Don’t risk the four-week fall-off in your chances of passing!


Some students believe that once their study course is finished, the longer they wait before sitting an exam, the higher their mark will be, and the better chance of passing they will have.

This is only true to a point!

It is certainly important that students give themselves enough time to complete their final question practice, sit a mock exam or two, and sort out any final technical queries with their tutor, but the statistics show that waiting more than four weeks after finishing a course to sit the exam actually reduces the chance of passing, rather than increasing it.

Don’t risk the four-week fall-off in your chances of passing!

CIMA have been looking at how student pass rates are affected by the delay from when a student finishes their course to when they sit their exam. Their work showed very clearly that exam pass rates fall off dramatically if students wait more than four weeks from the end of their course to sit their exam.

Peter Stewart, Director of Learning of CIMA told First Intuition that  “CIMA undertook some research with a large population of students and it was clear that classroom students who wait more than 4 weeks after the end of their course to sit their exam suffer a stark reduction in their pass rates.”

Many students who think they are improving their chances of passing by waiting are actually doing the exact opposite.

In the first three weeks after finishing their courses student exam scores tend to fall by around 1% for each week they wait, but after week 4 their scores fall by around 4% for each further week they delay.

Peter used a skiing analogy to explain this. He described the drop in the first three weeks as being like a blue run, whilst after four weeks it turns into a red run, and even into a black run! Not for the faint-hearted.

Peter Stewart also added “CIMA recommend that students aim to sit their exam within 2 or 3 weeks of finishing their course.” Following this advice from somebody who was a tutor for over a decade before taking his current senior position with CIMA will:

  • Maximise your chance of passing your exam
  • Allow you to score the best mark you are capable of
  • Mean that you pass your exam faster so that you can move on to the next paper
  • Ultimately mean that you qualify as an accountant earlier



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