Friday, 23 December 2016

When it comes to the exam, it's mind over matter.

If you have just had a look at the pre-seen text on the official CIMA website, you may have mixed feelings. Part of you may be feeling excited and, in a strange way, looking forward to the exam. It will be a chance to show off all of the knowledge that you have been working so hard to learn. You may really enjoy learning and almost feel sad that it may be over soon!

Another part of you may be feeling less keen. You have read the pre-seen analysis and have learnt more about the film industry than you would have ever thought. You have a vague plan in your head and a little spark of determination. Broadly speaking, you have several paths to take. Let's consider these three people and their approach to the sitting.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Pre-seen + preparation = pass

The LAST thing you want to do when are you sat down in your MCS exam is to be reaching for the pre-seen because you did not completely cover it in your revision, time will not be on your side as you have three hours to get through tough questions. 

In my experience, the best way to save time in the exam is to make up for it now and get to know the pre-seen inside out so that you don't ever have to look at it in the exam itself. Who else agrees?

The examiners definitely agree. Every examiner's report will refer to how well students managed to engage with the pre-seen or not. If you don't believe me, let's see what the examiners had to say in the MCS examiner's report: "There were some very short answers to the case study and some candidates did not seem to know much about the industry or the company. Given that pre-seen material had been available for several weeks prior to the exam, this was disappointing". A clear message to students - know the pre-seen!!

So what can you do to help you remember all the key points from such a sizeable document as the pre-seen?

1. Make your own revision notes or scratch-cards as you go. You should then keep coming back to them, even re-writing them over and over again to cement these into your memory. Perhaps even use different colours and highlighters for the extra important information.

2. Once you have done this, you can scribble down notes and ideas that you think are linked with this information, doing this as early as possible will definitely make you feel a lot more comfortable with the pre-seen when you are finally going into the exam! Particularly useful when it comes to knowing the industry!

3. Make your own voice recordings of important information about the document. Research has shown that you are more likely to remember information when you are listening to your own voice; alternatively just talking through the document can help with information retention. When you have your recording listen to it from day to day, before you know it you'll have the pre-seen covered!

To help you sail through the pre-seen we have our own industry analysis in both video and document format - check out all our Management pre-seen materials here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

How to make the most of your study texts...

Want a better chance of passing? Mix up your revision. 

Often students assume they should be revising for their Management exam in a library or sat at a computer desk only, as this is a formal place to work. However, if you wanted to start reading an exciting book or watch your favourite TV show, you wouldn't be doing all this in the library or at a computer desk. Do not be afraid to get out and about when tackling a tough document, there is a lot of evidence that shows mixing up the location of your studying can help you process information, making you learn faster (and pass quicker!)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

MCS Exam Experience Survey, what we learnt...

As always, the MCS exam experience survey produced some interesting results. Thinking of taking the February case study? Or interested to know how the MCS November students got on? Well, here's what we learnt in our survey.

Our students put the effort in!
  • Over two thirds revised for more than 5 weeks in the run-up to the exam.
  • Over 80% did 4 weeks or over.
  • Less than 10% did 3 weeks revision.
  • 40% of our students dedicated 10 hours or more a week to revision.
  • Over 80% did more than 5 hours a weeks.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

7 WOW Facts About Accountants!

Working through your CIMA qualifications can get tough and stressful, there is a lot of information to process and study. To help get you through your qualifications I have developed 7 interesting facts that will help motivate you to the finishing line:

1) Looking at job stats, the US department of labour estimates there will be a 11% rise of accountants in the US between 2014-2024. Amazing considering there were 1,332,700 registered accountants in 2014!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

10 last things to pass!

With the MCS exams starting next week, it's VITAL you make the most of the remaining days. However, having over-seen a number of case study exams I know how difficult it can be to know what to do between now and next week - so I have decided to share with you a plan to follow.

Through speaking with past students and using my own experience I have created a tried-and-tested list of 10 things you should be doing before your exam: 

1) Read through the August Examiner's Report - this report contains very important information! It includes VITAL advice for students sitting the November exam and identifies exactly what the examiner's will be looking for! August MCS Examiner's Report

Monday, 24 October 2016

Learn from the Examiners! How to Pass your MCS Exam

It's vital you make the most of these last few weeks before the exams start. With this in mind, I am going to share with you the key points from the latest MCS Examiner's Report.

Learning lessons from those who mark and assess the exam themselves could be all the difference between a pass and a fail this November. For every sitting I analyse the report and to share the key findings, and there is almost always one or two points which resonate with a lot of students.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Sweet Sound of MCS Success...

Did you know, that listening to music could actually increase your productivity and improve your memory?

