Friday, 18 December 2015

Tips for Effective Industry Research

Today I came across an old article from one of our many esteemed affiliates, Matthew Evans. The article is centred around 5 tips for the best approach to take when analysing the case study industry.

Although the article relates specifically to the old T4 exam, the principles remain the same for the SCS. The industry analysis is an important part of the case studies now, with recent examiner's reports referring directly to the proper use of industry analysis within the exams. Although the company is at the centre of the case study, with a little bit of industry information provided alongside this, the examiners have highlighted the importance of not simply reciting the information found in the case study. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Three themes to come out of the recent SCS survey - Get a head start for the February exam!


We recently sent out a CV to Strategic Case Study November students asking them to share their experiences of the SCS exam - SCS Experience Survey 

Thanks to everyone that took to time to complete the survey, we've had a great response.

It appears that there are three key themes emerging from your feedback.

Many students said that their exam experience went reasonably well but there were also a number of challenges identified which is very useful learning for future students.

So, here are the three main themes to come out of the survey:

1. Identifying the requirements

Friday, 11 December 2015

Ethical Thinking - Corporate Social Responsibility

In recent years organisations have put tremendous amounts of time, money and effort into ensuring that their corporate image and reputations are better than they have ever been! 

However, as onlookers it can be hard to distinguish between those who do this simply to appear as socially responsible as possible to potential investors, customers or the general public, and between those who genuinely believe that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important, ethical and moral part of their organisational culture, and something that they truly believe in.

"Corporate social responsibility is about how the company acts towards the community and environment in which it operates. CSR focuses on ethical business management through ways that improve and protect the environment and social relations and supply a positive public image."

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

2015 - The Final Push!

For many of us the last 11 months have brought with them a whole plethora of highs, lows, triumphs and obstacles. Where some have seen the year as  roaring success, others may be counting down the days until it is over and a new page can be written.

It is to those people that I would like to target now, the ones who perhaps haven't achieved what they wanted to achieve since the clock ticked over to introduce 2015!

Whether you are trying to finish your objective test that has been haunting you since February, or whether you are waiting for the turnaround in the new year and the latest case study exam, I have one tip for you...

Why not finish with a bang?! 

Friday, 13 November 2015

The problem with self-actualisation

Motivation Theory is something that, by now, we are all familiar with, and perhaps one of the most recognisable theories to date, often being the first one mentioned when the concept of motivational theory is raised, is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

To recap the theory briefly, Abraham Maslow suggested that there are five tiers of motivation; physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation, with each one superseding the previous factor, until you reach self-actualisation, where all of an individual’s motivational needs are met and hence, this is when they have reached the top and have become the “best that they can be”.

Monday, 2 November 2015

How to plan your revision (around your life!)

Revision is inherently not meant to be enjoyable. At the same time, we all need to do it at some point or another and we can’t put it off for ever.
With the latest set of case study exams just around the corner for operational, management and strategic case study students, it is currently crunch time when it comes to swotting up on everything you need to know!

Having spoken to many students in the past regarding all levels of exams, as well as during the lead up to these particular ones, I have had a number of questions concerning how best to approach the exam and revision process in general. Although it can be different for every student individually, one common theme I have gathered from listening to these students is that the revision is not the only thing that they have had to think about during the last few weeks.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Q + A session with two Astranti course student - ranked joint eighth place in the world for the August Strategic Case Study sitting

Q + A session with Daisy McElhinney - ranked eighth place in the world for the August Strategic Case Study sitting, scoring a brilliant 122 out of 150 marks available.

What was the key to your success?

Allowing myself enough time to learn the case material thoroughly.

What revision techniques proved most effective for you?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Q + A session with Daniel Scarbro - ranked first place in the world for the August Strategic Case Study sitting.

Q + A session with Daniel Scarbro - ranked first place in the world for the August Strategic Case Study sitting, scoring a brilliant 134 out of 150 marks available.

What was the key to your success?

