Thursday, 18 November 2010

Theories in E3


Anonymous wrote:

With reference to paper E3 Enterprise Strategy and Change Management in particular - based on your past experience in this paper would you say that we need to know all the different theories regarding dealing with change management. I know a few of the theories, ie Unfreeze, Change & Refreeze and Forcefield Analysis however there seems so many other theories and models I really cannot remember them all. Is it likely we would be asked to use one particular model in the exam? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Good question. Bear in mind that, at the Strategic Level, most questions will be testing skills at the highest levels of the verb hierarchy. Questions of this sort seldom identify specific theories, as they are phrased in a very practical way ('analyse the problems....', 'advise the organisation...'). Such questions allow you to choose the theoretical model(s) that you feel will help. Obviously, the examiners have certain theories in mind, when writing the questions, but there is always a high degree of flexibility in the marking guides, to allow for different approaches. At this level, a practical approach (based in theory) is what is required, rather than a theoretical approach.

Bad handwriting


Jono asked:

My writing is quite untidy and when I write on both sides of the page, reading is difficult. Are we allowed to leave each alternative page blank in the exam in order to avoid a mess and just have a longer answer?

Yes. It's your paper. You've paid for it. Use it how you wish. If you need another book, just ask.
I often recommend that students who press on the paper quite hard do this, as the writing can show through on the other side.
Also, as I said in the post below, "think more and write less". This will allow you to write more slowly, and therefore more neatly. Most students write far too much in their exam answers.

Completing T4 in the time


Anonymous said:

"Do you have any suggestion regarding the preparation of case study T4? Despite my having a timetable, I always find time insufficient for me to develop my ideas, resulting in cutting short to be able to finish on time. What do you suggest?"

Time management in the T4 exam is a nightmare - there are so many things to do. I have the following suggestions, which may help...
  1. Practise, practise, practise! The more case studies you do, the faster you can do them. I think you should attempt at least five case study mock exams, under simulated exam conditions, before attempting the real exam.
  2. Do not plan to do what cannot be done. You are the only person who knows how fast you think and write in an exam. It is better to complete a report that has slightly less content (fewer issues, fewer options) than might be considered 'ideal', than to fail to complete the report.
  3. Try writing less. Never write anything in your report that the recipients already know, or that is 'just commonsense'. Make sure that everything you write adds value. Think more - write less - get more marks!
I hope that helps.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Nov 2010 (and Mar 2011) pre-seen for Strategic Level

Neil asked

Do you have any comments on the pre-seen for November? (Strategic Level)

Well, Neil. Yes, I have lots of comments, but you'll need to be more specific. If you look at the other posts on this blog about the Strategic Level pre-seen, they all apply equally to the new stuff. I'm not going to analyse it, and try to predict what questions may come up, as others have done that (on the CIMA website) and I think it has more value for you to do it yourself. If you have specific questions, I'll happily answer them here. Just comment...

I have a Learning Burst, about how to use the pre-seen.

If the rest of you want to post your comments about the pre-seen here, that's fine, but there are threads on CIMASphere already.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Buying Pass First Time in Africa

Great to see all my African friends again. I'm in Cape Town today, talking to students about T4B and the Strategic Level, and off to Mauritius tomorrow. Several of you (in Zambia and SA) have asked about getting my exam techniques book - If you want a copy of CIMA: Pass First Time!, and you're in Africa, Kalahari books have it.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Off to Africa (again)

Well, I'm off to Africa on Monday. Another packed trip, visiting five cities in four countries.

Here's my list of public events. My African friends - I hope to see you at one or more of my events. Don't forget, the member breakfast is (once again) on a topic relevant to the syllabus (E1, E2, E3, P3, T4B). Contact your local CIMA office to book a place.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Going up the verbs


Anonymous said:

"what about verbs that go up the hierarchy level. e.g. if it asks you to discuss something, would that mean you have to define, explain and write down pros and cons with a conclusion at the end?"

Good question, as it shows that you're really thinking about the verbs.

The simple answer is 'no' - if the question asks you to 'Discuss...', and you can answer it well, then it's obvious that you could have defined or explained, had the question asked you to. Your job, in the exam, is to answer the question asked. Any time you spend at a lower verb level is probably wasted. In exam terms, that means you get no marks, despite the fact that what you write is 'correct'.

