CIMA Exam Top Tips for November 2014 Exam from Reed Accountancy Experts


Well this is it, our last–ever exam tips for the CIMA November, courtesy of Manchester Metropolitan University. There is a four-page pull out of exam tips in the latest PQ magazine

E1

It is important to fully utilise all the materials provided. Basically, this means do the recommended reading from the course text, but also consider some wider reading, for example the financial and business press or articles from the CIMA website. As the E1 paper focuses on the operational and strategic elements, your ability to demonstrate your understanding and depth of knowledge in the application to your discursive answers will be of benefit. Consider the structure of your answers. For example, for a question about cross-cultural management the Hofstede Model has five dimensions, and the best approach should be to use each dimension as the basis for your answer. Consider how, according to the question or scenario, it relates to the intended meaning of each dimension, and what this in overall terms might mean in terms of the management of an entity due to national cultural variations. To maximise marks, can you give specific examples such as those from the course text or your wider reading? The ideas of structure could be applied to any discursive question; there will always be a series of points or concepts that you need to apply in order to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding.

P1

There could be something on absorption costing/variances (an article has just gone up on CIMA's website on this!) and possibly modern costing methods/budgeting techniques. Project appraisal is usually a favourite as well. The Managing Short Term Finance section of the syllabus will be removed from P1 from 2015 so although this could be examined I don't think there is likely to be a big focus on it.

E2
Strategic management:
• Competitor analysis.
• Strategic analysis, especially models such as Porter's Five forces or Value Chain.
• Corporate social responsibility and ethics.
Relationship management:
• Leadership theories, governance.
• Management control – performance appraisal.
Project management:
• Project management tools.
• People and projects.

F2

Section A:
Usual mix of share based payments, pensions, consolidation, analysis (not EPS), financial instruments and developments. Substance over form may be tested, and developments may cover some of the additional reporting requirements such as the Global Reporting Initiative.
Section B:
There may be a full cashflow. If not a cashflow, I would expect an SFP rather than an income statement. Foreign exchange may be tested. The ratio analysis questions are fairly standard, however questions can be tested where ratios are already given, and the marks are purely for comments.

P2

• Be prepared to use linear programming for profit maximisation.
• Cost analysis and product mix decision making is worth being familiar with.
• Learning curves, life cycle costing and balance scorecards are always popular topics.
• Being able to highlight the alternative measures of performance for responsibility centres and having full knowledge on all aspects of divisions and transfer pricing is wise.
• Continuous improvement methods such as Kaizen Costing and TQM are often examinable areas.

P3

The examiner has continually highlighted the importance of financial risk, frequently highlighting the fact that it comprises 35% of the syllabus and the fact that students struggle with this area in particular. Question 1 always contains some element of financial risk and there is often another question, which includes at least some financial risk. The evaluation of financial risks and the management of those risks is therefore a very important to area to be comfortable with. While there may be an element of computation in these types of questions, the calculations do not normally carry many marks and you will still be expected to interpret the calculations and demonstrate an ability to use them to discuss, evaluate or advise on proposals.
Another very important area of the syllabus relates to the evaluation of risks and recommendation of risk management strategies. An analysis of past papers indicates that this area is tested on virtually every paper, so you need to be familiar with the tools for performing risk analysis and evaluation, including the risk matrix, all the standard approaches to managing risks and the CIMA risk management cycle, etc. The examiner has highlighted a typical cause of failure to be not understanding or answering the requirements of the question or relating it to the specific scenario. It is important, therefore, to read the requirements properly. Particularly in risk assessment questions, good marks can be earned by identifying the types of risk specifically asked for from the scenario given. Marks can be lost by identifying other types of risks or only general risks not highlighted, particularly as this can make it very difficult for you to assess the risk adequately or propose an appropriate strategy.
It is important that all areas of the syllabus are revised – the paper has little choice, only allowing one question to be missed out, so you need to ensure that you are also familiar with for example, information systems, internal audit and accounting control, all topics which appear on a regular basis.
Corporate governance and ethics is a topical area and questions are appearing more regularly so again ensure that you are familiar with and that, in particular, you would be happy to evaluate from a give scenario any weaknesses in corporate governance or discuss ethical issues arising.

F3

The key to success on F3 is twofold. Firstly, question practice. It sounds like a cliché but the big topics such as capital structure and NPV have a limited number of complications that the examiner can use to test your understanding. Through question practice you can become familiar with as many of these as possible in advance of the examination so that you are more able to respond appropriately and ultimately pass on the day. Secondly, is not to focus too heavily on numbers and formulae at the expense of qualitative components of the syllabus. Students often omit ‘advantages/disadvantages' type revision as they perceive these to be easy. Often it is student performance on these more qualitative components of the assessment that will dictate whether they will either pass or fail the paper as a whole.

E3

The following topics are considered essential revision areas for the exam:
• Porter's 5 Forces/Diamond
CSFs/KPIs.
• Ethics including the CIMA Code of Ethics.
• Change management – implementing change: Lewin's Force Field/Prescribed.
• Planned Change theory.
• Portfolio Analysis – BCG/Product life cycle.

Health warning:
These tips should only be used in conjunction with proper study. We cannot guarantee that these topics will appear in the actual exam as we have not seen the exam papers. Examiners are not predictable so it is vital that all core syllabus areas are revised fully. The tips are based on our experts experience and understanding of the CIMA exams and will help focus your last-minute revision. Please also read all the Examiner's articles and PEGs – available on the CIMA website

courtesy - https://www.reedglobal.com/
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