For the SCS exam I realised that getting my approach to the exam right was more important than revising the theory which is tested within the strategic objective tests. The Astranti videos covered time management and question planning which are crucial to a good exam technique. The more focused and efficient your answers are, the more points you'll have time to make.

What revision techniques proved most effective for you?

Top tips from the CIMA Case Study markers!

Top tips from the CIMA Case Study markers!

At the recent CIMA conference there were a number of presentations by CIMA markers and case study writers. 

They gave invaluable insights into what they are looking for in the exams – and in particular they highlighted the areas where many students fall short.

This is excellent feedback for students as it 'comes straight from the horses mouth'! They have produced and marked many exams so know exactly what they are talking about!

There feedback reinforces the fact that many students are still getting the basics wrong and how with good preparation and planning many more students could be achieving passes.

Here are their top 10 tips to help you succeed:

1. Plan your answers – don’t launch straight into your answer, think about the key points you want to raise and how your going to structure it before you begin writing.

CIMA News - what you need to know! Introduction to scaled scoring for the OTs + personal calculators permitted

Hi Everyone,

A couple of interesting points were raised at the CIMA conference that we thought we would share with you.

Firstly, CIMA announced the introduction of the 'scaled score' for the Objective Test exams.

From November 1st 2015, Objective Test results will include:
  1. Grade (pass or fail)
  2. Sectional Performance Feedback
  3. Scaled Score
Why scaled scores?

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Strategic Results Overview 2015

A number of interesting facts and statistics were presented at the 2015 CIMA conference last week.

The conference was attended by key people from CIMA and tuition providers including members of the Astranti team.

We would like to share with you some of the key points raised at the conference.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Mock Exams – Key points from our August student survey

A lot of you will be starting off your revision for the latest set of exams, but perhaps you may be a bit unsure of how to progress and get the most out of your time leading up to the big day. To give you some inspiration, I have assembled a few results from our recent Mock Exam student survey that may be of some interest to you if you are stuck for ideas.

In a recent student survey from August, we asked our students what they felt were the most important factors in helping them pass their exams. One of the common themes among our survey results was the inclusion of mock exams.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Eat, Drink, (Study), Sleep, Repeat!

We all have our own little ways when it comes to exam preparation, and for some of us these techniques have proven to be successful over and over again. Whether that involves religiously scrolling through mountains and mountains of revision notes right up until the exam itself, or whether it’s making sure that we have our lucky exam socks on that haven’t been washed since the miracle success in the chemistry exam of ’98!

However, for the vast amount of us, we still haven’t quite worked out a routine which works best for us individually when it comes to exam preparation. We may have all of the knowledge around the theory that we need, but by the time the exam comes around the corner, and the questions are in front of us, our minds just go blank…

For this reason, I’ve compiled a short set of tips for people who may be unsure of how to physically prepare during the last few days leading up to the exam.

Number 1: Brain Food.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

CIMA E3 - Big Data

There are many challenging E3 topics that you will need to understand in order to successfully pass your E3 exam. For example, Big Data is a subject which many students find difficult to grasp at first!

At Astranti we aim to make difficult subjects easy to understand. All of our materials are designed to ensure that our students are given in-depth knowledge of all the key subjects, but in a format that allows you to learn easily and effectively. 

As an example we'd like to share with you a new and updated section of our E3 Study Text which explains Dig Data in a straight forward and clear way. 

Big data and it's uses

Big data is a term used to describe sets of data so large that they simply cannot be analysed and interpreted by standard reporting facilities. The value of big data is that it allows you to draw from an enormous amount of different data as opposed to having many separate sets. As a result it can be possible to identify unusual business trends and correlations that would otherwise be impossible to spot.
Big data has the potential for almost universal application; here are some examples of big data being implemented in the real world:
  • Used by some hospitals to monitor patient details and the treatment sought, meaning they can assess the likelihood of readmission and if high make sure the issue is resolved there and then thus saving time and money further down the line.
  • Consumer goods companies monitoring facebook/twitter and as a result gaining key and an uninhibited insight into consumer behaviour which they then use in their marketing campaigns.
  • Governments can use them to measure crime rates as big data allows the inclusion of many other factors which in theory can help determine why crime rates are increasing/decreasing rather than just the fact that they are.

