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A Guide To The New CIMA Objective Tests Questions (OTQ)

Amongst accountancy bodies, CIMA is leading the way with this revolutionary change to completely computerised assessment. Yet, it’s not so revolutionary really, as most of us spend all day working online.

The advantages are huge:

  • > An opportunity to offer rigorous assessment over a shorter exam period and no aching hands at the end of it.
  • > Exams on demand so that you can sit a subject when you are ready and when it suits you to do so.
  • > Immediate results and feedback to help you tackle any weaknesses.
  • > Best of all – employers like our new approach. They see it as mirroring the world of work more closely. A mix of OTQ exams and integrated case studies produce competent management accountants who can contribute to their businesses from day one.

Key facts about CIMA OTQ's

OTQs are a very important feature of the new syllabus and will apply to:

  1. All nine subjects.
  2. All three levels.
  3. All questions whether discursive or numeric.
  4. All learning outcomes within a subject.
  5. All cognitive levels covered in CIMA’s verb hierarchy
Be careful – all component learning outcomes will be tested in each test, so you must be confident across the entire syllabus if you are going to pass. The pass mark is 70%. 
For operational level subjects, the main focus of OTQ testing will be upon the lower levels of the CIMA hierarchy of verbs (knowledge, comprehension and application). For management and strategic levels, OTQs will also test analysis and evaluation.

Styles of OTQs

Many of you will already be familiar with some forms of OTQs, as they were used in 2010 syllabus and in the certificate in business accounting. Here are some of the ways in which OTQs may appear. 

Multiple choice (one from four).

This is the form of OTQ most people will recognise. This format is straightforward but has limitations and cannot be used to test higher level skills beyond knowledge and comprehension. In order to demonstrate application, analysis and evaluation skills, other OTQ formats are required. 

Multiple response.

Often used in more discursive questions where you will be asked to choose, say, two correct answers from six possibilities. All elements of a question must be answered correctly for the question to be marked correct. So, for example, if a multiple response question asks you to select three options, all three correct options much be selected for the question to be marked as correct. 

Drop down list.

 Drop down menus are a familiar feature in everyday life, most commonly used when completing on-line applications. You might come across questions in a similar format where you are asked to make a single choice from a drop down list, possibly to fill a gap in a sentence.

Drag and drop.

In this style of OTQ, you will be invited to drag tokens (such as a labels) and place them in a correct sequence, on a diagram, or so on. Some tokens may be nothing to do with the diagram or sequence and act as ‘distractors’. 
All tokens must be correctly dragged and dropped into the correct place for the question to be marked as correct.

Hot Spots.

In this format, you may have to identify, for example, an area on an image (e.g. the product life cycle) or a place on a graph by clicking on it.
OTQs may include very brief scenarios, particularly where a testing of higher level skills is involved. It is possible that a common scenario will involve more than one question being asked, with multiple questions appearing together in the test. 
However, each question is independent, so even if based on the same scenario, they are separate. This means there is no ‘double penalty’ for an earlier incorrect answer.

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