How to get the most out of your practice for CIMA exams

How to get the most out of your practice for CIMA exams

Once you've got stuck into your revision, you will probably start to look at ways in which you can practise before the exam. But do you know how to get the most out of your practice?

I remember once hearing an interview with a top golf coach. He was explaining how we was often approached by golfers who just couldn't work out why they weren't improving with their game. He would ask them what their practice consisted of and they would tell him that they play a round of golf every weekend but that their scores just weren't getting any better. I remember the golf coach recalling how he would then have to explain that a casual game of golf once a week just wasn't sufficient, the golfers needed a whole new approach to what they considered to be practice.  

In my experience, the same can be applied to the case study exam. I am often approached by students who tell me, "I answered some practice questions before the exam but I still failed." As I tell these students, it isn't just enough to practise, it's about how you use this practice effectively.

With this in mind, here are three tips to ensure you get the most out of your practice:

Repetition - It isn't enough to complete one set of practice questions or one mock before an exam. Using a variety of practice materials a number of times, is what can make the difference between a pass and a fail.

Take it seriously - If you come to sit a mock exam towards the end of your revision, it's so important that you practise taking it under 'exam like' conditions. This will help you to prepare for what the real exam will feel like.

Learn the lessonsThere's little use in practising if you aren't learning from it. This means analysing what you did right, and looking at where you can improve for the future.

I know it's hard to fit revision into a busy life, but I believe that the students who make their practice as effective as possible, will be in with a much better chance of passing their exams. 

Nick Best 


CIMA exam pass rates July 2016 - Case studies & Objective tests

CIMA exam pass rates July 2016 - Case studies & Objective tests

Please check the updated latest CIMA pass rates here 

Exam pass rate: total exams passed / total exams taken.
Case study exam pass rates will be made available following the release of strategic case study exam results in each window. 
August (2015) November (2015)February (2016)May (2016)
CIMA gateway40%42%29%26%

Objective tests

The pass rates cover the objective test sittings between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016.

Overall exam pass rate: Percentage of students who have passed the exam after one or more attempts.  88%67%84%93%72%72%80%77%75%
First time pass rate: Percentage of students who have passed the exam on first attempt.  80%47%74%86%52%49%65%55%55%
Exam pass rate:Total exams passed / total exams taken.  76%42%69%83%43%45%60%50%49%
CIMA will publish updated objective test pass rates every quarter following the release of pass rates for case study exams. 

Certificate level exams

These pass rates cover the certificate level exams between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016.

Overall exam pass rate: Percentage of students who have passed the exam after one or more attempts.83%90%73%86%91%
First time pass rate: Percentage of students who have passed the exam on first attempt.  73%83%62%76%85%
Exam pass rate: Total exams passed / total exams taken.  68%80%57%72%83%

CIMA’s exam chief, Steve Flatman, told PQ magazine he was particularly pleased with the rise in the P3 and F3 pass rates. Both have seen a 20% increase in overall pass rates from a year ago, when CIMA released its first set of results.

For Flatman these latest results show the exams are “consistent, reliable and fair”.

The case study pass rates also held up in May, with the exception of the Strategic level, where the pass rate slipped to 46%. Flatman has already looked into this and explained there were were more students resitting this paper in the summer cohort.

For the first time CIMA released grade descriptors with the results. These are designed to help show students where they are failing. Flatman stressed this was not just for looking back, but to help students going forward too. He felt it is vital that CIMA is clear and transparent about the standards expected of exam candidates.

CIMA May 2016 case study pass rates: Operational 67%; Management 63%; Strategic 46%

CIMA overall OT pass rates: E1 88%; P1 67%; F1 84%; E2 93%; P2 72%; F2 72%; E3 80%; P3 77%; F3 75%

CIMA first-time OT pass rates: E1 80%; P1 47%; F1 74%; E2 86%; P2 52%; F2 49%; E3 65%; P3 55%; F3 55%


3 vital skills that could make all the difference in your CIMA case study exam!

CIMA case study exam 3 vital skills

Answer planning is one of the best ways of setting yourself out from the crowd. After all, there's little use in learning all of the necessary knowledge in the lead up to your case study exam, if you don't then learn how to translate this knowledge into marks!

In all the years I have been helping people pass their Case Study exams, you would be amazed at how many students have contacted me in complete confusion having failed. "But I've been revising for weeks and I know all of the key theory!" they always tell me. Yet when I ask them how much time they've spent thinking about how they will go about planning their answer, they usually reply, "I didn't consider that to be as important, I just focussed on learning the theory."

Please don't fall into the same trap that these students did - learning how you will construct your answer is just as important as learning the theory which you might include.
You might be asking yourself... "So what does this actually mean?"

Well let me give you an example - getting into the simple habit of planning your answers before you start writing, can have a huge impact on your chances of success. Reading the question and then spending a short amount of time forming a plan for your answer will help you to:

1. Identify the requirements - the examiners often tell me that this is an area many students struggle with. 

2. Structure your answer - a clearly structured answer is going to please the examiners and get more marks.

3. Stop waffle - you will be pushed for time in the exam so you don't want to waste any extra energy by answering in a way which isn't scoring any marks.

So now you know the importance of planning your answer, you should hopefully have a better understanding of the types of things you should be considering in your revision.

To really help you on the way, another tip which most students don't think about is this - you need to practise your writing technique.

Like any skill, good writing technique will not just suddenly happen - you need to practise regularly to ensure your new style becomes habitual and is the natural way that you write by the time you enter the exam hall.

Courtesy -

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