CIMA MCS Feb 2019: Crowncare

MCS Feb19

The February 2019 case study marks one year since I took and passed the MCS exam, so I can vouch it’s a great time of year to take the MCS – what’s more you get 60 days of study and revision in between the pre-seen materials and the exam date itself.

Industry Analysis

From previous experience of passing the OCS and MCS exams, the one area I find difficult is giving real life examples and applying industry analysis in my case study exam answers.

In the rush and stress of an exam situation, my mind struggles to recall the relevant real life examples to supplement my answer.

Remembering the pre-seen materials and making conclusions feels more natural, so I have sort advice from students on this subject so hopefully you can “beef up” your answer with some real life industry examples when you take the MCS exam in February.

Link Likely Issues with Industry Analysis

2018-01-13 10_33_00-February_2018_management_pre-seen_V2.pdfFor example, in the Feb 2018 MCS exam Nortan was based around a multi national Oil company and their shared service centre.

One of the key issues was around the environmental issues around their operations, if there was an oil spill it would have big consequences on their reputation and the financial impact of the cleanup.

And this could be illustrated by the real life example of the BP Oil Spill in 2010.

So by tagging the Industry Analysis with the Likely Issues in your revision you are killing two birds with one stone. You are thinking about the potential examinable area and already have an industry example on hand to help supplement your answer.

Furthermore, you may want to add the technical side of the syllabus you want to refer to the answer. So your revision notes when analyzing the pre-seen materials could look something like this.

ISSUE: Environmental Risks and Dangers

INDUSTRY ANALYSIS: BP Oil Spill in 2010, due to BP and their contractors cost-cutting and lack of controls in place in the industry as a whole.

TECHNICAL: P2 Risk Management TARA, how do we assess the risk and what action should the company take?

By taking this approach to your MCS revision and pre-seen analysis you should be able to produce a more coherent and balanced answer.

MCS Pass Rates

Looking back at the CIMA pass rates for the MCS exam makes for interesting reading. One thing I would stress is that students taking the MCS course should be CONFIDENT given the recent pass rates – which was 75% in August sitting!

PassRates

The MCS exam has the highest pass rate among the case study exams and, in my opinion, it’s down to one thing;

EXPERIENCE!

  • Experience of passing the OCS exam, gives students the know-how on the CIMA case study format and what’s expected.
  • Experience of passing the six objective tests beforehand, gives the technical skills and confidence to MCS level students.

But that’s not to say the MCS exam is easy.

Far from it, the pass rate of the CIMA gateway students way is just 35% – so this indicates that students attempted the MCS without having the previous experience of CIMA behind them will really struggle to the pass the exam.

Despite the encouraging pass rates for the MCS exam, we mustn’t get complacent that it’s an “easy” exam to pass.

CIMA Gateway Students

As mentioned above, the CIMA gateway students are those who will beginning their CIMA journey with the MCS exam as they have exemptions from previous qualifications.

If you are reading this blog post as a CIMA Gateway student then I would suggest to read this interview we done with a gateway student who passed her MCS exam first time.

CIMA MCS: Astranti Feb 2019 Course

MCSFeb19 NOW.png

The full MCS course from Astranti is really packed full of resources and comes with a pass guarantee.

  • Complete pre-seen pack (pre-seen, strategic, industry analysis and top 10 issues)
  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study texts
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Nov 18 scenario)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

MCS Pre-Seen Materials: Crowncare

Crowncare

The official pre-seen materials from CIMA were released this week, an early Christmas present for all of you MCS students!

You can find the official document from CIMA here for the Feb 2019 MCS exam.

MCS Feb 2019 Important Dates

MCS Feb 2019

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CIMA OCS Feb 2019: Trigg Adventure

OCS Feb19

The February 2019 CIMA OCS exam is a great time to take a case study exam. As you’ll have 60 days in between the pre-seen materials being released and the exam day itself – usually you’ll have around 45 days if taking a case study in May/Aug/Nov – so take advantage of this extra time!!

Focus on Technical Skills

Tech1

The OCS exam is heavily weighted towards the Technical Skills competency area, so in order to pass the OCS exam you’ll need to have strong technical knowledge of the syllabus content and how to apply it.

  • Technical Skills 64%
  • Business Skills 16%
  • People Skills 14%
  • Leadership Skills 6%

If we think about the role you play in the OCS exam – Finance Officer/Accounts Assistant – it makes sense that he OCS will focus less on the leadership, business and people skills. So this gives you a platform to start planning your preparation.

What Technical Skills will I be tested on?

This leads to the next question, what technical knowledge should I focus when preparing for the Feb 2019 OCS case study? Well, we posted a great article from CSSC Tuition on the hot topics that could be tested in the OCS exam here.

And to further cement those area we can see that the bedrock of the OCS exam will be the P1 syllabus.

OCS_Te

The above chart was taken from a CIMA webinar on approaching case study exams, however, we are just concerned with the E1/P1/F1 part.

And we can see that the bulk of the technical skills around the OCS exam are based around the P1 syllabus – so brush up on cost accounting, management reporting and accounting information systems before the Feb 2019 OCS exam.

The above chart also highlights the fact that risk management and internal control are a key feature in the OCS, MCS and SCS exams.

CIMA OCS Answer Planning

Insight

I published a recent “The CIMA Student: Insight” blog post on the important of planning your answer when faced with a CIMA case study.

If you don’t think about HOW you will answer the question and brainstorm your ideas on how you will satisfy the requirement then you will produce a poor unbalanced answer.

Linking the pre-seen materials, making recommendations and drawing conclusions in your answer is a must if you want to pass the OCS exam.

You can read the full article on planning your OCS answers here – it includes a real example taken from the August 2018 OCS exam and I walk through the thought process and different stages of planning your answer.

CIMA OCS Astranti Course

OCSFeb19 NOW.png

The full OCS course from Astranti is really packed full of resources!

I used the Astranti OCS materials when passing the OCS exam in 2015, you can read that in more detail here.

Complete pre-seen pack (pre-seen, strategic, industry analysis and top 10 issues)

  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study text
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Nov 18 scenario)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

Pre-Seen Materials: Trigg Adventure

Trigg OCS preseen

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for Trigg Adventure and you can take a copy from official CIMA website here.

Having had a first glance at the pre-seen materials it’s clear that the company faces challenging times given the competition with digital, electronic toys with parents preferring the often cheaper more “in demand” toys like video games.

So the company will need to be inventive with the products they offer and consider the price points at which they enter the market.

Below is the Astranti Top Ten Issues video for the Trigg Adventure case study that is part of the full OCS course for the Feb 2019 CIMA case study – it’s a great way to focus your revision for the February exam.

OCS Important Dates

The full set of important dates for the OCS exam are displayed below.

OCS Feb 2019

CIMA Case Study Answer Planning

Insight

The first of a new series of articles; The CIMA Student: INSIGHT takes a hands on approach to subjects and topics that will help you pass your next CIMA exam.

CIMA Case Study Answer Planning

When faced with a CIMA case study exam you might be tempted to dive straight in and start writing your answer as soon as you’ve read the question. However, this approach will lead to a poor answer with no balance, no depth and a tendency to wander off track.

I always make sure I spend the first 10 minutes of any CIMA case study question;

  • Identifying the requirements.
  • Planning my answer on the script with headings and bullet points.

This plan should include (where relevant) reference to the pre-seen materials, industry news, unseen materials and recommendations or conclusions.

With this in mind, I’ve taken a look back at the August 2018 OCS exam Thomas Fine Teas exam (taken from the official CIMA website), and picked a question from Variant 1 to show how I would spend my first 10 minutes of answering this question by IDENTIFYING THE REQUIREMENTS and basing my ANSWER PLAN around this.

OCS Exam Question – Thomas Fine Teas

2018-06-26 10_13_15-August 2018 OCS Pre-seen - students.pdf

Identifying the requirements

Before we can start to plan our answer, we need to identify the requirements.

I’ve noticed that CIMA have made the requirements much clearer in recent exam sittings, when I took my OCS in 2015 the questions seemed more embedded into the script.

However, you can see from the below screenshot from the Aug 2018 OCS exam, it’s quite clear from the outset what we are expected to answer.

TFT1.png

This question has TWO elements, I’ve added two small green arrows which tell us the questions is split into two. While the red boxes are the requirements we need to answer. Again, it’s very clear as the requirements start with “Please prepare…. “

All in all, this should have taken 1-2 to minutes to identify and I would suggest to not even look at the other attachments in the question at this stage.

Answer Planning

Now we have 8-9 minutes to start planning our answer before really adding the meat to the bones.

I start by adding some headings to my answer plan, so I have the initial framework before I start brainstorming my ideas on what to add.

Based on the first requirement above, my answer plan looks like this:

TFTANS.png

Now I have the structure of my answer, I can begin to think in more detail by brainstorming and adding some notes under my headings on how I want to answer the question in full.

After the brainstorming session, my answer is now beginning to take shape;

TFTANS2

Notice I have deleted the “Intro about Digital Marketing” heading, as I felt on reflection there wasn’t any need for this in the answer.

There is no mention of “Please explain what digital marketing is… ” in the email from Jack Ford.

It’s important to remember that you need to satisfy the requirement of the question only and it’s not a platform for you to spout all of the information you know on the subject!!

Keep it relevant and keep it clear.

I can now begin to fill my answer in full with the remaining time left for the question.

Reviewing Your Answer

If possible, give yourself 5-7 minutes at the end to review your answer and ask yourself the following the questions;

  • How I included reference to the pre-seen and unseen materials?
  • Have I given real life examples?
  • Have I answered the requirements?
  • Have I mentioned ethics?

The reality is you will not be able to include industry analysis or ethics into every answer you write in the exam and the key is to keep it relevant – quality over quantity!!

Case Study Answer Planning Resources

You can find the case study resources (including the above example question from the August 2018 OCS) from the official CIMA website here

Good Luck with your next CIMA case study!

CIMA BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

It’s that time of year when Astranti have a whopping 40% OFF all of their CIMA materials, it’s a great time to add to your resources or push yourself to take the next case study sitting in February 2019.

To claim the 40% discount add the discount code 40BLACKFRIDAY at the checkout – offer is applicable from Friday 23rd November to Monday 27th November.

Astranti Case Study Courses

February 2019 Case Studies

A reminder that the best time to sit a CIMA case study, in terms of time you get to study, is always the February case study exams.

As you get 60 days between the pre-seen materials being released and the exam itself. Normally you get around 45-50 days between the pre-seen and the exam but CIMA have factored in the Christmas period and give a longer period of time for students taking the February exams.

But the reality is, if you’re sitting a Feb case study, you’ll probably only take a few days break over Christmas and you’ll have the opportunity to be really prepared for the exam with two months between the pre-seen and exam.

You can see below that SCS students taking the exam in February 2019 will have a massive 67 days from pre-seen release to beginning of exam session!

case

I passed the MCS exam in 2018 by taking it in February and found the extra time was really helpful to get to grips with the pre-seen and developing a style to answer planning.

How I passed the CIMA MCS exam in February 2018.

The benefits of taking a case study exam in February.

Astranti February 2019 OCS Course

Astranti February 2019 MCS Course

Astranti February 2019 SCS Course

Astranti Objective Test Materials

The Astranti Black Friday sale is not just limited to case study materials, but all of their objective test materials too!

Use the code 40BLACKFRIDAY to claim the 40% OFF the Astranti Objective Test materials for Operational, Management and Strategic levels of CIMA.

Practice Tests Academy

There is also the exclusive 20% discount for all CIMA Student readers for The Practice Tests Academy resources, which ranges from mock exams, question banks and full objective courses with video lectures.

For an insight into their materials, then read my blog post from earlier this week here. And if The Practice Tests Academy are new to you then watch this nice video below on their story so far…

Practice Tests Academy

20

PTA

The good people at Practice Tests Academy are offering The CIMA Student readers 20% off ALL OF THEIR CIMA Materials!!

The offer runs from Monday 19th November to Monday 26th November – to take advantage use the discount code 20thecimastudent

CIMA Objective Test Materials

PTA have expanded their materials from being a CIMA question bank to providing a full end to end course for CIMA objective tests. Here is a summary of what’s on offer.

Free Trial

You can try the practice test academy mock exams/question for free, you can tackle 20 to 30 questions on the CIMA objective test of your choice.

Single Mock Exam – 12 GBP

A single mock exam is available from PTA to test yourself in exam mode, 60 questions in 90 minutes to see if you’re ready for the real thing! You get feedback on the questions you got wrong and it ties it back to the CIMA syllabus and learning outcomes so you know which area to focus your revision on. A handy tool!

Exam Practice Kit – 55 GBP

The Practice Tests Academy offer “question banks” of 500 questions that allows you to customise your exam practice, you can use revision mode or real exam mode. You can practice, practice, practice and focus on your weak areas with the feedback service offered.

I used the Exam Practice Kit when I passed the CIMA P2 Exam First Time last year, so I can vouch it served me well – you can read more about how I passed P2 here.

Complete Course – 129 GBP

This rising CIMA tuition provider has also branched out into offering full CIMA Objective Test courses which give students a host of materials. What catches my eye is obviously the video lectures that come with the course.

Distance learning as a CIMA Student is difficult to say the least, so any tutor support is a great way to increase your knowledge and confidence of passing ANY CIMA exam!

I have yet to use the complete course offered up by the Practice Tests Academy, so cannot offer my personal experience, but below is a example of what you can expect.

CIMA Case Study Materials

As well as offering up Objective Test materials, the Practice Tests Academy are also delivering materials and resources for the CIMA Case Studies.

There are three sets of materials available;

  • Preperation: how to prepare for the case study exam
  • Revision: a look at the syllabus content that could come up.
  • Case Study: pre-seen analysis and a look at the key topics you could face.

The Practice Tests Academy have worked in conjunction with VIVA Tuition for their case study materials in order to harness on their strengths and deliver better quality materials for CIMA Students.

Remember, this exclusive 20% off ALL Practice Tests Academy materials for The CIMA Student readers expires at midnight on Monday 26th November – so don’t forget the discount code 20thecimastudent

 

Passing the CIMA P3 Exam

Good things come in three’s. 103 in fact, I’ll take that mark and happily wave bye to P3.

Also, only Three to go.

That’s just THREE more CIMA exams (F3, E3 and SCS) before becoming fully qualified – its nice to write those words after passing the P3 Risk Management exam this week.

Here are my lessons learnt from passing the CIMA P3 Risk Management Exam.

Back to Basics

Despite scoring a 95 in my first attempt, I felt I needed to go back to basics and look at each learning outcome in the syllabus and made sure I understood it. I didn’t want to narrowly miss out again.

The P3 exam is split nicely between 5 different sections – 20% on each – so I spent an even time revising and make notes on each section and then testing myself with exam questions from Kaplan before moving on the next section of the syllabus.

By the end of it, I had a double sided A4 paper of brief revision notes on the five sections. I took these everywhere with me for week or so before the exam to revise.

Balance between Mock Exams and Theory

Perhaps I was guilty of placing TOO much emphasis on mock exams and the dreaded question spotting in my first attempt, or perhaps I am being too harsh on myself.

I mean 95 is pretty close to passing.

Nevertheless, preparing for my re-sit I really focused on the theory of the syllabus with question practice and left the mock exams along for the time being.

I spent time understanding the more complex areas of WACC, APV and when to apply an adjusted WACC and when not too. Rather than learning a topic just to pass an exam (if that makes sense?).

Don’t rush the re-sit

I was tempted to re-sit the P3 exam straight away, but I decided to take my time. I had a long weekend away planned in the middle of October, so felt it was better to prepare in more detail and set myself the deadline of the first week in November – almost 6 weeks after failing.

It gave me time to go back through the five syllabus areas and cover what I felt I needed too to make sure I got the pass mark.

Relax

I remember the feeling of anxiety and pressure when taking the first P3 exam. I felt the pressure of taking my first strategic level exam and that echoed through the rest of my exam.

This time around I was more relaxed having already been in the position before, I felt I was ready for all kinds of calculations, theories and judgements.

I was also more comfortably dressed – which may seem like an odd thing – but I recall being too hot in my previous exam and getting more and more flustered. It’s just a small thing but I believe these small marginal gains can only help on the exam day itself.

*Remember, everyone has their own preferences on how they study best or how they work best or when to take resit exams. The above thoughts just came from my own personal experience.

CIMA P3 Resources Used

I used a mixture of the Astranti mock exams and chapter practice questions as well as the Kaplan P3 exam practice kit to ensure I had enough questions to keep me going!

The Kaplan book was a great way to test my knowledge before the re-sit exam and I actually found the wording of these questions very similar to the real CIMA P3 exam itself.

Bank

I also used this gem of a website the Kaplan Knowledge Bank to help with my revision on specific P3 topics – it’s like a CIMA Wikipedia, it’s ace and it’s free!

P3Mocks

Astranti CIMA P3 Mock Exams

P3Kaplan

Kaplan P3 Exam Practice Kit

Novak Pharma: Industry Analysis

The CIMA November 2018 SCS exam is based a pharmaceutical company “Novak Pharmaceuticals” – as the exam is approaching it’s a good time to take a look at some industry analysis that you can use on exam day.

