Passing professional exams like CIMA can be tough. The qualification involves passing 16 exams, although you could be exempt from some depending on previous qualifications obtained. CIMA exams are split into two, objective tests (OT) for each subject and the integrated case study to complete the level, to pass the CIMA OT exams you will have to score 100/150. The pass mark for case study is 80, out of a scaled score of 0 to 150. The candidate must also score a “Moderate” or “Strong” across all competencies in order to pass the case study exam.

The qualification structures

The CIMA qualification has 16 exams split into 4 levels:

How long does CIMA take?

CIMA requires lots of dedication, discipline and commitment. Level of difficulty depends of individual capabilities, background of studies and other factors.

Some find the financial pillar easier; some find the management pillar easier; some find all pillars easy, however some find ALL pillars difficult. You get a certificate after each completed level and this makes it easier and more valuable.

The completion time depends on the entry route based on exemptions obtained and the rate at which you progress through on-demand exams and ICS exams.

  1. Complete one subject every 3 months, so on average it takes one year to complete a level
  2. On demand exams helps you accelerate and fast track your progression
  3. Based on exemptions, aim to complete CIMA over 3 years.

The way you study

Balancing work and study is never easy. Studying while working has pros and cons. You can choose from online classes and face to face tuition. This is a good option if you enjoy or prefer to study with others and have the benefit of a tutor on hand to ask any questions. Lessons will be planned to cover the full course and offer revision prior to sitting your exam.

You can also use supported distance learning if you love navigating the textbooks book on your own with ability to consult a tutor via electronic methods.

How committed you are, how much do you want it!

Sharon Takuva completed CIMA in 2 years, find out how she does it

Anyone can pass CIMA, but not everyone will. What it comes down to is commitment. A significant amount of time and resources is required to pass CIMA. You need to study consistently and get the right study material. Kaplan material is CIMA recommended and BPP often produce excellent results, it’s a matter of preference.

To pass CIMA, you have to prioritise it. If you don’t show that commitment, then CIMA is very difficult to pass.


Experience has shown that students who get the right support, progress faster in their studies. Speak to CIMA expert