Friday, 17 March 2017

A trio of materials to combat the CIMA exam!

 It's not long until the CIMA pre-seen is released! How is your revision going? Do you feel like your mind is blossoming with knowledge or do you currently feel like a stick in the mud who is feeling a little overwhelmed? Have no fear, we are here to help!

Our very first piece of advice would be to start your revision now. Yes, right now, before you start reading that 900-page book, begin studying origami or planning a walk that will take you as far away from the CIMA exam as possible. But without a pre-seen available from CIMA yet, how can you start revising? Well, we may have the materials just for you! The answer is in our Ethics pack, Course Videos and Study Texts. With these three, we have a trio to combat CIMA!

Monday, 27 February 2017

What is an Algorithm and how can this help your revision?

It was in the news today that many people are now learning to code. What is coding? Simply telling a computer exactly what it has to do. Coding is like the magic wand of computers and it is an extremely useful life skill in this technology obsessed world.

Before we jump into coding, there are a few steps that must be considered. First of all, we need an algorithm. An algorithm is a set of rules that solve a problem. These need to be done in the right order, otherwise they will not work.
This structure can also apply to life and revision. Would you take an exam and then revise afterwards? Hopefully not! When you write an algorithm, the order of the instructions is very important.

This can be really useful when preparing for the OT exam, as these require a set routine. Some students find that having an algorithm really helps them to focus and achieve the best results.

So, what would a typical revision step by step routine look like? Perhaps something like this:

Highlight key areas of the study text
Test your knowledge of one area
Read back over the study text
Test all of your knowledge with a mock

This is an example of a good revision routine. You can always change it to suit your own needs, but remember, there is such a thing as a bad algorithm in computers and this applies to real life, too! For example:

Read through the study text
Look out through the window
Decide to study tomorrow...maybe!

Algorithms only really work when they are designed to achieve a specific goal. So next time you think about revising, think about the steps you need to take, in order to achieve the success you would like.

More information about the OT courses and materials we offer can be found here:

Friday, 27 January 2017

Exam Success: Luck vs Hard Work

It's a fact of life that some people seem to have been born lucky. If they are running late, for example, their train or bus is magically running late too. They are never without an umbrella on the day it rains out of the blue or they always have just the right pair of sunglasses in their bag when the sun is shining bright.
Another example of luckiness is when people pass their exams with flying colours...or is it?
A lot of students will come out of the exam and say that the final result is down to luck. If they pass with flying colours, it is because they had a lucky charm on their exam desk. If they don't do so well, their reason for failing is attributed to a simple lack of luck.

But is this really the case? It's unlikely to be! As the famous quote goes, 'the best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.' This is especially true for the Case Study exams, a time when the pressure is on and you show all of the knowledge that has been stored in your brain for the last couple of months.
Here are a few tips to ensure that you do well in the exam, without relying on your lucky charm:

1). Practise, practise and then practise some more. A lot of knowledge can be learned through regular repetition. If you are reading the study text, practising with the mocks and studying the pre-seen materials on a regular basis, your brain will soak up the information like a sponge in water. Try and set aside some time for daily revision if you can. Not only will it help to have a set time for revision, but it will also structure your time and allow you to do other things during the day.

2). Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Do you find Ethics a breeze, but struggle with your industry knowledge? Pin point the key areas that you need to improve on and work on these a little more than areas you find easier. Don't just focus on one aspect though, because you could find that you are only revising a tiny part. Think of your revision as like a quilt or a scarf. If you stitched some threads together, it would not end up being the complete product. Likewise, if you only study one theory, you will not be preparing for the full exam.

3). Be resilient. Even if you are finding the revision hard going, please don't give up. It's hard now but it will be worth it in the end! Just think of the future when all of your hard work pays off. Good things don't always come easily, but they are always worth working hard for.

4). Have the right materials. This is where we are here to help. Astranti is made up of a team who have years of experience in accountancy and finance. Using our knowledge, we have developed materials that are specifically designed to help you achieve big things.
Preparation is a lot more useful than pure luck, and here at Astranti we believe in providing the best materials.

You can find out more about our OCS pre-seen products here:

Thursday, 5 January 2017

How eating well can help you prepare!

So the Case Study exam is not far are you finding it?

We know that revising is important for learning the theory. But what about looking after ourselves? If you want to do the very best you can, here is an extra tip for you: what you eat can have a huge impact on your preparation! Countless studies have shown that eating healthily can improve concentration, memory and overall well being.

Interested in the food fiends and brain favourites? Read on…

When faced with revision, it can be tempting to eat foods that are not the best for us. Most of us have done it. You've had a long day of revising for the CIMA exam and feel tired. Your brain aches with all the knowledge you have learnt. Or, perhaps, you feel as if nothing is going into your mind! You go out with your family for a meal and have a look at the menu. Which is the most tempting? The salad, complete with extra carrots or the pizza that is surrounded by chips? If you're stressed, it is much more likely to be the foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar. But don't get too angry at yourself. Science is behind this.

If we start to feel very stressed, our body has a flight or fight response. This means that hormones are released that help us to replenish energy stores. How do they do this? By increasing sugar cravings and fat storage, these hormones tell us to look out for any form of sugar in sight. Back in evolutionary times, our problems often centered around running away from predators. For anyone taking an exam, it's going to be less about running from a Saber tooth tiger and more about what lays in store for the exam! Unfortunately, our brains cannot tell the difference and so the hormones that tell us to look out for high energy foods are released even if there is no running involved.

What can we do to combat this and set you on the road for success? Like many things in life, starting as you mean to go on is key. Before you start revising in the morning, it is important to eat a good breakfast. This includes slow release carbohydrates, which includes whole grain bread, porridge or muesli. Bring in some protein, such as eggs or yogurt. It's also important to keep drinking fluids. You should aim to drink 8 to 10 200ml glasses a day. Most fluids count, such as water, milk or tea. Fizzy drinks or those high in sugar are still counted, but they should be kept to a minimum.

Vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains should make up a substantial amount of your diet. There is such a wide range of these foods that the lists of recipes are endless and it's good to be colourful! It's also important to eat Omega 3 fats, such as olive oil, instead of butters. Avocados are a particular good source, as are most types of fish, including salmon and mackerel. It is also thought that blueberries are particularly useful for improving memory.

Finally, the night before your exam, try to have your last meal at least three hours before you go to sleep, as eating too late can effect your sleep cycle. If you do feel peckish before bedtime, it's best to have a bowl of high fibre cereal, such as porridge. Avoid caffeine, drink plenty of water and try to relax, knowing that you have done as much as you can.

If you take on these food tips, you will be doing the best for yourself. It will ensure that you are preparing in every way for the CIMA exam and could have a real impact on the big day!  

Friday, 23 December 2016

When it comes to the exam, it's mind over matter.

If you have just had a look at the pre-seen text on the official CIMA website, you may have mixed feelings. Part of you may be feeling excited and, in a strange way, looking forward to the exam. It will be a chance to show off all of the knowledge that you have been working so hard to learn. You may really enjoy learning and almost feel sad that it may be over soon!

Another part of you may be feeling less keen. You have read the pre-seen analysis and have learnt more about bee hive structures than you would have ever thought. You have a vague plan in your head and a little spark of determination. Broadly speaking, you have several paths to take. Let's consider these three people and their approach to the sitting.

Person A reads the pre-seen analysis whilst eating his breakfast. He keeps his study materials by his bedside table at night and reads them as a story to himself before going to sleep. If he could study it in the shower, he would! Instead of going out with his friends, person A stays in and studies all day long. By heart, he can recite most of the main paragraphs. His wall is covered in all of the different study techniques, but his family complain that they never see him.

Person B isn't really interested in the pre-seen analysis. He reads it and then gets a call from one of his friends, who asks him if he wants to go out and see a film. Person B looks at the case study but doesn't think twice. I'll do it later, he tells himself, but that time never comes.

Person C is a little like person A and person B. They read the case study and carefully make notes. They still go out with friends and spend time with their family, but revision is one of their main priorities. They have a set plan and, when they are working, they stick to that. By the time the exam comes around, they are prepared.

