Take it one step at a time…

December 2023

Nasheen Wuisman outlines how you can progress through your CIMA studies by taking it just one small step at a time.

We often hear this from students: “The last set of exams was a real challenge, and the next ones are harder. Am I up to this?”
This is a genuine question that you might worry over once you have completed one level of your CGMA professional qualification and are moving onto the next.

The answer is, yes, it is a jump up and yes there is new technical content and the skills required are more advanced. But you are up to it!
The important thing to remember is that once you have gone through the hard work that you have done to complete your current level or exam you are already more skilled and have more technical knowledge than you probably realise.

The good news is that progress is gradual.

Each level you work your way through builds on the last, enhances what you have already gained and smoothly takes you to the next level.
As with every subject you come across in your CGMA qualification there will be a balance.

There will be some topics that you are able to breeze your way through and others where more time is needed to understand and absorb.
Knowing this is the case helps you start your next level with the awareness that you are moving up but it is not all going to be out of reach.

Operational level

Whether you have completed the Certificate in Business Accounting or have received exemptions from your prior studies, chances are you will have found this level challenging. Is it after all your first attempt at professional CGMA exams. The learning curve is a steep but a very worthwhile one.

You have learnt how your Objective Test question exams work and the skills you need to be able to succeed in them. You have climatised to the balance of theory and numerical content between the different streams and you will even have found out which subjects you like and which you do not.

You may have already seen how some technical content fits into either your day job or allows you to understand the business world around you. Your Case Study preparations will have made you more aware of short-term decision making and how to turn them into actionable plans. There are key skills you will have had to learn for this exam, too.

Operational to management level

As you move up to this next level your focus goes further into the future, looking at long- term decisions and the medium-term plans that would allow for them. You will move onto understanding data more and using this data to manage performance and report on it. You will also take your financial accounting focus further on the preparation and interpretation of financial statements to highlight business performance.
These areas build on everything learnt at the Operational level and assumes you have a higher level of responsibility in a work situation when presented with the Case Study scenario.

Management to Strategic Level

In your third and final level of the CGMA Professional Qualification the focus now shifts to a more strategic approach to long term decision making. This includes designing business strategy, evaluating and manging risks and developing knowledge on sourcing financial resources required to implement strategy.

Here you are being prepared to take on the role of a key member of an organisation – being promoted from your position in the Management Level Case Study.

One step at a time

To help make your study journey smooth and manageable, bear in mind the following:

Make sure you do not rush through a level. A sound knowledge of any subject that will then be assumed knowledge in the next level goes a long way.

If a topic/skill feels a struggle, try to get the support you need sooner rather than later – the CGMA Study Hub has many resources to help. Practise is key – be it questions, skills for Case Study exams or time management. Give yourself the opportunity to develop these as much as you can.

As you get further into your journey you will need to devote more time to study. Just remember it is worth it, as it will lead to succeeding in your chosen path.

Finally, you know you have the application to succeed because you have already demonstrated it to get as far as you have in your studies and your career.

  • Nasheen Wuisman, Senior Manager of Global Academic Progression at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants