CIMA goes completely digital

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The CIMA 2015 syllabus makes it a completely digital course. Image via Explore CIMAThe CIMA 2015 syllabus makes it a completely digital course. Image via Explore CIMA

We have already looked at how the local Examination Board, ZIMSEC, have a Joker up their sleeves for the 2015 public examinations; well so does CIMA. The Chartered Institute Management Accountants, which in my own opinion is the best accounting board on planet earth, an opinion which is not at all coloured by the fact that I am an aspiring student with the board, has decided to take it a little further than ZIMSEC’s electronic locks: all examinations for the 2015 syllabus will be administered online.

True enough CIMA has always had a Computer Based examination option which for the entry level CIMA business certificate was the only examination option but the higher levels of the course were always exempt from this requirement. Students had the traditional option to write on good old paper at traditional examination centres with invigilators just like they do with Cambridge IGCSE and ZIMSEC exams. The papers would be sent to the marking centers by courier where they would be marked and the results sent back to the students. Students also had the option to sit for exams twice a year just like with the traditional exams.

The new 2015 syllabus is completely radical. In an involved process that saw them consulting prospective employers as to their needs, CIMA acknowledge that computers and the internet have become an essential and integral part of the workplace environment and no serious professional would make it in today’s world if they don’t know how to use these to their advantage. With that in mind they have decided that starting January 2015 (the current month) all examinations will be computer based.

They have partnered with the folks at Pearson VUE who have extensive decades long experience in administering computer based tests. Candidates will be required to go to their local Pearson VUE center to book and seat for the exam. Students can use the search page on the Pearson VUE site page to locate nearby centers. There are currently four listed centers for Zimbabwe namely: Adept Solutions in Belgravia, Trust Academy opposite Mukwati Building, ICDT on corner Jason Moyo and Chinhoyi as well as Multimedia TecKnowledge in Bulawayo. The centers, in exchange for an administration fee paid in addition to the actual CIMA exam fee, provide the students with the necessary infrastructure to write the exam.

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The exam consists of randomly offered questions based on a CIMA test bank database. Because of this, students can sit for the exams (known as objective tests) anytime they want whenever they feel ready. Because the questions change every time a student takes an exam, no two students write the same exam thus preventing “leaking.” Upon completing the exam the student is immediately given their result with the option to retake the exam if they so wish, after payment of another exam and administration fee of course.

To complete each level students have to sit for an integrated test that is administered four times a year provided they have passed the previously mentioned examination. They have a week long period of five days and can sit for the exam on any of those five days. Again because the questions are randomly selected from a Data Bank it means no two exams are the same and therefore no leaking will occur. This also prevents a situation where pupils fail to write an exam due to reasons like illness and failing to read the timetable correctly or leaving their ID at home, cases which are often heard in ZIMSEC and Cambridge exams. The exams are marked by humans and the results electronically disseminated to the students.

While CIMA’s igneous ideas are to be applauded it is highly unlikely that such a plan would be feasible for ZIMSEC partly due to the vast number of candidates involved in the later’s case as well as the sheer financial requirements involved with such a method. There are also the issues of network and ZESA to contend with. Nevertheless I feel CIMA has unveiled to us the future.



21 Comments

  1. Nathaniel says:

    You are very right about CIMA giving us the future, and also being the best accounting board in the World.There will always be plenty of MBAs and one CIMA they always say.

    1. MOSES says:

      Guys why do you say CIMA is the best accounting body?

      1. Garikai says:

        Oh its simple really there are only two global Accounting Certifications to talk about: CIMA and ACCA in the later they spend so much time drilling into you what other people have said and what you ought to do. It’s always IAS says this, IFRS that, ASA 500 this, the GAAP and then the IFRICs blah blah. CIMA teaches you to be analytical, its about what you can do not what you ought to do.

        1. don says:

          You are talking as someone who is quite misinformed. you are being very shallow when you infer CIMA is analytical and ACCA is not. Why then would an ACCA graduate be exempted from most of the CIMA syllabus should they choose to become a CIMA.. In my opinion ACCA is more versatile because it can be converted to ICAEW in England, CPA and CA in Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore…. etc

          1. Flex says:

            Both CIMA can be converted to ICAEW/CA(SA)/CPA (Australia) etc. It should be noted that no two professional accounting programmes are the same.

  2. Beatnyama says:

    Going online is a very good way to advance and make use of technology in the right way. Students can write any time they want and this should be a good thing.

    My only reservations are that no matter what security measures are put in place exams will always leak online. Many organisations (Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, et al) with their hundreds of certifications have faced the same problem whereby exams leak and are available as dumps on the internet. This then means students with access to these dumps get to pass without putting the same amount of effort as other students. Other organisations have stopped giving only theory exams to try and bypass this sad fact. In addition to the theory exam, you are then expected to take a practical exam which really show how good you are with a certain topic or subject.

    I’m not sure how CIMA is going to solve that problem of exams leaking, but i hope they make it work.

    1. [email protected] says:

      Brain Dumps are not leaks in the context of those certifications.

