CIMA students are tested by means of objective test questions and case study exams throughout Certificate, Operational, Management and Strategic levels. This made me write this article to show you what are the different study methods that are available for you - CIMA students to successfully pass these challenging exams.
CIMA is a globally recognised professional qualification body with students spread across different continents across the globe. Students are tested on different skills and competencies.
There are three main modes you can select (or any combination of those, because let’s face the facts, we usually have better results when we mix things up a bit). I believe this is a good time to refer to my previous article on what is your preferred learning style. Just keep in mind to we are constantly searching for a better study technique, because quite often what worked on us before, may not bring the same results in the future – we evolve, our habits or even learning preferences. The best way to find to keep on top of your game is to experiment.
Studying with the tuition provider, online learning systems and self-study are the three main study modes. The selection of study mode solely depends on student’s circumstances, perceptions, attitude, cost and conveniences.
1. Studying with the tuition provider
Studying face to face in a conventional classroom is the traditionally accepted and the most preferred study method by students. CIMA Global Learning Scheme provides assistance to students to find award winning tuition providers closest to their location via the CIMA website. Conventional classroom study mode would provide students with pool of experienced tutors, practical learning methods and ongoing support. Further, tutors would provide detailed guidance and proactive support by means of lectures, discussions and required study materials. Students could select full time, part time, full course, or revision courses based on their needs and objectives.
However, finding the right tuition provider and the tutor to suit the student’s needs is far challenging. Upon finding the right teacher, students still find it difficult to continually follow up with the course sessions due to busy schedules. Further, ‘one size fits all’ notion in the class room setup is not amicable amongst all the students due to the uniform approach implemented by the tutors across a diverse student base. The course fees for CIMA classes are worryingly high.
2. Online learning methods for self-studying
An interesting alternative to a classroom training is an online/distance learning/e-learning. The options are unlimited! You can chose just the study notes, or full HD videos where the full material is covered, or just the revision course, or maybe you need more (and are willing to pay more) to get on a live classroom (virtual classes). That last one is a bit cheaper and perhaps more convenient way to learn all the syllabus and also get the pressure and structure to your CIMA studies.
Students could study where ever they are at the most comfortable learning environment. They also get the opportunity to plan their study time according to their schedules and when their energy is at peak. Learning at one’s own pace would increase concentration in turn would increase success rates. Further, this would help the student to balance work, family and educational commitments with ease through prioritization and sequencing strategies. This method would also enable the student to spend varying time on each subject/chapter based on his/her absorbing capacity.
As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of online on-demand studies, where you can schedule lessons at your convenience. How would you otherwise be able to fit the full time work, family, significant other, perhaps kids? This is also a cost effective method, as you do not need to worry about any expenses involved with attending online classes. You pay your tuition one time and that’s it. The course fees for online classes are much cheaper comparative to conventional tuition classes. Furthermore, in an online learning system students can learn at their pace, they need not wait till the entire class catchup a lesson which can be glossed quickly. Students get individual attention too which is merely absent in a conventional setup. Students get the opportunity to swap between tutors and opt for the best tutor to suit their learning preferences. Online system enables the students to connect from any geographic location and support services will be available across 24 hours, 7 days a week.
However virtual learning system has many disadvantages. Not all the websites that are available, are reliable. While choosing your provider, have a look at their opinion online, check their social following and see what people say about them.
This is where Practice Tests Academy fits in. As of now we do not offer full courses, we only offer an additional learning aid in a form of online practice tests, which are far more effective than simply going through a practice kit physical book. I’m sorry that I may sound bias here, but how much added value is in solving your revision questions from a book and then sitting a real exam and failing it as you were just not used to the exam format? I failed my first exam under the 2015 syllabus just because of that, I’ve done all the Kaplan and BPP practice kits but that didn’t guarantee my success. But I didn’t have a choice back then, you do. Now there are more providers on online practice tests s you can choose whoever you like and whoever provides a solution that is safe for you.
I’ve been thinking about this safety feature and I’m happy to say that we are introducing a money back guarantee, with conditions of course. Students are sometimes afraid that they buy a product online and then the quality is not there. I am certain of PTA’s quality, so I offer 7 days full refund, but only if you try the testing software, you answer few questions and you just don’t find it appealing. Well, we are all different, so no solution will fit everyone.
3. Self-study (with a book)
Self-study is also a convenient way to study. You get the liberty to study according to your needs.
Nowadays everything is mixed. Also the understanding of self-study. Old-fashioned CIMA self-study was associated with a study book, a practice kit and a biiiig dose of motivation. I passed most of my exams under 2010 syllabus and so many times I just fell asleep while reading the book… That’s nothing to brag about, I know… But who can go through 1000 pages and keep the high motivation level? That is unhuman!
Coming back to self-study. Nowadays it is all mixed up. Selecting an online provider (described in the point no 2) is also a form of a self-study. You need to be really motivated to continue. And frankly the lack of deadlines for the OT tests is not really helping… You can fulfil your tests much faster, but you can also procrastinate sitting an exam as… there is no deadline, no final push to make you sit down and read / listen / whatever you chose.
Each approach presents its own distinct set of pros and cons. For example, attending lectures at a CIMA tuition provider will require you to trade flexibility of scheduling (due to its standard time-table based approach) for an assurance of syllabus coverage. This may or may not be very accommodative for a full-time worker. Likewise, an online learning programme will present its own merits (e.g. flexible and comprehensive) and trade-offs (e.g. lack of supervision) as much as a self-study approach. You need to find something that works well for you and that you feel comfortable with. I cannot tell you “do this”, because what works on me, may not work on you.
It is important for the students to identify their preferred learning style (have a look at my previous blog about it here), as not all the above discussed study systems would be conducive to their individual learning style. I highly recommend to blend these study methods to get the best outcomes. Students do obtain world and country prizes with the right blend of a learning technique combined with a lot of practice. And Practice Tests Academy provides 500 high quality questions and answers for each CIMA paper. Our packages has just got improved. If that sounds interesting to you, have a look at our Products page.
- get access to roughly 30 free qs/paper
- receive emails with tips, resources and discounts
- get ready for your exam!
Start practising today!