Alex Amoah (see LinkedIn profile here) is a CIMA student at Strategic level. He currently works as an Account and Compliance Officer at Top Connect Limited. He lives in London with his wife and three children.
P2 (Advanced Management Accounting) is recognised as one of the toughest CIMA exams of all (it had the 2nd lowest pass rate of all CIMA objective tests in 2018). In this interview, Alex Amoah discusses the challenges he faced in passing P2, as well as offering some great advice to students yet to take the exam.
When did you take the P2 exam and how did you get on?
Alex: Over 2 years ago now and I’m happy to be done with it. It was my second attempt as I failed my first attempt.
How long did you spend preparing for the P2 paper?
Alex: From start to finish I studied P2 over 9 months. However, there were a lot of breaks in between due to work and other commitments. I covered the study text chapter by chapter and worked through some examples in the study text and the exam practice kit. With a few weeks to the exams I was spending on average of 9 hours a week studying in preparation for the big day.
Did you take a course, or did you opt for self-study?
Alex: I opted for self-study using the CIMA official study text and exam practice kit. I would only recommend self-study to those who cannot afford other approaches. It takes a lot of determination and you need plenty of self-discipline. In my view, effective self-study requires commitment and dedication. I will continue with self-study for the foreseeable future even though it may take me longer to pass my exams, until I am able to afford other approaches.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with P2 in relation to your preparation?
Alex: It was difficult for me to balance work with study and other commitments as a family man with kids.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with P2 in relation to the exam day itself?
Alex: Pressure and time management and there were times when I went blank during the exams and could not complete certain questions. Time management was a key that helped me pass the P2 exam. I planned for all the questions that I answered and read the questions more than once to fully grasp the requirements.
Was there an area of the P2 syllabus that you liked more than others?
Alex: The learning curve and how it can be used to predict costs was my favourite topic. I learned from the learning curve that if I do more practice then it would improve my chances of passing my own exams. I tried it and it worked for me.
Was there an area of the P2 syllabus that you liked less than others?
Alex: I struggled initially with transfer pricing, but I managed to understand it very well before passing P2. At first, I was put off by any question that related to transfer pricing. However, I watched a video that explained transfer pricing well and it changed how I initially perceived it to be. I then managed to practice a lot of questions on the topic and built up the courage and knowhow to tackle this area of the exam well.
Do you have any tips for other students of P2?
Alex: Yes. I would suggest the adopting ‘Kaizen and continuous improvement method’ (remember your P1 studies!), especially for students who struggle with balancing their personal lives with studies, work and other commitments. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute, I have realised that a little study on a consistent basis done over a period of time really helps.
Have you used VIVA’s objective test materials for any subject? If so, how did you find the materials?
Alex: I’m using VIVA’s F3 objective test question bank of 500 questions and it’s very helpful in my preparation for the F3 exam. The explanation notes to the questions are awesome.
Do you have any final comments/recommendations/feelings/thoughts about your P2 experience?
Alex: I would suggest to students taking the P2 exam to manage their time well and not leave revision until the last minute. The Performance pillar (P1, P2, P3) exams are all tough and P2 happens to be right in the middle so it requires a good understanding of P1 and the basics of management accounting.