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How to pass the CIMA E2 exam (Managing Performance)

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Iryna Mcdonald
By Iryna Mcdonald, Tutor at Kaplan Link to Iryna Mcdonald's LinkedIn profile

This blog has been developed to set you up for your CIMA E2 exam (Managing Performance), so you can be in the best possible position to pass.

The exam topics

Business models and value creation: The modern business environment is characterised by constant change and disruption that causes organisations to review their business models. The concept of digital ecosystem suggests that the organisations are interdependent and that collaboration with business partners could result in superior performance for all concerned.

Managing people performance: People nowadays are the organisation’s key assets, thus managing their performance and improving relationships in the workplace is seen as the key to organisational success. It is a responsibility of the management team to set right policies when it comes to appraisals or communication. Skilful leadership will also enable staff to work better as a team.

Managing projects: Projects are often initiated as part of the implementation phase of new strategies. Project management tools and techniques will help make sure that things are done on time, on budget and to a high quality standard.

Key challenges of the exam

In my opinion, generally, E2 is a lovely exam. Without doubt, it’s as good as it gets at the management level. With an average pass rate of over 80%, students tend to agree.

My particular favourite is the topic of ‘ecosystems’. It helps students to raise their heads above the mundane forecasts or spreadsheets and start to understand how relationships between the organisation, its suppliers and customers are influenced by mutual understanding and trust.

Particularly in the digital domain, the boundaries between the organisation and its partners become ever more blurred in an attempt to deliver the smooth, one-click experience for the customer. Therefore close collaboration is likely to deliver greater benefits to all involved.

People performance

To give you a balanced overview of the challenges ahead, I have to admit that there are also some tricky bits to E2, particularly in managing the people performance part of the syllabus. Initially you might find the quantity of the theories in that area overwhelming.

However, mind-mapping and summaries provided by your tutor, as well as within the study materials, will help you to break down these theories into more logical and manageable chunks.

What about the managing projects bit you’d like to ask? I’m sure everyone has a story to tell about how a project in their workplace has gone completely wrong. It’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

This bit of the syllabus will equip you with a good understanding of the key terminology (heard of Project Initiation Document?) so you can sound like a pro. But I must warn you that there is a catch – dealing with numbers.

Though the calculations you might be asked to undertake are mathematically straight forward (for example, when it comes to working out the duration of a project), many students are thrown by having to do numbers in a discursive exam.

Links to other CIMA exams

E2 builds on many of the issues from E1 (Managing Finance in a Digital World), such as understanding the macroeconomics environment (remember the PESTEL model?) and HR policies. However the issues are now seen in a broader context, with the focus moving away from internal functioning of the organisation towards managing relationships with a broader range of external stakeholders.

The different technologies you might remember from E1 will be explored in further depth at E2 to help determine how these could provide an organisation with a competitive edge.

There are also some overlaps with P2 (Advanced Management Accounting), particularly when it comes to risk management topic. Every new investment organisation can be seen as a project. It is important not only to use the correct capital appraisal techniques to determine the viability of that investment, but also to manage the emerging risks to enable expected returns to materialise.

Looking ahead to the Management Case, E2 provides the mindset needed to succeed in the case study exam. As a Financial Manager in the case study, you are expected to develop a holistic perspective on how your organisation operates.

E2 helps to link different aspects of organisational performance. For example, E2 helps build a connection between an organisation's competitive propositions and its performance results.

Whether these results are presented in the shape of a forecast or an extract from the annual report, E2 helps to understand what stakeholder groups are affected by these results and how the organisations should engage with them.

What should I do to pass?

It’s a common misconception that objective test exams are easy. While it is fair to say that some questions may appear to be easier to tackle than others, it may not always be the case.

On the positive side, the E2 exam is not time pressured, so there will be sufficient time to read each question carefully. This is to make sure you fully understand the key facts and therefore select the answer options that best fit the given circumstances.

Finally, for some, E2 will be their first exam in a long while. Therefore it is important that you pace your studies in a way that fits around your work and personal commitments.

Kaplan offers a variety of different study methods, including classroom, Live Online or distance learning to fit in with your time commitments. With expert guidance from our skilled tutors, you will find it easier to acquire both the knowledge and the exam techniques needed to succeed in the E2 exam.