CIMA Objective Test kits (based on P1 paper)

  • Full Study Test (online and printable)
  • Chapter Revision questions
  • Mock Exams (marked by tutor, with detailed feedback)
  • CIMA Qualified Tutors
  • Ongoing Tutor Support
  • Additional resources (mini-mock exams)
  • Online Forum and Student Discussion

The main plus point for me are the mock exam and detailed feedback from the tutors. I’ve stated this many times, but the key to passing any CIMA exam is to take lots of mock exams and get them marked by a professional tutor.

You can find more details on the full Operational level courses here.

Astranti offer the full P1 course for £149 – which includes all of the materials mentioned and is cheaper than BPP, Kaplan and CIMAStudy. And I would thoroughly recommend them if you are looking for value for money.

Alternatively, you can make it even cheaper by selecting elements of the course you want to purchase. Personally, I just select the chapter revision questions and mock exams. But it’s flexible and up to each individual.

CIMA Tuition Videos

Being a self study student has it’s pros and cons and I definitely find that not having classroom tuition is a big disadvantage. Nothing can replicate that one on one interaction with a qualified CIMA teacher – it can give you the edge when it comes to passing CIMA exams.

Nevertheless, the next best would CIMA tuition videos and Astranti offer hours and hours of online lectures with their CIMA objective test courses too.

For example, the P1 paper mentioned above currently has no videos but if you are sitting the F1 or E1 (pictured below) papers then you access the full range of videos that cover the whole syllabus.

  • Astranti offer the the Tuition Videos for £129
  • Or you can include them into the full course package for total of £229

astr

Personally, I haven’t used or purchased of the Astranti tuition videos yet but I am looking towards them the further I progress and the harder the subjects become.

CIMA Operational Level Courses
CIMA Management Level Courses
CIMA Strategic Level Courses

CIMA Study.com

CIMAstudy.com is the official provider of CIMA resources and materials and they offer a whole range materials for the new objective tests. They offer two packages; the regular CIMA Study package and a CIMA Study Prime package.

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Here is what you can expect with the CIMA Study package:

  • 120 hours of e-learning content (no videos)
  • Jargon busters
  • Mid module questions
  • CIMA aptitude test (replicates real life exam)
  • Interactive case studies
  • Tutor response in 48 hours email only

However, the CIMA Study Prime package offers these additional features:

  • CIMA online study and revision kits
  • Introductory welcome pack
  • Live introductory webinar
  • Study Planners
  • Tutor response in 24 hours via email or phone

CIMA Study Operational level packages cost from £168 (£240 for Prime package)

CIMA Study Management level packages cost from £168 (£240 for Prime package)

CIMA Study Strategic level packages cost from £168 (£240 for Prime package)

Acorn Professional Tutors

Acorn are a smaller learning provider but they provide classroom training as well as CIMA home study packages. If you’re based in the UK then you can check out their class room training schedule, otherwise I will focus on their home study materials.

Here is the breakdown of what you can expect when using the Acorn Platinum Kit packages for the CIMA objective tests:

  • Acorn study materials
  • Objective test practice kits
  • On-demand tutorials
  • Tutor support
  • Home study kit

Access to the materials lasts for 12 months and prices range from £120-150 depending on if you buy hard copies or .pdf versions. However, Acorn also offer a Kryptonite Kit that costs £200 for and you get ALL of the materials to keep on a USB stick.

Acorn_Op

What makes Acorn a good study option are the On-demand tutorials that give you FULL syllabus coverage in sound and animation. You can access these videos on iPhone and Andriod too.

If you want to get a feel of their materials please visit their FREE demonstrations here.

Their full brochure can be found here and to read about the exclusive 10% discount on ALL of their products for readers of this website click here.

Summary

If you are self studying for the CIMA Objective Tests you really should explore all of the options available when it comes to selecting the right training provider.

If you are more comfortable with working with products from CIMA itself, then I would suggest you look at http://www.cimastudy.com – the prices are very reasonable although the one drawback is the lack of tuition videos and the material can be harder to digest. There is also the option to study with BPP and Kaplan if you’re looking for a company with a string reputation and tradition with CIMA.

Although if you are happy to shop around when looking for CIMA Objective test materials I would suggest looking at Astranti and Acorn. Both offer great quality materials and offer good value when compared to the more established names.

Good Luck with your next CIMA Objective Test!

 

The CIMA Examiners Report

CIMA_OCS

One of the most under-rated documents produced by CIMA is the official Examiners Report that is available shortly after the case study exams.

The CIMA examiners report can be used in two different ways.

Firstly, a couple of weeks before you sit any case study I would suggest digging out the report for the previous sitting.

Even though you might think it’s not relevant as it relates to an old case study, the information you can pick up from the examiners report could prove to be the difference between as a pass and a failure.

The main reason I suggest you read the examiners report is that IT’S VITAL INFORMATION THAT HAS COME DIRECTLY FROM THE EXAMINER – it’s free information that CIMA provide and is there to guide students in not repeating the mistakes from previous students.

November 2015 OCS Examiners Report

CIMA released the report for the operational case study from November 2015 and here are the key points made by the examiner. Take notice if you want to understand how to pass CIMA case studies.

  • Overall performance was much better than August sitting (where only 1 in 3 passed).
  • There didn’t appear to be any signs of time pressure from students.
  • Some candidates are wasting time with formatting, report headings and unnecessary introductions comments such as;

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help address your problems, it is my pleasure to help you. Was it July when I produced that cash flow forecast? It seems only yesterday… how time flies”. <—- Whilst the integrated case study is designed to represent a real life work situation, these sorts of comments waste time and score no marks.

