5 Tips for CIMA Case Study Exams
It’s been a while since my last post but, as most of you reading this will know, quarter closing at work has been a manic time and allowed very little time for me to post any new blogs.
In fact, the pre-seen materials for the MCS and SCS exams have been released but I have still yet to post any preview videos. But don’t worry they will be up in the following few days!
But here is a great article full of pearls of wisdow from Justyna at the Practice Tests Academy on how to pass the CIMA Case Study exams.
CIMA Case Study Pass Rates
Pass rates for CIMA Case Study exams are not impressively high – do you know why? The case study exams are completely different from the objective test exams and there’s a specific approach you can take in order to plan, organise, manage and finally succeed. There are certain things in case study exams that make a huge difference to what it takes to pass or fail.
I’d like to share with you my thoughts on what are the things you should do if you want to significantly increase your success chances in any Case Study exam.
Why should you listen to me?
Well, for the last few sittings Practice Tests Academy has been helping CIMA Students tackle the MCS exam, so I got a lot of insights from the students on what they are struggling with.
And I can really relate to that as not so long ago I actually passed my own SCS. Also, since I’m working with many tutors within Practice Tests Academy, I got their insights on where do students fall short and the tips how to fix that. Plus I like to “crack” this, to figure the problem out and find an appropriate solution. That’s just the type of person I am. I guess my auditor background comes in handy here.
Tip # 1: Understand what you are dealing with
Do you know why the Case Studies were introduced? They are supposed to imitate the real life conditions. At a certain time in our career, we all work for someone. We are studying CIMA, we want to become a certified and recognised Management Accountant. We need to have knowledge, but we also need to have the business skills. We need to address requests coming from our superiors and tackle them in the most professional way possible. That is exactly what is expected from you on the Case Study Exam.
Treat the examiner as if he/she was your boss. You now the context of the company (as you are working for it – on different levels depending on the CS level you’re attempting), they give you additional tasks and simply put – you need to satisfy them just like you need to satisfy your boss. At work, if you do well your job, you’ll be recognised and maybe you’ll get a promotions. If you answer examiner’s requests, you’ll pass your Case Study exam.
Have a look at the past papers – the tasks and the model answers. You will quickly find out what the examiners want. How they ask questions and what kind of answers they actually expect.
Tip # 2: Understand what a passing script is.
There are many sources of information you can get in order to understand what each particular Case Study is about. Each one is a bit different as you are a representative of a different level in an organisation. And I’m a very pragmatic person so I don’t like to waste hours on understanding what’s I’m supposed to deal with. Life is complicated as is so why not to look for some shortcuts?
For me, the most meaningful shortcut is to sign up with a quality tuition provider and participate in the masterclasses. Of course, we all have our financial constraints, but I do believe this is money well spent. Let me explain.
Look at the past examiners reports. What are they constantly complaining about? That the students do not answer the questions asked. Within PTA, we have just started a cooperation with a brilliant tutor with over 25 years of experience. Paul Russell is now leading Case Studies’ part. Paul has a very successful track of pass rates, so I wanted to organise something online to allow other students around the world to pick his brains, use his experience and knowledge. So we are organising 2 online Masterclasses. The purpose of the Masterclass 1 will be to kickstart students in your journey towards MCS / SCS success. Masterclass 1 should give you a very good feel, very quickly about:
- what is the case study about,
- how to use the pre-seen material,
- how to approach mock exams,
- how a passing script looks like.
Tip # 3: Analyse the Pre-Seen
The Pre-Seen, obviously, needs to be looked at, but it needs to be looked at in the right way. The better you understand the pre-seen, the better you are able to analyse the specific issues that will come up in the exam. So, an in-depth analysis is absolutely crucial to you. And in my opinion, it is just simpler and much faster (we’ve all heard that expression – time is money) to get that analysis done for you. First of all, it is overwhelming to do it yourself. Personally, I tend to postpone things I do not feel comfortable with and that was the same with the Case Studies – I think I started to analyse the Pre-Seen 3 weeks after it was released. For 3 weeks I was just thinking that I should start analysing, but there were always some other high priorities to fulfil… At the end, I paid for the analysis… So, learn from my mistake, don’t postpone it. You can get the Pre-Seen Analysis together with other crucial materials from our site here.
Tip # 4: Industry analysis and real-life examples
You also need to broadly know the industry that you’re operating within because again good business acumen is about providing advice, guidance or analysis that links in with that particular industry. It’s important that you understand some of the things that are currently happening in the industry. Remember, examiners also read the same financial newspapers and there is a big likelihood that they will be inspired by the situation or trend happening on the market. The pre-seen itself gives you a good background on the industry. However a little bit broader research will give you that extra knowledge and that broader awareness that could make a difference between FAIL and PASS.
Industry examples should be used in the real exam as often as possible. A good rule of thumb is to try to include a relevant industry example within each section of your script. And relevant means (let’s take the current MCS as an example) – if the task is about expansion, why not to use Ikea as an example?
Tip # 5: Mocks, mocks, mocks
That whole area is at the core of your success. But in my experience and what I hear from students, we tend to shy away from completing them as simply put, it is hard. Mocks should be performed under exam conditions, which means you need to find 3 hours in a busy day to complete them. You will not perform on the exam day if you haven’t practised under pressurised conditions. If you want to use an exam simulator, you can head to our website and sign up for a free MCS or SCS demo (we give you a possibility to practice a past paper under exam conditions for free).
Here is the link:
Hope you found my 5 tips that will make you pass your CS exam valuable.
We’ve just started creating a series of short videos (interviews) aiming at helping students pass their CIMA CS exams.