Five tips for success

1) Plan ahead

Structure planning and preparation can increase your confidence and help you deal with pre-exam stress. So how can you make sure that you stay on track?

• Find a study method that works for you.

• Create a study plan to make sure you cover all areas and have a good understanding of all syllabus topics.

• Book your exam in advance to keep your focus and motivation.

• Practice exam style questions.

• Refine your exam techniques and time management skills.

• Whether you pass or fail, make sure you understand your results.

The content of the exam is always going to be unknown, but knowing that you’re well prepared for it will make you feel more confident when entering the exam room.

2) Don’t be afraid of failure

It may be hard to believe, but if you happen to fail an exam it won’t be the end of the world. And if you do it is important that you don’t panic, but sit back, reflect on what went wrong, and identify the steps you need to ensure that you pass the next time around.

Another way of dealing with failure is to seek advice from family, friends, a tutor or perhaps a trusted colleague. Failing an exam can throw you off balance, but it’s just one if the many life challenges you’ll face, and there’s always a way to learn from it.

Keep motivated, don’t be too hard on yourself and keep in mind that it will all be worth it in the end.

3) Keep a work-life balance

Juggling your professional studies, your work and personal life at the same time requires a big commitment and some serious time management skills. You’ll need to plan, organise and prioritise personal, study and work activities to make everything more manageable both at a practical and emotional level.

Create a study plan, which includes exam dates and items such as essential appointments, family events, time to exercise, planned downtime and holidays. Based on this, you can identify how much time you have available to study and when you can schedule it in.

Remember that having a plan is great but it shouldn’t be overly rigid and allow for some flexibility to accommodate unexpected events. Make sure you review it regularly to reassess priorities and reschedule activities.

4) Make the most of CIMA’s flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of studying for a career in business and finance with CIMA is the flexibility offered by the exams. You can sit your Objective Tests on-demand throughout the year and get your results straight away. In addition you’ve got some planning room around the four Case Studies exam windows available a year.

You also have great flexibility around study options, putting you in the driving seat and giving you complete control over how, when and where you study. For example, if you like studying with others and appreciate having a tutor on hand to answer your questions, attending a course with an accredited tuition provider may be the best option. On the other hand, if you’ve a lot of conflicting priorities to juggle, self-study via online and distance learning may better suits your needs.

5) Practice makes perfect

Studying and practising are the best ways of ensuring that you are well prepared for, and know what to expect, when you sit your exams.

If you’re taking your first Objective Test or Case Study exam, take a look at our exam tutorials – these will help you familiarise yourself with the exam including the types of question you can expect. Don’t forget to try the question tutorials.

To help you prepare for your exams, you should also go through past exam papers. This will give you a general idea of how the questions are phrased and marks distributed.

If you’re going to sit exams under the 2019 CIMA Professional Qualification (starting in November 2019) make sure you take full advantage of our exam blueprints. They set out in detail what is examinable as well as the format, structure and weightings of the assessments for each Objective Tests and Case Study exams.

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