There's one exception - if you get a question that says 'Advise...', and there haven't been previous requirements to 'explain...', 'discuss...', etc. Advice is a process, the last step in which is to recommend.

Take a look at the verbs article, and it should become clear.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Saving time by using abbreviations

K asked:
I have a question relating to time saving. I'm also worried that my English and grammar will let me down and I don't want to compound this by not meeting the examiner's expectations.

As an example, in the exam, is it better to refer to Non-executive Directors as NED's, or do the examiners prefer to see something written in full, or is a statement such as 'Non-executive Director's hereafter referred to as NED's' preferred?

Well, K, this is an easy one. There's no problem at all in using common abbreviations (NEDs, ABC, BPR, NPV...) in your answers. The correct form is to write the term in full, the first time you use it, followed by the abbreviation in brackets. From then on, just use the abbreviation.

For example, "If you are learning about Non-Executive Directors (NEDs), you might consider the number of NEDs on the board, their independence, their appointment, and their responsibilities. NEDs should..." You get the idea?

Please DO NOT 'invent' your own abbreviations. Don't refer to the organisation as 'the org', or to variances as 'vars'. This just makes your written work look unprofessional.

In general terms, your English only needs to be good enough so the reader (the marker) understands clearly what you mean. The CIMA exams are NOT a test of written English.

I hope this helps.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Strategic Level resits on PC


Well, the time has come for the 'first ever' Strategic Level exams on PC. Today (and tomorrow, and Saturday) students in the UK (resits only) will be doing E3, P3 and F3 using Word and Excel. Good luck!

Let me know - how was it for you? Any issues? Is this the future?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Repeated failure

Well, The Guru is just back from a trip to Malaysia and Singapore, where he enjoyed meeting new friends.

Some students were asking why, despite having done lots of work, they were repeatedly failing the same CIMA exam(s) and their marks were going down, rather than up. Does CIMA penalise students who have failed?

The answer is 'no'. CIMA doesn't discriminate - if you get 50 or more marks, you will pass. The problem is that, by 'doing lots of work', you are making things worse. The more time you spend reading (and remembering) the textbook, the more likely you are to try to squeeze too much textbook knowledge into your answers, rather than just answering the questions.

Take a look at the exam techniques video - there's a section in it about this very problem.

If you're in this position, go back to basics. Look at the exam, and the skills needed to pass it (more than just knowledge). Stick to answering the questions, and the knowledge will appear on its own. Don't try to force knowledge into your answers, as this won't help.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Pass First Time is on Kindle

Amazon UK has just launched its Kindle store, and Pass First Time is available in Kindle format, for download. Now you can add your favourite exam techniques guide to your Kindle reader, and read it anywhere.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Exam techniques - now on film!

Some bloke at CIMA has done an exam techniques video. I hope this doesn't mean that nobody will come to see me when I'm in Malaysia next week, and Singapore the week after?

Monday, 26 July 2010

CMGA: are exemptions ever a good idea?

Production Management wrote:

I have just achieved my MBA. I am seriously considering taking CIMA up on their CMGA offer where I can go directly into the Management Level study. Do you think this is the right way to go to rather start CIMA from the operational level?

For those of you who aren't familiar with the CMGA, it's a 'fast track' for holders of MBA qualifications. Applicants pay an increased fee, get a package of support from CIMA (application fee, subscription, exam entry, modules) and sit a single, 3-hour, exam containing questions on P2, E2 and F2. On passing this exam, the CMGA goes on to sit the three Strategic Level exams then the Case Study. CMGA applicants still need to prove they have 3 years relevant experience, in order to qualify.

There are advantages (faster progression, no need to repeat stuff studied before) and disadvantages (loads of hard work, the first CIMA exams are always a shock, missing things in earlier levels). So, how should you decide whether to take the CMGA route, or to enter as a 'normal' student?

I would suggest that you look at how much finance and accounting you have covered, both in your MBA and earlier studies. If the answer is 'quite a lot', take the CMGA route. If the answer is 'not much', take the normal student entry route. A good starting place is the syllabus, and some past exam papers (in the 'study resources' tabs).

Indeed, this is pretty much the advice from CIMA themselves:

I am an MBA holder. Do I have to take the CMGA?
We recommend that you look closely at the syllabus for CIMA papers E2, F2 and P2 and also at the relevant past exam papers. If you feel confident that you have a good understanding of the syllabus areas, then the CMGA may be preferable. If you are in any doubt about your competence in any of E2, F2 or P2, we recommend that you take the normal exemption route.

