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What Is Scaled Scoring for CIMA OT Exams?

Learn about scaled scoring for OT exams, how the scaled score works, what it means for CIMA students and much more.

Since 2015, every CIMA objective test has been subject to a scaled scoring system. This system aims to ‘ensure all candidates receive a score that is comparable across multiple versions of the same exam taken at different times.’

So, when you take your OT exam, be aware that there are multiple versions of that exam.

These versions will be marked according to the scaled scoring system taking difficulty into account due to minor differences in the exams.

How does the scaled score work?

Candidates will be awarded a scaled score between 0 and 150, with the pass mark set at 100 for each exam. In order to pass, you need to get 100 marks or higher.

The passing standard for each exam has been set independently, and each subject has a different passing standard, e.g. F1 differs from E1 as different content is being examined.

What does scaled scoring mean for CIMA students?


We believe there are 3 types of students when it comes to knowing about the marking system for CIMA OT exams.

  1. Those who have never done an objective test exam and are unaware of the scoring system
  2. Those sitting exams but are unsure as to how they are marked
  3. Students who are flying through their exams and understanding how the marking system works

As expected, the majority of students fall into the first two categories rather than the last.

If you asked someone in CIMA how many questions you need to get right to pass your exams? The answer would be, “we can’t say for certain!”

What does this mean in your OT exam?

The thing with CIMA is that when you go to do your exam, they don’t assign specific marks to each question.

So in your exam, you won’t see that it’s 1.5 marks for answering this question and 3 for another. When you complete your exam and examiners mark it, they base the score not on the number of questions you answered but on the difficulty of your paper.

The simplest way to explain the marking system is by comparing Student A and Student B.

Let’s say Student A is doing an exam tomorrow, and B is sitting their exam the next day. As they’re on-demand exams, both students are likely to get different papers.

So Student A could answer more questions correctly than B on the day. But Student B gets a more challenging paper in CIMA’s eyes.

In theory, Student B may pass due to difficulty, and Student A may fail.

So, you could answer many questions well, but you could miss out on one primary area and still fail. So make sure to understand as many topics as possible and don’t risk being on the wrong side of the mark.

What can you do to succeed with scaled scoring?

  • Do not miss out on critical areas. If you look at the OTs, there may be four major subject areas, and you may think that if you know 3 inside out, you will pass. That’s not the case. In multiple-choice exams, anything can be asked and skipping key areas will just set you up for a fail.
  • Be able to demonstrate knowledge. By showing knowledge in many exam areas, you can perform well. A good grasp overall is what is going to see you through.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of exam techniques. Knowledge is vital for your OT exams, but the technique can go a long way on exam day. Being able to pace yourself, so you answer as many questions as possible, keep answers short and concise, and know when to pass a question and come back is crucial.
  • Don’t panic if it’s a difficult paper. If you’re Student B and get a more complex paper, stay calm! Even if you know someone who did the same exam a few days ago and found it easy, remember that scaled scoring is in effect, so a difficult paper could actually be in your favour!


Scaled scoring for your CIMA OT exams is hard to predict area. To ensure you pass the exam regardless of its difficulty, the best thing you can do is to be prepared for any question that may arise.

Have a study plan to cover the entire syllabus, put in the study hours, and make sure you practice before the exam to avoid giving away easy marks on the day.

Katie Ni Choileain
3 min read

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