Which person are you? Are you just like studious A, or a social butterfly like B? Person C is between the two and has the best approach to studying. Of course, some people who are an A or a B may still be successful, but their revision approach could be more balanced and varied.
If you find yourself staying up until Twilight every night with your materials or letting them get dusty, remember that those who have a sensible plan and stick to it are far more likely to do well and also enjoy themselves.

Being with Astranti is a bit like having a study companion, here to help you every step of the way. We currently have the operational pre-seen materials, including a complete pre-seen package for £89.99. This is available on our website here:

Monday, 12 December 2016

Turn that pre-seen into a pass

The LAST thing you want to do when are you sat down in your OCS exam is to be reaching for the pre-seen because you did not completely cover it in your revision, time will not be on your side as you have three hours to get through tough questions. 

In my experience, the best way to save time in the exam is to make up for it now and get to know the pre-seen inside out so that you don't ever have to look at it in the exam itself. Who else agrees?

The examiners definitely agree. Every examiner's report will refer to how well students managed to engage with the pre-seen or not. If you don't believe me, let's see what the examiners had to say in the OCS examiner's report: "Preparation on the pre-seen material is vital. Ensure that you are very familiar with the business, especially the financial information, before the exam as this will help you with applying your knowledge and will save you time".

So what can you do to help you remember all the key points from such a sizeable document as the pre-seen?

1. Make your own revision notes or scratch-cards as you go. You should then keep coming back to them, even re-writing them over and over again to cement these into your memory. Perhaps even use different colours and highlighters for the extra important information.

2. Once you have done this, you can scribble down notes and ideas that you think are linked with this information, doing this as early as possible will definitely make you feel a lot more comfortable with the pre-seen when you are finally going into the exam! Particularly useful when it comes to knowing the industry!

3. Make your own voice recordings of important information about the document. Research has shown that you are more likely to remember information when you are listening to your own voice; alternatively just talking through the document can help with information retention. When you have your recording listen to it from day to day, before you know it you'll have the pre-seen covered!

To help you sail through the pre-seen we have our own industry analysis in both video and document format - check out all our Operational pre-seen materials here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Make the most of your study texts!

Want a better chance of passing? Mix up your revision. 

Often students assume they should be revising for their Operational exam in a library or sat at a computer desk only, as this is a formal place to work. However, if you wanted to start reading an exciting book or watch your favourite TV show, you wouldn't be doing all this in the library or at a computer desk. Do not be afraid to get out and about when tackling a tough document, there is a lot of evidence that shows mixing up the location of your studying can help you process information, making you learn faster (and pass quicker!)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

OCS November exam experience survey, what we learnt...

As always, the OCS exam experience survey produced some interesting results. Thinking of taking the February case study? Or interested to know how the OCS November students got on? Well, here are 7 bullet points that we learnt from our survey. 

Our students put the effort in!
  • Just under 50% revised for more than 5 weeks in the run-up to the exam.
  • Nearly 80% revised 4 weeks or over.
  • 10% did less than 3 weeks revision.
  • 42% of our students dedicated 10 hours or more a week to revision.
  • Nearly 75% did more than 5 hours a weeks.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

7 WOW Facts About Accountants

Working through your CIMA qualifications can get tough and stressful, there is a lot of information to process and study. To help get you through your qualifications I have developed 7 interesting facts that will help motivate you to the finishing line:

1) Looking at job stats, the US department of labour estimates there will be a 11% rise of accountants in the US between 2014-2024. Amazing considering there were 1,332,700 registered accountants in 2014!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

10 things you MUST do before the exam!

With the OCS exams starting next week, it's VITAL you make the most of the remaining days. However, having over-seen a number of case study exams I know how difficult it can be to know what to do between now and next week - so I have decided to share create a plan to help you through it.

Through speaking with past students and using my own experience I have created a tried-and-tested list of 10 things you should be doing before your exam

1) Read through the August Examiner's Report - this report contains very important information! It includes VITAL advice for students sitting the November exam and identifies exactly what the examiner's will be looking for! August OCS Examiner's Report