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CIMA Professional Qualification

The Professional Qualification is all about making you a candidate that business organisations (companies, public sector, not-for profit) want to hire. It gives you the skills you need to get ahead in the finance world and meet the needs of both business and people.


The Professional Qualification focuses on employability – bridging the skills gaps of newly qualified finance professionals worldwide, meeting the needs of both business and people.

The syllabus is truly competency based, enabling you to develop the skills employers are really looking for, including technical, finance and business skills as well as people and leadership skills. Our industry leading assessments test your application of knowledge in real world business situations.

Passing your CIMA exams is a demonstration to employers that you not only have the knowledge, but also the competencies and skills of a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

Pillars and Levels

The qualification is comprised of nine separate subjects that are organised into three pillars and three levels.

Three pillars

Represent specific areas of knowledge. The pillars are Enterprise, Performance and Financial.

The Enterprise pillar

The Enterprise pillar deals with the formulation of strategy, as well as its effective implementation. It emphasises how change management, project management, relationship management and the structuring of organisations can help to successfully implement strategy.

The Performance pillar

The Performance pillar uses the tools and techniques of management accounting and risk management to ensure that strategy is realistic and to monitor its implementation. It shows students how to use their understanding of costs to construct budgets, make decisions about prices and capital expenditure, manage costs and manage performance. It develops students’ ability to progressively identify, classify, evaluate and manage risk.

The Financial pillar

The Financial pillar focuses on the financial accounting and reporting obligations of the organisation. This includes an understanding of the regulatory framework and external reporting requirements, and the ability to construct and evaluate complex financial statements to show the financial position and performance of the organisation. The fundamentals of business tax are covered, as are the tax implications of financing decisions. It also looks at formulating financial strategy, which is linked to the formulation of organisational strategy in the enterprise pillar and assessing risk in the performance pillar.

The subjects in each learning pillar are designed to be sequential, from Operational to Strategic level, encouraging the progressive development of knowledge, techniques and skills.

Three levels

Represent levels of achievement. The levels are Operational, Management and Strategic.

The syllabus is also divided into three levels of achievement, where students progress from the Operational level to the Management level and finally to the Strategic level. At each level students study subjects across the three pillars

Operational level

The Operational level covers the implementation of strategy, as well as reporting on the implementation of strategy. Its focus is the short-term.

Management level

The Management level translates the strategy decided at higher levels, and communicates it to lower levels for implementation. It monitors and reports on the implementation of strategy, and ensures corrective action is taken when required. It has a medium-term focus.

Strategic level

The Strategic level concentrates on making strategic decisions and providing the context in which those decisions will be implemented. Its focus is the long-term.

AWARD / Membership of the Chartered Institute of
Management Accountants and the CGMA designation
Assessment of practical experience
Strategic Level
Strategic Case Study Exam
Strategic Management
Risk Management
Financial Strategy
Management Level
AWARD / CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting
Management Case Study Exam
Project and Relationship Management
Advanced Management Accounting
Advanced Financial Reporting
Operational Level
AWARD / CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting
Operational Case Study Exam
Organisational Management

Enterprise pillar

Management Accounting

Performance pillar

Financial Reporting and Taxation

Financial pillar


Practical experience / lifelong learning

Study by level, not subject!

You should plan your studies by level, not only by subject. At each level students study subjects across the three pillars, which are interlinked to provide a coherent body of knowledge and competence that is essential to be successful in CIMA examinations and employment.

Intermediate Awards

The Diploma in Management Accounting (CIMA Dip MA) is awarded on successful completion of the Operational level.

The Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting (CIMA Adv Dip MA) is awarded on successful completion of the Management level.

Gateway entry routes

If you’ve entered through a Gateway route, you’ll be exempt from 12 exams; your first assessment will be the CIMA Gateway Exam (also known as the Management level Case Study exam). Remember to schedule your exam according to the same exam schedule as Professional Qualification students.


Each subject is divided into a number of broad syllabus topics.

A percentage weighting is shown against each syllabus topic and is intended as a guide to the proportion of study time each topic requires. It is essential that all topics in the syllabus are studied, as all topics will be examined. The weightings do not specify the number of marks that will be allocated to topics in the exams.

