Blog Home / Study Guides & Resources / New CIMA Syllabus: Everything You Should Know

New CIMA Syllabus: Everything You Should Know

Find out what’s changed and what hasn’t on the CIMA syllabus in 2019. Get an overview of the new syllabus and what it means to you.

Syllabus wallpaper

Digital technologies continue to have a huge impact on global businesses. This change is having a significant impact on accounting professionals and to reflect the new skills and knowledge required in the marketplace, CIMA have updated their syllabus in 2019.

Knowledge areas that have been updated span technical, business, people, leadership and digital skills.

In this blog look at the key things that have changed and what that means for you as a current or future CIMA student. But first, let’s look at what’s not changed.

Read: CIMA exam dates and deadlines to make sure you’re up to speed

What hasn’t changed in the CIMA syllabus?

There are 3 important things that have not changed:

1. CIMA syllabus structure – The syllabus framework is still 3 levels, 3 pillars, 9 objective tests, and 3 case study exams.

CIMA syllabus change

2. CIMA format – This remains the same so in each level you need to pass the objective tests and case study exams.
3. Exam difficulty – The complexity and difficulty of the exams remains the same and so will not have an impact on future pass rates.

Now that you know what will remain the same, let’s delve into what is changing in 2019.

What’s changed in the CIMA syllabus?

A number of things have changed on the syllabus to ensure that anyone who studies CIMA is aware of and knowledgeable about where digital fits into accounting.

New topic areas

New areas have been introduced across the board including data analytics, cyber security, ecosystems, digital costing, integrated reporting, along with digital technologies throughout the modules.

For example in the E3: Strategic Management module, ‘digital strategy’ has been added while P3: Risk Management sees the introduction of ‘cyber risks’. Other areas have seen more substantial change, exact details of which can be found in CIMA’s detailed transition guides (see below).

The traffic light system below indicates minimal changes to significant alterations that you need to be aware of when preparing for your exam.

Expert insight: It’s worth noting that the E pillar has encountered the most change as these are the areas most influenced by digital.

Heat map of changes to syllabus

Transition Guides

To help in the changeover from one syllabus to another, CIMA has created transition guides for each course which can be downloaded Transition Guides | CGMA Study Hub.

It’s worth taking ten minutes to read through these guides to see exactly what has changed and what this means for your future study under the new syllabus.

Key questions on the CIMA syllabus changes

Will credit be applied for exams that are already passed?

You will still receive credits for the exams you’ve already passed. Also bear in mind that CIMA have got rid of their exemption fees, which is a positive trend.

What happens if you fail an exam under the old syllabus and need to retake it under the new syllabus?

This is more relevant for the case study exam as there’s an important point to note. If you fail the November 2019 case study (which is the last case study exam under the old syllabus), your last chance to take the exam under the old syllabus will be in February 2020 (using the same pre-seen material).

However, in order to resit in February under the old syllabus, you have to have at least attempted the exam in November.

So, if you sat a case study exam earlier this year and failed with no resit scheduled in November, you won’t have a chance to resit under the existing syllabus in February and will have no choice but to re-attempt under the new syllabus.

For the OT exams, you must simply familiarise yourself with the content changes prior to starting your study preparation.

Key points to keep in mind:

  • Dates:
    (New syllabus enforced: OTs – 4th Nov; Case Studies – Feb 2020)
  • Exemptions still receive credits for exams passed and remember CIMA have removed their exemption fees.
  • If you fail under old syllabus:
    • OTs – Familiarise yourself with new content once sitting after 3rd Nov
    • Case Studies – If you fail the November 2019 exam, the last chance to sit under the old syllabus will be Feb 2020 (using the same pre-seen material).
    • Note that you can only sit case study exam under the old syllabus in February if you have attempted the November case study exam


So there you have it – an overview of what’s changed on the CIMA syllabus in 2019.  Familiarise yourself with the changes and ensure you know what’s expected in your OTs and case studies in 2020.

Katie Ni Choileain
4 min read


    1. At Learnsignal, we understand that studying for the CIMA can be a daunting task. That is why we have created a range of courses and resources designed to help you succeed, from starting your studies all the way to exam success. We offer practice tests and mock exams to help you get the most out of your studies and prepare for the real thing. Once you have achieved success, join our online community of CIMA professionals to share your experiences and get advice from other CIMA students. Good luck and we hope you reach success with your CIMA studies!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *