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How to pass CIMA P3

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The CIMA P3 is a tricky paper but it is doable. Keep in mind this is an MA degree-level paper, so don’t worry if you’re struggling - it’s not supposed to be too easy!

A common problem with the CIMA P3 exam is that learners will attempt to answer questions just through rote learning. Some of the questions in the exam will be quite subtle in testing how you would apply your knowledge to a particular situation. So, it’s not always useful just to know the general ‘rules.’

Rote learning

When it comes to studying for an exam, many learners fall into the trap of rote learning. This is where you memorise the content, usually through repetition. Although this may help your brain to remember the content, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to actively apply this to your exam.

It’s extremely important to practice questions before the day of your exam. Ensure that you have a realistic revision period before your exam where you can practice what you’ve learnt. We usually recommend at least four weeks.

Use your exam kit or online mock exams to apply the knowledge to the exam-style questions, where you can then pinpoint your weaker areas and topics that you need to look over. This will also help you understand the content, rather than just remember it.

A good example of a question where you will need to apply your knowledge is this one:

“Simon plc is an engineering company that provides consultancy services for other engineering companies in the water industry.

Its head office is based in the UK’s second-largest city and employs several thousand staff worldwide.

There are seven directors on the main board at Simon and a further nine non-executive directors. The main board holds a chair, a chief executive officer, a selling and marketing director, a research and learning director, a finance director, a procurement manager, and a human resources director.

The non-executive directors are mainly retired engineers, however, there are also non-executives with a sales and finance background. Many of them have been non-executive directors at Simon plc for ten years, and are experienced in the way it operates. They offer advice and assistance whenever the directors ask, and they have a wealth of knowledge, which Simon plc finds invaluable.

Simon plc is listed on the UK stock exchange and as such has to meet the UK Corporate Governance Code. Therefore, it has a remuneration committee, a nominations committee, a risk committee, and an audit committee.

The audit committee is compromised of five members - four non-executive directors and a chairperson - the finance director. The committee has met only twice this year, but other parts of Simon pls appear pleased with the committee’s decisions and actions.

The committee has always agreed with the management accounts and financial statements produced by the company, and they are happy with the level of financial controls in place throughout Simon plc.

The external audit usually goes smoothly and very few points are raised in the management letter that the audit committee receives. Any points that are raised are usually implemented immediately. “

Which of the following statements is correct:

(Select all that apply)

There are too many engineers on the audit committee.
There are insufficient members on the audit committee.
The audit committee is not independent.
The audit committee has not held sufficient meetings in the year.
The non-executive directors have been in post too long to be considered independent.

Many people will answer this by saying the audit committee has not had enough meetings per year. Because, if we read the rules:

“It is for the audit committee chairman, in consultation with the company secretary, to decide the frequency and timings of its meetings. There should be as many meetings as the audit committee’s role and responsibilities require.

It is recommended that there should be no fewer than three meetings during the year, held to coincide with key dates within the financial reporting and audit cycle. However, most audit committee chairmen will wish to call more frequent meetings.”

So, "there should be as many meetings as the audit committees roles and responsibilities require." In this case, while below the recommendation of three, the two meetings that they are having are enough.

The logic for a question like this is that the examiner doesn’t want candidates to just memorise the content, but to apply their knowledge.

Another issue facing many students who attempt a lot of questions is that sometimes they see a similar question in an exam as they did before, and miss the slight subtle differences.

So, attempt as many questions as you can, but take the time to debrief yourself. Why is an option correct or incorrect? You should be taking as long debriefing as you would do answering the questions.

Struggling with your revision?

If you need any support with the content, you can contact the Academic Support Team through the ‘contact a tutor’ option on your MyKaplan. You can email, live chat or request a call back from our expert tutors who will support you with any of those trickier topics. But remember to attempt the questions yourself before asking for the answer.

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