Tag Archives: Home Study

The Week Ahead – 22nd February


It’s a nail biting week for the strategic students who are taking the case study exams this week – let’s hope its your final CIMA exam and you get a positive result! However, the operational and management level students can relax (for the time being). Although I would suggest you start thinking about what awaits you in the next level.

Here is what is coming up this week on the site.

CIMA Objective Tests

As mentioned above, I would suggest you start thinking about the next level of CIMA and work on the premise that you have passed the OCS or MCS. This way you can at least start planning when and what order you will study the next level.

For those self-studying, here are my thoughts on how to approach the CIMA objective tests and what learning providers offer value for money.


The CIMA velocity February magazine was released earlier this month and can be found here. It features articles on what to expect on objective test exam day, while there is also a guide on the P3 paper.

Meanwhile, the CIMA Financial Management (FM) magazine is well worth a read too – the FM website can be found here and you can also find links to download the FM app as well.

The CIMA Student Website

The P2 useful links and resources will be posted on Wednesday this week and this will complete the Management level of resources on the website.

Currently, I am studying for the F2 exam so I will be sharing my thoughts on Deferred Taxation as it’s a topic most people wince at but really the theory behind it isn’t as complicated as you’d expect.

As always, if you’d like to get in touch please feel free to email me on thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com.


The Week Ahead – 15th February 2016


The operational case study students can breath a sigh of relief now the February exam sitting is over – now it’s down to the management students to get down to business this week! Here is what is coming up on the website this week.

The following few weeks I will be focusing on the objective tests now we are reaching the end of the case study exams.


Do you read the CIMA FM magazine? Well if you don’t, you should start reading it now. It’s full packed of interesting articles and study tips. You can view the latest web version here – although you can also download the CIMA FM app too to read it on the go.

The CIMA Student Website

It’s been a manic first six weeks of the year trying to juggle work commitments and CIMA studies so sometimes its good to take stock and think and WHY you are studying for CIMA. So this week I look at the benefits of qualifying and the jobs on offer for qualified members (ker-ching). We are all studying for a reason, right?

Meanwhile, on Friday I will publish some resources I have gathered for the P2 paper.

As always, I am open for ideas on content for the site. So if you have anything (CIMA related of course) that is troubling you, please drop me a line on thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


F2: Useful Links and Resoruces


If you have passed the CIMA operational level you will be looking to tackle the management level next. With F2 Advanced Financial Reporting, you will be building on your knowledge gained from the F1 paper.

The bulk of the paper focuses on Financial Reporting – so topics like group accounts, complex group structures and the accounting standards around them will be tested. Meanwhile, the CIMA F2 syllabus also includes areas on sources of long-term finance and the analysis of financial performance and position.

F2 Useful Links and Resources

Astranti Managerial Membership – Free Study Text 2015 – Astranti provide free study texts for ALL of the CIMA  papers and I use them as a base for my exam preparation. They are easy to digest and can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.

CIMA Connect F2 Group – the official CIMA site offers a specific group for F2 students where you can find resources, information and discuss key topics with other students. You should have this page bookmarked when studying for F2.

My F2 Study Plan – I started to study the F2 syllabus at the beginning of 2016 and here is my detailed study plan based using the Astranti study text.

Analysis of Financial Performance – an interesting article of financial performance and how to analyse it. It tells how to approach these kind of questions in the objective test itself.

Cash Flow Forecasting – a CIMA document that clearly explains how cash flows are prepared and the accouting treatment in regards of the F2 paper. Also shows preactical examples on how to answer exam questions.

Acorn Financial Training – Acorn provide class room tuition and home study materials. You can get an extra 10% off ALL of the acorn materials (including F2). Here can find the full the list of materials they offer and to claim the 10% discount please email thecimastudent[at]gmail.com with the items you wish to order.

If you have any additional resources you would like to share with other students for the F2 CIMA paper then please then a link in the comments box below.


The Week Ahead – 18th January 2016


Last week was a much more productive week for me personally in regards to my F2 studies. I managed to catch up on some slack from week one as well the week two topics I planned to cover.

Here is what to expect for the week ahead on The CIMA Student.


There was an interesting press release from CIMA that suggested that performance at work is dictated by peoples biology rather than effort or rewards. If you’re interested you read it in full here.

On a more light hearted note, the “19 things you need to stop saying (because you sound like a corporate robot)” article on mashable.com should raise a few smiles.

The CIMA Student Website

The examiners report for the November 2015 OCS was released last week and I will be providing more details and opinion on how the exam was received. The examiners report is an excellent resource provided by CIMA that many students will overlook or gloss over.

Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for an article later in the week that covers all of the best CIMA and CIMA related social media accounts to follow.

CIMA SCS Feb 2016: Rio

The final set of links and resources for the February 2016 case studies are here. The Strategic level students have been given a company in the fashion retail industry called Rio.