Past research has proved that a quiet and calm environment is the best way to revise. However, many students do actually like to have background noise. According to a recent study listening to music during revision can improve your mood which in turn increases productivity and helps students to revise for longer. This is something I certainly find when tackling a heavy document!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Struggling to get started with MCS? No worries, Astranti has a plan for you!

Getting into revision can be really tricky and daunting. This can be overcome though, by simply having a schedule. Being able to have a plan and stick to it can be your secret to success, so you can cover every topic and bit of revision giving you a far better chance of passing your OCS exam in November!

Monday 26th- Official CIMA pre-seen release date - carefully read through the pre-seen case study.
Friday 30th- Watch the Course Videos and read through Study Text Part 1 - watch these to cement your knowledge of what's needed to pass the exam. We recommend these should be watched in synchrony with the Study Text Part 1. Watch a sample of our Course Videos

Monday 3rd- Official Course Start Date
Thursday 6th- Begin to work your way through our pre-seen materials - These pre-seen case study materials helps to build an excellent foundation in preparation for the exam. The videos takes you through the whole document and highlights the important areas for you to focus on. Watch a sample of our Pre-seen Analysis video
Sunday 9th- Read through Study Text Part 2 - Study Text Part 2 should be read continuously throughout the course. The Study Text Part 2 is a condensed version of our E2, F2 and P2 texts and particularly focuses on those areas most relevant to the case study-  Read a sample chapter of our Study Text Part 2.
Monday 10th- Work through the Ethics Pack- The Ethics Pack is a combination of a video and an e-book which covers a subject that regularly appears in the exam, and which many candidates overlook.
Wednesday 12th- Marker assigned to you
Saturday 15th- Attend Masterclass 1 - (Watch the recorded version during the week if you are unable to attend the live session).
Sunday 23rd- Mock 1 deadline - Complete mock and send to your marker
Monday 24th- Study our Mock 1 solutions
Tuesday 25th Saturday 29th- Review Mock 1 feedback when returned by marker
Sunday 30th- Mock 2 deadline - Complete mock and send to your marker
Monday 31st- Study our Mock 2 solutions

Tuesday 1st-Saturday 5th- Review Mock 2 feedback when returned by marker
Sunday 6th- Mock 3 deadline - Complete mock and send to your marker
Monday 7th- Study our Mock 3 solutions
Tuesday 8th-Friday 11th- Review Mock 3 feedback when returned by marker
Saturday 12th- Masterclass 2 - (Watch the recorded version during the week if you are unable to attend the live session)
Tuesday 15th-Saturday 19th- Real exam 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Never too early to get revising...

However far away the November exam may seem, you will be surprised how quickly it will come round. In my experience, making a plan early will really help you pass your exam! 

One question that I'm regularly asked is "When should I start my case study revision?". My response every time is 6 to 8 weeks before the exam, aiming for at least 10 hours of revision per week. Time and effort are key ingredients to success.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

How to skim read!

When tackling a heavy document and only needing to pick out key topics, skim reading can often be the most effective tool for you to pick up information to help you pass you become CIMA qualified!

Skim reading is quickly going through whatever materials and trying to find keywords or topics. Before starting to skim through a document, think of the keywords and terms you are looking for, that way you have direction when you go into reading the document!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Power of a Power Nap!

A surprising idea that will help you pass your exam - have the occasional power nap!

What is it? Well a power nap is a very short and light doze, no longer than 30 minutes. During this time, find a dark room and comfortable place to relax and lie down in, but not a place to snooze. Not sleeping is important because getting up after a few hours of napping just makes you feel sluggish and unproductive, so remember set a timer at the end of the nap to avoid this!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Do you get distracted? I know I do! Four tips to minimise distractions

Don't let distraction lead to CIMA failure! 

Sometimes, the temptation to get distracted and lose focus during CIMA exam periods can be almost irresistible. Going through the same or similar things over and over can be so frustrating that you spend your time staring at a wall, flicking through your phone or doing anything that isn't revising!

To overcome this, I have devised a few useful tips to help you become productive even when things get tough:

Friday, 12 August 2016

Learn from best. Hear what Olympians have to say...

Stay on track… you're coming up to the last hurdle and soon you'll reach the finish line!

"There’s always a positive spin you can put on things... no matter how bad things are.” Jessica Ennis, Heptathlete and Olympics Gold Medalist. 

Jessica Ennis knows the importance of keeping upbeat in the face of pressure. Whether you are competing in Rio or studying for an exam, stress can impact your performance and can put in a negative frame of mind.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Must know tips from the MCS examiners!

The May 2016 CIMA Management Case Study Examiner's Report has just been released – as always it contains valuable information for students about to take their CIMA exams. 

It amazes me that so many CIMA students don't pay attention to the Examiners' Reports. After all, they are the people you need to impress on the big day!

These reports highlight the same old issues that come up time and time again. They summarise the mistakes students are making in the exams and give important and helpful advice on areas they should improve.