In fact, that's pretty much the advice I would give anyone considering whether or not to apply for exemptions, at any level.

Hope that helps.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Work experience and Strategic Level

Anonymous (don't be shy!) said:

I would like to know if practical work experience is essential in passing Strategic Level.

No. It helps, of course, if you've been working for a couple of years as you will have a better understanding of how business works and loads of good 'higher' skills that you've developed at work. However, I know loads of students who've passed Strategic Level with little or no practical experience. You just need to understand the skills being tested at that level, and work hard (in the right way) to develop those skills. There's loads of stuff in earlier posts about the skills being tested at Strategic Level.

The T4 Case Study, though, is a different matter...

Is it knowledge, or exam techniques, that let me down?

Anonymous said:

"Well failed E3 by 3 marks - gutted - dont know best way forward as I came out of exam thinking I'd done ok. Just purchased your book Pass First Time to see if that helps. It possibly could be exam technique as I felt as if I knew enough about the subjects examined. Waiting for the post exam guide now to see if that helps. Any advice on what to do now."

In my experience, a student with good knowledge and poor exam technique may either pass or fail, but a student with mediocre knowledge and good exam technique will probably pass comfortably. Enough said? Read the book, check out the post-exam guide, then post again if you need more specific advice...

Been to Sri Lanka, results...

Hi all. Well, the results are out so congratulations to those of you who passed, and commiserations to the rest.

I've just come back from a week in Sri Lanka (work, not holiday) and I met some great people, both students and tutors. Thanks to everyone there for making my stay pleasurable and interesting. Hopefully, some of my new Sri Lankan friends will be along soon, to add to this community. Off to Malaysia next month, then back to Africa in October.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

New September resit opportunity

You may, or may not, be aware that CIMA have introduced an extra exam sitting in September. This will ONLY be for resits of Strategic Level, and Papers P1 and P2.

The 'extra' sitting of Strategic Level will only be available through Quality Partner colleges, and will be sat on PC (like the Case Study) using Word and Excel.

The 'extra' sitting of P1 and P2 will also be for resits only, but on paper.

Your thoughts?

...and the answer is

Not a lot! Most of you who responded to my questions about the Strategic Level pre-seen material, confirmed that you didn't really refer to it much at all. In fact, while most of you said 'the odd paragraph here and there', several of you said 'not at all'. Let's see what the PEGs say.

Friday, 28 May 2010

A question for you...

What did you think about the use of the Strategic Level pre-seen material? Did you need to use much information from it, in answering the Q1s?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What order?


Anonymous said...

Just like to say a massive thanks for posting your blogs - I have found them very useful.

Just one question can you choose to answer the questions in any order, ie for E3 can you do you the two choice questions first and then do the Case study?

Thank you for the question. Yes, you can.

Some people find it 'comforting' to do their 'best' question first. This is fine, but make sure you don't use up too much time on (what you perceive to be) your best question.

Please don't answer the requirements (a, b etc.) out of sequence, as it really winds up the marker! The question requirements are in a certain order because the examiner thinks this is the most logical. Quite often, there's a 'storyline' that links the requirements. If you choose to do them out of sequence, you might miss something.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Good Luck!

Well, with a week to go before the May exams, I just wanted to say 'good luck' to everyone.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Strategic Level pre-seen

I rashly promised, a few days ago, that I would post something more about the Strategic Level pre-seen material. Since then, I’ve been talking to a number of tutors, and also to some of the people more closely involved in the development of the syllabus and the examination process.

Well, the prevailing view seems to be – DON’T PANIC!

After having looked again at the Specimen Papers, I’m not sure that the pre-seen material is going to figure very highly in the Strategic Level exams. The vast majority of the information that you need, to answer the questions, seems to be in the unseen material. Indeed, it seems very much as if you will be able to pass the Section A questions quite comfortably if you only use the unseen material. Obviously, there’s no reason why you would do that, as you’ve had the pre-seen material to work with for several weeks. It does, however, take the pressure off having to do lots of detailed analysis of the pre-seen material.

I go back, therefore, to the advice I gave on the 5th March – use the pre-seen material as a revision aide; as a context in which you can practise application of the various tools, models and approaches in the Strategic Level syllabus. Don’t get hung up on doing loads of industry analysis, for little return.