CIMA released the Strategic Case Study pre-seen material last week and it’s available in full here.

A reminder that SCS exam sittings begin on the week of Monday 23rd February and the results will be released on 7th April 2016.

Rio Pre-Seen Video Analysis

You can find the full set of SCS preseen videos here

Rio Strategic Analysis

Here is a preview and a good insight to the Strategic analysis of Rio.

Strategic Master Class: Keys to passing SCS

Alongside the pre-seen and strategic analysis of the Feb 2016 SCS, there are a set of SCS masterclasses videos that tell you the keys to passing.

Astranti also offer a pass guarantee on all of their SCS Courses – which means if you fail the exam you will get the complete course free charge for the following sitting until you pass the exam.

If you have any other resources or links you would like to share then please leave them in the comments below so other students can access them. 

Good Luck with your studies!


My CIMA F2 Study Plan

Now Christmas and the New Year celebrations are out of the way  I am plan to tackle the F2 paper next.

With this in mind I have created a study plan that will take up all the way up to the F2 Advanced Financial Reporting paper in March 2016.

  • I have given myself 10 weeks to prepare for the exam.
  • 6 weeks completing the F2 Astranti study text and questions.
  • 3 weeks covering mock exams.
  • 1 week slack (just in case I am behind schedule)


Here is a detailed plan of what I intend to cover and when:

Study Text and Chapter Questions

Week 1:  Joint ventures, complex groups and changes in group structure

Week 2: Foreign currency, group cash flows and consolidated statement changes in equity

Week 3: IAS 18 Revenue, IAS 24 Related party disclosures and IAS 37 Provisions, contingent liabilities and assets.

Week 4: Accounting for leases, deferred tax and long-term finance

Week 5: Cost of capital, financial instruments and share-based payments

Week 6: Earning per share, ration analysis and segment analysis

Mock Exams and Revision

Week 7: Mock Exam 1

Week 8: Mock Exam 2

Week 9: Mock Exam 3

Week 10: [catch up week]

End of Week 10: Sit F2 Advanced Financial Reporting Exam!!!

I haven’t used the official CIMA learning objectives as a guide but instead I have used the chapters in the Astranti study text as a guide to ensure I cover the whole syllabus in the first six weeks.

Then, I will concentrate on the mock exams in the final three weeks with revision of the topics I am struggling with during that time also.

If you have any suggestions or comments about my study plan please feel free to leave them below. Any advice would be great as it’s my first objective test under the new 2015 syllabus.

Good Luck for the exams you’re sitting next!


Peaking at the right time


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.

CIMA P1 Exam and Study Tips

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

CIMA P1 Study Text

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

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

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

FREE Astranti CIMA P1 study text

Kaplan CIMA P1 study text

Study Planner

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

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

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

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

How to pass CIMA P1 exam

You can find the official CIMA P1 study planner here.

CIMA P1 Revision Classes

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

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

You can find the CIMA P1 revision classes here.

CIMA P1 Mock Exams

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

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

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

Kaplan P1 Management Accounting exam kit.

Astranti P1 mock exams.

CIMA P1 Industry Articles

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

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

CIMA P1 Industry Articles

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

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

CIMA P1 Connect Group

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

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

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

Big Data: a hot CIMA topic

When looking at the 2010 CIMA study texts you will find very little on the subject of Big Data. But it seems to be a hot topic these days and I am sure the CIMA examiner will look to squeeze in a question on Big Data whenever they can.

The use of Big Data is becoming vital for companies to find that competitive edge or to serve their customers better by understanding their needs.

One of the classic examples of Big Data would be the supermarket industry. The amount of data they gather on their customers is staggering and the introduction of loyalty cards has made it even easier to collect data on consumer habits and trends.

Supermarkets and Big Data

For example, supermarkets realised there was a connection between the purchase of baby nappies and beer. Clearly, the parents would stop at Tesco (or any other retailer) on the way home from work to pick up some nappies and at the same time pick up some alcohol too. So to make it easier for the customer they placed the baby products closer to the alcohol selection. Win, win!

It’s the small details like this that Big Data can pick out and allows the business to cater for every aspect of the customers needs.

Big data allows you to draw on vast quantities of data to spot unusual trends and correlations that would be usually difficult to spot.


In a 2001 research report Garner identified three key challenges that organisations face – Volume, Velocity and Variety.

VOLUME – increasing volumes of data mean there is a lot more to manage and harder to extract key information from it.
VELOCITY – there is an increasing speed of data in and out, means data can quickly change. So analysis needs to be quick to spot and react to the changes.
VARIETY – the range of data types and sources of data can be varied making analysis difficult. Data in different IT systems can hard to link and analyse together.

