OCS: How I passed

The operational case study is a relatively new exam – so I was delighted to pass it first time!

The OCS seemed a bit of a grey area to me when working out how to study for it. Trying to catch up on the all of the P1 theory I missed (I was exempt due to 2015 transition) as well as hearing that only 34% of the students passed the OCS in the previous sitting (May 2015) set a few alarm bells ringing.

I was comfortable enough studying for the P1 and F1 papers using study texts and practice exam kits but, in my opinion, you really need some additional support when tackling the case study.

I purchased the OCS study text from Kaplan earlier in the year but thought it was too generic for me. I needed to put some more meat on the bones.

OCS: First Steps

It’s important to make a note of when the pre-seen material for the case study is released, as soon as that’s out you will need to focus 100% on that.

So the 3-4 weeks before it was released I spent my time going through all three papers E1, F1 and P1 (mainly) and revising the key models, theories and how to apply them.

Don’t get bogged down in working out costing models and drafting financial statements etc in your preparation for case study. YOU WON’T BE ASKED TO CARRY OUT ANY CALCULATIONS – you will need to know the theory behind and how to apply it to the scenario.

I found the OCS study text from Astranti was a brilliant starting point.

The first part focuses on how to plan your answers and what expect in the exam. While the second part is split into three parts (E1, F1, P1) and covers all of the key theory and models in a short, condensed, manageable format.

Make this study text your bible for the weeks leading up to when the pre-seen material is released.

Pre-Seen Materials

As soon as it’s released you should read the whole document without making any notes. Just a get a feel for it. Then I would suggest reading it again and highlight strengths and weaknesses of the company as they could well be tested.

Pay attention to EVERYTHING! 

Personally, I used the Astranti pre-seen video analysis package that provided a tutors insight into all of the pre-seen material as well as pin-pointing the top 10 issues that could come up in the exam.

I found it invaluable and it gave me a real focus for revision and exam preparation.

Try and link the key models in P1 and E1 to the pre-seen material. Then brush up on any accounting standards that you feel could be examined.

Mock Exam Practice

After I spent two weeks watching the pre-seen videos, relating it to the pre-seen material and refreshing my syllabus knowledge I moved onto the mock exam practice.

You can find exam practice questions on the official CIMA connect website and Astranti offer a free mini-mock as well. So you have all of this resources available for free and they should be made the most of.

So, for next three weeks I took the Astranti mock exams (one each weekend) and spent the time in between revising the areas I scored low marks on.

If your budget allows, I would thoroughly recommend to get your mock exams marked. You will get detailed feedback on your strengths and weaknesses and an honest appraisal (something I probably wouldn’t have given myself!)


I spent the final week in the run up to the exam going over my notes and making sure I understood how to relate ETHICS to the case study.

Try and squeeze it in where ever you can! ETHICS, ETHICS, ETHICS.

I also used this time to do some real industry research into the floriculture industry so I could link to my answers on exam day.

Good Luck for those sitting the OCS in February 2016. Here are some useful links below that will help you get a head start.

Useful Links and Resources

OCS Course Preseen Videos
OCS Mock exams
OCS study text
OCS masterclasses

CIMA Connect: OCS Pre-Seen Material


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