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Frequently asked questions

CIMA Professional Chartered Management Accounting Qualification 2005

Why is CIMA making changes to the qualification?

The new generation CIMA Professional Chartered Management Accounting qualification is designed to further enhance the premier status of the Chartered Management Accountant and build upon the success of the current qualification. It will be even more relevant to the needs of employers and the dynamic environments within which CIMA students and members work.

How does CIMA’s new syllabus make me more employable?

The new CIMA syllabus has:

  • management content than key competitors
  • more management accounting in the syllabus than any other body
  • more strategy papers than other CCAB bodies

CIMA is the only qualification to cover project management in detail. These changes ensure that CIMA is relevant to the needs of business and enhances the status of your qualification and career.

When are the first exams under the new syllabus?

The new syllabus will be examined for the first time in May 2005.

What are the key differences between the existing qualification and the new qualification?

  • The CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting is now a separate entry level qualification. The syllabus for this has not changed and those completing it will continue to be awarded with the Certificate in Business Accounting.
  • The current Intermediate and Final levels will cease to exist The new CIMA Professional Chartered Management Accounting Qualification will have two levels – Managerial and Strategic
  • There are less exams – 6 at Managerial level, 3 at Strategic level and a final Test of Professional Competence in Management Accounting (TOPCIMA).
  • The syllabus comprises three ‘learning pillars’ – the Management Accounting pillar, the Business Management pillar and the Financial Management pillar.
  • Within each learning pillar there are three syllabus subjects. Two of these subjects are set at the lower Managerial level, with the third subject positioned at the higher Strategic level.

What is the TOPCIMA and why is it not part of the Strategic level?

The TOPCIMA is the Test of Professional Competence in Management Accounting. It replaces the current case study but will be similar to it in terms of the assessment format. It is a broad based final level of assessment which requires the demonstration of key business skills, such as identifying and prioritising technical issues.

Students must have successfully completed all strategic level examinations before sitting the TOPCIMA.

It is a pathway directly into membership for those students who have previously had their practical experience assessed and approved.

TOPCIMA is comparable to the current Management Accounting Case Study in that:

  • It has no specific syllabus content (material from any part of the syllabus could be potentially relevant)
  • The assessment format will be similar to the current Case Study (therefore pre-seen material will be published in advance with new unseen material provided in the exam)
  • It is a three hour written exam.

Do I have to submit my PER prior to entering for the Test of Professional Competence?

Although CIMA recommends that students submit their Career Profile for assessment of their practical experience before sitting the TOPCIMA, existing students may complete the TOPCIMA and then submit their Career Profile. They will not however be awarded membership status until both TOPCIMA and the Career Profile have been successfully completed.

What is the record of skills development and why has it been introduced?

A short record of skills development, consisting of documentation of instances in which defined behavioural skills have been demonstrated, will be required along with your Career Profile. The record of skills development will enable you to demonstrate your ability to display key behavioural skills that are essential to the role of the Chartered Management Accountant for example presentations, negotiation, influencing etc. The record of skills development will endorse the holistic assessment of your practical experience and supports the importance that CIMA attaches to the achievement of such skills.

What support is available to students during the introduction of the new professional qualification?

A range of support guides will be available covering many aspects of the qualification, including gap analyses giving subject by subject comparisons of the new and old syllabus. Pilot papers for each of the nine subjects at Managerial and Strategic level will also be available – these are indicative of the style and format of the new exam papers.

Should I sit exams under the current syllabus in May/November 2004 or wait until the exams in May 2005?

If you are sitting exams in May and/or November 2004 you are advised to continue with your studies as planned. You will be transferred over to the new syllabus and you will not have to sit more papers than you would have under the current syllabus. The content of the subjects you sit under the current syllabus will form an essential underpinning for the subjects at the higher level of the new qualification.

How can I get more information?

Further information will be available from this web area in March. You are also recommended to read the March edition of CIMA Insider. Tuition providers have been fully briefed and should be able to respond to your queries.

I have purchased Study Systems for this year's exams (2004), will I be able to use these for the new exams in 2005?

We always advise students to use the most up-to-date Study Systems and this is essential with the introduction of the new syllabus exams in 2005. The new Study Systems have been designed specifically to meet the demands of the new syllabus and students who use the old texts are likely to have some gaps in their knowledge, or spend time studying areas which are no longer relevant to the new subject.

How long does registration take ?

Normally no more than 28 days from the time CIMA received your application form.

What are the registration deadlines for new students?

31 January for the May exams, or 31 July for the November exams. Students who wish to register only and do not wish to avail MCG support services should send their registration form with the appropriate fee directly to CIMA.

Do I pay for exemptions now?

To register, you must send CIMA the minimum payment of the registration fee, and subscription fee for the year. Invoices for exemption fees are sent separately, once they are confirmed. (See 'Fees & dates' above).

What does 'certified copy' mean?

Copies of your educational certificates must be signed by a responsible person, such as a senior work colleague, to confirm that they are genuine.

How do I apply for exemptions, and what is a course transcript?

A course transcript is an official list of courses, from the university or institute that you have passed to obtain your previous qualification. The exemptions award automatically by CIMA will depend on whether your particular qualification is on the database. More information can be found under ‘ Entry point’ above.

I am waiting for my AAT Technician results. Can I still register?

Yes, if you already meet the CIMA minimum entry requirements. Please send CIMA a copy of the relevant certificates, such as AAT Intermediate, with your student registration form, before the appropriate closing date. As soon as you get your AAT Technician results, please send them on to CIMA.

How do I enter for the exams?

Full details are available  --here--

Do I have to pay a whole year's subscription if I register part-way through the year?

Yes, unless you register after 1 September, when your subscription is valid until 31 December the following year.

How many hours per week do I need to study?

It's important to realise that it's not the sheer quantity of hours of studying that matters but rather the quality. You can judge this quality by its effectiveness. CIMA exam system offers a flexible approach at the Foundation and Intermediate levels and you can choose to sit up to six papers at a time. Therefore, general statements about how many hours per week you should devote to studying need to be qualified carefully.

As a rough guide, the average CIMA student should be looking at an average of about 3-4 hours per week per paper being studied over a 6-month period. It's important to stress that there are some students who can successfully do less than this and others who need longer. Another factor is that the time devoted to studying usually increases in the pre-exam phase, so the 3-4 hours is an average over the whole period of study. The CIMA recommended amount of teaching time per subject is 60 hours. For those studying by distance learning total study time may be estimated at twice the tuition time.

Time management planning

We recommend that you approach time management planning in a methodical way. You should identify, in advance, when you're going to study during each week or month, using a calendar dedicated to your studies. On this calendar you should show each period you will devote to studying, clearly marking the subject, or even topic area, you will cover. This will give you a definite plan, in writing, to work to and to monitor your progress against.

What is the Duration of the programme?

You can sit between one and six papers from the Foundation and Intermediate levels (subject to some progression rules) at any single exam sitting. You must complete the Foundation and Intermediate levels before you can sit exams for the Final level. The first time you sit the Final level exams you must take the three management accounting strategy papers at the same exam sitting. You can choose to sit the case study exam at the same time, or at a later sitting. The average time in which students will be expected to qualify will be three to four years.