CIMA F2: The Ultimate Guide
CIMA F2 is one of the hardest exams you’ll study in your CIMA exams. The pass rate is just 57% and, more than that, it’s on a subject that most management accountants don’t use in their working life, so everything is probably new and hard to associate with.
All of this combined means that you’ll probably have to a lot more work for this exam than most others!
Fear not, however; a student that’s well prepared should pass this exam first time, and this guide is designed to help you do just that!
But before we give you practical advice on how to pass, we’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of the content you’ll be tested on – after all, this may be your first time seriously thinking about CIMA F2.
So, whether you are deep into your F2 studies or just about to begin, this is the page for you!
1. What you’ll find in CIMA F2
2. CIMA F2’s toughest topics
3. How will CIMA F2 be assessed?
4. CIMA F2 and MCS
5. Expert guide to passing CIMA F2
6. Didn’t pass? Don’t give up!
7. Top tips for passing CIMA F2
1. What you’ll find in CIMA F2
Management-level objective test (OT) exams contain many tricky topics and will present new challenges, regardless of your CIMA and accounting background.
So, with this in mind, you’re probably now asking yourself: ‘What can I expect from CIMA F2?’
When starting to study for a new CIMA exam, the first place you must always go to is the CIMA syllabus. There, you can find how each of the exams are broken down into various sections; but, in summary:
|Financing capital projects||15|
|Financial reporting standards||25|
|Analysing financial statements||25|
Not most management accountant’s cup of tea! So probably not a set of subjects you’ll be rushing to study more, unless you happened to really love CIMA F1, which this subject flows directly on from. Think of it as F1 + + + !
Just in case you’re not familiar with the topics covered in the CIMA F2 syllabus, let’s take a quick look at what they entail:
Financing capital projects
This concerns how organisations acquire long-term funds. For example, you’ll learn how different types of debt and equity can be used to raise funds for an organisation.
Financial reporting standards
As you may be aware, there are A LOT of accounting regulations that financial reporting has to abide by! For CIMA F2, you’ll add to those you learned in F1 and be tested on a range of further International Financial Reporting Standards regulations, as well as International Accounting Standards. And, as you might expect, these are the harder ones!
This area deals with how groups (when one entity controls one or more other entities) create financial statements. You’ll learn all about the process behind creating consolidated statements (or group accounts) and the reporting standards they need to abide by.
An integrated report contains both financial statements and non-financial information, and are created to show how an organisation seeks to create value over time. In F2, you’ll learn about their purpose and what they should contain.
Working with financial statements
We’ve already covered creating financial statements in BA3 and F1, but for CIMA F2, you’ll also need to know how to interpret them, which is what this section is all about!
You’ll notice that each section of the CIMA F2 exam has a weighting attached to it. If this is your first exam (through having a CIMA exemption), or you’ve forgotten what the weighting means, here is a reminder!
For every OT exam, CIMA outlines the weighting for the key topics (the proportion of the exam devoted to each part of the syllabus). Therefore, when studying for CIMA F2, you might want to devote a little more time to revising ‘Financial reporting standards’ (25%) than ‘Financial capital projects’ (15%), for example.
But you must remember, ALL topics in the syllabus MUST be studied, as ALL areas WILL be examined, so don’t neglect an area just because it has a low percentage weighting!
2. Tough topics: What our students have found most challenging
We have plenty of experience as CIMA tuition providers, having helped thousands of students pass their F2 exams. We asked our students and our tutors what the hardest CIMA F2 topics are, so we can help prepare you for your CIMA F2 studies!
Consolidating group accounts
Preparing financial statements for complex group entities is something that will make up a large proportion of your CIMA F2 studies! This is such a complex topic because it requires you to understand how to prepare consolidated statements in addition to the single entity’s financial statements. This will build on your existing knowledge, adding new content to the basics financial accounting that you studied in F1. To understand this topic, you must really try and understand how to prepare these statements and why they are important!
Once you’ve tackled consolidated group accounts, you will need to dedicate time to understanding intra-group trading. It will be difficult to wrap your head around how two entities within a group trade with one another and what this means for sales and profit, so make sure you leave adequate time for this.
Revenue from contracts with customers
IFRS 15 ‘Revenue from contracts with customers’ is a fairly new financial reporting standard and is much more complex than the old standards it replaced. It’s not extraordinarily difficult to understand, but there are many rules and exceptions to the standard that you must remember – so you’ll just have to get your head down and learn them!
Many, many students find it hard to grasp the concept of a financial instrument, e.g. futures or options. So, not only do you need to get your head around what they are, but you must go beyond this to use two accounting standards, IAS 32 and IFRS9, to learn how they are accounted for. We’ve found that students often find understanding the new terminology and jargon introduced in these standards particularly tricky.
Cost of capital and capital structure
This topic is all about how an entity is financed – whether through the issuing of shares or through borrowing money. This topic is difficult for many students because you must learn and be able to use lots of formulae and calculations. Whilst you’ll be given some of the required formulae in the exam, you’ll have to spend some time practising this beforehand since it can be a difficult concept to get your head around at first!
So, yes, it’s tough! But for anyone raising funds for businesses or working in financial accounting, these are crucial subjects, and studying them here will put you in a good position to take your career into these areas should you wish in future. Even if you don’t move into these areas, the knowledge you’ll gain for this exam will make you a much more well-rounded accountant.
3. How will my CIMA F2 exam be assessed?
Like most CIMA objective test exams (excluding the Certificate level), you will need to answer 60 questions over the course of 90 minutes in your CIMA F2 exam.
There isn’t a precise number of questions you will need to answer correctly to pass as the pass mark is scaled and different questions receive different weighting. The easiest questions might only be worth 1 mark, whereas the hardest multi-step calculations might be worth more. However, the more you manage to answer correctly, the better your chances of passing!
If you have to resit F2 (though, hopefully, you won’t!), you’ll face a different set of questions because each exam sitting randomly selects 60 questions out of CIMA’s question bank – which has hundreds of questions at the ready.
Right after your CIMA F2 exam, you’ll be given a provisional pass or fail and, in around 48 hours, a scaled score out of 150 will appear in your MyCIMA account. The pass mark in the scaled score is 100 (roughly 66-70%).
You will also be told in what areas of the CIMA F2 syllabus you were ‘proficient’ or ‘not proficient’ – take note of this if you need to resit as it can help you target any future studying to your weaker areas.
4. How does CIMA F2 relate to the Management Case Study?
There’ll come a time when you’ve passed CIMA F2, along with E2 and P2, and the only thing standing between you and the CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting is the Management Case Study.
Topics from F2 are likely to figure heavily in your MCS exam – in particular, you may be asked to:
- Comment on how information is supposed to be presented in the financial statements of the fictional organisation, in line with accounting regulations
- Analyse financial information from the pre-seen organisation
- Suggest sources for financing projects for the pre-seen organisation, utilising your understanding of capital structure
Unlike in your CIMA F2 exam, you won’t be assessed on your ability to calculate and process group statements in the MCS. Instead, you’ll be assessed on your understanding of what impact a decision will have on the financial statements and the organisation as a whole.
It’s with this in mind that we advise you to take CIMA F2 as your second or third Management-level exam. This is because your MCS exam is likely to contain content from either F2 or P2. So it’s best to have the content from these exams fresh in your mind when taking your MCS exam.
5. The expert guide to passing CIMA F2
So, CIMA F2 is tough! A well-prepared student will pass CIMA F2 the first time, though. So, what is a well-prepared student, and how do you ensure that that student is you?
Astranti CEO, Nick Best, has used his 25 years of experience teaching CIMA exams to share what he has found makes the difference between passing and failing the CIMA F2 exam.
Step 1: Understand the content
The first thing you need to do is learn each area of the CIMA F2 syllabus. To do this, you’ll need some great study resources, such as a good study text or set of tuition videos, or you should find an excellent lecturer at a local college.
We’ve written an entire page on how to find the right CIMA course for you, if you’ve not already found one.
At this stage, your goal is understanding. You should leave this stage understanding each theory and how it works, as well as the purpose of that theory to a management accountant.
