Monday, 11 May 2015

Useful Memory Techniques! - Part Two


Further to Friday's blog post on memory techniques, here are four more tips for you to use in your revision. 

Remember it's not just about knowing the content, the key to being successful in exams is to be able to recall it in a structured way. 

Everybody learns in different ways so find the techniques that best fit with your own style. 

5. Reinventing your notes

By reinventing your notes in different formats you may find that you are able to retain them better in your memory. So rather than re-reading your notes time and time again, consider re-writing them occasionally. This refreshes your memory and also makes you think about what you are writing and what it's about. This could be key to passing the exam.

6. Choose an easy for read font!

When revising for an exam it is recommended that your revision notes are in Times New Roman. This font is considered one of the easiest to read and as a result of this it will make it much easier for you to learn and memorise your revision notes!

If your notes are clearly written and easy on the eye then it will really help when it comes to trying to remember the content. 

7. Chunking information

Have you heard of the term 'chunking'? By dividing large amounts of information into smaller chunks an individual can remember a lot more detail. This is achieved through focusing on memorising those chunks as individual pieces. It's then relatively easy to bring the individual parts together. 

A great example is how an eleven digit telephone number is often broken down into three chunks. People remember the area code and then break down the remaining digits into two pieces. This chunking of telephone numbers is done without even recognising that it's 'chunking'!

8. Use Flashcards

Flash cards are an effective way of summarising important parts of your revision notes such as key definitions and formulas. Not only does it contain the vital information, the appearance of the flashcard can also help you to remember the content in an exam situation. There are many flashcard creators on-line for you to try out- why don't you take a look and see what's out there?!

Look out for our next four memory tips over the next week. 

Nick Best and the Astrani team
Astranti Financial Training

Friday, 8 May 2015

Key points from the CIMA Q&A session hosted by the head of Learning and Development at CIMA, Peter Stewar

Key points from the CIMA UK Facebook Q&A session hosted by the head of Learning and Development at CIMA, Peter Stewart on Wednesday 6th May 2015.

Here are some answers from Peter Stewart in response to student questions raised on Facebook.

Interesting details on the pass mark for Objective Tests

“We released an indicative pass mark of 70% for Objective Tests last year. This represents the standard required to pass, however the way in which we assess students in objective tests means we can't issue percentage scores. A raw score is produced, but due to objective tests drawing on a range of questions from a question bank, we cannot compare student performance from exam to exam. To determine whether a student has passed or failed, an industry standard psychometric method called Anghof has been used to identify the minimum boundary required by a student to demonstrate competence in each question and syllabus topic area. Once a sufficient number of exams have been sat across all nine objective tests we will be in a position to start issuing scaled scores as we currently do for Case Study exams”.

Information on pass rates

“Detailed pass rates will be available as soon as we can produce statistically valid figures (weeks rather than months). The case study results went out recently (including a 62% UK rate at the Strategic Level) and they suggest to me that that area of assessment hasn't made life harder for candidates. For the majority of the OTQ exams, it currently looks like the pass rates are at or above what you would have expected throughout the 2010 syllabus”.

Comments regarding the review of F3 and P3

“Performance in the F3 tests is being analysed with the intention of being able to feed back to students & tutors with guidance on how to improve chances of passing. We've had no indication that there is a fault in the test and, therefore, no plans to "re-write”.

“Please don't read the "review" as being an expectation that the exam is somehow faulty and we need to make changes. We have statistical data on the performance of all questions across the exams and are analysing that to identify the syllabus areas that need attention”.

Useful advice on Time Management in OT exams

“There's always been time pressure in exams. I guess it feels a bit different when you can see that there's a clock ticking and a specific number of questions to complete. Don't work on an assumption that EACH question takes 1.5 mins. Some will take less than that, others will require longer. It's part of the process of setting what we call a "balanced" test and the mix of question styles is taken into account when achieving that balance. I've described a "3 sweep" approach to going through the exams. First - the quick and straightforward questions; Second (using the review screen after Q60) - the questions where you know that you know how to answer but need calculations or a bit of thinking time; lastly (again on the review screen of incomplete questions) the lengthier and more involved ones”.

Reasons for the exams being computerised

“We have taken a well regarded approach in the sector by using computer based assessments. Our exams are able to assess 100% of syllabus content in each subject as opposed to approximately 70% under the paper-based model prior to 2015. This ensures that the qualification you're studying is rigorous and produces competent and skilled CGMAs based on the needs of businesses”.

Answer to a student’s concerns over method marks not being given in new style of exams.

“I'll start with the 'Devil's advocate' answer. If you had to provide an analysis to your boss that was full of errors, do you think you'd get credit for 'method used'? OTQs have developed over the years to become an accepted (and expected) method of assessment in some very high-stakes exam. The variety of questions makes it highly unlikely that someone will get through on guesswork and the specifically objective nature of them means that you'll get through if you really know your stuff. No single question is worth enough marks that it, alone, makes the difference to passing or failing. We've set the pass mark at the 70% level to allow for this calculation errors etc, that you mention. We've also got the case studies which you allow you to demonstrate how you apply your knowledge in a work-based scenario”.

Response to those students that are considering moving to the ACCA qualification

“I'd be naturally disappointed. I don't think people should seek a professional qualification based upon how easy it is to obtain (which weakens the value of the qualification) but upon the employment opportunities that the qualification gives you”.

Information on the marks awarded on ‘tick all that apply’ questions

“There are about 6 different styles of OT question; "Tick all that apply" is one and is used more towards the upper levels of the syllabus. It aims to test the completeness of your knowledge/application and so the score is only awarded for a perfect match”.

Reasons for CIMA’s decision to not give students detailed feedback after their exam.

“The old system had all students taking the same exam and so you could compare scores with one another and discuss with your tutor. The fact that you all have slightly different sets of questions makes that comparison misleading. We indicate syllabus areas that need more attention than others. We can't drill into that with more detail for a few reasons (I'll come back to if time allows) but do expect that a student can reflect on that feedback and assess whether your own learning led you to a position where you were confident (and so failed with a couple of wrong questions) or if it's an area that you really didn't get to grips with - in which case you, yourself, know that the questions were beyond you”.

Visit for more answers.

Discuss your opinions about this Q&A session with other students on our CIMA forum page -


Nick Best and the Astranti team

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Useful Memory Techniques! - Part One

Hi everyone,

It's a bit unfortunate that no matter how great you are at understanding theory, exams are also a test of memory. Some of us find this difficult and most of us spend hours trying to embed information in our heads. 

Over the years though there have been many studies and articles on how committing things to memory can be made easier and more efficient. Some of them are obvious and others a bit more creative. The key thing is to find the techniques that work best for you. 

In this blog I will cover four tips for improving your memory skills. In the next few weeks I will also cover more memory techniques. 

I hope you find them useful!

1. Mindmaps

Mindmaps are excellent revision tools. They are an interesting and creative way of remembering complex topics. The use of colour and imagery can help you group ideas and thoughts in a way that you can recall when the time comes. Use one of the many free online mindmap tools or simply create your own on a piece of paper. Here is just one of the great online mind mapping tools -

2. Mobile learning
Mobile learning can be very effective. Why not try different rooms in your home, the garden, the park or even on the bus? Research has shown that you remember more things when the places you study are varied. A new environment can help to clear your mind and therefore more knowledge can be absorbed. Also when trying to recall something it can help to associate it with the place you learnt it.

3. Speaking out loud

You may feel slightly embarrassed but speaking out loud instead of simply reading something helps you remember. Research suggests that your 50% more likely to remember something by saying it out loud. Give it a go and see if it works for you!

4. Teaching somebody else

A great way to remember what you have learned is to teach it to somebody else. This is a useful test to see if the information has actually been absorbed and also whether you have really understood it. All you need to do is find a willing partner!

In Monday's blog I will cover 4 more memory techniques!

Nick Best and the Astranti team