Gartner's Three Vs

In a 2001 research report Gartner outlined three key challenges faces organisations with their data. These three elements are:
Volume - increasing volumes of data mean there is a lot more to manage and it is harder to extract key information from it
Velocity – there is an increasing speed of data in and out, which means data can quickly change. This means that information analysis needs to be quick to spot and react to the latest change.
Variety – the range of data types and sources of data can be varied making analysis difficult. e.g. data in different IT systems in an organisation being hard to bring together to analyse linkages.
Gartner then came up with a formal definition of big data related to these 3Vs which is:

Big data is high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimisation.

The seven stages of the big data process

The seven key stages and challenges that make up the big data process are as follows:
Capture – What kind of data is needed and how is going to be captured. This is usually an indirect source (rather than manual data input), a prime example would be the barcode reader in a retail outlet.
Storage – As you might expect, the amount of data we are talking about cannot be simply saved on a laptop hard drive. Big data sets can require physical systems that take up entire rooms or even buildings. In addition to the sheer size needed both physically and memory-wise you will need to make sure the systems are adequately protected as you may have access to private customer information.
Curation – Once the data has been captured it then must be organised, controlled after and maintained in a way that allows it to be usable and re-usable, an on-going, day to day upkeep of the data in effect. This may involve the way it is structured on the system to enable it to be analysed.
Analysis – The process of interpreting the data, millions of bits of info means nothing unless you can use to help answer questions/illustrate results etc. This could be the ability to separate the data out by date, product, customer or make linkages between different types of data e.g. sales made by customer group at different times of the year.
Visualisation – The data which is analysed needs to be illustrated in a clear and digestible format so that it can be used to make decisions. This may take the form of graphs or condensed simple tables.
Search – When you have as much data as a big data system can compile you must find a way to search across the vast data landscape to find the info you want. An example of a search system would be google; which can accurately search through billions of web pages based on a few key search terms. Each 'big data' system needs it's own 'google' type search system to access the relevant data and help users access relevant information.
Data Sharing and Transfer – Data must be shared with those who need it so that relevant people can access the information produced and indeed relevant information is proactively sent to the people who can best use the information gained.
Big data as a strategic resource

Big data is increasingly becoming of strategic importance. As an example, retailers that understand their customers and their needs better by analysing big data are able to produce better products, target marketing campaigns better and price products in a way that attracts more custom based on past buying patterns. Together this can provide firms who use Big Data effectively a competitive advantage.

Astranti Financial Training. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

CIMA official pass rates - F3 has the lowest pass rates at Strategic level

Hi everyone,

As you are probably aware, yesterday CIMA published the pass rates for the Objective Test exams. These statistics are based on students who have attempted the exams between January and May 2015. 

Here are the key points to take from yesterday's pass rates:

  • The performance pillar is achieving the lowest pass rates with only 54% of students passing P1, 57% passing P2 and P3
  • The enterprise pillar is achieving the best pass rates overall. 83% of students passing E1, 91% passing E2 and 71% passing E3 
  • P1 has the lowest pass rates at Operational level
  • P2 has the lowest pass rates at Management level
  • F3 has the lowest pass rates at Strategic level
  • Overall the F1 and P3 exams have the lowest pass rates
  • Overall the E2 has the highest pass rate
  • In more than half of the objective test subjects less than 50% of students are passing first time

Although the exam style and format has changed for these subjects, it is interesting to compare the pass rates from last year to this year. As you can see from the table above the pass rates have generally been a lot higher since the implementation of the objective test exams

Astranti Financial Training 

Friday, 12 June 2015

The secret to passing the CIMA OT exams revealed

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to those of you that completed our survey to find out - What does it take to pass an Objective Test exam?
So far we've had a great response with over 60 students taking part!

We've received responses from students who've passed and failed exams across all CIMA subjects, This means we have good range on which to base our findings.

These findings should definitely help you in your upcoming exams and will surely be beneficial to future students.
Here is an overview of the key points:

The secret to passing is...

Putting in the hours!
We were able to break down the exam pass rate by hours of study and the results were clear.
Hours of studyNumber of PassesNumber of Fails
Less than 404041
  • Students that studied for between 40-60 hours had a pass rate* of 69%
  • Students that studied for less than 40 hours had a pass rate of 49%
If you want to increase your chances of success, you should aim to study for 4-6 weeks and put in 10+ hours each week.
*Pass rate= number of passes/total number of attempts

The toughest exam is...
  • Based on the survey, students are failing P3 and F3 on more than one occasion before they pass.
  • So far P3 had the highest failure rate in our survey proving to be the toughest exam.
  • Now that CIMA have changed the pass mark, I would hope that the pass rate in these exams falls into line with the others!
What materials should I be using?
  • Study Texts, Mock Exams and Revision Questions were the most popular study materials used by students, with a majority of respondents finding them 'useful' or 'extremely useful'.
  • Everybody (that's 100%!) who had passed an exam had used Study Texts as part of their revision and 95% had completed Mock Exams.
  • 80% of those people who have used Mock Exams had completed 3 or more.
  • More than three quarters of students who had passed exams had used Revision/Practice Questions.
  • A combination of study texts, revision questions and mock exams was seen by students as the most useful revision materials.
  • By contrast, the use of these materials was much lower for students who failed exams. More than half of the students who had failed, did not use revision/practice questions as part of their preparation for the exams.
Lastly, we were pleased to see that every student in the survey that used our Astranti materials had passed their exams.

You can still take part in the survey by going to the following link. It's totally anonymous and will only take a few minutes - What does it take to pass an Objective Test exam?

Astranti Financial Training.

Friday, 5 June 2015

28.6% find SCS exam harder than expected - see the results of our survey

Hi everyone, 

We recently asked our students to complete a survey based on their experience of their recent Strategic Case Study Exam. 

We've been looking at the fascinating feedback very carefully and here is a summary of the key points:

54.8% of respondents found the difficulty of the exam to be 'as expected', with 28.6% finding it 'more difficult'.

Students commented that that there weren't any big surprises in the exam and the questions were fair in comparison to what they anticipated.

Some students commented that their writing approach and structuring of answers went well in the exam, with many saying that the Astranti study text was helpful in these areas.

They also felt they did well in applying the pre-seen into their answers which is a good sign!

Time management was stated as an issue by many students, emphasising the need for mock practise.

Other comments indicated that many students found they had a good understanding of the theory but found it difficult to apply the models within specific questions.

Almost 50% of students concluded that they should have spent more time on mock exams.

36.8% said they would revise LESS theory

Here are 5 tips from the survey for future students:
  1. Become an expert on time management
  2. Complete as many mock exams as you can
  3. Understand the pre-seen and industry in-depth
  4. Don't put too much time into the study of theory (but do enough so you are competent!)
  5. Make sure you answer the question!
We hope you've found this information useful.

If you've took your strategic Case Study exam and you've yet completed the survey we would love to hear from you - SCS Survey 

Astranti Financial Training.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Important - CIMA Release Announcement about the P3 and F3 Exam - Pass mark lowered

Hi Everyone,

An important announcement came has been released by CIMA today. 

The pass marks for the CIMA P3 and F3 objective tests have been lowered.

If you have taken either the P3 or F3 exams since January 2015 and failed, your exam will be re-marked and could possibly be awarded a pass. 

The official advice from CIMA is:
•If you have completed a course of study in P3 or F3 and have developed a strong understanding of the learning outcomes, you should schedule an exam as soon as possible (after 3rd June for F3)
•If you have had one or more fail attempts at P3 or F3, you should not schedule a retake but should wait until 11th June when CIMA will be back in touch with details of your individual situation.
•If you have any further questions on this matter, please contact your CIMA Learning Business Partner.

Read the full statement below:

'Dear Student

Thank you for having recently taken our F3 and/or P3 exam(s). These exams are not designed to be easy. We know just how hard you have worked to get this far and recognise that the time and effort of taking the exams is considerable.

A number of you have expressed concerns. We are grateful for the feedback and are committed to addressing it as quickly as possible. We recognise the difficulties that have arisen for some of you.

I am writing to explain the current situation and to let you know that we will be able to confirm your own position on 11th June 2015.  For some who have failed, this will mean that you will be told you have passed, as we go on to explain.

Our recently launched computer-based objective tests have been widely welcomed as an important innovation enabling immediate results. The change in the exam method which meant that results could be immediately given on-line from January 2015 necessarily relied on predicted scores. Now that we have enough data to analyse actual performance, we know that, in two of the nine subject exams, pass marks were higher than they needed to be to demonstrate competence.

We have decided that we should, and will, change the pass mark for the P3 and F3 exams. We will apply these changes both retrospectively and to future exams.

This means, that following the review which is underway:

- Students who have failed either exam one or multiple times will have their exams reviewed and may receive a pass.
 - Students who have failed one or multiple times and subsequently passed, will have their earlier fails reviewed to establish whether they would have passed earlier.
 - Students who have taken the exam and passed first time retain their pass. No pass will be changed to a fail.
 - The pass mark for the P3 exam has been changed.
 - The pass mark for the F3 exam will be changed by 3rd June 2015 and any sat beforehand will be subject to the review.

It is important the review process is fair, comprehensive and robust for each student concerned. Once it is complete, we will contact you on 11th June 2015 with your outcome and to explain the next steps.

CIMA staff will be unable to confirm any student’s individual position before 11th June, so please be patient with us for a little longer.

We recognise and are grateful to you for being one of the first students to take these new exams.  Given the gap between the actual pass marks and those needed to demonstrate competence I am sorry that we were not clearer in managing your expectations and setting out the basis on which results might be reviewed, and if necessary, changed.

Whilst this is by no means unique to CIMA – as you may be aware from coverage of similar issues reported by many other exam boards – I do recognise that this has had some significant impacts depending on individual circumstances for you and fellow students who were the first to take these exams.

We are committed to working with you to ensure that you are in the best possible position to succeed in your studies – and will review your own situation with you once your results are confirmed on 11th June.

You have my personal commitment that we will do right by you on your journey with CIMA.

Yours sincerely,

Noel Tagoe
 Executive Director, CIMA Education'

Key points to note

- If you have already passed P3, then these changes do not affect you, you have still passed.
 - If you have failed P3 and have already scheduled to sit the exam again before the 11th June, then we would advise that you postpone the exam until we have spoken to you individually. If you are scheduled to sit P3 or F3 in the next 48 hours, our recommendation is for you not to attend. We will eliminate the no show from your record and credit you the cost of the exam.

Does this affect you?

Do you think CIMA have take the correct course of action?

Please leave comments on our new CIMAforum

Nick Best and the Astranti Team

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Advice on days leading up to the SCS exam and the exam day itself


The week's finally here! With the Strategic Case Study Analysis exams taking place this week, we thought it would be a good idea to offer you some useful advice on the days leading up to the exam and the exam day itself. This may also be useful to those of you taking your Strategic Objective Tests soon. 

Here are 8 tips for the next few days:

1)  Check that you are familiar with the exam location
It's worth checking the location of your exam centre in advance so that you can
get an idea of how long it will take you to travel there. You may need to take 
traffic or weather conditions into consideration. If you are driving to your exam
it is often beneficial to check the parking situation and even have a trial run 
at the same time of day. Directions and maps to all Pearson Exam Centres 
can be found on their website.