      Merely a community effort to “dump” what you wrote, soon after writing, whilst its fresh in the mind

  3. Beatnyama says:

    I hear you, but that’s just terminology. My point is at the end of the day, the real questions and answers are available on the internet thereby giving other students an unfair advantage.

    1. [email protected] says:

      It isnt terminology. Your case against “going digital” sites brain dumps as having a direct relationship with being digital.

      THEY DO NOT.

      Brain dumps are community generated and are not in anyway resultant from leaking of digital examinations(which you imply).

      1. Beatnyama says:

        I never said I am against “going digital”. As an ICT person why would be against anything digital? The exact word i used is reservations. I merely am mentioning a foreseeable problem with this method of examinations whilst at the same time acknowledging its many advantages. You are wrongly assuming that as long as something is good it has no downsides. In this case it has.

        Call it what ever you want (the terminology i referred to) , but at the end of the day “real exam” questions and “real answers” will be available online, which is the problem i’m alluding to. Whether we call them brain dumps or leaks or whatever, it doesn’t matter, the questions and answers will be there for all to view. Which again is what i mentioned in my original comment.

  4. DDX says:

    Dear all

    As an accounting student, l am, naturally interested in the remark that the CIMA, is the best of all accounting bodies.

    l will not say which is or which isn’t but allow me to share a few thoughts.

    As far as l know, CIMA is more industry and commercially focused, think of banking, heavy and light industry and that sort of thing. The ACCA on the other hand is broader, theoratically you can do just about anything with the ACCA be it tax, audit, accounting, consultancy etc. The CIMA is a bit hamstrung as they cannot audit and their tax is a little limited or so l believe.

    Anyway, l guess at the end of the day it really depends on what you want to do with your future, do you want to work in a professional services firm e.g. the accounting firms, do you want to be a tax adviser? Then ACCA / CA (Z) would serve you better/

    If you want to be a cost accountant, management accountant, financial manager etc CIMA will do the trick, but that being said so will the ACCA / CA.

    lt also depends where you are, in SA for instance CIMA is highly regarded after SAICA, the local CA body, whereas the ACCA is a distant third or so option.It may be because the ACCA is a direct rival of the CA(SA) body whereas the CIMA is not.

    Interestingly in the UK the two main bodies the ICAEW and the ACCA are interchangeable for most jobs and l believe that used to be the case locally between ACCA and ICAZ. However, in this day, ICAZ is by far the leader locally.

    Anyway l am sure this debate is not one easily resolved, locally l would assume the CA(Z) would rightfully claim they rule the roost, given the prestige and the prominence of their members locally but so too could the CIS people and the other bodies.

    ln my opinion, it is not what you have that counts, rather what you do with it, with almost all of the above qualifications you can do well. so this becomes more of a personal issue. All of these will get you into the door but once in it is up to you to show you are a worthy of being elevated. There are some people who we may call QBE – Qualified By Experience who can do the job better than some of those who at least, on paper, are qualified. The reverse is also true.

    Having said that, some qualifications do make it easier to get into certain doors e.g. for auditing and the blue chips or listed companies, l believe ICAZ, ACCA, CIMA are probably better placed to get you in than CIS, CPA, ZAAT etc. So when choosing a qualification one must bear this in mind.

    1. Stanley says:

      Sir,thanks for your contributions.I am personally a member of ICAZ but dont mislead people by undermining a qualification called CIS,thiss qualification is the toughest of all ie CIMA and ACCA save ICAZ only.it have a broad approach to business,accounting and administration.As of me i did ICAZ.ACCA and CIS ,i saw that CIS is very tough compared to ACCA.I am not sure of CIMA since i did not do it.Its membership also are holders of many public institutes than ACCAs and ICAZ.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CIMA ACCA
    CIMA is focused on business and
    uniquely covers:
    • operations
    • change management
    • relationship and project management
    • marketing.
    ACCA is focused on professional practice
    and uniquely covers:
    • taxation of corporate and non-corporate
    entities (using actual tax rules)
    • external audit and assurance
    • law (although the CIMA Certificate in Business
    Accounting covers this topic).
    CIMA provides more emphasis on:
    • human resource management
    (more thoroughly and at a higher level)
    • applied management accounting techniques.
    ACCA provides a different emphasis on:
    • information systems.
    Key points of
    difference
    The University of Bath study revealed the focus between the CIMA and ACCA syllabi, highlighting
    areas of unique coverage and significant advantage.
    The comparative research has concluded that CIMA members are better qualified to contribute
    to sustainable organisational success. CIMA combines the rigour of an accounting qualification
    with the business skills needed to offer strategic advice.
    CIMA Business
    Success Wheel™
    content coverage by
    paper CIMA v ACCA
    CIMA coverage provides more
    relevant competence in at least
    one paper
    No distinction
    CIMA coverage provides less
    relevant competence in at least
    one paper
    CIMA papers Comparative coverage of elements of ACCA papers
    E3, E2, E1 Strategy P3
    F3, P2, P1 Planning P4, P5, F9
    E3, E2, E1 Leadership P3
    P3 Risk and control P4, P5
    P1, P2 Efficiency and effectiveness P5, F5, F9
    F3, E2 Project management P3
    E2, E1 Motivation F1
    E3, E1 Innovation –
    E1 Customer value –
    ‘I never wanted to be a
    stereotypical accountant.
    I wanted to be part of the
    action – rather than part of
    the reaction – in business.
    That’s what the CIMA
    qualification has enabled
    me to be.’
    Paul McNiven FCMA
    Product Development
    Controller, Ford, UK

