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.
Represent specific areas of knowledge. The pillars are Enterprise, Performance and Financial.
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 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 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.
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
The Operational level covers the implementation of strategy, as well as reporting on the implementation of strategy. Its focus is the short-term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Find out more about the full CGMA Competency Framework.
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.
Strategy, analysis of market and macro-economic environments, process management, business relations, project management and awareness of the regulatory environment.
Team building, coaching and mentoring, driving performance, change management, and ability to motivate and inspire.
Ability to influence, negotiation skills, decision-making, collaborative working and communication.
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.
The examination blueprints are based on the syllabus and set out in detail what is examinable in each of the nine Objective Tests and three Case Study examinations. The Blueprints are published annually, and provide information about the format, structure and weightings of the assessments. Find the blueprints here
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
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.
On-demand Objective Tests are available all year round, while the Case Studies are available in four windows throughout the year.
Exams are now available to sit online at home using Pearson’s OnVUE system. For more information view our FAQs
Exams can be sat at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centres in over 178 countries worldwide.
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).
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.
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:
- 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 8849 2251)
- 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.
- Select 'Schedule your Exam'
You’ll be transferred to the Pearson VUE website – you won’t need to log in again.
- 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.
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 while the exam registration period is open.
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 CIMAstudy.com 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!
- For our online exams you should ensure you have completed the systems test on the equipment you plan to take the exam on to ensure they meet the minimum requirements. For information on how to check in and begin your online exam please view our step by step guide and video.
- Should you take your exam within a Pearson Vue centre, make sure to arrive on time (allowing plenty of time to get there) and bring your own calculator if you prefer to not use our on-screen calculator - please check out our list of approved calculators on the Study Planner.
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 6-8 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 between 0 and 150 (80 or above representing a pass)
- An indication of your performance against each core activity
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.
Systems test: You will need to test the equipment you plan to take your exam on with a system test available here to ensure they meet the requirements for these exams.
Get your room ready: Ensure that your desktop is clean and that you are not within arm’s reach of books, notepads, sticky notes, papers, pens, pencils, and other writing instruments/objects. Additional monitors and computers must be unplugged and turned off. Items on the wall with writing on them, such as whiteboards, will be inspected.
How to check in and begin your online exam: It is imperative that you read the guidance on how to check in and begin your online exam. View our step by step guide and video on how to check in and begin your exam.
Hints and tips videos: We have provided some useful guidance on the delivery of the examinations, including what to expect, feedback to the top questions asked by students, useful information on the study resources to help support you on your CIMA exam journey and guidance how to get the most out of the online whiteboard.