How to Pass CIMA Objective Tests (OT) Exams?

By  •  Updated: 11/15/22 •  6 min read

The objective test question (OTQ) assessments are available for the 13 core topics, plus you can take them whenever you want. This is such an improvement compared to the previous 2010 syllabus, not to mention the aching hand after 3 hours of writing.

Nowadays you may only suffer from an aching finger after clicking the mouse button for 90 minutes (in the case of professional level exams) or 120 minutes (in the case of BA level exams). But jokes aside, OTQs have also increased the bar. Study style and exam technique should be adjusted accordingly.

(updated 08.2018)


The following list enumerates three main factors that are essential in setting up the groundwork for a successful pass:

  • Cover the entire syllabus at least once: This comes as a no brainer — you need to pull yourself together and read through all the content that has been covered in class/in the study text(s)! Although it sounds like an awful lot of work, be reminded that it is only for the next 3-6 months (which amounts to less than 2% of your entire professional life).
  • Practice a lot of Questions: The ultimate tip for passing an OTQ exam is to attempt practice exams, in abundance, during the time leading to the actual seating. Not only will this assist you in measuring your own competency and polish up on areas which are not up to par, but it will also assist you in building up the fluency of the examination framework and the confidence level that is requisite to obtain a pass. Practice Tests Academy comes in handy here as we do have a wide offer of online practice sets, just have a look at our portfolio here.
  • Get in Control of the Time: As with any exam that is attempted whilst racing against the clock, time management is essential to successfully complete the exam. Essentially, you need to pace yourself well during the allotted 90-minutes to answer 60 challenging questions. Your platter of questions will contain a mix of straight-forward and challenging questions which you can mix, match, and manage to your advantage


1. Having stated the obvious above, here are 4 key techniques that may prove useful in your OTQ exam: Pace yourself in a consistent fashion; attempt the simple questions first, flag the harder ones for later and don’t linger undecided for more than 15 seconds on any question.

During your first read-through, spend no more than 15 seconds per question to decide whether you will attempt it straight away or ‘flag’ it for later. Flag questions that do not appear to be ‘easy’ during the 15-second criteria mentioned above. This will automatically segregate questions with long scenarios which can trap you from progressing.

Furthermore, be conscious of the possibility that you will encounter certain questions later on which will have vital ‘triggers’ providing insights into previously ‘flagged’ questions. This will assist you when you revisit them later on.

2. Take a quick time check. Divide the remaining time by the total number of questions flagged. This is your revised target.

Once you’re done with the first run-through and have successfully answered 15-20 ‘easy’ questions, take a quick time check. Re-assess the remaining time against the remaining questions to identify the optimum time per question. Ideally, you should have about 75 minutes left (i.e. approximately 1.5-2 minutes per question).

3. Restart and focus on the ‘flagged’ questions. For each question, read the requirement and answer options to identify the subject area, pick-out the salient features provided in the each question’s scenario, and annotate it for easy reference/mapping.

It’s time to scratch the longer, trickier questions off your list. Revisit the flagged questions and before reading the scenario, glance through the requirement and given answer options. This should allow you to narrow down the syllabus area that the question targets. Next, pick out the key factors provided in the scenario and jot them down on the scratch pad. These pieces of information will act as clues that lead you to the correct answer(s). Be very strict yourself in terms of timing and don’t linger beyond the threshold time per question identified above.

E.g. picking out information in the scenario (colour coded for easy reference):

4. Do not ‘guess’ unless it is the last resort.

For any questions remaining unanswered after the above steps, apply a logical process of elimination to identify the correct answer(s) rather than outright guessing. If that proves to be fruitless, make a good guess and move on. Remember, if you approach the 1.5 minute threshold per question, make a quick guess and move on.

Bonus tips:

5. Create a study routine and adhere to it.

Regardless of whether you’re a full-time student or whether you are professionally engaged whilst attempting your strategic level exams, you need to plan out your studying framework in order to succeed. Start by setting up a standard time, preferably at the same time, every day. This will reinforce the habit of studying in your daily programme. Turning off and/or getting away from distractions also helps.

6. Attempt practice exams from the moment you start your study regime at a consistent time interval (e.g. every Wednesday evening). This will prep you up to face the assessment format and exam conditions in advance, which will build up a level of familiarity, and confidence as time goes by.

When attempting practice exams, try to understand the rationale behind every right and wrong answer and educate yourself for success during future attempts. If your question bank offers explanations regarding correct and incorrect answers, your learning curve will be steeper. In our portfolio, we have done exactly that – check out the available practice tests here.

7. Before, during, and after the exam, keep in mind the average window of about a minute-and-a-half per question. That being said, you need to prepare yourself to gain more minutes off the easy, more straightforward questions and invest time in longer, more challenging questions.