2)  Check the day and time of your exam
It’s likely that you booked your CIMA exam a few months back, so it is highly recommended that you check your emails to ensure you have got this right. It may seem obvious but it’s definitely worth double checking!

   3)  Wake up early – give yourself plenty of time
If you have a morning exam, wake up early and give yourself plenty of time 
to avoid being in a rush. Being stressed over being late is not ideal before 
an exam. Remember you need to turn up 15 minutes before your exam 
time to complete the check in procedures.

4)  Check that you have everything you need
             You are required to present two forms of identification on the day of the exam.     Check the Pearson Vue website for more details.

        5)  Only skim through your notes the night before the exam
It is recommended that students do not attempt to learn any new 
information on the night before the exam. By this stage you probably
will have learnt everything you possibly can.  It is also recommend that you
do not do any revision on the morning of the exam. By this point it’s too
late to learn a lot of new content and can just cause you to panic and stress.

6)  Have a relaxing evening the night before your exam
Do not spend your evening revising. Relax, wind down and ensure that you get a good night’s sleep. At least 8 hours sleep is recommended.

7)  Avoid contact with other students
Discussing the exam with other students on the days leading up to the exam
can sometimes create anxiety and panic. People often start to worry that the 
others have done more work than themselves – which is mostly not the case!

8)  Remember being nervous is OK!
Most people get nervous before exams. Remember that this can be a positive thing. It creates an adrenaline rush and can often bring out the best in people. Remember, you’ve spent a long time revising for this exam and you ARE prepared!

Good luck from the team at Astranti. Remember we have a wide range of Strategic Case Studies materials on our website for any last minute revision - and there is 25% off!

Best wishes,

Nick Best and the Astranti team
Astranti Financial Training

Monday, 11 May 2015

Useful Memory Techniques! - Part Two


Further to Friday's blog post on memory techniques, here are four more tips for you to use in your revision. 

Remember it's not just about knowing the content, the key to being successful in exams is to be able to recall it in a structured way. 

Everybody learns in different ways so find the techniques that best fit with your own style. 

5. Reinventing your notes

By reinventing your notes in different formats you may find that you are able to retain them better in your memory. So rather than re-reading your notes time and time again, consider re-writing them occasionally. This refreshes your memory and also makes you think about what you are writing and what it's about. This could be key to passing the exam.

6. Choose an easy for read font!

When revising for an exam it is recommended that your revision notes are in Times New Roman. This font is considered one of the easiest to read and as a result of this it will make it much easier for you to learn and memorise your revision notes!

If your notes are clearly written and easy on the eye then it will really help when it comes to trying to remember the content. 

7. Chunking information

Have you heard of the term 'chunking'? By dividing large amounts of information into smaller chunks an individual can remember a lot more detail. This is achieved through focusing on memorising those chunks as individual pieces. It's then relatively easy to bring the individual parts together. 

A great example is how an eleven digit telephone number is often broken down into three chunks. People remember the area code and then break down the remaining digits into two pieces. This chunking of telephone numbers is done without even recognising that it's 'chunking'!

8. Use Flashcards

Flash cards are an effective way of summarising important parts of your revision notes such as key definitions and formulas. Not only does it contain the vital information, the appearance of the flashcard can also help you to remember the content in an exam situation. There are many flashcard creators on-line for you to try out- why don't you take a look and see what's out there?!

Look out for our next four memory tips over the next week. 

Nick Best and the Astranti team

Astranti Financial Training.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Key points from the CIMA Q&A session hosted by the head of Learning and Development at CIMA, Peter Stewart

Key points from the CIMA UK Facebook Q&A session hosted by the head of Learning and Development at CIMA, Peter Stewart on Wednesday 6th May 2015.

Here are some answers from Peter Stewart in response to student questions raised on Facebook.

