You have just sat one of your CIMA exams. A wave of relief washes over you — or at least until the results arrive. But what do your exam results mean?
That depends on whether you’ve just completed an Objective Test or Case Study exam. Read on to understand what your marks mean and how you can make the most of them.
Understanding your Objective Test results
You will receive a provisional pass or fail immediately after taking an Objective Test. Then within 48 hours, your finalised results will be available on your MyCIMA account and will include:
Your overall grade (pass or fail)
Your scaled score, which is between 0 and 150, with a passing score being 100 or above
Performance feedback for each syllabus topic area
Note that your provisional score will be scaled. Objective Tests are scaled because there are multiple versions of the exam that range in difficulty. The exam you just submitted may have been slightly easier or more difficult than average. Scaled scoring ensures consistent results regardless of what day you sat the exam, meaning that all candidates with the same level of competence will receive the same score.
How do I know where I can improve?
For each subject area, you will be marked ‘proficient’ or ‘not proficient’. This evaluation is based on how many questions you answered correctly within each area. You will also receive performance feedback for each syllabus topic area, with suggestions on ways to improve.
Performance feedback is valuable whether you have passed or failed the exam because it clarifies strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you have received a ‘not proficient’ under the heading ‘organisational change’ topic on your Strategic level Objective Test exam, you will know to focus on that area when preparing for your Strategic level Case Study exam. If you need to resit an exam, you should ensure that you revise the entire syllabus and practice a range of exam questions. The resit exam is not “a top-up” exam so you must be prepared to answer a fresh set of questions from across the syllabus, not just the ones you weren’t proficient in.
Read the feedback under each syllabus topic and review linked resources. For more information, this video covers how Objective Tests are marked.
Making sense of your Case Study exam results
Case Study exams are human marked, so you can expect results about five to six weeks after the exam window closes.
Results will be available on your MyCIMA account and will include:
- Your overall grade (pass or fail)
Your scaled score, which is between 0 and 150, with a passing score being 80 or above
Performance feedback for each core activity
Like Objective Tests, Case Study exams are scaled. There are multiple versions of each Case Study exam, ranging in difficulty, throughout the testing window. Scores are scaled so results will be consistent regardless of which day you sat the exam. Like the Objective Tests, this means that all candidates with the same level of competence will receive the same score.
As of 2019, CIMA no longer requires you to meet the minimum threshold for each core activity. That means you only need to focus on the overall passing standard for your Case Study exams.
Review the exam timetable to see when your results will likely be published.
How do I know where I can improve?
You will receive feedback for each core activity described in the exam blueprint for the level you’re pursuing.
For example, if you have just completed the Operational Case Study exam, core activities would have included:
Preparing costing information for different purposes to meet the needs of management
Analysing performance using financial and nonfinancial information
Preparing information to manage working capital
Each core activity is meant to test skills today’s employers value. An exam marker will assess how well you performed in the simulated role (e.g. Finance Officer in the Operational Case Study exam) you were assigned.
For example, under the category of analysing performance, you will be deemed ‘strong’ if you show you can:
Identify information that allows managers to review performance.
Interpret variances to review functional and organisational performance.
Identify appropriate KPIs for different functions of the organisation.
Explain company performance using KPIs.
Prepare performance reports for use by different functions and different purposes in appropriate formats and media.
If you partially meet the marker’s standards, you will receive a score of ‘moderate’. If you don’t meet their standards, you will likely receive a ‘fail’ in that core activity.
Performance descriptors for each exam level are available:
The marker’s feedback can help you figure out where your strengths lie and where you could improve.
If there’s room for improvement, consider reviewing post-exam materials once they’re released. These resources include the examiner’s report, variants, model answers and marking schemes. You can also use the CIMA study planner at any time to better understand the types of answers markers are looking for.
By Mark Foley, Director of Relationship Programmes – Management Accounting at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA & CIMA