If you want a prediction (after all, it’s election night here in the UK), I’d suggest that your answers in Section A of the Strategic Level exams should be based about 90% on the unseen material, with only about 10% (if anything) on the pre-seen material and any industry examples.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Where do I plan?


Sarah said:

"Just a quick talk about answer planning in your book, I have been practising using scrap paper before writing out my answer, but in the exam, where would you suggest writing it?

I bought your book last November about 2 weeks before my first 3 CIMA exams, P1, P4 & P7. I passed all 3 and am convinced it was thanks to the great advice in your book!

When answer planning for P4 I scribbled my answer plans on the question paper, but you mention in the 'exit strategy' to write 'see answer plan', so was wondering where to put it!"

Put your answer plans in the answer booklet, so you have plenty of space, and so the marker can see them. Markers know that students who plan generally pass, so they are likely to be a bit more generous - a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy, if you think about it. Also, you can then refer the marker to a plan for your last question, if you run out of time.

That said, it does mean that you can't do your answer plans in the reading time, as you're not allowed to write in the answer booklet until the exam starts. However, I recommend spending the reading time analysing the requirements (verbs, topics, marks), deciding on the best way to approach each requirement, and finding any relevant data in the scenarios. This shortens the planning time, and also means that you'll spend more time understanding the question.



I’ve been asked for tips to pass Paper E3. Well, there are two things I think are important:

- You need to understand how to use the pre-seen material. This is covered by an earlier post, and one of my Learning Bursts. There is also a useful article on CIMA’s website, which talks about the ‘clues’ in the pre-seen, relating to each of the three papers.
- You need to understand how scenario-based questions work. Once again, there’s a presentation about this on my presentations page. You need to recognise that there are ‘hints’ in the scenario, which should lead you to the ‘points’ that the examiner wants you to mention in your answer.

The examiner wrote an article in Financial Management magazine, explaining the differences between E3 and P6, and there’s also a very useful transition guide on CIMA’s website. Together these will be of great help to those of you who are sitting E3, whether for the first time, or as a result of failing P6.

E3 isn’t a difficult paper, but the verbs used are at a very high level. When you are revising the theories in the E3 syllabus, you need to recognise that this exam really only looks at the application of those theories, and at their weaknesses and limitations. You shouldn’t expect to get marks for simple explanations and diagrams – these are more appropriate to the Operational Level. Concentrate on how the models work (or don’t), and recognise that solving real-life problems is generally about using ‘a bit of this, and a bit of that’, rather than applying one model in its entirety. Be prepared to ‘assemble’ a unique solution to a unique problem (as all real-life problems are).

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Home again (and away, again)

Well, I finally arrived home a couple of days ago, safe and well. Thanks againg to everyone who helped to re-patriate me.

I'm off to Dublin on Thursday (29 April) to run a 'train the trainers' session on E3. That'll be great fun, bearing in mind my 'history' with the paper. Updates on the Strategic Level pre-seen soon, I promise.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

On my way home

Well, here I am at Johannesburg airport, finally starting my journey home. Only 11 days late :(

My next gig is in Newcastle under Lyme on Wednesday evening, when I'll be doing a session for CIMA students on 'how to please the examiner'. The slides are on my slideshare page, if you want them.

Thanks again to all my friends in Africa. I'll be back to see you again in October/November.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Stuck in Johannesburg

Well, having been stuck in Accra, Ghana, last week, I decided to return to the CIMA office in Johannesburg until the dust settles. I'm unlikely to be travelling home before this weekend so, if any of you lucky Jo'burg students want to chat, I'm at the CIMA office. Just get in touch...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Back on the road again...

Well, I'm off to Ghana in a couple of hours. It's my first visit there, so I'm very excited. It will also be good to get home on Friday - a month is a long time to be away.

Yesterday I went to the University of Stellenbosch, and met a load of students doing an honours program that leads into the Strategic Level of CIMA. It was nice to see so many young, enthusiastic, potential CIMA members. A few of them came along to my exam techniques presentation last night - I hope I didn't scare you too badly!

Thanks to all the lovely people I met in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. I'll be back in October to see you again.

Thought for the day...

Why would you (in an exam) write a sentence, if you didn't hope to get a mark for it?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Strategic Level pre-seen for May 2010

Well, I'm currently in Cape Town, after a lightning visit to Harare (where everyone was lovely), and Agnes has just pointed out that the pre-seen for May Strategic Level is out EARLY!

Read my post on Strategic Level for some suggestions how you might use it...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Now in Botswana

Thanks to everyone I met in Zambia - I had a great time and will see you all again in October. Remind me to do a session on 'how to tackle scenario-based questions'. Oh, and don't forget to read my article about verbs ;-)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Is there a 'best' way?


I am at a conference in Zambia, talking to CIMA lecturers. We were talking about the best way to prepare for a CIMA exam, and I said “start with the exam, and work backwards”.

CIMA study is about passing the exam, so the best way to pass is to do the following:

1 Get the last three exams, suggested answers and PEGs, and compare them.
2 Read the syllabus, and look at the skills you need (as defined by the learning outcomes)
3 Look at how the skills are tested in the three exams, and read in the PEGs why students failed
4 Go to the textbook, and develop the skills you need to pass
5 Try some past exam questions, to see if you have mastered the skills
6 Repeat...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Strategic Level Section B


I've just done a couple of sessions in Johannesburg, and there was a question that I thought I'd share with you.

"In Section B, are all the questions based on the pre-seen scenario?"

Well, the answer is a very simple 'no'. Section B questions (three at 25 marks, you choose 2) are all completely 'stand alone'. Just like in the previous syllabus, each Section B question will have its own mini-scenario, and you should expect them to each look at different issues in different industries. You still need to be able to apply your knowledge to a range of different contexts, both private and public, for profit or not, large or small.

Thanks to all of you who attended the sessions today - your questions were great, and the time passed really quickly ;-)

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Past exam questions for revision


I was asked, the other day, about past exam questions. The student was concerned that, because the syllabus has changed, there were no past papers to practise.

Don't panic, folks. There are plenty:

- Firatly, there are pilot papers for every exam. These are on CIMA's website under the 2010 syllabus (in the student area).

- Secondly, provided you check that the learning outcomes concerned are still in the syllabus, you can (selectively) use questions from the 'old' syllabus papers. Make sure, also, that the style and length of the question is still similar to those on the 'new' paper. Check the transition guides to make sure.

Hope that helps.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Africa Tour

Well, as promised, here are the dates on the Guru's tour of Africa. As you can see, he's going to be busy. Bookings can be made through the local CIMA office in each case.

Click for a better view

Friday, 5 March 2010

Home again, Strategic Level, etc.

Well, the guru is home from his Irish tour. The sessions seemed to go well (thanks for your kind comment, Anna) - a total of about 50 students across the three venues. The next 'tour' is Southern Africa in a couple of weeks. I'll post details up here soon.

Lots of questions were asked about Strategic Level. Mainly "what should I do with the pre-seen?". I don't think you should spend ages doing research into the industry - instead, why not use the pre-seen as a revision tool? Every time you revise a model, technique or concept, apply it to the organisation or industry described in the pre-seen. For example (in E3), if you're revising Porter's 5 forces, do a 5 forces model for whatever industry is described in the pre-seen. That way, you'll be rehearsing some of the stuff the examiners might well ask you to do in the exam. There'll be additional 'unseen' information, of course, so you mustn't prepare answers in advance, but at least you can practise the techniques...

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Another 'gig' next week

Oh, and Belfast on Thursday evening (Holiday Inn)...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Guru on tour - latest!

Well, the Guru is out and about again. He'll be doing exam techniques presentations in Ireland in a couple of weeks (2 March Galway, 3 March Dublin). He also has a trip to Africa planned - South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Ghana - in March and April. Finalised dates and locations will be posted here soon.

Full details and booking through the local CIMA offices.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Students are doing it for themselves

The comment, below, from Rachel (who has her own site linking to study resources) got me to thinking - how many CIMA students are blogging or starting websites relating to their studies? If you know of any, let me know...

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Is three a crowd?


I've been thinking - many students hate the idea that CIMA makes them sit all three Strategic Level papers together, at the first attempt. They (the students) say "I've always had reasonable success sitting papers 2 at a time, so why make me sit 3 this time?"

Well, here are some of the arguments that CIMA gives as to why you have to sit all 3 Strategic Level subjects together:

- There's a lot of overlap between the 3 syllabuses, so studying for all 3 together is the most productive way to spend your time.

