Changes that will affect you

February 2020 will be the first time students studying with CIMA will be sitting their case study exams under the updated CIMA professional qualification and have the support of the new exam blueprints.

The format of the exam is the same and it still includes familiar topics like reporting and cost accounting, but you will now also be tested on new subjects such as cyber risks, data analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital costing and digital strategy. The updates were made to support you in building your career and help you power the success of your organisations.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the exams and achieve your goals:

Before the case study exam

Set up your own personal study plan on There you can set your own study pace, track your progress as you go and also have access to free resources and insights such as blogs and articles.

Make the most of the blueprints to prepare for your case study exam. They tell you exactly what is examinable, and therefore what you need to learn. Be sure to work your way through them and, once you are done, check that you can confidently make each of the ‘I Can’ statements – then you will know you have all the knowledge and understanding you need to pass the exam.

For example, at the Operational level, the case study exam blueprint describes the simulated business tasks that could be assessed during your exam. This includes understanding how the finance function can leverage novel technologies and the associated data to improve information used by decision makers, and grasping the importance of having a digital mindset to transform finance functions, processes and measurement of performance.

Be sure to access the pre-seen material for your case study exam and analyse it in detail so you understand exactly how to relate the material and all that you have learnt directly to the syllabus and the ‘I Can’ statements. If you are able to, sit some timed mock tests and have them assessed.

Once you have worked your way through your level and feel you are ready for it, make sure to book your exam as soon as possible. Our research with Kaplan showed that if you sit your exam within 12 weeks of finishing your studies rather than eight weeks your chances of passing fall by 16%. So while we don’t advise you sit your exam before you are ready, bear in mind that to increase your chances of success taking this timely approach may pay off.

Succeeding on the day of your exam

On the day of your exam you know you can confidently make all of the relevant ‘I Can’ statements and are fully prepared, be sure to have ready all of the equipment you need such as a non-programmable calculator from a pre-approved list into exams at Pearson VUE test centres. And don’t forget if you do bring one in to the exam you will need to show it to the exam administrator before you sit the test.

Your results

Hopefully you have passed your exam, but if you do need to take the exams again, don’t get disheartened – take some time to reflect and then revisit all of your study material. Once you are ready, you can rebook to re-sit your case study exam over four windows in February, May, August and November.

In next month’s article we will look at key steps to take if you need to re-sit an exam.

• Steve Flatman, VP Examinations at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants