Which CIMA Subject is the Toughest?

Dear Tutor MJ

I started my CIMA journey just over a year ago. I have finally arrived at the Operational level. I am both excited and apprehensive. I have signed up to take my first Operational OT exam, P1.

The reason I am nervous is that I’ve heard from various students that P1 is the toughest exam from the OT block. Every time CIMA releases its pass rates, P1 consistently has the lowest pass rate amongst students. Some of my friends have even suggested I take F1 and E1 first, which are apparently easier subjects.

What is your opinion on the different subjects? Is P1 really that tough? Or is it getting a bad rap being classified as the toughest CIMA subject out there?


Dear Judith

I believe that assessing what is tough and what is easy can be very subjective. As a tutor, I’ve found that there are no easy subjects across what CIMA offers. There are only those that students find quick to understand, and those others that are harder to grasp.

Think of it this way. Does a subject become easy when it’s abstruse but the exam questions are obvious? Does a subject become tough when it’s clear but the exam questions are complex? It’s not cut and dry.

The CIMA pass rates are indicative of the pool of students taking the CIMA exams. Collectively, the CIMA pass rates data may have identified P1 as harder to pass than the others. This could be due to a number of factors like complexity of the questions, depth of understanding of the subject matter, time management skills and many others. Sometimes it’s nice to look at trends and patterns (after all, we are accountants, we love looking at numbers), but at the end of the day, these are just historical data.

To prove how subjective it can be, I will confess that when I was going through my own CIMA journey eons ago, E1 was very painful for me. Many late night reading, practising mock exams and attending classes later (yes, I myself sought a tuition provider to help me), I eventually overcame it.

So no, despite what the CIMA data say, P1 wasn’t my Achilles’ heel.

Frankly, I’d encourage you to face your fears head-on. Worry less about what those CIMA pass rates say and focus more on the exciting journey that lie ahead as you tackle CIMA one subject at a time.

Good luck with P1 and all the best with your preparation.

Your tutor

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