CIMA P3 Guide : Syllabus | Pass Rates | Exam Structure | Tips

By  •  Updated: 10/18/22 •  7 min read

Let’s dive straight into the P3 exam and take a deep look at the level, the syllabus, the structure, and some of the most effective tools and methods to use in order to help you pass this exam.

What is the pass rate for CIMA P3?

Let’s briefly look at the pass rate here for the P3 exam.

And as you can see, it’s not the highest.

In actual fact, it indicates that there’s just slightly over half a chance of passing this exam. That may sound daunting, but fear not, because that 54% success bracket from last year’s exams will surely include many of our students, specifically those who followed our guidelines and consistently passed their mock exams. The feedback we received from our P3 students in the last few years alone speaks volumes to us, so we really are confident that the proof is in the pudding when it comes to our packages. 

What are the main objectives of the strategic level?

If you are wondering why this level is so important then the objectives should certainly clear things up for you:

  • To equip you with the skills you need for long-term decision making.
  • To give you the opportunity to evaluate and manage risks that might be detrimental to strategic decisions.
  • To be able to value organisations from an expert point of view.
  • To enable you to find the right resources in order to implement strategy, at the right time.

When taking my strategic level exams, should I go for the P3 exam first?

The order in which you take your strategic level exams is really up to you, but in our professional opinion, we suggest starting with F3, then P3, and finally, E3. 

The reason for this is because of the case study exam, which is a good example of a strategic decision already for you!

What is the P3 syllabus all about?

The P3 paper is all about risk management and is broken down evenly into four parts – 

  • Enterprise risk (25%)
  • Strategic risk (25%)
  • Internal controls (25%)
  • Cyber risk. (25%)

The P3 paper is the slightly more pessimistic paper, so to speak, and it considers what might go wrong while we’re executing strategy and ways in which we can stop those risks from happening. It covers risk management best practices but also covers figures as well. The figures involve risking investment appraisal but also figures on hedging. So, for example, we’ve got interest rate hedging and foreign exchange hedging that we’re going to be talking through the numbers on.

– Pete (PTA Expert)

What is the structure of the P3 exam?

The P3 exam is 90 minutes long and contains 60 questions. Using simple mathematics, it should give you around one and a half minutes per question. By using this calculation, you should aim to complete around 10 questions every 15 minutes.

The minimum pass mark is 100 out of 150. There is no partial marking. For example, you need to provide more than one correct answer if a question requires you to do so. Otherwise, you’ll get no marks for the whole answer. 

There’s no point in leaving any question incomplete or blank for this very reason. You get zero marks for providing half an answer and zero marks for providing no answer. So, it’s so important to at least always attempt to complete your answers in full.

The P3 exams can be taken throughout the year, so there are no set times in which you’ll need to book these exams.

Let’s move on and look at the question formats you’ll expect to see in the P3 exam.

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How to tackle tricky questions in the P3 Exam?

The first thing you should do is to try to eliminate answers that you know are wrong and then progressively work backwards using any options that you have left available.

You can also try to figure out answers that make the most sense if you try to get to the root of each option. You may even find that it could trigger a reminder for you so that you can almost vision the correct answer in your own head.

In the worst case scenario, if you do see two possible answers that are quite similar and you’re really unsure, then one of them is often correct, though this is not always the case.

And if you’ve attempted the above and are still stuck, flag it for later and move on.

Then, near the end of your exam in the last five minutes, go back and answer all those flagged questions… even if it means you have to guess.

PTA Student tips for the P3 exam

Now, P3 is a word heavy paper with long question scenarios. So, there’s a lot of reading to do. Keep the following in mind when attempting to answer each question:

  • Sometimes, it’s all about reading clues from each of the questions more carefully.
  • Watch out for keywords that could possibly trap you such as double negatives.
  • Try not to misunderstand any part of the question. Read it again if you have to and again after that if you need to.
  • You really need to manage your time efficiently. If a question is taking you too long to answer, flag it and move on. 
  • Finally, as mentioned several times before, do not leave any answers blank. You’ll get the same amount of points for wrong answers as you do with blank answers. So, make sure you at least take a guess. We cannot stress that enough!

PTA study tips for the P3 exam

Keep a diary – make sure that when you do start studying, you keep a diary, make a plan and stick to it.

Take regular breaks – give yourself regular breaks and get some fresh air between sessions. 

Practice CBE – keep taking computer-based mock exams and complete them regularly. Do this until you’re consistently passing them, that’s when you’ll know you are exam ready.

Here are some of our personal favourite top P3 study tips.

  • You should book your exam early, right at the beginning of your studies. If you give yourself a goal or a deadline to meet, it can really help you stay motivated.
  • Practice mock exams on a computer and make sure that you’re doing these in timed exam conditions.
  • You need to be practising your time management skills and ensuring that you still have enough time aside to work on areas that you need to.
  • Timing yourself is very important. Now, if you’re not completing mocks under timed exam conditions then you need to at least be timing yourself when taking mock exams regularly. And, you should be keeping track of this time, too, just to make sure that you’re meeting that 90-minute deadline.
  • You need to cover the whole syllabus, which means that you really need to think about your revision time and how you spend it wisely.
  • You should be focusing your learning on question practice and practising questions regularly either by completing mock exams or answering end of chapter questions. It really is so important to do this in line with your studies.
  • Then, there’s focusing on what you can’t do. You should be working on those areas where you lack knowledge most.
  • You also need to keep track of your progress well ahead of your exam. 
  • You should keep your focus on areas where you lack the most knowledge in and you should also keep track of your progress over time, well ahead of your exam.

We have everything you need and so much more here at the Practice Test Academy and we can take all of that stress away so that you can focus only on areas that you need to.