Novak Pharmaceutical’s: Industry Analysis

VIVA Financial Tuition have produced an insight to the pharmaceutical industry for SCS students to get to grips with – below is a look at some of the financials in the industry as well R&D within the industry.

Revenue’s Vs Profits

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest industries in the world in terms of revenues generated and those revenues have grown considerably in the last 15 to 20 years.

In 2001, annual world revenues for the pharmaceutical industry stood at US$ 390 billion.

Today, they have already surpassed US$ 1 trillion per year.

To put it in perspective, that accounts for around 1% of the entire world GDP! The sheer size of the industry in absolute terms often leads to a popular perception that this is also one of the most profitable industries in the world today.

However, although profits can be large in any given year, if we look at the rate of return on investment in the pharmaceutical industry, it is not as profitable as popular opinion suggests.

According to Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the average return on equity for key industries from 2014 – 2016 shows that the pharmaceutical industry’s profits stand at 16.2%, significantly lower than Computer Sciences (31.6%), Beverages (27.4%), Aerospace/Defense (23.0%), and Trucking (19.1%).

So despite health revenue growth figures in recent years, and large profits in absolute terms, relative to investment, it is not the most profitable industry in the world by any means.

SCSIndustry.png

Clinical Trial Phases

The research and development phase in this industry is long, painstaking, and has an extremely high failure rate. In the full analysis we investigate the reasons why this is the case.

Here, we offer a quick overview of the structure of the testing period for new drugs, and look at the fail rates that correspond to each.

There are 4 main stages or phases of testing that new drugs go through.

First, there are pre-clinical trials. These are usually a battery of sophisticated laboratory tests, in which pharmacists and technicians perform provisional tests on the efficacy of a chemical compound by using biological cultures, disease samples, and in some cases (though less and less frequently), animal testing.

Once promising indications of efficacy have been established at this pre-clinical stage, the drug passes on to testing on human subjects. This is usually called “Phase 1” testing. In Phase 1, voluntary human subjects are administered the drug.

These subjects are typically healthy and are not suffering from the relevant disease or ailment. The primary aim of this phase is to determine whether or not there are any strong adverse side-effects, and appropriate dose thresholds.

If there are no clear problems at this stage, the drug proceeds to Phase 2 trials. Phase 2 usually involves a larger sample of people, and in this case, the drug is tested on people who actually suffer from the relevant disease. The main objective of Phase 2 testing is to ascertain and confirm the efficacy on real human patients, while again ensuring no adverse side effects in those actually suffering from the disease.

If there appear no obvious problems here, the drug is submitted for the final Phase 3 trial. This is a much larger trial, typically taking in hundreds or even thousands of patients where possible, over longer periods, in order to establish long-term usability and efficacy.

One of the main aims of Phase 3 testing is to compare the long-run efficacy and safety of the new drug with already-available medications that are on the market. Once Phase 3 testing is successfully completed, the drug is submitted for approval with the relevant regulatory authority (e.g. the FDA in the United States, or the PTA in the pre-seen case of Novak).

Success Rates

SCSIndustry2.png

It’s interesting to note the success rates in percentage terms from one phase to the next. As you can see in the chart above, the main hurdle is at Phase 2.

This is perhaps not surprising, as this is typically the first time that the drug is tested on real patients who actually suffer from the disease.

Even if in Phase 1 no adverse side effects are discovered, there is no guarantee that patients with the disease will not react differently due to their ailment.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that the provisional efficacy established in pre-clinical trials on isolated biological samples (or animals) will carry over into real, full human subjects.

Therefore, Phase 2 is critical from the point of view of determining whether or not the drug is really viable in the real world.

Once all the clinical trials have been completed in accordance with criteria established by the regulatory authority, then there is an 85% chance that the drug will be approved.

However, when we sum the probabilities and we look at the overall chances that any given drug will make it from pre-clinical trials to approval, the percentage plummets to just over 9%!

Put another way, there is a 91% chance that any given drug will not be saleable at the end of an approximately 10-year cycle of testing! Not surprisingly, research and development in this industry is very expensive indeed…

The full industry analysis on the November 2018 CIMA strategic case study from VIVA Financial Tuition can be found at www.vivatuition.com

*The above industry analysis article was taken from the VIVA Financial Tuition website with permission 19/10/2018