Interesting details on the pass mark for Objective Tests

“We released an indicative pass mark of 70% for Objective Tests last year. This represents the standard required to pass, however the way in which we assess students in objective tests means we can't issue percentage scores. A raw score is produced, but due to objective tests drawing on a range of questions from a question bank, we cannot compare student performance from exam to exam. To determine whether a student has passed or failed, an industry standard psychometric method called Anghof has been used to identify the minimum boundary required by a student to demonstrate competence in each question and syllabus topic area. Once a sufficient number of exams have been sat across all nine objective tests we will be in a position to start issuing scaled scores as we currently do for Case Study exams”.

Information on pass rates

“Detailed pass rates will be available as soon as we can produce statistically valid figures (weeks rather than months). The case study results went out recently (including a 62% UK rate at the Strategic Level) and they suggest to me that that area of assessment hasn't made life harder for candidates. For the majority of the OTQ exams, it currently looks like the pass rates are at or above what you would have expected throughout the 2010 syllabus”.

Comments regarding the review of F3 and P3

“Performance in the F3 tests is being analysed with the intention of being able to feed back to students & tutors with guidance on how to improve chances of passing. We've had no indication that there is a fault in the test and, therefore, no plans to "re-write”.

“Please don't read the "review" as being an expectation that the exam is somehow faulty and we need to make changes. We have statistical data on the performance of all questions across the exams and are analysing that to identify the syllabus areas that need attention”.

Useful advice on Time Management in OT exams

“There's always been time pressure in exams. I guess it feels a bit different when you can see that there's a clock ticking and a specific number of questions to complete. Don't work on an assumption that EACH question takes 1.5 mins. Some will take less than that, others will require longer. It's part of the process of setting what we call a "balanced" test and the mix of question styles is taken into account when achieving that balance. I've described a "3 sweep" approach to going through the exams. First - the quick and straightforward questions; Second (using the review screen after Q60) - the questions where you know that you know how to answer but need calculations or a bit of thinking time; lastly (again on the review screen of incomplete questions) the lengthier and more involved ones”.

Reasons for the exams being computerised

“We have taken a well regarded approach in the sector by using computer based assessments. Our exams are able to assess 100% of syllabus content in each subject as opposed to approximately 70% under the paper-based model prior to 2015. This ensures that the qualification you're studying is rigorous and produces competent and skilled CGMAs based on the needs of businesses”.

Answer to a student’s concerns over method marks not being given in new style of exams.

“I'll start with the 'Devil's advocate' answer. If you had to provide an analysis to your boss that was full of errors, do you think you'd get credit for 'method used'? OTQs have developed over the years to become an accepted (and expected) method of assessment in some very high-stakes exam. The variety of questions makes it highly unlikely that someone will get through on guesswork and the specifically objective nature of them means that you'll get through if you really know your stuff. No single question is worth enough marks that it, alone, makes the difference to passing or failing. We've set the pass mark at the 70% level to allow for this calculation errors etc, that you mention. We've also got the case studies which you allow you to demonstrate how you apply your knowledge in a work-based scenario”.

Response to those students that are considering moving to the ACCA qualification

“I'd be naturally disappointed. I don't think people should seek a professional qualification based upon how easy it is to obtain (which weakens the value of the qualification) but upon the employment opportunities that the qualification gives you”.

Information on the marks awarded on ‘tick all that apply’ questions

“There are about 6 different styles of OT question; "Tick all that apply" is one and is used more towards the upper levels of the syllabus. It aims to test the completeness of your knowledge/application and so the score is only awarded for a perfect match”.

Reasons for CIMA’s decision to not give students detailed feedback after their exam.

“The old system had all students taking the same exam and so you could compare scores with one another and discuss with your tutor. The fact that you all have slightly different sets of questions makes that comparison misleading. We indicate syllabus areas that need more attention than others. We can't drill into that with more detail for a few reasons (I'll come back to if time allows) but do expect that a student can reflect on that feedback and assess whether your own learning led you to a position where you were confident (and so failed with a couple of wrong questions) or if it's an area that you really didn't get to grips with - in which case you, yourself, know that the questions were beyond you”.

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