CIMA Certificate Syllabus

About CIMA certificate level

Not sure what’s involved with passing the CIMA certificate level exams?

Here, you will find an introduction to the syllabus and the exams, so that you are fully prepared to tackle your next certificate exam.

You can also access our completely free CIMA certificate level courses using the sign-up links on your right.

CIMA certificate level is aimed at professionals looking to become a qualified accountant but who do not have an accountancy or business degree.

The 2017 syllabus aims to make a career in accountancy accessible to everyone and gives you strong fundamental accounting and business principles you can use both at work and throughout the remainder of the CIMA syllabus.

The old C01, C02, C03, C04 and C05 exams were replaced at the start of 2017 by four new exams – BA1, BA2, BA3 and BA4. The equivalent of the C03 exam has been discontinued, however, the content of this subject is now distributed across the other exams.


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The exam format

The CIMA certificate exams consist of 60 questions per paper (85 questions for CIMA BA4) and have a time limit of 2 hours.

This equates to around 2 minutes maximum for each question, though this is only a rough guide and some questions may take longer than others.

All learning areas are covered in the CIMA certificate exams so you need to make sure you revise all of the topics. You can’t just revise some syllabus areas and hope to pass.

The CIMA certificate objective test exams include the following question formats:


Multiple choice

Choose ONE answer from options available.


Multiple response

Select more than one correct answer. If one response is incorrect you will lose the mark for the question.


Highlight the correct part of a chart or diagram.


Matching items

Match two columns of items in a logical order.

Drag and drop

Drag the answers into their correct place.


Fill in the blank

Fill in the blank section with the most suitable answer from the options provided.

Syllabus content

The 4 CIMA certificate exams each cover different areas of accounting fundamentals giving you a solid stepping stone when moving onto CIMA operational level.

CIMA have provided a full guide to the CIMA certificate syllabus, which you can find here: Certificate Syllabus Guide

However, here is a breakdown of each of the modules:


Fundamentals of business economics:

BA1 focuses on the economic and operating context of business and how the factors of competition, the behaviour of financial markets and government economic policy can influence an organisation. It also deals with the information available to assist management in evaluating and forecasting the behaviour of consumers, markets and the economy in general

Students will gain an understanding of the areas of economic activity relevant to an organisation’s decisions and, within this context, the numerical techniques to support such decisions.

BA1 – Fundamentals of Business Economics:

  • 25% = Macroeconomic and institutional context of business
  • 30% = Macroeconomic and organisational context of business
  • 20% = Informational context of business
  • 25% = Financial context of business

Fundamentals of management accounting:

BA2 teaches students fundamental knowledge and techniques that underpin management accounting. It identifies the position of the management accountant within organisations and the role of CIMA. The subject portrays the role of management accounting in the contexts of commercial and public sector bodies and its wider role in society.

BA2 – Fundamentals of Management Accounting:

  • 10% = The context of management accounting
  • 25% = Costing
  • 30% = Planning and control
  • 35% = Decision making

Fundamentals of financial accounting:

In BA3 students will obtain a practical understanding of financial accounting and the process behind the preparation of financial statements for single entities.

These statements are prepared within a conceptual and regulatory framework requiring an understanding of the role of legislation and of accounting standards. The need to understand and apply necessary controls for accounting systems, and the nature of errors is also covered. There is an introduction to measuring financial performance with the calculation of basic ratios.

BA3 – Fundamentals of Financial Accounting:

  • 10% = Accounting principles, concepts and regulations
  • 50% = Recording accounting transactions
  • 30% = Preparation of accounts for single entities
  • 10% = Analysis of financial statements

Fundamentals of ethics, corporate governance and business law:

In BA4 students will gain an understanding of the professional standards to be demonstrated for the benefit of all stakeholders. With this in mind, the place of ethics and ethical conflict is an essential underpinning for commercial activity. It includes the role of corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and audit; and their increasing impact in the management of organisations. Wherever business is conducted the legal and administrative framework underpins commercial activity. With this in mind the areas of contract law, employment law, administration and management of companies is considered.

BA4 – Fundamentals of ethics, corporate governance and business law:

  • 30% = Business ethics and ethical conflict
  • 45% = Corporate governance, controls and corporate social responsibility
  • 15% = General principles of the legal system, contracts and employment law
  • 10% = Company administration

When do you get your results?

So we have had a look at the format of the CIMA certificate exams, and the syllabus content. However, how do you actually know if you have passed? 

Here is a rundown of what to expect from your result and how you will know if you have passed:


On the day

  • You will be given a provisional result at the test centre
  • This result will be ratified within 48 hours


  • You will then receive a pass or a fail decision
  • You will also receive a scaled score

Pass grade

  • The pass grade for the CIMA certificate exams is a scaled score of 100 or above.

Find your nearest test centre

CIMA objective tests can be sat on demand on a day of your choice at any time throughout the year at a Pearson Vue test centre.


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