  6. Anonymous says:

    Key points of
    difference
    ‘I never wanted to be a
    stereotypical accountant.
    I wanted to be part of the
    action – rather than part of
    the reaction – in business.
    That’s what the CIMA
    qualification has enabled
    me to be.’
    Paul McNiven FCMA
    Product Development
    Controller, Ford, UK
    CIMA ICAEW
    CIMA is focused on business and
    uniquely covers:
    • strategic risk and control
    • relationship management
    • information systems strategy.
    ICAEW is focused on professional practice
    and uniquely covers:
    • taxation of corporate and non-corporate
    entities (using actual tax rules)
    • audit and assurance
    • law (at a more basic level).
    CIMA provides more emphasis on:
    • business strategy (at advance level)
    • financial strategy
    • applied management accounting techniques
    • applied strategic management.
    ICAEW provides a different emphasis on:
    • financial accounting and reporting
    • assessing professional competence in area of
    professional practice.
    The University of Bath study revealed the focus between the CIMA and ICAEW syllabi,
    highlighting areas of both unique coverage and significant advantage.
    The comparative research has concluded that CIMA members are better qualified to contribute
    to sustainable organisational success. CIMA combines the rigour of an accounting qualification
    with the business skills needed to offer strategic advice.
    CIMA Business
    Success Wheel™
    content coverage by
    paper CIMA v ICAEW
    CIMA coverage provides more
    relevant competence in at least
    one paper
    No distinction
    CIMA coverage provides less
    relevant competence in at least
    one paper
    CIMA papers Comparative coverage of elements of ICAEW papers
    E3, E2, E1 -Strategy -Business strategy
    F3, P2, P1 -Planning- Financial management
    E3, E2, E1- Leadership- Business strategy
    P3 -Risk and control- Financial management
    P1, P2 -Efficiency and effectiveness – Financial management
    F3, E2 -Project management – Business strategy
    E2, E1 -Motivation – None
    E3, E1- Innovation – None
    E1 -Customer value – None

  7. CALTON says:

    IN Zimbabwe C.I.S rules the roast.Its the biggest boss of all these save ICAZ

    1. Garikai Dzoma says:

      My eyes almost fell out of their sockets when I read this. What are you smoking please give it to me too. It has to be good indeed to make you even believe that.

    2. Flex says:

      Kkkk. There are more CIS graduates in Zimbabwe than from any other accounting body. This is simply because its cheap. However, CIS graduates are now doing ACCA

  8. ACA Aspirant says:

    Guys,
    How does one study for the ACA (ICAEW) in Zimbabwe? Are there any tuition providers or exam centres?

  9. Professor says:

    Smear campaign does not work. ICAZ, ACCA, CIMA, CIS, CPAZ are all principal bodies of PAAB. Check the market and chose wisely. Read quietly and make progress in life. I can assure you a qualification is as good as its holder. Look at company executives in Zimbabwe, check their profiles on websites you will agree with me that all the above qualifications are good enough to pursue.

    1. Garikai says:

      Yes PC principal. I will not date speak the truth again

  10. David says:

    Great insight on the article together with the comments too.

    I’ll weigh in with my thoughts though, no single qualification rules the roost. There is need for dynamism and constant improvement in a course/ qualification. I’ve watched over the years …CIS was very powerful until it stagnated, they went for 10+ years without changing their course outlines and curiculums, the rest is history. After completion of CIS, you see people registering with ACCA and CIMA…then you wonder why? It stagnated! Its like water in a pond full of algae.

    The same applies to UZ, after completing their ‘highly pretigious’ BAcc degree you see folks registering for UNISA…then you wonder why? It stagnated!
    I had a strange encounter at UZ,some years ago…a lecturer was teaching us SSAPs…if you know what I mean. Of course SSAPs have since been replaced by IASs and now most standards are being repealed and being replaced by IFRSs. I was shocked!

    Lastly my thoughts on CIMA vs ACCA.

    I’m obviously biased towards CIMA because I’m doing it. Personally I see ACCA as a continuation of the normal high school curicullum…like from A level to ACCA. Nothing bad about that but it does not train a person for the practicalities you meet on the job. Folks may not agree with me …yall…just grab a CIMA operational case study exam paper and see what I mean.CIMA is serious business folks. It opens your mind to everything.

    ACCA is great, I like the technical way it is taught…you can’t get lost,I like the way they simplify standards…its like English football 4-4-2 or 3-5-2..you can’t get lost implementing such a system.

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