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”.

Visit for more answers.

Discuss your opinions about this Q&A session with other students on our CIMA forum page -


Astranti Financial Training.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Useful Memory Techniques! - Part One

Hi everyone,

It's a bit unfortunate that no matter how great you are at understanding theory, exams are also a test of memory. Some of us find this difficult and most of us spend hours trying to embed information in our heads. 

Over the years though there have been many studies and articles on how committing things to memory can be made easier and more efficient. Some of them are obvious and others a bit more creative. The key thing is to find the techniques that work best for you. 

In this blog I will cover four tips for improving your memory skills. In the next few weeks I will also cover more memory techniques. 

I hope you find them useful!

1. Mindmaps

Mindmaps are excellent revision tools. They are an interesting and creative way of remembering complex topics. The use of colour and imagery can help you group ideas and thoughts in a way that you can recall when the time comes. Use one of the many free online mindmap tools or simply create your own on a piece of paper. Here is just one of the great online mind mapping tools -

2. Mobile learning
Mobile learning can be very effective. Why not try different rooms in your home, the garden, the park or even on the bus? Research has shown that you remember more things when the places you study are varied. A new environment can help to clear your mind and therefore more knowledge can be absorbed. Also when trying to recall something it can help to associate it with the place you learnt it.

3. Speaking out loud

You may feel slightly embarrassed but speaking out loud instead of simply reading something helps you remember. Research suggests that your 50% more likely to remember something by saying it out loud. Give it a go and see if it works for you!

4. Teaching somebody else

A great way to remember what you have learned is to teach it to somebody else. This is a useful test to see if the information has actually been absorbed and also whether you have really understood it. All you need to do is find a willing partner!

In Monday's blog I will cover 4 more memory techniques!

Nick Best and the Astranti team