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Nguyen Manh Minh

Nguyen Manh Minh shares some tips on how he passed the Management Case Study exam on his second attempt.


Full Name: Nguyen Manh Minh

Occupation: Freelance compliance auditor and business consultant 

Organisation: A company in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

CIMA Entry Route: Professional Gateway

CIMA Level/Award achieved so far:

Why did you choose to study CIMA?

After years working as a consultant, I realised that organisations are becoming more concerned with reducing costs to gain a competitive advantage. This requires consultants to have very strong competence in both accounting & finance and performance management. As my accounting & finance knowledge is not adequate to fulfil my customers' expectations, I decided to improve my skills. I chose CIMA because:

CIMA focuses on management accounting.
CIMA has the Professional Gateway exam that saves me a lot of time and effort.
CIMA is internationally recognised and have partnerships with reputable organisations around the world.

How did you prepare for the exam?

After I failed my exam in March, the strategy for my re-sit in May was as follows: 

I read the suggested answers and examiner's report to identify my weak areas in the previous exam. I noted down the areas to improve in my next exam.
I went through the whole syllabus at the Management level again to ensure that I understood all the critical areas such as the popular models, key theories, etc.
I tried to do other variants of the previous exam and marked them to ensure that my knowledge is adequate.
I read the pre-seen material and noted down all the potential areas that may be tested in the exam and I tried to use my knowledge of the syllabus to present solutions.
I read the news and analysis reports of the industry of the company in the pre-seen material and made a list of potential questions that may be asked in the exam.
I went online to buy mock exams from the tuition providers and practised the exams under ‘real exam’ conditions.
I created my own exam questions where I tried to answer them with the pre-seen information and linked them with the syllabus.

You have sat for the exam for the second time – what were your feelings in the first and second exam? What did you do differently this time that enabled you to pass the exam?

Since the March exam was the first Management Case Study (MCS) exam under the 2015 syllabus, I did not have adequate material to prepare. I knew very little about the MCS. It made me nervous and I could not manage my time well in the first exam. In the second exam, I was well prepared and this gave me confidence. I knew that I would pass the exam.

The most important factor that helped me pass the exam at the second attempt is my understanding of CIMA's approach and requirements. In the first exam, I wasted my time in providing the theory when answering the questions. However, when I read CIMA’s suggested answers for the exam, I realised that they wanted the candidate to answer the questions directly - the theory should be applied through your solutions.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was the international accounting standards and framework. It was new for me and it was not easy to remember especially when my country has not adopted the standards yet.

The only way I could overcome this challenge was to patiently download all the IAS and IFRS that CIMA requires us to know and then try to apply it to the case study as much as I can. In addition, when I went into the exam room and received my white board, I wrote down all the numbers and names of the standards to ensure that I will not make any mistakes due to the pressure of time..

Did you study at a CIMA global learning partner/ tuition provider? 

For the March exam, I joined FTMS Vietnam for tuition classes. However FTMS did not have classes for the May exam so I registered for online tuition with CIMAStudy.com. Both FTMS and CIMAStudy.com have provided me with great support in preparing for the exam.

Is there one thing you wished you had known before entering the exam room 

For my first attempt, I wished I had a prior understanding of CIMA's approach and requirements in answering the questions in the exam. If I had that information, perhaps I would not have failed the exam in March.

Do you have any advice as an encouragement to other CIMA students?

The current development of information technology, especially in ERP, will soon reduce the workload of accountants, especially in the areas of data input and reporting. Therefore, if you are an accountant or are keen on accounting, you should be prepared because employers will require more from you, especially the ability to use the data available to help them improve their business. If you are the pioneer in having this ability, it will assure your future and give you a great chance to be promoted in your career. 

If you are a business owner or a senior manager in your company, CIMA will be one of the best qualifications for you to learn about accounting and finance in the most practical way and trust me, you will not regret it if you really want to learn. I have met many CFOs and CEOs in my class and all of them agree with this.

I know that the CIMA qualification is not easy to attain but it is worth your effort. Even if you fail, do not hesitate to re-sit the exam. Every case study will give you the chance to learn about an industry which you have not known before and who knows, you might be in that industry in the future.

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