The CIMA Exam Formats

What exams will you face?

There are 2 different types of exam used throughout the CIMA qualification, and you’ll need to get familiar with each of them if you are going to pass!

There are 13 objective test style exams and 3 case study style exams, and you can find out more about each on this page.

CIMA objective test exams

Objective test exams are used for the 4 certificate level exams, and the first 3 exams for operational, management and strategic level.

The exams are designed to test your knowledge of the syllabus content, on a module-by-module basis. However, as you make your way through the exams, and up through the levels, some of the content will build upon previous knowledge. Having a solid understanding of the theory for each exam is therefore crucial!

Time to prepare

  • Typically you should be looking to pass a single objective test exam in less than 3 months

Exam length

  • 2 hours to complete the BA1, BA2, BA3 and BA4 exams
  • 90 minutes to complete the E1, F1, P1, E1, F2, P2, E3, F3 and P3 exams

Number of questions

  • 60 questions to complete in the BA1, BA2, BA3, E1, F1, P1, E1, F2, P2, E3, F3 and P3 exams
  • 85 questions to complete in the BA4 exam only

Types of question

  • Multiple choice
  • Drag and drop
  • Short answer
  • Calculations

CIMA case study exams

Case study exams occur 3 times during the CIMA qualification. The first is taken once the operational objective test exams are completed, the second after the management objective test exams and the final once you have taken all of the strategic objective test exams

The case study exams are designed to test your overall knowledge of the syllabus content as well as your ability to apply that knowledge to a business scenario.

For case study exams, ‘pre-seen’ material is released by CIMA 6 weeks prior to the exam period. This contains information relating to a specific business/market that is the basis for the exam. 

Time to prepare

  • Typically you should be looking to pass each case study exam in less than 2 months

Exam schedule

  • Exams take place in February, May, August and November
  • There are 2 exam sittings for each pre-seen
  • The pre-seen is released at least 6 weeks before the exam (for the first sitting)

Exam length

  • 3 hours to complete the exam
  • Typically split into 3 or 4 sections, each with it’s own un-seen material
  • Typically 45-60 minutes to answer each section

Question type

  • Scenario-based questions
  • Essay style, written answers
  • New un-seen information presented in the exam
  • You should also refer to your knowledge of pre-seen information when answering