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.


  1. What is the minimum passing marks at the cmga exam.

  2. Hi Srinivas. 50 marks, from any sections of the paper. Regards David

  3. Hi recent I have got the confirmation of 6 papers C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and E1. I did MBA previously. But my knowledge for accounting is not very good.
    Now I'm confused either to take the exemptions or carry as normal student.

    1. So, you are lucky - you have a choice:

      If you follow the Gateway route, you will take 5 exams (CMGA, E3, P3, F3, T4B) whereas, if you become a 'normal student' and take your exemptions, you will have 9.

      CIMA is an accounting qualification. You say your knowledge of accounting is 'not very good'. You want, I guess, to be an accountant.

      CIMA's advice would be to take your exemptions and become a 'normal student', as the Gateway is for MBAs with a strong finance background.

      I agree with them in your case. Do it properly. You will learn more, and reduce the risk of repeated exam failure. You'll also become, probably, a better accountant.