- The strategic Level is about 'pulling together' all the stuff that you've learned in the earlier stages. Different topics from the Operational and Management Levels re-appear in different Strategic Level papers.

- The 'next step' is the Test of Professional Competence (TOPCIMA), where there are only 2 assessments, and one of those is the T4 Case Study, so you need to learn how to integrate your knowledge.

Are these arguments true? Well, as an ex-examiner (at the Strategic Level), I can tell you that they're true 'to some extent'.

I used to have lots of 'discussions' with CIMA about exactly what I could (and couldn't) examine in my exam. I can remember one such discussion that concerned the way I wanted to examine a major capital investment. I wanted to ask stuff about the way the discount rate could be adjusted to take account of the perceived risk level of the project. Perfectly reasonable, I thought, but I was advised that risk was in Paper P3, and the adjustment of the discount rate was in Paper P9. So much for integration!

What about the fact that each Strategic Level syllabus 'draws on' stuff from different earlier papers? Well, surely it doesn't matter! You've passed them all, so I don't think it matters where you use that knowledge, does it? Certainly the people I speak to can't really see much logic in which 'pillars' the three Strategic Level syllabuses are in. What is it, exactly, that makes P3 about 'performance', rather than 'enterprise' or 'financial'?

Speaking to TOPCIMA markers, it appears that candidates' inability to 'integrate' their knowledge in the exam is a problem, but not one that leads to lots of marks being lost.

So, is it time for CIMA to allow students to choose how many papers they sit at each attempt? Maybe...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The 'new' CIMA syllabus


More and more people (students, lecturers, employers) are asking me about the 'new' CIMA syllabus. It's not all that new, to be honest, as CIMA has been working on it for a few years and it was launched almost a year ago.

CIMA has a load of stuff on their
website, including some really useful support guides for those of you who are 'caught up' in the middle of your exam progress. The guides basically explain the differences between each 'pair' of papers (old vs. new).

The main changes are:
- Fewer objective test (multiple choice) questions
- More compulsory questions (basically, no options at the operational and management levels)
- A new 'common case' at the strategic level
- Minor changes to the way TOPCIMA works, and a short second question in the exam
- A shuffle of topics between P1 and P2
- A general update and refreshing of the syllabus, throughout

All these changes are fully explained and covered by the transition guides. I'll look at the details later. Take a look...

Friday, 15 January 2010

Results and pass rates

Well, the results are out for the Strategic Level exams. I guess that means that some of you will be happy (because you've passed), whereas most of you (because the global pass rates for all the papers tend to be less than 50%) will be disappointed. That got me thinking - are these exams too difficult?

I guess that pitching the level of difficulty of the exams is a balancing act, for CIMA. Too 'easy' and the qualification becomes devalued because 'anyone can get it', and too 'difficult' and people are put off studying it.

As you have probably gathered, I've been directly involved with the CIMA examining process, both as a marker and an examiner. I know how well the 'average' student performs in the CIMA exams and, let me tell you, it ain't that well. The majority of people attempting the CIMA exams are ill-prepared, sometimes in terms of technical knowledge (they've learned it, but don't understand it) but mainly in terms of exam technique. While I don't see it as my role (unless I'm lecturing, of course) to fix your technical skills, I am very keen to improve your exam technique.

Take it from someone who knows - the CIMA exams are actually relatively straightforward, if you've done a reasonable amount of technical preparation (which most people sitting the exams have) and you concentrate on understanding and answering the questions set (which most people, sadly, do not). Exam technique isn't 'cheating' - it's just about getting the maximum value (in terms of marks) from the time and effort you've put into technical preparation.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The new T4B Case Study

Well, I'm back from my festive holiday, and thinking about CIMA.

I was looking at the specimen paper for the new T4B Case Study, and comparing it to the 'old' TOPCIMA. It's not really very different, apart from two things:

- You are now given an 'internal' role (Management Accountant or similar), rather than an external role (management consultant), and
- There are now two requirements: A report (90%) and 'something else (10%) such as presentation slides, a memo or email.

No major change, then, to the 'feel' of the Case Study, or the way it's assessed. No major change to the skills being tested, either. Candidates will still strucggle, simply because the exam is so different from the others. There's lots of stuff about 'higher' skills on the CIMA website, and in my book, of course ;-)