CIMA Self Study - Can I Do It and Still Ace the Exams?

Can you self-study from the comfort of your own home and still have a good chance of success in CIMA? Below we answer your self-study questions.

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Anyone can study for the CIMA qualification, regardless if they’re new in the field of finance and business or already an experienced professional. 

But can anyone self-study CIMA in the comfort of their own home and still ace the exams? Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know:

What is Chartered Global Management Accountant (CIMA)?

CIMA is the world’s largest professional body of management accountants, with over 250,000 members in 180 countries. 

The CIMA qualification has 16 exams and is split into four levels as follows:

Certificate Level ( Business Accounting)

The Certificate in Business Accounting (Cert BA) is the introductory level if you’re new to accountancy. It is designed to offer a strong foundation in the principles of financial management, management accounting, business law, and economics to develop the knowledge and skills you’ll need to become a successful finance professional.

Operational Level

The Operational Level is the first level in the CIMA professional qualification. At this level, the learning focus is on short-term decision-making. At the professional stages, including this one, each will have three Objective Test exams and one Case Study exam. 

Management Level

This is the second level of CIMA professional qualification, which builds on the knowledge and skills developed at the operational level. At this level, you’ll cover these essential subject areas: Advanced Management Accounting (P2), Managing Performance (E2), and Advanced Financial Reporting (F2).

Strategic Level

This is the third and final level of the CIMA Professional Qualification. This level builds on knowledge and skills developed at the management level. The CIMA Strategic Level comprises three subject areas (Strategic Management, Risk Management and Financial Strategy)and a Strategic Level case study exam.

CIMA-qualified professionals work in Financial Analysis, Treasury Management, Project Finance, Financial Reporting, Corporate Finance, Risk Management, Business Analysis, etc. 

Related: CIMA Qualification Cost - Full Breakdown in 2023

Can I Study CIMA On My Own?

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Yes, you can study CIMA independently and still pass the exams. 

When you hear the term “self-study,” a bored, frustrated student sitting for hours laboriously going through one textbook after another might come to mind. While textbooks have their place, today, self-study can include on-demand videos, practice tests and online mock exams. This can be a combination of free and paid resources from your chosen tuition provider. 

The CIMA official website provides many resources, from exam guides to study planners. You can use these resources to study at your own pace. This study setup is ideal for people with jobs, children, or families to care for who can’t fit in-person classes into their schedules. 

However, it’s important to be realistic about your learning style and circumstances before you embark on this learning journey.

Before committing to self-study, ask yourself:

  • Am I self-motivated and disciplined? Self-study requires consistent effort and a strong drive to stay focused on your goals. Determine if you can manage and balance the freedom of self-study with the need for timely progress.
  • Can I manage my time effectively? Self-study demands good time management skills. Evaluate your ability to allocate dedicated study hours, stick to a schedule, and prioritise your learning goals alongside other commitments.
  • Do I enjoy independent learning? Some individuals thrive in self-directed learning environments, while others prefer structured classroom settings. Reflect on whether you enjoy learning on your own and if you are comfortable taking responsibility for your own education.
  • Can I stay focused and avoid distractions? Self-study often requires creating a conducive learning environment and minimising distractions. 
  • Do I have a support network or access to assistance? While self-study emphasizes independent learning, having a support network or access to resources for clarifying doubts and seeking guidance can be beneficial. Consider if you have access to online communities, forums, tutors, or mentors who can assist you when needed.

By honestly answering these questions, you can gain insights into whether self-study aligns with your personality traits, learning preferences, and available resources. Remember, self-study is not suitable for everyone, and alternative learning methods are available if it is not the right fit for you.

Related: The Best Learning Style To Study CIMA

How Much Time Will I Need To Dedicate to CIMA Exam Preparation?

At the CIMA certificate level, you should set aside 35-50 hours of study for each paper, which includes online tuition. Depending on your circumstances, this could take between 6 and 8 weeks. 

Each Objective Test paper will take approximately 45-60 hours of study over 8-10 weeks.

Why Self-Study Might Be The Best Option For You

Flexibility: Self-studying allows individuals to create their own schedules and study at their own pace. It offers flexibility to accommodate personal and professional commitments without the constraints of fixed class timings.

Cost-effective: Online resources, such as textbooks, study guides, and practice exams, are often more affordable than in-person classes. 

Customised Learning: Self-study enables learners to tailor their study methods to their specific needs. They can focus more on challenging topics, spend additional time on areas they find difficult, and progress through the material at their own speed.

Global Learning Community: Online platforms often offer forums, discussion boards, and social media groups where learners can connect with peers from around the world. This allows for knowledge sharing, collaborative learning, and exposure to diverse perspectives.

Efficient Use of Time: Online classes eliminate the need for commuting to physical classrooms, enabling learners to use their time more efficiently. They can study from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating travel time and potential distractions associated with attending in-person classes.

Career and Location Flexibility: For individuals with busy work schedules or those residing in remote areas with limited or no tuition provision, self-study or distance learning with online resources offers the flexibility to pursue professional qualifications without geographical constraints.

Why Study with VIVA?

At VIVA, our mission is to turn career aspirations into reality by ensuring that premium tuition is accessible to all, rather than limited to a privileged few. We provide top-tier accountancy tuition at a fraction of the cost typically associated with traditional providers.

VIVA has achieved this combination of premium tuition and groundbreaking prices by combining streamlined online delivery with a small core team of dedicated experts. Here is what you can expect when you sign up for our CIMA All Access Course:

  • 120+ hours of on-demand video lectures (with special hotspot sessions for tricky topics)
  • A user-friendly learning interface that keeps track of where you stopped watching
  • 5 hours of live Case Study webinars per window
  • 58 mock exams across Objective Tests and Case Studies
  • Downloadable course notes and timetables.

We strive to conduct live webinars outside of work hours, so you can interact with your CIMA tutors and tap into their deep expertise by asking them questions and getting their answers immediately. And in the event you cannot attend, all live webinars are recorded and uploaded to your account for on-demand viewing later.

Why Should I Study CIMA?

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CIMA is a globally recognised qualification that opens doors of opportunities for you worldwide, both in the business environment and in accounting. 

In fact, CIMA is the industry standard in management accounting and is highly respected in the financial industry. It is also a qualification that will help you progress into chartered accountancy.

Companies ranging from Nestle, Unilever, Deloitte, and Barclays recognise and train their staff with CIMA. You’ll also look at an average salary of approximately £65,000 once qualified, depending on your industry and where you work. 

How Long Does CIMA Take?

On average, finishing the CIMA professional qualification takes three to six years. The time you take to finish will depend on work commitments, exam retakes, personal circumstances, or other factors.

CIMA stated that the certificate level can be completed by students at their own pace. For the professional qualification that involves study exams and OT, students complete these in approximately four years.

Unlock Your CIMA Potential

In conclusion, self-studying for CIMA exams is possible and can be a highly rewarding and practical approach for many individuals.

While attending in-person classes has its merits, self-study offers a wealth of advantages, including flexibility, cost-effectiveness, customisation, and access to diverse resources. By harnessing your self-motivation, discipline, and resourcefulness, you can embark on a journey of independent learning tailored to your own pace and preferences.

With the right study materials, a well-structured plan, and a supportive online community, you can conquer the challenges and succeed in your CIMA exams.

So, if you're ready to take control of your learning, embrace the possibilities of self-study, and unlock the doors to a rewarding career in management accounting with CIMA.

VIVA has helped over 10,000 students reach success with their easy-to-understand and fully comprehensive CIMA courses. Start learning today.

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