CIMA Exemptions: Why are they important and how can you get them?

CIMA exemptions

You’re starting your journey with CIMA, and you’re beginning to think about sitting your first exams. 

But, before you go any further, you really need to stop and read this ultimate guide to CIMA exemptions, which will give you ALL you need to know to make sure YOU get the exemptions you deserve!

1. Why CIMA exemptions are a big deal

2. Which exams could I be exempt from?

3. What about the Master’s gateway?

4. Could the CFO programme be right for you?

5. Completed the AAT exams? Here’s what you need to know!

6. Wait, I’m already a member of another accounting body – don’t I have any CIMA exemptions?

7. Tell me if I’m exempt!

8. Help! My qualification isn’t on the CIMA database!

9. I qualify for a CIMA exemption – how do I apply?

10. So, how much does all this cost?

11. Is there anything else I need to know?

1. Why CIMA exemptions are a big deal

So, what exactly are CIMA exemptions

Well, if you already hold certain qualifications (more on these later!), there may be CIMA exams you don’t need to take. This is because you’ve already proven that you know your stuff. 

This is a pretty big deal!

CIMA exemptions can save you time, effort and money, so it’s definitely in your best interest to apply for them if you can.

2. Which exams could I be exempt from?

The exams you are most likely to  get CIMA exemptions for are the four CIMA Certificate Exams. Generally, if you hold a bachelor’s degree in any of these subjects, you are likely exempt from taking the CIMA Certificate exams:

CIMA Exemption categories

That’s four exams out of the way already! 

3. What about the Master’s Gateway?

That’s graduate qualifications covered, but what if you’ve gone even further and done postgraduate studies? If you’ve got an MBA (Accounting Major) or Master’s in Accounting, you’ll have access to a special CIMA exemptions route – CIMA’s Master’s Gateway!

This route allows you to start your CIMA journey at the CIMA Gateway Exam. If this exam sounds unfamiliar, you’ll have probably heard it called by its other name, the Management Level Case Study (don’t worry too much about this – they are the same in all but name). Once you’ve passed this, you’ll move on to the strategic level exams. 

If you’re eligible for this CIMA exemption to enter the Gateway, you must pick the ‘gateway option’ when you register as a CIMA student and provide evidence of your qualifications – we’ll go into the specifics of this a bit later on!

The Master’s Gateway route allows eligible candidates to avoid sitting 11 exams, which can save a lot of time, effort, and money. So you should definitely use this option if you can.

However, a word of warning for potential gateway students… 

The pass rate for the gateway exam is just 43%, compared to 68% for students who have reached the same exam without CIMA exemptions!

A lot of students who enter at the gateway exam fail to give the right level of attention to the theory that is learned as part of the prior CIMA exams. It must be stressed that you need to be confident with all of the CIMA theory up to management case study level if you are to pass the gateway exam. 

Therefore, it’s recommended that you start your exam prep with a good chunk of revision, before you get to your gateway exam-specific studies.

    4. Could the CFO programme be right for you?

    If you’re an experienced chief financial officer (CFO), CEO or senior management professional, CIMA’s CFO programme could be the best of the CIMA exemptions methods for you. 

    If your application is successful, the CFO programme will fast track your journey straight to the final exam, the Strategic Case Study Exam (SCS). 

    To apply for the CFO programme you must have:

    • 10 years of business experience in business and finance functions
      • Not previously failed a CIMA exam

        If you meet this criteria, here’s what happens next!

        1. You need to send a detailed copy of your CV to BDC@aicpa-CIMA.com
          1. Wait to hear if CIMA have accepted you to the CFO programme 
            1. If accepted, you must pay the course fee and take part in the CFO workshop to prepare you for the SCS exam
              1. Take the SCS exam
                1. Apply for CIMA membership when you have passed the exam
                  1. You will be awarded your CIMA membership and CGMA and FGMA designations
                  CIMA CFO Programme

                  5. Completed the AAT exams? Here’s what you need to know!

                  The most common reason students can get a CIMA exemption is if they’ve sat AAT exams; if you hold an AAT Level 2 or 3 Diploma, you may be exempt from sitting some of the certificate level exams depending on your chosen modules:

                  Modules that exempt you from BA2:

                  Unit 8 Performance & Enhancement of value, previously known as Unit 7: Management Of Costs & Enhancement Of Value or Unit 9: Cash Management & Credit Control

                  Core modules exempt you from BA3

                  If you hold AAT Level 4: Technician/Diploma, you won’t have to take any CIMA Certificate exams at all!

                  It’s important to note that the CIMA certificate covers some topics that the AAT syllabus doesn’t, including financial analysis and investments appraisal. So, even if you’re exempt from some CIMA certificate exams, it’s worth looking over the entire certificate level syllabus to check you understand everything before moving on to your next exam.

                  6. Wait, I’m already a member of another accounting body – don’t I have any CIMA exemptions?

                  Yes, you probably do! CIMA recognises a number of accounting bodies for exemptions, such as the ICWAI, ICMAB, or ICMAP.  

                  You should use the CIMA Exemptions search for your institution functions to find out what exemptions you may be eligible for (more on this next!).

                  7. Tell me if I’m exempt!

                  The place to go if you want to find out if you’re eligible for CIMA exemptions is the CIMA exemptions search page. You simply type in where you studied, click on your institution and qualification, and you’ll quickly find out what exams you no longer have to worry about! It really is that easy.

                  8. Help! My qualification isn’t on the CIMA database!

                  Don’t panic! You could still get a CIMA exemption.

                  CIMA may consider you for certificate exemptions if your qualification is relevant to the course and is equivalent to a UK Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE). 

                  You will need to provide CIMA with the details of your qualification and the awarding body, so they can determine whether you are eligible for exemptions.

                  If CIMA is unfamiliar with your qualification, there is still a chance of gaining the exemption. In these exceptional cases, they will seek advice from the UK National Recognition Information Centre.

                  9. I qualify for CIMA exemptions – how do I apply?

                  Well done on making the decision to apply for a CIMA exemption – you’re making a smart move! So, let’s get your application underway.

                  The first step is registering as a CIMA student on the CIMA website. 

                  You should then send copies of the certificate and transcript of your qualification (including your module scores) to documents@cimaglobal.com. Remember to include your CIMA ID in your email!

                  Then you wait…

                  CIMA should acknowledge your request within 72 hours and will let you know if you’ve been successful in your application within 10-20 working days. 

                  If you successfully gain a CIMA exemption, don’t forget to accept within 4 working days!

                  Apply for CIMA exemptions

                  10. So, how much does all this cost?

                  Nothing!

                  Once you’ve registered as a CIMA student, there are no extra costs to make a CIMA exemptions application.

                  11. Is there anything else I need to know?

                  There are a few important points you should note:

                  • You must have gained your qualification within the last 7 years to be eligible for a CIMA exemption.
                    • You must apply for CIMA exemptions before sitting the relevant exam. If you take the exam and fail, you will not then be allowed to gain exemption for that exam.
                      • CIMA only accepts transcripts and certificates in English. If your qualifications are in another language, they must be translated into English by someone who is fluent in both languages and not a member of your family.

                      For further clarification and more information, you should definitely check out the CIMA Exemptions Policy.

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                      Holly Dymmock

                      Customer Service and Mentoring Supervisor

                      I hope you’ve found this guide on taking CIMA exams useful – but if you’ve got any further questions, leave a message and I’d be happy to help!

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