As you study, make sure to plan to spend enough time on topics that are likely to cause you problems, so for instance, those we’ve identified as the hardest are likely to take longer.
And do ask questions where you don’t understand. That’s what your tutor or course provider are there for! In our experience, people typically don’t ask enough questions and think understanding will come later in their studies. It won’t. Make sure you get a full understanding in this first stage.
Step 2: Test your understanding
Next, you must test you’ve really understood the content by doing questions. Providers like Astranti will often supply practice questions at the end of each chapter of a study text or after each tuition video. These aren’t about passing or failing – these are for you to identify what you’ve understood and remembered and what you need to spend more time learning before you move on to the next topic.
And don’t just take questions from one provider. Buy multiple revision packs from different ones – they all have their own style and it gives you a wider range to ensure you’ve really understood the content.
Another vital step here is to mark the questions you got wrong so you can return to them in a few weeks’ time. If, a few weeks later, you get the question right, you’ve shown you’ve really learnt the content.
And one final tip here… Not all providers’ solutions to questions are the same. Make sure you find questions that have detailed and clearly explained solutions that don’t just give you brief one-line answers. It’s not about getting the solution ‘right’, it’s about making sure you fully understand the theory, and getting the right question bank is key to this.
Step 3: Memorise the content
Let’s be clear – simply understanding the theory is not enough!
You must memorise the content!
Many students skim this stage, but it’s a major mistake. You won’t have your study text or set of tuition videos with you in the exam!
Learning a whole study text is difficult, though, and learning a video is simply impossible! You need to create some notes as you are studying and then memorise them. Some people use cards. Others use sheets of paper or books, or create a powerpoint presentation for themselves.
Creating them for yourself the best approach, but it’s also time consuming, so a quicker alternative is to purchase prepared notes, like our set of F2 revision notes.
Memorising means being able to write out or recite everything in your notes without looking at them. And yes, I really mean that! That’s what the best students can do, and if you’re not doing that, you’ll be behind them and will be unlikely to pass first time!
By the time the exam rolls around, you should be able to rattle off the process for consolidating companies in a range of situations without breaking a sweat, along with pretty much anything else in the syllabus!
Step 4: Mocks, mocks and more mocks!
This really can’t be said enough. CIMA F2 is not an academic subject to be admired from afar, it’s a practical syllabus that you will need to not only understand but also be able to apply under exam conditions.
As such, take all the mock exams your provider can give you, and (if you can afford it) get a couple more from other providers. And do them in as close to exam conditions as you can: alone, in a single sitting and without any notes to help.
It is the best way to prepare just before the exam, bar none! Not only are you checking your memorisation and understanding, you’re honing your exam technique. How will you manage the time pressure? How will you approach challenging questions? How will you schedule your time between easier and more difficult topics?
As with the practice questions before, you should be reviewing your mock results to see what you got wrong (even if you achieved a passing mark in that mock). It may seem negative, but it’s essential that you identify and address all of your weaknesses before you sit the real exam.
Don’t forget there are free practice questions up for grabs on the Pearson Vue website. This is especially useful for anyone new to these exams because it is based on the actual exam software, so you can get a taste of the real thing ahead of the exam. Astranti also have a free mock for you too so make sure you sign up for that.
Step 5: Taking the exam – Doing it in passes
You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the last step is to actually sit your CIMA F2 exam – but now’s not the time to take it easy!
This tip is relevant to all of the objective test exams, but it is particularly helpful with CIMA F2’s longer scenarios and complex/applied calculations. And the tip is: answer the questions in three passes, or ‘run throughs’.
1. First, spend 10-15 minutes going through and answering all of the really easy/short questions. Any that you know off the top of your head and you feel relatively confident in answering.
2. Then, in the second pass, take a bit more time, go back through and answer the slightly harder questions. Any that you get stuck on or you feel less confident about, flag them up but don’t spend ages on any of them yet.
3. Finally, with any time remaining, do a third pass of the flagged questions and take time to consider your answers. Since there’s no negative marking, always make sure to answer every question by the end – even if you have to guess!
6. Didn’t pass? Don’t give up!
Maybe you weren’t on top form, or you were given an especially difficult set of questions. Perhaps you just weren’t quite ready for the real exam. Whatever the case, failing an exam is disappointing. But one of the worst possible outcomes from a failed exam is that you give up, or indeed wait too long to resit.
Just under half of all F2 students fail their first exam, so it’s okay to fail. See it as a learning experience that will help you prepare for next time.
Wait the 2 days following the exam and log in to your MyCIMA account to find out what your score was and what areas you were ‘not proficient in’ and start planning your resit. Understand where you went wrong both for topics learnt and your approach to the exam. Did you really memorise the content? What didn’t you fully understand? Have you done enough practice questions?
You can find out more about the scoring system in our definitive guide to CIMA exams, but 0-99 is a fail and 100-150 is a pass. If you were relatively close to passing (around 90-99), we recommend taking it again sooner rather than later and focussing beforehand on addressing only the areas you were not proficient in.
Watch out for a ‘Pass Guarantee’ when you’re choosing your course provider. With that, if you fail the exam and meet the guarantee conditions, you will be entitled to continue studying until you pass your exam.
7. Top tips for passing CIMA F2
Solidify your knowledge of group accounts
It’s a nasty topic, we know, but group accounts are likely to make up a large part of your CIMA F2 exam! So, it’s vital that you are confident in your ability to measure and account for group and intergroup transactions.
Do as many CIMA F2 mocks as you can
Mock exams are the closest you’ll come to replicating ‘the real thing’, so it’s vital that you utilise the mocks at your disposal. Being able to recall a theory or equation is meaningless unless you can apply it to an exam question.
You can also analyse your mock results to highlight where you need to concentrate your revision in the build-up to your exam. If you register with Astranti, you’ll have access to a FREE F2 mock!
Start revising early
You’ll need to cover the entire CIMA F2 syllabus during your studies, and as we’ve seen, there are some pretty tough topic areas! So, it is essential that you start your studies for your CIMA F2 exam early. Don’t put off starting your revision until the week before your F2 exam.
At Astranti, we advise that you allocate roughly 10 weeks for your CIMA F2 studies, but this can vary depending on the free time that you have available. If you have booked time off work to study for example, you should be able to complete your studies in less time. However, you must be realistic about how long it will take you to learn and understand the content and become comfortable answering exam-style questions.
Keep an eye on the time
One of the main areas where students fall down in the CIMA F2 exam is running out of time, meaning they’re not able to answer all of the questions.
You cannot afford to spend valuable time dwelling on a difficult question for too long as you may end up not having time to answer the questions you do know. You MUST use the ‘flag for review’ tool, which allows you to mark any question in your CIMA F2 exam you’d like to revisit and move on to another question if you’re spending too long on one.
When you are doing your mock exams, don’t forget to do them under timed conditions (some providers will have countdown timers built into the mock exam software).
If you find you’re struggling to answer all of the questions in 90 minutes comfortably, you need to find out what topics are making you pause or slow down and focus on becoming more confident in them – another reason why mocks are so important.
Learn your formulae
You’ll be glad to know that some of the formulae in the CIMA F2 syllabus are given to you on a formula sheet in your exam. However, this does not mean that you won’t have to memorise some formulae and group accounting methods! And regardless of whether they are given to you or you need to memorise them, you will also need to learn how to apply them to questions.
As you study CIMA F2, keep the CIMA formula sheet handy so that you can check if each one is provided or needs to be memorised.
Our CIMA F2 Masterclass webinar
One of Astranti’s F2 experts ran a live webinar all about hints, tips and exam technique specifically for F2. And, luckily for you, we recorded it!
You can watch as our tutor doesn’t just tell you about the theory, but actually shows you through the process of how to answer the sorts of questions you will face in your exam.
(Note: We’re sorry to say the discount code offered in the video at the time has since expired. But if you sign up for our free membership and newsletter, you can be informed whenever we run any future discounts.)
So, that concludes our guide to CIMA F2 – now you’re in a great position to get down and start studying for your CIMA F2 exam!
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