The 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.
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.