Many students are coming to the end of their accounting technician qualification and thinking about moving on to a chartered accountancy qualification. Those in industry and management accountancy, who are thinking about the Chartered Institute of Management Accountancy (CIMA) path, need to know about the major changes being made to the CIMA syllabus starting from 1st January 2015.
Traditionally chartered accountancy exams have been 3 hours of hand written graft followed by a two month wait for results as exams are all human marked. CIMA has departed from this approach as most of its exams will, in future, be 90 minutes, undertaken on a computer, and with instant provisional results. Furthermore candidates will no longer have to wait for the bi-annual main exam sittings but can book exams on demand at a nearby centre.
Under the old syllabus there were 3 levels (imaginatively called levels 1, 2 & 3) of 3 exams each (Financial Accounting (F), Management Accounting and Performance (P) and Enterprise Strategy (E)). Each of these was three hours long (with 20 minutes pre-reading time) with answers handwritten – can anyone write for 3 hours non-stop these days without getting a sprained wrist and a dent in the finger? - and culminated in a final case study that tested in one place everything learned in the preceding 9 exams (T4). From 1st January 2015, the 3 exams (E, F & P) at each level (1, 2 & 3) broadly remain but will be 90 minutes long, comprise short form and multiple choice questions and computer marked there and then. They can be sat in a variety of locations near our main centres of Exeter and Plymouth.
What’s not to like, you may be thinking at this stage? Well now for the less good news. The breadth and depth of the knowledge required for each exam has not changed - students will have to know just as much. On top of that, the pass mark will rise from 50% to 70% to reflect the fact that it is generally easier to answer 1 and 2 mark short form and multiple choice questions than it is to construct an answer to a 25 mark question. Also two new 3 hour handwritten case studies have been slotted in at the end of the level 2 and 3 exams, presumably to maintain rigour in the qualification because they are perceived to enhance practical application of acquired knowledge. So instead of 9 exams and a case study, would be chartered management accountants must successfully negotiate 9 exams and 3 case studies.
CIMA have gone some way to updating the way its accountancy qualifications are examined and administered without, it will hope, appearing to have “dumbed down” the qualification in a way that would reduce its esteem with employers.
At Aplus training we have revamped our CIMA tutoring approach to take advantage of the new flexibilities. Students used to sit exams two at a time twice a year spending 8 days in the classroom in April and October – away from their offices often at their busiest times. We have established a programme, delivered by tutors with years of industry, practice and teaching experience in which students will sit exams one at a time on four separate occasions in the year studying with us in eight two day bursts dotted throughout. In this way it will still be possible to qualify in 3 years and, with pass rates in excess of 80%, Aplus are the right people to rely on to help get you there.