There are 7 key stages to Big Data collection:
1. CAPTURE – what kind of data is needed and how will it be captured?
2. STORAGE – Big Data sets need physical systems that can take up vast amount of space – also need to be secure!!
3. CURATION – Once the data is captured it needs to be organised, controlled and maintained. Daily upkeep of the data.
4. ANALYSIS – The process of interpretation the data. Splitting it out into categories or make links between different types of data.
5. VISULATION – Once analysed, it needs to be put into illustration in a clear digestible format.
6. SEARCH – Once compiled, you must be able to search the data to find what you want. i.e. Google!
7. DATE SHARING AND TRANSFERS – Data must be able to be shared with those who need it.

Big Data is also massively important in marketing – by using twitter, Facebook, chat rooms and forums – companies can build up a picture of consumers and this kind of personal data is unique due to the personal nature.

It can also help identify new customers by using demographics and it also help discover new niche markets by grouping people in terms of interests and behaviour.

It’s a relatively new topic in CIMA but it’s one of the more interesting topics as you can relate to everyday life. So don’t get caught short when studying for your next case study exam – as understanding and applying Big Data could make a BIG difference in passing your next exam.

CIMA Exams – one at a time?


The new CIMA 2015 syllabus, in my eyes, has changed dramatically when you consider the examination structure. The objective tests can be scheduled at any time and have been reduced to 90 minutes with several smaller questions covering the whole syllabus.

It’s a welcome relief not to have face the 180 minutes hand written exams for each subject area, however, the new case study exams at the end of each level are as broad as they are challenging. Trying to revise for all three subjects and apply it to the pre-seen material is definitely a big, big challenge.

Personally, I have yet to sit one of the new operational exams in the 2015 syllabus and I am thinking about the path I will take next.

The exams for the 2010 syllabus were scheduled at certain times during the year, which usually meant students (myself included) would study for two papers at a time.

  1. To add variety to your studies
  2. To make the most of the exam timetable

However, the new syllabus means you can sit the exams any time you want. Well, the case study exams have set times but you can sit the objective tests whenever and, what’s even better, is the fact you get the results there and then!

Meaning, if you  fail an objective test you can re-take it the following week or month, ensuring you don’t lose too much ground when waiting for your next exam.

Nevertheless, it’s given me a bit of a problem when considering the approach to study for the CIMA objective tests. Do I just focus on one exam at a time, or do I attempt to sit two or three at a time?

There is an interesting article on the CIMA website that highlights the pros and cons of either approach. You can find the document here and it’s well worth a read.

The main points worth considering are the impact on the case study when deciding what path to take on the objective tests. If you take just one exam at a time “You may need to refresh your knowledge before taking the case study“.

Alternatively, by taking three subjects together (or two) “You will see clear links between each subject to prepare for the upcoming case study

Currently, I am swaying towards studying for one objective test at a time so I can focus my attentions on the one subject and ensure I pass first time. Also, by focusing on one subject at a time I should be in a position to take the exam quicker – perhaps in a two month period? Meaning I won’t have such a long gap between papers and ultimately the case study.

I guess it’s all down to personal preference but the 2015 CIMA syllabus is certainly much more flexible than ever before.



Traditional Study Materials v Online Materials


image from Dave and Les Jacobs (Getty Images)

When I started my CIMA studies last year I automatically purchased all of the study materials from Kaplan without giving it much thought. I ordered the E1 and F1 books – so the study text, exam questions kit and revision guide – and was generally pleased with them in terms of content. Especially the exam questions kit, which was excellent when in the final weeks of exam preparation.

I passed both exams first time in the November 2014 sitting and thought to myself I would stick with ordering the Kaplan materials. But when returning to my desk to pack up the books from E1 and F1 I soon realised – what am I going to do with these books now? And imagine the amount of books I would have collected over the next few years while studying CIMA. Not to mention the cost involved (the delivery was astronomical as I live  in Central Europe).

Online Study Materials

So I explored other alternatives on how to study CIMA. And the more I thought about, the more I realised that purchasing physical copies of the study texts wasn’t efficient for me. Instead, while studying for my next exams, I used a smaller learning provider where I could purchase the study texts online (in fact the basic study text itself is free).

I feel it gives much more flexibility and you can access it anywhere you have internet access. So you can squeeze a couple of hours study in when you are in the office (lunch break of course), or when you’re travelling. It means you don’t have to carry around a text book the size of a telephone directory in order to study marginal costing or catch up on consolidated group accounts.

However, I do agree, there is something comforting and traditional and sitting down to study with a large textbook and calculator. You might find that this way if studying is more suitable for you. It’s hard to break this kind of trend as it’s the way we’ve always studied from the age of five years old onwards.

But overall I believe that using online materials saves you space, time and money. And if you are still getting the shakes by not having a physical book to hold you can always print the materials out!

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if my beliefs remain the same when studying the Management and Strategic level of CIMA.

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