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Study Zone

Lecturers’ conference: the operational level

We report from the CIMA Lecturers' Conference

December 2015

E1: pass rates 2015
First time pass rate: Jan/May 78%; Jan/Sept 78%
Total exam pass rate: Jan/May 76%; Jan/Sept 76%

CIMA said it was ‘satisfied’ with a E1 pass rate that is over 75% for first-time sitters. There is one clear area that students are struggling with – managing the finance function. This is, however, just 15% of the syllabus. But it is one area that your tutors (and you) need to look at more closely. The worry is that if you don’t master this area you might struggle when it comes up in the case study. The first-time pass rate is higher than the overall pass rate and it was suggested that old students were not looking properly at the changes in the syllabus. Managing the finance function is a new area, introduced in the 2015 syllabus.

P1: pass rates 2015
First time pass rate: Jan–May 45%; Jan–Sept 46%
Total exam pass rate: Jan–May 43%; Jan–Sept 44%

With P1 it seems that sitters either know their stuff or don’t. The two areas that have a higher proportion of candidates being not proficient are short-term decision making and dealing with risk and uncertainty. Much of the syllabus relating to short-term decision making is from the previous P2 syllabus, so students should ensure they are fully prepared for this section.

F1: pass rates 2015
First time pass rate: Jan–May 75.2%; Jan–Sept 75.5%
Total exam pass rate: Jan–May73.5%; Jan–Sept 73.8%

CIMA felt there has been fairly consistent student performance across the entire syllabus. Students who pass have a balanced knowledge of the four syllabus areas. Those that fail seem to be struggling with financial accounting and reporting in a big way. This is a core F1 area and will be where the examiner takes most of the questions. One tip given at the conference was to focus on the learning outcomes rather than just looking at the content alone.

Operational case study
Exam session Industry Company Pass rate
February 2015 - 44%
May 2015 – 67%
August 2015 – 34%

So far, the operational case study has concentrated on two manufacturers and one retail business. Students must remember that the case study is all about application, said the chief marker. In the first case study in February, there were some very good answers, but a significant number of very poor ones, which pulled down the pass rate.
In February, there was some good application on E1 aspects, especially market segmentation, quality circles and outsourcing. Students were also strong on working capital aspects of F1. Students’ answers were more limited on the more technical areas, and a lack of P1 and F1 technical knowledge was evident. There was also evidence of rote learning, too.
For May, there were far fewer really poor answers, which helped pull up the pass rate. Application on the whole was also much better and there were more completed answers. Candidates showed they were good at ABC to the painting process, variance analysis, outsourcing and SLAs, brand importance and assessment of creditworthiness. That said, there was still a lack of some technical knowledge, especially F1 accounting issues.
Another criticism was the lack of balanced arguments in answers when discussing the suitability of a suggestion. CIMA case study students are generally poor at suggestions of how information presented to them could be improved.
August saw a disappointing drop in the pass rate. Here the application to the scenario, in relation to the less technical aspects, was again reasonably good. The lack of technical knowledge was very poor. There was also evidence of pre-prepared answers that were not always relevant or applied. Markers also felt that some sitters are not stating the obvious and missing easy marks.

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