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Using data to boost your chances of passing – the results

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Last year, Kaplan and CIMA joined forces by sharing data to identify what the most successful students do.

The results are in and we can now share them with you.

Using data to boost your chances of passing: The results.


Unfortunately there isn’t a “lucky month” for taking exams. The analysis showed there to be no seasonal peaks or troughs. Students should sit the exams at a time that fits in with their work commitments and personal life.

Calendar showing important dates in January.

Study Methods

There were differences in student performance between study channels (e.g. classroom, online etc) in terms of both speed of progression and exam success, but we concluded it would be wrong to promote one channel over another because so much is dependant on individual learning styles.

Students should select the method of study that fits with their preferred way of learning.

Three students studying in different ways.

Exam timing from start of course

The average pass rate for students sitting the exam within the first 12 weeks is 77%. In the next 8 weeks this falls to 61%. The implication is that taking the exam after 12 weeks reduces pass rates by 16%.

Student taking an exam.
Pass rates fell by 6% after the third week, and a further 10% by week six.

Exam timing from end of course

The data shows a decline in pass rates from the end of the course to sitting the exam.

Taking long periods of time after the course reduces chances of exam success.

These findings are more relevant for scheduled courses where there is a clear end date.

There are differences for individual papers but overall the evidence suggests students should sit the exam within 3 weeks from when the course ends.


The data showed that exemptions make little difference to exam success.

Clock face showing the time at ten past ten.
Student receiving help from a Kaplan tutor.

Exam rescheduling

Students who change the exam date from their original booking have a 16% lower pass rate than those who don’t re-schedule.

This might seem strange, if a student doesn’t feel ready to sit the exam, delaying is a sensible option. However, the data suggests this is not a good idea.

The key message is to book the exam and don’t change it.

Using My Kaplan

Attempting questions and mock exams on MyKaplan resulted in higher pass rates.

Completing knowledge checks and mock exams increased pass rates by 5%.

This shouldn’t be interpreted that attempting questions only increases pass rates by 5%. Many students will use paper based text books and question banks and these activities have not been captured because there’s no digital evidence.

A tablet and a smartphone showing the MyKaplan user interface.

We hope these findings help you reflect on your learning habits. There are always ways to improve and reach your full exam potential.

This research project was carried out by Kaplan’s Head of Learning Stuart Pedley Smith and CIMA. For further information on study tips and the science of learning stay updated with our insights posts.

The full story

To watch the full presentation on this study, and see how the results were gathered, register to listen to the webinar recording.