Sunday, 30 January 2011

Problems with E3 and P3


Leevan wrote:

I am currently in Strategic Level papers. I got through my F3 paper last May 2010 but unfortunately I wasn't successful in E3 and P3. I made a second attempt for both of these papers last Nov 2010 but it wasn't successful as well. I got 40 and 46 for both E3 and P3. CIMA gave me the breakdown of marks for both of these papers. For E3 I got 19 for Q1, 11 for Q2 and 10 for Q3. For P3 I got 17 for Q1, 15 for Q2 and 14 for Q3.

I attempted quite a number of pass year question before facing the exams. I honestly don't know what went wrong. Please advise me what I should be doing to pass these 2 papers next May.

P.S I am taking the exams in Malaysia
Well, Leevan, you are not alone. A lot of students have problems with E3 and P3, as they are both very practical exams. The trick, with both of them, is to take a practical approach that is informed by theory, rather than just writing about the theories themselves. Your marks breakdown suggests poor performance on all questions, but a serious issue with question 1. I would suggest the following:
  1. Take a look at the way you approach the numerical parts of question 1. At the Strategic Level you need to be able to add value to the calculations. It's common to get only 1/2 to 1 mark for each step of the calculation, but up to 2 further marks for analysis and comment. There are frequently more marks for analysis than for the calculation itself. What do the numbers mean? What issues might the numbers indicate? What could or should the organisation consider? Look back at the post-exam guides for the appropriate papers, to see how the marks are awarded.
  2. Make sure that you are familiar with how to use the pre-seen material in question 1.
  3. Concentrate on answering the questions, rather than trying to cram your answers full of theories. The theories are just tools to help us solve problems.
  4. Get some feedback. Find a college or tutor that is willing to mark your questions, and advise where you are going wrong. Practising questions is fine but, without feedback, you don't really learn from them.
  5. Watch my exam techniques video, on the CIMA website - it is very relevant to E3 and P3.
I hope this helps.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

November results, and extra resit exams


Well, the results are out for the November 2010 exams. A bit of a mixed bag, with some up and some down. Congratulations to those of you who passed, and condolences to those of you who will have to try again.

Talking of trying again - I notice that the March resit exams have been expanded to include E2 and F2. At present, this sitting is only available in the UK, but it seems that CIMA may have a plan to offer it elsewhere.

CIMA says

"CIMA will continue to look to extending this pilot in the future to benefit all of our stakeholders."

So, what do you think? Four sittings a year, everywhere? Do you think that's a good idea? Let me know...

Monday, 17 January 2011

CMGA - how much work?

Anonymous asked:

I  am an MBA, and have over four and a half years of experience. I am planning to do CMGA. I would like to know how many hours of preparation time, on average, are required for CMGA.

Well, that's a very good question. The answer has to be, as you probably guessed, "it depends". Let me explain...

CMGA, while it's only one exam, covers three papers from the syllabus - E2, F2 and P2. This means that, assuming you have not covered any of the material from these three before, CMGA requires three times as much study as any 'normal' CIMA paper. This is, of course, a worst-case scenario.

As an MBA, you are likely to be familiar with some or more of the topics. The more you've done before, the less work you will have to do. As I've mentioned before, CMGA is only the best option if your MBA had a strong finance content. If not, you may well be better off taking the conventional entry route. The more finance content you studied in your MBA, the easier you should find CMGA. Also, it depends on how good a student you were when you studied your MBA, and how long ago it was. You also have to consider how relevant (to the three papers) your work experience has been. Oh, and it also depends whether you are a native English speaker, and whether your MBA was taught and examined in English.

CMGA, while it is a 'fast track' for entry into the CIMA qualification, is definitely not an easy option.

Any one of the normal CIMA papers has a rough guideline of 200 hours study time. If you are lucky enough to attend lectures, each hour in the classroom (because of the 'added value') is probably worth three hours of self-study. There aren't many courses available for CMGA, however, as the number of students attempting the exam seldom makes it cost-effective for colleges to run them.

I would guess, therefore, that you are likely to need somewhere between 200 hours (the guideline for one normal paper) and 600 hours (if you covered very little of the P2/E2/F2 syllabus in your MBA). Remember - CMGA is not 'easy', and the more time you can spend on it, the better prepared you will be for the CMGA exam, and the exams that follow it (Strategic Level and T4). You shouldn't be aiming to 'scrape through' CMGA - that would just leave you ill-prepared for what follows.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I would need to know far more about your education, your MBA, and what work you've done.