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Cheating CIMA students punished

23 February 2018

CIMA has dished out a real lesson of how not to use social media during exam windows!

The institute has stamped down hard on students in a WhatsApp group who ‘shared’ information about one of its operational level case study exams.

Over 30 students from the UK, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, and South Africa have been all been disciplined over what went on in the instant messaging group ‘OCS’, prior and during the November 2016 exam.

Many students have had their November exam results declared ‘void’. There has also been a range of punishments, including reprimands, severe reprimands and even cancellation of student’s registrations.

In many cases, where the student was reprimanded, they have been told to sit and pass the Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance, and Business law exam, before being permitted to sit any further CIMA exams.

The CIMA case study exams take place over a period of five days, so some students will see the questions and unseen material before others attempt the exam. To reduce the risks of disclosure students do not all take exactly the same exam. There are at least five ‘variants,’ which are allocated to students randomly.

CIMA acted quickly when it discovered quite a number of the 256 students in the WhatsApp group called ‘OCS’ were exchanging instant messages with each other during the exam window.

CIMA accessed all the correspondents on the group, and these were highlighted in the disciplinary cases. One student who was later severely reprimanded and told to pay £330 in costs posted: “Ppl plz show some gratitude and post whatever you get.” She also said: “Guys as we don’t hav much time to prepare…come up with details plz”. Then she got more specific: “Guys the first question on risk approach is that on maximin Or risk adverse risk seeking those?” This students November exam was voided but she subsequently passed OCS in May 2017 and this and other exams were allowed to remain valid.

It appears some PQs knew that what they were doing wasn’t right. One student asked: “What if he reports to CIMA.” The student was told: “Its not our fault its CIMA’s fault.” They went on: “they [CIMA] leak all the variants within a few day so ya”.
One reprimanded student asked just one question: “Anyone for the evening variant?” But that was enough to them to go before the disciplinary committee and be punished.
In many of the disciplinary cases that followed students were reminded that they are bound by the Code of Ethics at all times. Students also agree to the exam terms and conditions as part of the process of scheduling an exam. Those exam conditions state: “The exam is CIMA confidential and is protected by law. It is made available to you the candidate, solely for the purpose of being assessed by CIMA. You are expressly prohibited from disclosing, publishing, reproducing or transmitting the assessment, in whole or in part, in form or by any means, written, electronic or mechanical, for any purpose without the prior written permission of CIMA.”

It also specifically says you may not…share or discuss the question or answers seen in your exam with other candidates.

Interestingly the disciplinary committee said that students asking other sitters to share or discuss questions and answers are not a direct breach of the exam conditions, but it is a direct breach for other candidates to answer the questions. However, by inciting other students to break the conditions candidates were seeking an unfair advantage in taking the exam and breaking the Code of Ethics big time.

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