Make sure you don't ignore these! To help you out we've captured the key points from the May report here:

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Why starting now can maximise your chances of passing!

It can be tempting to wait until the pre-seen is released, before starting revision for a CIMA Case Study exam.

But are there things you could be doing before-hand? Of course, the answer is always yes!

The earlier you can start your CIMA preparation, the more flexibility you will have with your revision and the more chance you will have of covering all of the required areas.

I know from the experience of working with many CIMA students over the years, that the ones that start early, have the better chance of passing their exam!

With this in mind, here are a few things you could be doing before the pre-seen is released:

Thursday, 2 June 2016

50% of students found the exam to be more difficult than they expected. See the results from our survey...

Learning from the experience of past CIMA Management Case Study students can be the recipe for success!

So it's been a couple of weeks since we launched our MCS Experience Survey, and the results beginning to emerge are very interesting.

Learning lessons from CIMA students who have been through the exam can really help you to achieve success. Find out below how difficult students found they exam, their most common mistakes, and where they felt they should have spent more time during their revision.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Don't let stress be the reason for failing your CIMA exams!

Stress can be your biggest enemy when it comes to your CIMA exams! In my fifteen years of teaching, I've seen excellent students fail their exams due to an inability to manage their stress levels! This is such a shame as they often work long and hard to achieve success.

Remember, everyone gets nervous in the build up to important events. Whether it's starting a new job, attending an interview or making a wedding speech, it's perfectly natural to feel butterflies in your stomach before the big day.

Sportsmen often say that a little stress is a good thing as it actually improves their performance. Similarly many famous actors suffer from stage fright just before giving outstanding performances on the stage.

Like these successful people, the secret is it to control the stress not let the stress control you!

So, let's think about stress in terms of your CIMA exams. Take a look at these 5 great tips that could be key the to passing:

Saturday, 7 May 2016

6 ways to significantly improve your work life balance

Juggling work, revision and home life is the single biggest challenge for many CIMA students.

I was recently counseling a CIMA student who was struggling with getting this balance right. He was a committed rugby player as well as a father of two small children. Combined with a busy job in the finance team of a large multi-national corporation, his CIMA revision seemed like a step too far in his busy schedule. He found that not only was his revision going badly, he was not managing any of the key parts of his life successfully. He was heading for problems!

This reminded me of many conversations I have had with Accountancy students over the 15 years I've been teaching.

Of course there is no simple answer, but there are some steps that can be followed to help students to get the balance right and be successful in their CIMA exams.

Here are my six key tips:

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Model, Average or Disaster Student... Which one are you?

People regularly use the term “The Model Student” within the education industry when describing what the ideal student would do when passing their exams with top marks.
However, the idea of the model student can seem a bit out of reach for some students, as they may think that they will never get to that level.

I wanted to explore the idea of the model student therefore, in order to try and work out what really makes the perfect student within the accountancy world, with the hope of potentially inspiring a few students to reach that little bit further within their own studies to achieve the best that they possibly can.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Don't make this big mistake!

I was recently approached by a worried student who was struggling to remember his theory. He was spending hours reading the CIMA Study Text but simply couldn't remember what he'd just read - nothing was going in! He talked me through his revision technique and basically we soon released that he didn't have a strategy. He simply spent hours reading through the CIMA Study Text over and over again. 

His biggest mistake was that he was not taking notes. I suggested that he should spend one hour on a specific subject annotating the text and capturing the key points as he went along. I am pleased to say that he was quickly able to take me through the CIMA subject in great detail much to his own surprise!

Sometimes it isn't enough to simply read through a piece of text - in my experience you have to take things a step further like this student did. Take notes as you go along. The process of reading a portion of text and then translating this into a written note helps your brain to consume and understand the information. It also helps you to remember it at a later date.

To help you do this really well, here are 8 simple but effective note-taking tips:

Thursday, 28 April 2016

3 tips to make your revision fun and effective (yes I said fun!)

CIMA revision is of course very important - but are we guilty of making our approach a bit too serious?

It goes without saying that all students really want to pass their CIMA exams - so it's important to make sure your revision is as effective as possible. After all, it's a serious matter!

However, there is often a misconception that revision can't also be enjoyable. 

With that in mind, here are three tips that could not only make your revision more fun, they could also make your revision more effective!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Exam Tip - Reward your hard work!

You may have an exam approaching in the next few weeks and there's no doubt that this can be a very stressful experience...

Scrabbling to cram in that last bit of revision whilst doubting whether you know enough to pass the exam - I'm sure this is a scenario familiar to us all. 

Sometimes it can feel like a very stressful period, but it's so important that you enter the exam hall with a fresh and positive mind-set, so what tricks can you employ to calm yourself down?

