With the titles of Management Accounting and Advanced Management Accounting for CIMA P1 and P2, you would think that these two subjects would be the easiest in the CIMA qualification, given that it is a management accounting qualification.
But the pass rates disagree. These subjects are a real problem for some students – pass rates for both hover around 50%. With the 2019 exams launching in just two months, here are some tips on how to be well prepared for the exams, and to give you every chance of success.
Read the question
You need to make sure you read the question. I would suggest you read the question before even reading any scenario or addition detail you might be given. If you take this approach you will know what the question is asking, and can then read the scenario and approach the calculations knowing what is being asked.
Answer the question
Any students who know me know that I talk a lot about this. When doing complicated questions that require a bit of thought I would always give steps to go through, one of them being always answer the question asked. Be careful not to make assumptions about the question. Read it carefully, even jot down a few key words on the note sheets you are provided with in the exam.
Watch the time
It still surprises me the number of students that go into the exam without having sat a mock exam, let alone a full exam standard mock under time and exam conditions. The key to this exam is practise, practise, practise. I get much feedback about time pressure, yet very few students attempt all of the question practice given to them. It’s essential you get a feel for the time you have available, and how you are going to use it to ensure you are thoroughly prepared for the exam day.
Build your confidence
You have 90 minutes to answer 60 questions, meaning an average of 90 seconds per question. Some questions will take a few seconds and others will require more detailed workings, thoughts or calculations, and take longer than 90 seconds. Try to get the easy marks early on and come back to the more detailed calculations later when you have built your confidence.
Use flagging system
In all, CIMA objective test exams you are provided with the opportunity to flag questions. If on a first read of the exam you find a question is going to take you a long time, then flag it to come back to later. These flagged questions will appear on the review screen just before you finish the exam, although you can view this at any time by using the navigation screen at the bottom right of the screen.
Don’t leave anything blank
There is no negative marking in CIMA exams so there is no point leaving anything blank. If you get to the end of the exam and have a few minutes to spare go back to any unanswered questions and, if you really have to, have a guess at the answer. You can use the flagging system in the exam to mark any questions that require more thought as mentioned previously.
Expect questions on the theory
The exams do include theory as well as calculations, which students seem to be surprised about. Remember that being an accountant isn’t just about calculations. You need to make sure you understand the theories as well as being able to calculate answers.
Look for shortcuts
I love thinking about ways to remember formulas and different approaches to answer questions. Totally random acronyms that don’t mean anything apart from in the context of P1 or P2. SIAM is one of my favourites, and it could mean the difference between getting a question wrong or right by applying the logic below.
For those who haven’t a clue what SIAM means, it is in the context of reconciling profits between absorption and marginal costing. For reference, Stocks Increasing Absorption More (SIAM) means that when closing inventory is bigger than opening inventory, you have more profit.
Develop a formula sheet
CIMA provides you with a very basic formula sheet in the exam, but you actually need to know lots more formulas to be successful in the exam.
I would strongly advise that you develop your own, more detailed formula sheet for all of the new formulas or the assumed ones that you should and perhaps don’t know. Although you won’t be able to take it into the exam it serves two purposes. Firstly, writing things down really does help to get things in your brain and, secondly, it provides a handy revision aid.
Brush up on your maths
Accounting, ultimately, is numbers and numbers are maths. So you do need to be able to do maths. Being able to rearrange equations, understanding the rules of double negatives and simple algebra is essential in these exams.
Although you may not have looked at this sort of maths since you were 16 years old at school, you do need to be prepared for some maths in these exams. If you are struggling with some of these concepts see if there is anything online via a search engine; YouTube has lots of resources on this.
Make sure you can use your calculator
You will need to be able to use basic functionality on your calculator and you will definitely need a scientific calculator. In P2, you will need to be able to do basic discounting and compounding that is almost impossible to do without a scientific calculator. Being able to use your calculator quickly will also save time.
For further, more detailed tips, a walk through of some exam questions on key topics and a chance to ask questions register for our free webinar on Thursday19 September at 5pm. To register type this link into your browser – https://tinyurl.com/y6cmht96
Remember, the 2019 syllabus is examinable from 4 November, with the final 2015 syllabus exams taking place on 3 November. Although the syllabus changes for P1 and P2 are fairly minor you will still have some additional study to complete if you have studied under the 2015 syllabus and plan (or have) to sit the exam under the 2019 syllabus. Save yourself some extra work and get your exam booked and ideally passed before the end of October.
• Rebecca Evans is Head of Product Management at Kaplan Financial