Full Name: Jaikishan Kataria
Occupation: Accounts and Audit Executive
Organisation: Emirates Chartered Accountants
CIMA Entry Route: Professional Gateway Route
CIMA award achieved so far: CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting
1: How does it feel to pass your CIMA exams?
It feels fantastic. All my hard work paid off!
2: What was your chosen study method? Why did this work best for you?
I studied on my own. I purchased the recommended Kaplan study texts and opted to study for 2 months. I also used the Kaplan engage online tests for all the three modules which come with the Kaplan book.
I have also benefitted from the CIMA Aptitude assessment for P3, for which I was eligible upon registering before 30th June, for no cost whatsoever.
In addition, I found an online community of people writing the same level on CIMAconnect and Facebook to solve any queries I had and where mutual study resources like practice kits were shared. So it was a win-win for us all.
All of the above helped me immensely in giving me practice and exposure to a diverse variety of questions. I set a target to write all 3 papers together on a set date to build up the motivation and pressure to study. I set my papers in such a manner that I wrote the easiest paper first, cleared it and it would boost my confidence up as the date for the most difficult paper came up.
Accordingly, my exams were in the order of E3, F3 and P3, all of them a week apart. I postponed my P3 exam by 4 days as I was a bit unsure I was prepared, so I put in some extra effort and wrote the exam subsequently. Fortunately, I cleared all 3. My results were a scaled score of 130 each in E3 and F3, and a 114 scaled score in P3.
3: What did you find the biggest challenge and how did you overcome this?
My biggest challenge was trying to obtain high level questions for E3, F3 and P3 which would challenge my application and knowledge skills thoroughly.
The practice kits usually have a lower difficulty level than the actual exam itself and thus, getting most of the practice kits or mock exam questions correct gives you a false sense of confidence that the actual paper would be too easy. It wasn't.
Some of the questions from all 3 papers were absolute googlies, making you wonder, "how do I answer this?". The level of application of knowledge tested was too high in those questions and unless you knew how to apply the relevant topic to this scenario, you would get the answer wrong. Hence, I practiced from a variety of practice kits from Kaplan, Acorn, BPP, CIMA Aptitude assessment to get that exposure and keep myself grounded.
I also practiced all 3 study texts for 3 times to know the subjects inside and out. After all, you can only apply something if you have knowledge of it. However, once I was in the exam centre for all 3 exams, I had to be vigilant with each question because about 20 questions are nothing but information overload and you need to grasp/filter the relevant points and pick/calculate the correct answer within 90 seconds per question.
At the same time you need to be calm and be wary you don’t take more than this time per question or else you will feel like losing out.
4: How did you balance studying with work and your personal life?
I work from 7:00am to 5:00pm for 5 days a week. After returning from work, I used to relax for a couple of hours until 6:30pm or 7:00pm, study for 2 hours from 7:00pm to 9:00pm on weekdays and about 8-10 hours on weekends. However, this schedule allowed me to meet my friends, go out for social events, have fun, read some mystery novels, watch my favourite TV series and all this allowed me to maintain my sanity.
It's easy to get a balance between work and life. All you need is discipline in following your own schedule.
5: If you could give one key piece of advice to another student scheduling their exam tomorrow, what would it be?
My advice is to finish off the easy questions first in your exam because they barely take 30 seconds or less to answer. It's much more rewarding to get 10 short, easy questions worth 1 mark each correct than wasting your time on 1 long question worth the same 1 mark. Stop trying to satisfy your ego. With only 90 minutes in hand, you need to use it productively.
Flag for review and skip all those questions which take too long to read/comprehend and come back to them only after you are done with the easy questions all the way up to question number 60.
Once that is out of the way, you focus your attention on the more challenging questions which you had flagged, for which you can now comfortably devote more time and effort and finish them with a calm mind. It's okay if you don’t know the answer to some questions. Keep a count of all the questions you are unsure about and try and minimise this number to 15 or below. You need a buffer of questions correct just in case some of your answers turn out to be incorrect.
Good luck with your exams!