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Revision Tip - Getting Help from Each Other

One of the issues with self-study is the risk of students becoming isolated with their revision.

Whilst revising online offers fantastic flexibility, it's important that students make use of the support networks available to them. 

Otherwise it becomes increasingly difficult to highlight any areas that are being missed out and it can cause the revision to become too narrow.

With this in mind, here are three benefits of not studying alone.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Keeping your eye on the prize...

Passing through the CIMA exams is tough. That's why you need to make sure you have something you are striving for.

Of course becoming CIMA qualified is the first thing you will think about.

But why do you want to become CIMA qualified? Where do you see yourself in five years?

During the periods where revision is tough, or you are struggling to get through a particular exam, you'll need to have that vision to keep you going.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

MCS February Examiner's Report- What Can We learn?

One of the best ways to prepare for a future exam is to look at what the examiner's have to say about a previous sitting.

After each Case Study sitting the examiner's write a report of what they noticed and what tips they would give to future students.

Here is a summary of some of the key themes from the February report:

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A simple tip to help make your revision sink in...

Sometimes it's easy to spend hours revising, revising and revising for your CIMA exams, to find that at the end of it all it feels like you can't remember a single thing.

This is obviously not ideal!

In my 15 years of teaching accountancy exams, I have found a number of ways to overcome this such as effective note-taking and having a structured revision plan.

However, there is an even more obvious way to make your CIMA revision more effective with minimal effort. It may seem simple but is often ignored by many students!

Friday, 18 March 2016

Revision Tips- There's No Standard Formula For Success!

With the amount of effort we invest in our revision, it's only natural to question if we are making the most of our time.

It can be tempting to look at what other people are doing and base our revision plan on that. 

But who is to say that what works for someone else is going to work for you?

Many academics have published theory on how we fit into different types of learning styles.

Some suggest there are as many as seven types of learning styles with others simplifying it down to three. 

It all essentially comes down to how you work best - Do you enjoy reading through the text? Do you respond better to the visual aids in a video? Do you prefer to get hands-on and practice for yourself?

Find what suits you...

Thursday, 10 March 2016

MCS Student Experience Survey- Learn From the Past!

If you have yet to take your Case Study exam, what better preparation than to learn from those who have?

It has been a couple of weeks since we launched a survey for MCS students taking the February sitting of the exam- and there has been some interesting results!

A really useful start to revising for a future exam is to look at what past students have said- to ensure you learn from their mistakes and take tips from their successes.

So with that in mind, here are some of the key themes to come from the February MCS survey results:


We asked the students how difficult they found the exam in relation to their expectations:

Much More Difficult: 13%  More Difficult: 25%   As Expected: 63%   Easier: 0%   Much Easier: 0%

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Management Pass Rates - 2015

2015 was expected to be a difficult year with the introduction of the new syllabus. 

However, many students performed well considering the change. There were those who might have been a little apprehensive or not as accepting at the start, with some students having studied with CIMA (and the old syllabus) for a long time.

Objective Test Pass Rates

As you can see though, the official results below give a good indication of how management OT students have performed between January and December 2015:

Monday, 1 February 2016

Top Tips from the November Case Study Examiner's Report!

Reading the examiner's report can help by giving you an understanding of what the examiner will be looking out for in your own exam.
This way you can build a better structure to your revision, ensuring that the key points are covered by the time the exam comes along next week.

1. Application to the pre-seen:
Applying the theory to the pre-seen is absolutely critical to score well in the exam. The Examiner's emphasised that there are no marks for just pure knowledge - it needs to be applied in a relevant way to the case study.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Top case study tips from student ranked 5th in the world!

Earlier this month thousands of students got their results from the November case study exams. Having spoken to a number of these students, there was a rather mixed set of results, with some unfortunately just missing out and others excelling in the final exam.

Last week CIMA released the list of top performers in each of the November case study exams.

Among these lists, there was once again a familiar name.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Student survey - What does it take to pass the Objective Tests?

You may remember a post back in June where we brought you the results from our student survey asking what it takes to pass the OT exams..

Well if not, then I'd like to share with you the latest results from that same survey, which has now had over a hundred responses from OT students from all levels, Operational, Management and Strategic.

The Key Points

The first results are based on the hours spent on revision per week: 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Industry Research Checklist - CIMA Management Case Study Exam

One of the key areas where you can gain extra marks in the case study exam is having a deep understanding of the company and the industry in which it operates.

We find many students are unsure where to begin when it comes to researching the industry and often there is just too much information available! It can be hard for them to distinguish what is relevant, distill the key points, how they relate to the case study and how they can be applied in the exam to gain vital marks.

So, to ensure you are on the right track we have produced a list of key topics for you to focus on. We recommend that you use this as a checklist when researching the industry. 

Industry Topics

The Products and their History