CIMA Pass Rates - The Most Recent Numbers

In this guide, we’ll explore the most recently released public data on CIMA exam pass rates.

Photo Credit: DMEPhotography/Canva

Becoming a CIMA-qualified accountant can seem like a long journey. 

You’ll have to undergo a series of exams that cover several topics and test your skills – from writing business recommendations to interpreting data and calculations. 

The entire process can be exhausting, yet, the rewards are well worth it.

A CIMA qualification can open many doors for you. It will help you gain competitive skills to get the job of your dreams and boost your earning potential.

So, in this guide, we’ll explore the most recently released data on CIMA pass rates.

We hope this will inspire you, whether you are about to take your first CIMA exam or are deep into your CIMA studies and want a glimpse of the topic you’ll be tested on.

CIMA Qualification at a Glance

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants​​ is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants.

By studying the CIMA qualification and becoming a member, you can use the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. 

To earn a CIMA qualification, you must pass a series of tests comprising four levels: certificate, operational, management, and strategic. These degrees are part of the Professional Qualification program. Beginning with the CIMA Certificate to the Strategic level, there are a total of 16 CIMA exams.

However, it’s not as simple as beginning with “CIMA exam 1” and ending it with “CIMA exam 16.” They appear in these levels:

The Four Levels of CIMA Exams

Image courtesy of Andy Barbour/Canva

Certificate Level

Also referred to as the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, the Certificate Level exam covers the basics of business and accounting. It is meant to act as a foundation for your CIMA qualifications.

Exams in this level cover:

  • BA1 (Fundamentals of Business Economics) 
  • BA2 (Fundamentals of Management Accounting)
  • BA3 (Fundamentals of Financial Accounting)
  • BA4 (Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law)

All CIMA Certificate exams are two hours long. You may encounter multiple choice questions, number entries, multiple responses, drag-and-drop types of answering, or hotspot (marking the correct spot).

Operational Level

This is a Professional Level in your CIMA studies. It focuses on daily operations and short-term strategy, with a particular emphasis on working as a member of a larger team and on technology.

Exams at the Operational level covers: 

  • CIMA E1 (Organizational Management)
  • CIMA P1 (Management Accounting)
  • CIMA F1 (Financial Reporting and Taxation)
  • Operational Case Study

Management Level

This part of your study turns the monitoring, analysis, and implementation of decisions. Most especially on how you can make medium-term decisions from long-term ones. At this level, the exams you’ll take are

  • CIMA E2 (Project and Relationship Management)
  • CIMA P2 (Advanced Management Accounting)
  • CIMA F2 (Advanced Financial Reporting)
  • Management Case Study

Passing the "CIMA Gateway" exam is viewed as equal to passing the Operational and Management levels

For those with a Master’s in Accounting degree or an MBA, they can choose to take the CIMA Gateway exam instead. Essentially, this is the same exam as the Management Case Study. If passed, they’ll be seen as equivalent to passing both Operational and Management levels and go straight to the Strategic Level of their CIMA studies.

But make no mistake, this exam is not easy and has the lowest pass rate (only an average of 18% vs 61% on other exams) among all exams. Remember that having a Master’s Degree doesn’t necessarily mean you are familiar with the CIMA Gateway exam structure. You will need to ensure you are familiar with all the theory covered in the previous "Objective Test" exams (i.e. E1 through to F2). Plugging any gaps in your knowledge here will be key.

Don’t worry, though, as it can be achieved with careful preparation and the guidance of a great tuition provider (like VIVA!).

Strategic Level

As you reach this level, you’re almost done with your CIMA study, and you already have extensive accounting knowledge. The Strategic level is where you’ll learn about supporting leaders in a company or group and about long-term strategic decision-making.

