I personally had a lot of concern before starting out before starting the path to my chartered accountancy qualification as to how difficult they would be and whether I was “clever enough”. I have therefore reviewed my first year of CIMA study to help others in a similar position. I started in accountancy by completing the 3 levels of AAT; I found this course overall quite easy at the start whilst getting a little more challenging by level 4. The AAT qualification gave me a good grounding on the accountancy basics and left me wanting to progress further.
After completing my AAT I began my CIMA course, with great apprehension. The first exam I took with CIMA was called the P1 exam. I found this exam content very difficult and was a bit worried I had jumped in too quick. However I studied hard and when it came to siting the actual exam, after failing the mock exams a couple of days before, I found it quite easy and actually got quite a good mark (142/150). Looking back I think failing the mock exams was actually a good thing, as this meant I spent the entire final weekend focusing on the exam questions and re-doing the mock exam.
I then proceeded to complete the E1 exam which everyone I know who has sat it describes the content as very “wordy” and not so much in the way of numbers or calculations. The next exam I took was F1, which mostly relates to the preparation of financial statements with a focus on group accounts consolidation. I amongst others found this the most difficult but eventually it did just stick and I managed to pass.
Finally to complete the first year I had to sit the 3 hours case study exam. This exam differed to the others as it wasn’t on demand as you can only sit it during 4, 1 week sittings throughout the year. It was a very difficult exam to study for as it was a culmination of all 3 topics I had studied so far. What also made it difficult was that I had to learn both the information on the case study which is released prior to the exam, but also know how to answer questions on all of the topics you have learned, based around the case study.
Overall I have had to put a lot of time into my studies particularly around the run up to the exam, however this paid off and I received a top 5 in the World award for my case study exam (considering my D in GCSE maths I have progressed quite far!). Therefore I suggest anyone keen on working as an accountant providing you have enough spare time to dedicate – go for it! I have more than doubled my salary since starting in Finance 4.5 years ago.