Make strategic decisions

Provide overall context for effective implementation of strategy
E3 Strategic Management
A Interacting with the organisation's environment 20%
B Evaluating position and strategic options 30%
C Leading change 20%
D Implementing strategy 15%
E The role of information systems in organisational strategy

P3 Risk Management
A Identification, classification and evaluation of risk 20%
B Responses to strategic risk 20%
C Internal controls to manage risk 20%
D Managing risks associated with cash flows 20%
E Managing risks associated with capital investment decisions

F3 Financial Strategy
A Formulation of financial strategy 25%
B Financing and dividend decisions 35%
C Corporate finance

Monitor implementation of strategy

Ensure corrective action is taken
E2 Project and Relationship Management
A Introduction to strategic management and assessing the global environment 30%
B The human aspects of the organisation 20%
C Managing relationships 20%
D Managing change through projects

P2 Advanced Management Accounting
A Cost planning and analysis for competitive advantage 25%
B Control and performance management of responsibility centres 30%
C Long-term decision making 30%
D Management control and risk

F2 Advanced Financial Reporting
A Sources of long-term finance 15%
B Financial reporting 60%
C Analysis of financial performance and position

Implement strategy

Report on implementation of strategy
E1 Organisational Management
A Introduction to organisations 25%
B Managing the finance function 15%
C Managing technology and information 15%
D Operations management 15%
E Marketing 15%
F Managing human resources

P1 Management
A Cost accounting systems 30%
B Budgeting 25%
C Short-term decision making 30%
D Dealing with risk and uncertainty

F1 Financial Reporting and Taxation
A Regulatory environment for financial reporting and corporate governance 10%
B Financial accounting and reporting 45%
C Management of working capital, cash and sources of short-term finance 20%
D Fundamentals of business taxation


Enterprise Pillar

Articulate a vision

How do we develop a strategy?
How do we plan for its effective implementation

Performance Pillar

Ground the vision in reality

How do we ensure our strategy is realistic?
How do we monitor activity to ensure strategy is being implemented effectively?

Financial Pillar

Report attainment of the vision

How do we prepare financial statements?
How do we interpret financial statements to understand our performance and to help us make decisions?

The CGMA Competency Framework

Following comprehensive global research with business and industry all around the world, we developed a framework which reflects the skills, abilities and competencies that finance professionals need to power up and drive success in their organisations.


Technical skills

Financial accounting and reporting, cost accounting and management, planning and control, management reporting and analysis, corporate finance and treasury management, risk management and internal control, taxation and accounting information systems.

Business skills

Strategy, analysis of market and macro-economic environments, process management, business relations, project management and awareness of the regulatory environment.

Leadership skills

Team building, coaching and mentoring, driving performance, change management, and ability to motivate and inspire.

People skills

Ability to influence, negotiation skills, decision-making, collaborative working and communication.


Ethics, integrity and professionalism

As the CIMA Professional Qualification is underpinned by the framework, employers can be sure that as a CGMA, once you are a CIMA qualified management accountant, you will meet their needs. They see you as ‘employable’.

Employers also have the assurance that, as members of CIMA, you abide by a code of ethics and undertake lifelong learning including continuing professional development.

Our research showed that while producing good accounting information is of course essential, you also need to apply financial disciplines in managing a business. To do this well, you need to have an understanding of the organisation, its business model, its strategic context and its competitive position. You also need people and leadership skills.


There are two types of computer-based exams in the CIMA Professional Qualification:

  • 90 minute Objective Tests for each of the three subjects within each level, available on-demand
  • 3 hour Case Study exams at each level after you have passed all three Objective Tests. Case Study exams assess your application of knowledge to real world scenarios and are available four times a year

What do the exams look like?

Take a look at our free exam and question tutorials to familiarise yourself with the computer-based exam software and the types of questions you will get in each exam. For exam practice, we recommend purchasing CIMA Aptitude which offers mock exams, available to take in practice mode, or timed assessment.

Where do I sit my exam?

