Balancing your CIM Professional Qualifications with a busy life – 5 Top Tips

CIM qualifications - top tips for exam success

CIM professional qualifications are tough!

Most candidates must balance a full-time job, their social life as well as their studies. Unlike a university degree, CIM qualifications are primarily a test of your professionalism rather than your academic prowess.

Here are 5 top tips to ensure you achieve a top grade and live a normal life.

1       Don’t procrastinate

Most of us ignore the advice of our teachers to avoid ‘leaving it until the last minute’.

Still most students habitually procrastinate.  I know I did as an undergraduate.  You know the score; we wait until deadlines loom and panic sets in.  We then burn the midnight oil to cram as much knowledge as we can into our heads or to finish writing up an assignment.

Unfortunately this technique is a recipe for underachievement for professional CIM qualifications.  You will be tasked to apply marketing theory to your chosen organisation.  Being professional takes time.  You will need time to research, collate your data and develop meaningful insights.  Sometimes the answers will not be immediate.  At Diploma and the new Marketing Leadership Programme levels, you will sometimes go down blind allies. So, you need to give yourself time to think and reflect.

In short, get set started as soon as you can – preferably NOW!

2       A little often

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare.  CIM assessments reward tortoises!  Get into the habit of doing a little often.

As most CIM modules demand approximately 80 to 100 hours of work to complete over a twelve-week period, you will need to carve out approximately 7 hours a week every week in your lives.

Some CIM students use their commuting time, some lunch hours, others get in early or stay late.  Alternatively you may prefer committing a Saturday or Sunday.

Work out what is the best time for you.  To download a simple time management exercise contact for a free template.

3       Accountability

Studying can be a very lonely experience.  Many candidates who have achieved top grades whilst studying at the Marketers’ Forum told us that they found ‘Study Buddies’.

They would meet usually online at a predetermined time each week to talk through their progress.  During these sessions, they would share ideas and keep each other motivated.  When one got ahead it would spur the other on.  This accountability to each other has been so successful we are introducing the concept as an integral part of future CIM courses.

4       Reach out and network

The best CIM students think laterally.  These students reach out to experts in their chosen industry and beyond. They try to identify sources of best practice that might be transferable from other industry sectors.

Interviewing senior marketers from other industries and well as their current organisation opens the mind and gives these candidates an edge. Not only will they produce better strategic insights for their CIM assignments, they also enhance their personal profiles.

Building and managing your network is a core career skill.  Many of our top CIM students have adopted the networking techniques we have taught them to great effect (call 0800 024 8095 to find out more).  These pro-active networkers are regularly offered promotions and even new jobs as a direct result of building their network.

5       Understand the way you learn

We all have different learning preferences.  Some learn by doing, others need time to reflect, some like academic rigour.  By knowing how you best learn will enable you to get the most from your CIM Certificate, Diploma or Leadership programmes.  We like to issue a simple Learning Styles assessment at the start of our professional marketing courses.  Having delivered CIM courses throughout the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa, we have observed marketed preferred learning styles variations between different cultures.  Almost without exception throughout the world everyone loves learning more about themselves. To obtain your free copy just email

By understanding how you best learn will save you time and effort.  You will use your time better and ultimately achieve better CIM results.

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About the Author

Quentin Crowe

Quentin Crowe

Managing Director & Founder of The Marketers’ Forum. Quentin has over 20 year marketing experience in the insurance, sports and education sectors. He has taught every level of CIM since 2002 as well as being a visiting lecturer at Greenwich University. He worked in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market for 13 years before setting up his own consultancy business in 2000.

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