  • Many candidate answers would be improved if they added “because of ….” at the end of a sentence to explain their responses.
  • Many candidates used adjectives such as “crucial”, “vital“,“very important“, when asked for benefits or advantages but failed to explain why.
  • Similarly when commenting on variances it is not enough to say that “it is adverse therefore we must have spent more”. To score well the answers must give possible reasons why this is the case. 
  • Candidates struggled applying knowledge from P1 and F1.

I find that the first page of the CIMA examiners report is the most crucial – this is where you will find general feedback from the examiner rather than the specific details of each variant and how they were marked.

So you don’t even need to read the FULL report if you’re struggling for time, the first page is where the most useful comments are.

Post-Exam Reflection

However, as well as using the report to prepare for your case study exam, I believe it’s a useful tool for reflection as well.

The full report includes a breakdown for each variant and goes question by question explaining what was answered well and what areas needed more attention.

I would suggest using the exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report together so you can read through the questions, model answers and the examiners thoughts on how it was answered in reality.

It’s a great way to analyse your performance and identify any weaknesses. This is especially crucial if you are re-sitting the case study in the next sitting.

All of the previous examiners reports are available from the CIMA connect website.

CIMA Mock Exam Resources

The key to passing any CIMA exam is to master the mock exams before you sit the real thing. It’s no use accumulating all of the theory behind the exam if you haven’t taken several mock exams in the lead up to exam day.

This statement rings true for the objective tests and case study exams.

You must really push yourself to take mock exams in test conditions so you are well prepared on the day.

CIMA Case Study Mock Exams

The case study exams require a range of knowledge and skills and none more so than being able to digest the unseen material in the exam and answering the questions in the time available.

Here is a short overview of the FREE case study exam resources.

  • CIMA offer exam practice direct with Pearson VUE here.
  • Astranti offer a FREE mini-mock case study exam that takes 90 minutes to complete and replicates the real scenario you will be facing (see picture below).

mock_1

If you have any additional resources please mention in the comments below for other students to follow.

Tutor Feedback and Exam Marking

The free resources offer a good starting point but I found, when passing the OCS exam in November 2015, that the feedback from a CIMA expert tutor was invaluable and ensured I had an impartial view (and detailed feedback) when marking my mock exams.

Here are the steps I took when sitting the OCS.

  • I refreshed my knowledge on the syllabus areas that would examined. Ensuring I was comfortable with the key models from P1, E1 and F1.
  • I took the three Astranti Mock Exams with tutor feedback that are based on the actual pre-seen material you will be using the exam.
  • A week after sending my mock exam answers to Astranti I received a fully marked document with 9 pages of feedback (see sample below).
  • It’s a brilliant way to identify your weaknesses as well as gaining confidence you are on the right track. In fact one of the questions in the mock exam actually came in my OCS variant in November.

mock_2

If you want to follow the same path you can find the Astranti resources below.

Operational Case Study: OCS Mock Exams

Management Case Study: MCS Mock Exams

Strategic Case Study: SCS Mock Exams

*objective mock exam resources will be posted later in the year once I have some experience with taking the exams under the 2015 syllabus.

Peaking at the right time

exam

I’ve sat many exams with varying degrees of success. I’ve gone into exam halls knowing I will fail the exam before I even sat it while other exams I’ve left knowing I’ve breezed it.

You should be looking to peak at the right time and put the hours of study in that will give you belief and confidence to pass. As you can see from my progress, I passed E1 with 59% and just scraped past F1 with exactly 50%.

So I was worried heading into the OCS that I really needed to knuckle down if I was to pass, especially considering I was exempt from P1 due to the transition from the 2010 to 2015 syllabus.

However, I passed the OCS with a score of 102 out of 150 and believe it was down to peaking at the right time. I felt confident entering and LEAVING the exam hall.

In my opinion, there are several key areas you need to balance out and consider to achieve good marks – if you can manage these factors well than you’re well on the way to a good mark.

1. Study Plan – before you get the books out you need to create a realistic study plan. And by realistic I mean allowing enough time to cover the whole syllabus, mock exams and enough time to have a break away from the books. Studying 3-4 hours a night, every night will lead to a meltdown. I also tend to allow a bit of slack as I never stick 100% too it.

2. Vary Your Study – just making pages and pages of notes on the theory will probably lead to a fail, especially in the case study. You need to vary how and what you study. I usually make some notes and illustrations of the key models on A3 paper and stick on my walls in the spare room. Also use YouTube videos, pod casts and forums to discuss the key topics and any problems you have.

3. Exam Practice – I find it a real struggle to do proper exam practice. But if you practice mock exam after mock exam (4-5 weeks before actual exam) you will know what you need to brush up as well having plenty of practice for exam day. If finances are a problem there are plenty of free questions on the CIMA website as well as free mini-mock exams from Astranti.

4. Healthy Body = Healthy Mind – I’m not suggesting you train for a marathon but going for a run is a great way of clearing the mind and feeling refreshed. Sometimes taking your eyes off the text books for an hour or two and doing something else (run, jog, walk) is a great way take a break and put you in a positive frame of mind.

Exam Preparation

Preparing for the exam and exam day is vital in my opinion.

Once you have covered the whole syllabus, you should concentrate on taking mock exam after mock exam to highlight your weaknesses and practice your exam technique.

Personally, on the week of the exam I prefer to do very little work.
No mock exams, just some revision on the key models, scenarios and theories.

And maybe answer a few light questions or even try to relate the subject to anything that is currently happening in the news (tax evasion, marketing etc.)

Finally, the day or two before the exam I will check the examiners report for the previous sitting and see what previous candidates did badly and try not to fall into the same trap.

All of these points are common sense when you think about it. It’s just about finding the time and discipline to stick them all.