It’s a results business

October 2020

Stephen Flatman explains how you can best interpret your CIMA exam results.

The CIMA professional qualification focuses on employability – bridging the skills gaps of newly qualified finance professionals worldwide, meeting the needs of both business and people. Our syllabus is truly competency based, enabling our students to develop the skills employers are really looking for.

Passing your CIMA exams demonstrates to employers that you not only have the technical knowledge but also the business, leadership and people skills necessary to succeed, and help your organisation succeed, in the modern business world.

What exams will I need to take when studying the CIMA professional qualification?

You will need to sit a maximum of 12 computer-based exams, including:

• 90-minute Objective Tests for each of the three learning pillars within the three levels of the professional qualification, meaning that you will sit up to nine objective tests. They include short multiple-choice questions, number entry questions, drag-and-drop questions, and they are available on-demand, all year round.

• Three-hour Case Study exams at each level after you have passed all three Objective Tests, meaning that you will sit up to three Case Study exams. Case Study exams use pre-seen material, and assess your application of knowledge to real world scenarios and are available four times a year.

If you have already completed a relevant degree or professional qualification, you may be exempt from sitting some CIMA exams meaning that you can qualify sooner – but that’s not all. Last year, we removed our exam exemption fees so no one will be put at a disadvantage for undertaking prior learning. With CIMA, everyone can build their dream career.

How will I receive my exam results?

This will depend on the type of exams you sat. Objective Tests are computer marked, so as soon as you have completed your exam you will receive a provisional result of either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. Your final result, scaled score and detailed feedback on your performance against the syllabus will be published on MyCIMA within 48 hours.

Case Study exams are human marked, so it will take about six to eight weeks for your final results to be published on MyCIMA after the close of the Case Study window. They will include a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade, a scaled score and detailed feedback on your performance against each core activity.

What do I need to look at to understand my exam results?

Your first instinct will probably be to focus on whether you have received a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade for your exam. This is, of course, important as it will give you an overview of your general performance, and whether you have met the required passing standards for a specific exam.

However, you need to dig a little deeper to get a full picture of your exam performance. For Objective Tests, you need to look at your performance in each content area and whether you received a grade of either ‘proficient’ or ‘not proficient’. This will give a clear indication of the areas you performed well in or need to improve on, this is particularly useful to know ahead of sitting your Case Study exam.

For Case Study exams, you need to look at the feedback you received for the performance descriptors for each core activity as outlined in the exam blueprints. This will help you identify areas where your performance was particularly strong, highlighting which skills you can build on for future exams, or where you have fallen short, highlighting areas that you need to study further.

What are scaled scores and why do you use them?

Over the years, our students have told us that they really like CIMA’s flexible structure and on-demand exams. Offering exams every single day of the year means that we must have multiple versions of each Objective Test and Case Study exam running simultaneously – this ensures greater flexibility and exam security.

We take great care when selecting questions for each exam version to ensure fairness, but minor differences in exam difficulty can remain. That’s why we needed to find a way to present exam results so that each student knows how they performed compared to others sitting at the same time whilst taking a different version of the exam.

Scaled scores are the industry standard approach to solving this problem. By using scaled scores we can ensure that you receive a score that gives a fair representation of how you performed in the exam – no matter which version of the exam you took.

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