Exams at the Strategic level cover:

  • CIMA E3 (Strategic Management)
  • CIMA P3 (Risk Management)
  • CIMA F3 (Financial Strategy)
  • Strategic Case Study

Be sure to check out our guides on How To Pass CIMA Exams and 6 Tips to Pass CIMA Fast

CIMA Exam Pass Rates

Image courtesy of Nikada/Canva

CIMA Case Study Exams

Source: CIMA Global

In every one of the three levels of exams (Operational, Management, and Strategic), there are another three exams from each of the learning pillars. These include the Enterprise Pillar (E) exams, Performance Pillar (P) exams, and the Financial Pillar (F) exams. These are known collectively as the "Objective Test" exams.

Objective Test Exams

Source: CIMA Global

In any OT exam, you are provided with 60 questions and 90 minutes to finish answering them. It means it only takes about 90 seconds per question. 

Some questions require less reading and consideration, while others require more focus to balance the test. The questions are presented differently for each exam as they use randomisation. 

Key Ways To Succeed in Your CIMA Exams (First Time!)

Passing your CIMA exams doesn’t have to be a hard nut to crack. Here are some tips to succeed.

1. Have a plan

Having a robust plan is vital to exam success. Before you even begin studying, sit down and make a feasible plan that fits into your life, ensuring you cover the whole syllabus.

It’s also important to know the type of learner you are. Some people are better at retaining information by reading, others by listening. Some enjoy practical exercises. You can then choose the format that works best for you, whether it’s notes, podcasts, video or a combination.

2. Start early

Don’t wait for the pre-seen material to be released to start studying. Begin early so you’ll have enough time for practice and revision.

The sooner you start, the more you’ll learn and the more confident you’ll become on exam day.

3. Take mock exams

Mock exams simulate the actual exam conditions and provide an opportunity to test your knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and assess your exam readiness. By taking mock exams, you can practice time management, learn how to approach different types of questions, and improve your exam technique.

Additionally, mock exams can help you develop a deeper understanding of the course content and boost your confidence in tackling the exam. 

4. Find practical ways to manage your stress

At some point, you may feel stressed studying for your CIMA exams. Others have been there too!

So, take a moment to pause and breathe when things get too much. Be kind to yourself. Allow time to rest. If you want, you can give yourself mini rewards once in a while once you achieve your study goals. 

Combing all these tips, you should be exam ready. Be confident of the amount of preparation and work you’ve put in. 

Improve Your Chances of Passing CIMA Exams Today

Image courtesy of Pixelshot/Canva

Pass rates change with each sitting. So, don’t focus too much on one result. Although these pass rates are useful, they don’t necessarily mean that one exam is always going to be harder than another. 

Make the most of these numbers by factoring them into how much study time you feel you may need to devote to each subject. But don’t get too distracted from the immediate task at hand – namely, consistent and effective studying and practice.

And please, don’t forget to look after your well-being! Be in your healthiest mindset always makes it easier to achieve your goals.

VIVA is the only tuition provider you need to pass your CIMA exams first time. In 2020, CIMA honoured VIVA with the prestigious CIMA Global Pass Rate Excellence Award due to its outstanding pass rates compared to the average.

But don’t just take our, or CIMA's, word for it! Check out these independent testimonials from our delighted CIMA students.

Accelerate your CIMA journey now. Click here.

why viva?

Pass faster. Pay less.

Save thousands, save time, without compromising your standards.

CIMA Courses

Operational Level
Management Level
Strategic Level

Study for your CIMA Objective Test and Case Study exams with the most extensive, award-winning study resources including video lectures, course notes, mock exams, and more.

Start learning from only £34 per course.

ACCA Courses

Applied Knowledge
Applied Skills
Strategic Professional

Coming soon in 2022: save thousands on ACCA tuition with VIVA's All Access ACCA pass, granting you access to all ACCA subject courses, including video lectures, practice questions, live Q&As, and more.

Register for free to receive exclusive Early Bird discounts:

Start Learning for Free with Award-winning CIMA Tutors

Simply enter your info to unlock. No credit card required; get immediate access
Sign up to get started
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Join 30,000+ students”, let’s replace it with: “10,000+ students, 4.7 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot