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CIMA - It's all in the scenario

'CIMA - It's all in the scenario' is a guest post written by Peter Nunn, one of the Kaplan tutors based at Milton Keynes.

For my sins (and oh what a sinner I must be) I teach on all the main accountancy courses, CIMA, ACCA and ICAEW. Are there any differences between the exams? Well yes and no. All are quite tough and testing and many of the techniques taught are the same but CIMA exams really rely much more on the scenario type question.

Many subjects have quite a large amount of theory but what often makes CIMA exams challenging is relating this theory to the scenario. And that’s the key to passing many CIMA exams – relate your knowledge to the scenario!

The suggested approach is:

  1. Start by reading the first paragraph only – this usually sets the scene. Large/small company. Local/multinational, 1000’s of employees. Listed, etc.
  2. Now read the requirements before reading the rest of the question. Play three games - Spot the verb – that’s what the examiner is asking you to do after all. Spot the word ‘AND’ - this ensures you answer all the requirements. Finally play spot the marks – You don’t have to write as much for an eight mark question as you do a sixteen. Obvious I know but you’d be surprised how many students don’t appear to realise this. These requirements should give you the headings for your answer plan and your answer.
  3. Now read the rest of the question. As you read the question consider how the facts and theories you have learned apply in the scenario given. Wherever you can use definitions. If the question is about let’s say derivatives, define them.

Avoid writing everything you know about a topic. Memory dumps will not score well. Answers should be specific to the issues raised in the question and the scenario.

Most students fail not because they don’t know their stuff but because they don’t read the question!!

Good luck, Peter