CIMA Exemptions: Advantages & Disadvantages

Students may be exempt from certain levels in the CIMA Professional Qualification if they hold a relevant degree or prior work experience. This allows candidates with the right knowledge to fast-track the process of becoming a CGMA.  

This may sound like the easiest way for anyone aiming to complete their studies in the shortest amount of time possible. However, like most shortcuts, this can often lead to greater pitfalls further down the road.  

We asked some of our facilitators to give their thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of the exemption process.  


Time & Money Saved 

The primary benefit of CIMA exemptions is the time and money saved by not having to complete the earlier levels of the qualification. Being exempted from a level also mitigates the risk of potentially failing and spending additional time and money on rewrites.  

Get Extra Value for Previous Qualifications 

You should always aim to maximise the return on any investment. The same applies to the countless hours and money spent on prior qualifications. By leveraging past experience, CIMA exemptions give you the opportunity to do just that. 


Knowledge Gaps 

Each level within the CIMA qualification builds on the one which came before it. While your experience and past qualifications may deem you fit for an exemption, this could lead to knowledge gaps regarding smaller details or sections you have not have touched on in some time. It is for this reason that we recommend you speak to one of our admin team once you have received your exemptions and wish to register. 

Out of Date Information 

The CIMA syllabus is regularly updated to give candidates the most relevant skills and knowledge possible. Bearing this in mind, things you learnt in an Accounting degree 5 years ago could no longer be relevant to your CIMA qualification today.  

Lack of Question Practice 

Correct exam technique can often make the difference between failing and passing, particularly in the Case Study examinations. By virtue of not writing the earlier CIMA examinations, students miss out on this opportunity to hone their skills before reaching the later levels of the qualification.  

In conclusion

Exemptions will save you time and money in the short term, however insufficient revision of exempted modules and exam question papers can often end up costing more in the long run. Our facilitators recommend that students take the time to review exempted course content and ensure they are familiar and comfortable with the concepts covered in these modules.

We're happy to assist any students looking for the process on how to apply for exemptions.

Simply get in touch with our support team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at +27(11) 038 5300

Who is eligible for CIMA exemptions? 

CIMA exemptions are awarded to students who:

  • Have a qualification from a CIMA-accredited programme
  • Have completed a degree related to the CIMA syllabus
  • Have an MBA or Masters in Financial Accounting
  • Are members of SAIPA/SAICA
  • Have gathered relevant work experience in a related field.  

How to apply for exemptions 

Step 1 - Register with CIMA. You can only apply for exemptions once you have registered as a CIMA student. The cost of registration is £95 (roughly R2000, depending on the current exchange rate). 

Step 2 - Search for your qualification on the CIMA database. This will give you an idea of where in the progamme you will be able to start from. You may still be eligiable for exemptions even if you are unable to find your qualification in the exemption search. 

Step 3 - Send all relevant documents (qualifications/work experience) to CIMA (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for review. The exemption process is free and you should receive a confirmation email within 72 hours.  

Step 4 - Wait for exemption feedback from CIMA. This can take anywhere between 10 to 20 working days, so we recommend using this time to acquaint yourself with the CIMA syllabus and course structure.  

Step 5 - Accept or decline the CIMA exemptions. It is best to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of this process (above) before rushing into a decision.