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Can I complete a level in 1 year - what does it take?

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Many of our CIMA students ask if it is possible to complete a level in one year. The answer is, it depends. It depends on your commitment and your available study time. It also depends on your chosen study methodology and how your college's timetable is structured. The biggest factor is how many subjects you study simultaneously and how well you spread out your subjects over the year.

Classic mistakes made by students reveal that there's a right way and a wrong way of doing it.

What is the study commitment?


CIMA recommends a maximum of 150 hours to prepare for your OT exam. That includes time to study, doing practice-and-revision questions and mock exams. Some students will find that they can get away with fewer hours, because they may be familiar with some of the concepts or have some work experience they can draw on.
 
The truth is that some subjects require less study time. Use this simple table as a guide to plan your weekly studies:

Recommended study hours

OT

Max hr

Duration

E1, E2, E3, F3

134 hrs

12 weeks

F2

143 hrs

12-13 weeks

P1, F1

P2, P3

150 hrs

13 -14 weeks

 

ICS

Min hr

Duration

OCS / MCS / SCS

100 hrs

6 - 8 weeks

Translating this into study hours, you'll do at least three study sessions a week per subject (one of them can be attending classes). For heavier subjects, you should add a fourth study session in that week. That pretty much fills up your week. Remember to have one study-free day a week. We like Fridays. 

You can see how hard it will be to study three subjects at a time. But, many students do this. Many more drop their third subject along the way, hoping that this increased focus on fewer subjects will get them to pass at least one subject! We see this often, and consider it a classic mistake made by students who are new to CIMA.

Your study week - 2 subjects

 

 

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

Per Week

Over 12 weeks

E1

8-11 pm

(3hrs)

 

 

8-11 pm

(3hrs)

 OFF

Class

(2,5hrs)

 

9 hrs

108 hrs

P1

 

8-11 pm

(3hrs)

8-11 pm

(3hrs)

 

 OFF

Class

(2,5hrs)

6-8 pm

(2hrs)

11 hrs

132 hrs

What successful students do

Taking all this into consideration, students who have managed to do a level in one year have done it in one of two ways.

OPTION ONE: 2 + 1 + Case Study
These students  do two subjects in the first semester and only one subject in the second semester. This gives them an opportunity to either repeat a failed subject or to start their Case Study preparation early. They conclude the year with their Case Study in November.

Students who choose this option commit a minimum of 19 hours  per week in the first semester and a minimum of 11 hours in the second semester. They also ramp up the amount of hours closer to the exam.

OPTION TWO: 3 + Case Study

This option is infinitely harder. These students opt for a faster route and do three subjects in one semester and gives themselves a bit  more time to prepare for the Case Study, by selecting the last exam sitting of the year. We, however think that this approach is a big ask. The demand on your time is excruciating.
 

 Semester 1

Per Week

Over 12 weeks

E1

9 - 10 hrs

 108 - 120 hrs

P1

11 - 12 hrs  

132 - 144 hrs

F1

11 - 12 hrs

132 - 144 hrs

Total

31 - 34 hours 

372 - 408 hours

To achieve exam success, you would need to put in around 30 hours a week, which translates to daily study sessions of  4 - 5 hours, every day of the week.

Bring it down a notch


Don't be dismayed. Students report that they usually get away with fewer hours. The CIMA recommend study time is the absolute maximum required and includes learning, question practice and mock exams. The actual time you need to study will depend on your speed of study, your prior knowledge and your work experience, and it could be a lot less than what's recommended.

We like it when students do one subject at a time if they have a lot of other commitments, or to take no more than two subjects at a time. But many students take 3 subjects at a time, knowing the commitment and those students often exceed all our expectations. 

The Tortoise and the Hare or Smarter, Faster, Better. It's up to you. We support you either way.   
 

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