CSSC Tuition talks to PQ nominee Netty Barlow who shares her CIMA tips & motivation with all!
Q) Were you surprised to be shortlisted for PQ awards student of the year?
Yes, very. As an older student, I expected the shortlist to be full of younger students who are passing the exams at a quicker rate than myself.
Q) Can you tell us about how you came to study CIMA?
My MD knew that I had the AAT qualification, but I had finished that some 14 years earlier. He thought it would be good for both myself and the company if I finished the “Accountancy Ladder” As I work in a business rather than a practice, we decided that CIMA was the best route to go.
Q) You have just one exam remaining now - the strategic case study….
Do you have any reflections on your past attempt at this exam? Anything you plan to do differently this sitting? How will you prepare for this exam? When will you start preparation?
I tried different methods of revising for this exam, and they have not worked as well as I hoped. Also, I had started a BA (Hons) degree at the same time. So, I shall go back to the tried and trusted method of reading both the pre-seen and my books over and over again. I have a spare room at home, and I have A4 notes all over the walls, so preparation is an on-going thing, but I will re-start my early morning revision sessions as soon as the pre-seen material comes out.
Q) Do you have any plans for when you reach fully qualified CIMA? Further study perhaps?
I have started a BA (Hons) degree in Sustainable Performance Management, which is a follow on to the CIMA qualification. I have already completed part of it, but the rest is now on hold until I finish CIMA.
Q) Will you apply for membership straight away? You have cleared gained the necessary practical experience – have you had a go at writing this up in preparation for submission?
As CIMA recommend that you should start to look at Practical Experience once you start the Strategic Level, I did this, and actually had it approved last August, so I will be applying for membership the very first second that I can.
Q) Has there ever been a time when you felt you’d give up on CIMA study or take a break from it? What changed your mind?
Every time I failed an exam I wanted to stop. But I have a very supportive family and work colleagues. They all reminded me that to stop part way through the course would be a waste of the effort I had already put in. Plus think of how happy I would be once I was finally qualified.
Q) Typically, how long do you spend working outside of class time in preparation for an objective test exam?
Approximately 7 hours a week when there is a few weeks to go before an exam, and then in the final week, I would be studying 5 hours a day at the weekend, and at least an hour a day in the weekdays prior. But I never study the night before. I have found that it causes anxiety for me, so I spend the evening relaxing, by going to my tap dance class, watching TV or going to the theatre. Anything to take my mind off what is happening the following day.
Q) Which has been your least favourite/ most difficult subject to date?
I have always struggled with the “P” subjects. I think that because the “E” pillar is mainly narrative, and the “F” pillar is mainly numerical, as “P” is a mix of both, it’s more difficult for me to have a clear line of thinking.
Q) Do you have any top tips for passing objective tests? How do you revise for these?
For me, I write notes about the topics into a more concise form onto A4 sheets of paper and stick them on the walls around my desk at home. I also use coloured pens to make different sections of the notes stand out. Then even if I am just sitting at my desk drinking a cup of tea, the subject matter surrounds me, I cannot ignore it, and sometimes when you are not trying to learn something, you “absorb” it. So then if I recall something, I can remember where on the wall it is, and that can then be a prompt to what that particular topic is about.
Q) Any tips for those sitting the operational/ management case studies?
For the first week, do nothing but get to know the pre-seen material. Don’t pick up a pen or do anything else, just read. Once you have done that, then you can start to make notes about possible topics that may come up in the exam. BUT… don’t try to second guess the exam questions, cover all the topics, as Murphy’s Law says the one topic you didn’t bother to revise will be the one that comes up on the day.
Q) Anything else you’d like to add?
The CIMA qualification is not a race. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to complete it. Once you are qualified, no-one ever asks you how many exams you had to sit, or if you did it in the shortest possible time. Do it at your own pace, and remember that when you have the qualification, you have something that you can be proud of, and that will in turn make employers, both current and future, look at you with respect, knowing that you have completed a qualification that has to be truly earned, it is not just given.
Many Thanks for your time Netty.
CSSC Tuition were proud to support you on PQ awards night and are delighted that you have taken the time to share your wisdom & positivity with other accounting students!