On-demand Objective Tests are available all year round, while the Case Studies are available in four windows throughout the year. Both types of assessments can be sat at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centres in over 178 countries worldwide. Find your nearest exam centre through Pearson VUE.

Which exam do I take first and in what order?

You can take the three Objective Tests at each level in any order, however you must complete all three before you can attempt the Case Study exam.

With dedication and a solid study plan, you should aim to complete a level a year (or within a 12 month period).

How many hours of study should I complete?

If you intend on self-studying, the following suggested hours may help in your planning:

You can complete a level with a total of 550 hours of studying…

Three Objective Tests:
150 hours per subject x 3 = 450 hours

Each Case Study exam:
100 hours (20 hours per subject x 3 = 60 hours to recap theory learnt for your Objective Tests, plus 40 hours preparation for the Case Study exam).

Completing a level in 12 months
We recommend that you allocate 10-15 hours per week for self-study.

Scheduling your first exam

With your recent commitment to studying CIMA and powering up your career, there’s never been a better time to schedule your first exam! Follow these simple steps below to set yourself a goal to work towards:

  1. Log in to MY CIMA
    Log in with your CIMA contact ID and password, which you received when you registered with CIMA. If you don’t know your Contact ID or password, email or call CIMA with your full name, date of birth and postcode ( or +44 (0)20 8849 2251)
  2. If required, confirm your details and settle any outstanding payments
    Make sure your details are up-to-date on your MY CIMA account. You won’t be able to schedule an exam if you have any outstanding payments.
  3. Select 'Schedule your Exam'
    You’ll be transferred to the Pearson VUE website – you won’t need to log in again.
  4. Choose the exam you want to sit and go through the payment/booking process. Once this has been processed you’ll be transferred back to MY CIMA.

Want to schedule over the phone?

No problem! Give us a call on +44 (0)20 8849 2251 and we’ll transfer you to Pearson VUE who will schedule your exam and take payment.

Once you have scheduled your exam, whether online or over the phone, you will receive a confirmation email from Pearson VUE.

Rescheduling your exam

If you need to reschedule an exam, log in to your MY CIMA account and go to the ‘My exams’ section.

Objective Tests – you can reschedule your exam up to 48 hours before your appointment.

Case Study exams – you can reschedule your exam up to 14 days before your Case Study exam appointment.

Before your exam

We’ll provide you with some study support and guidance over email in addition to the support and resources your accessing via your preferred study method. Have a look at a few of the additional recommended resources below to help you prepare for your first exam.

  • Access free study resources through the Study Planner
  • Check out for online learning modules and CIMA Aptitude – an online question bank that simulates real computer based assessments. Practice makes perfect, and it’s a worthwhile investment to be sure you’re ready for your exam!

On your exam day

  1. Arrive on time
    Make sure you know where the exam centre is and that you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time to get there.
  2. Calculators – bring your own or use our on-screen calculator
    As part of the computer-based assessment software, you will be provided with an on-screen calculator for use during your exam. If you prefer to use your own, please check out our list of approved calculators on the Study Planner.

Receiving and understanding your results

Objective Tests

Objective Tests are computer marked, so as soon as you have completed your Objective Test you will receive a provisional exam result of either ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ at the Pearson VUE assessment centre. No more than 48 hours later your results will be ratified and appear on MY CIMA where you will also be able to see your scaled score (a score out of 150 with 100 representing a pass) and performance broken down by syllabus topic area.

Case Study exam

Case Study exams are human-marked. You will receive your results five weeks after the close of the Case Study window on your MY CIMA account. Your results will include:

  • A grade of ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’
  • A scaled score (a mark out of 150, with 80 representing a pass – as long as you have met the minimum threshold against each competency)
  • An indication of your performance against each competency

After your exam

After you’ve sat an Objective Test, whether you’ve passed or not, give yourself a break before you attempt the next Objective Test or attempt a re-sit.

If you pass your Operational or Management Case Study, you will be ready to move onto the next level. If you need to re-sit your Case Study exam, you will need to schedule a sitting in one of the next two windows.

If you pass your Strategic Case Study exam you should start thinking about your Practical Experience and applying for membership.