Home or away?

August 2020

Where should you sit your CIMA exam? Stephen Flatman outlines the
options so you can choose the one that suits you best.

As Covid-19 restrictions are being relaxed in many places you now have two options for where you sit your CIMA exams. You can opt to sit your CIMA exam remotely or you can choose to have the full, traditional exam experience at a test centre.

It’s important, where you sit your professional exams. Feeling comfortable in the test environment is key to allowing you to perform at your best on the day.

However, it’s not such a straightforward choice for everyone and you need to carefully consider a number of factors before making your final decision.

Here’s a preliminary checklist to help you assess which venue may be best for you:

Consider an online exam if:

• You have a reliably stable and highspeed internet connection.

• You have passed the system test using the equipment you plan to use to sit the exam.

• You are able to sit for the duration of the exam without leaving the room.

• You have a quiet, walled space with a closed door to sit your exam.

• You have access to a computer that does not have firewall or VPN restrictions.

Choose a test centre if:

• Your equipment fails the system test.

• You have had a previously unsuccessful attempt at taking an online exam.

• You have an unreliable internet connection.

• It is difficult to find a time and a quiet space.

• There are other people in your household using the internet at the time you need to sit your exam, or you have experienced online meetings and calls dropping out.

• You have any special accommodation requirements, as you will be able to book over the phone and have all requirements met.

Aside from the above requirements, you will also need to take in account which type of exams you are sitting when making the decision about where to sit your exams.

For example, Objective Test exams, which include short multiple-choice questions, number entry questions, drag and drop questions, will be easier to sit at home. In addition, they are available on-demand, all year round so if you need to re-sit your exam, you can easily schedule a new one as soon as you are ready.

In May, the majority of students had a successful experience sitting their exam online. Unfortunately, due to the less controlled environment of the online setting and the need for a continuous and regular internet connection, there was a small minority of students sitting their Case Study exams who had a disrupted exam experience. We are doing everything that we can to rapidly improve the exam experience for all of our students.

So, for Case Study exams, which are designed to test a variety of skills including research and analysis, how to present information, persuasion and communication skills, the reliable, controlled environment offered by test centres offers students a better exam experience. Moreover, there are only four exam windows each year so it’s not as easy to reschedule as the Objective Test exams.

Where possible, if you feel comfortable travelling to a test centre and feel at ease with the safety and hygiene procedures that are in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we recommend that you take your exam there.

Whatever you choose to do, there is lots of exam preparation advice on the CIMA website to support you (or you can check out my previous PQ articles on that topic). As always, we recommend that you continue to book your exam in advance where possible and only reschedule if absolutely necessary.

I, and everyone at the Association, wish you every success!

• Stephen Flatman, Vice President, Examinations, Management Accounting, The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.