In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was causing disruption for students across the world. Exam sittings were cancelled and students had to put studies on hold. However, CIMA were quick to introduce remote invigilation in May 2020, which enabled CIMA students to pick up their studies and book their next exam. Eleanor was one student who did not let the disruption hold her back. After attending an Online Live course with FI, she sat her Operational Case Study exam in August 2020 and achieved the highest marks worldwide.
Eleanor, huge congratulations on achieving the highest result worldwide for Operational Case Study. Could you identify the biggest factor that lead to becoming a CIMA prizewinner?
I wish I knew, I am still surprised! Knowing the course content closely probably goes without saying… I think another key factor were my tutor, Karen’s, words: “So what?” A question that added an extra level of commentary beyond rote answers and forced me to think about why what I was writing was relevant to the company itself and the specific question being asked.
Please could you tell us a little bit about your background and why you chose to study CIMA?
I started off my career as an office junior. I enjoyed the little parts of the company’s bookkeeping I was involved in. So when thinking about how to further my career, AAT appealed to me.
Becoming an accountant felt like a far-off end goal at the time (4 years and 24 exams ago). Along the way, I was able to join my current team as a trainee accountant. With their support, I was able to move on to CIMA as soon as I finished AAT level 4, which was great.
I have been able to progress beyond a trainee as my studies have continued. I enjoy my role working in industry, so CIMA felt like the more natural choice for me personally.
Tell us a bit about your studies. Did you find anything particularly hard? Did you have any challenges that you had to overcome?
It has been hard for everyone over the past year. I am lucky to have been able to work from home for the majority of it, but it can be difficult to work all day in one space, then have to sit down again in the same place all evening to study for hours more. I definitely lost momentum at the start of the year.
It may sound silly, but I was able to give myself a boost by sitting down at my coffee table to study instead of at my work desk. Setting specific goals has helped, too. For example, aiming to complete the operational exams in time for a certain case study window gives some motivation to sit down and study.
On a lighter note, my biggest day-to-day weakness is reading the questions properly!
Can you tell us a bit about your experience of First Intuition as a training provider?
I have studied using all three of FI’s delivery methods. Online, Online Live, and Classroom courses. I think the FI tutors are great, and genuinely care about their students. The course notes strike a good balance, covering the content without being unnecessarily long. Even when using a live course, I have found it handy to have the recorded content available. It is useful for quickly going over something I don’t fully understand, and for getting a different perspective on trickier subjects.
The case study course was very good. There is no way I would have achieved the same results without it. It gave a great insight into what to prepare for, and how to go about answering the case study questions. Having three mocks with feedback really helps to cover a lot of the course and identify where my knowledge was lacking. (Or indeed, where I had not read the question properly.)
Thank you Eleanor, becoming a CIMA prizewinner during the COVID-19 pandemic is inspiring. Keep up the good work and best of luck for your next CIMA exam.
First Intuition was awarded the CIMA Excellence Award in 2020 based on the high-quality of teaching, learner progression and pass rates that consistently exceed the global average.
For more inspiration, read the story of other recent FI prizewinners below: