CIMA Case Study Tips: August 2017

The third set of CIMA case study exams in 2017 will soon be upon us, we are still waiting for the pre-seen materials to be released for the August 2017 sitting but nevertheless I would urge students who planning to sit these exams to start thinking about them now!

CIMA Case Study August 2017

 

Astranti Case Study Course

As always I would strongly recommend students to make Astranti their first port of call when approaching the case study exams. The pre-seen materials have yet to be released for the August exams but you can expect to see the preview videos from Astranti on this site when they are released.

But to take full advantage and guarantee yourself a pass mark (see the Astranti Pass Guarantee), their full OCS, MCS and SCS courses cover everything you need to pass the August 2017 CIMA case study.

CIMA August 2017 case study tips

  • Study Text 1: how to approach the exam.
  • Study Text 2: syllabus content that is easy to digest.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis: where it all begins! video analysis of the pre-seen.
  • Strategic Analysis: how to understand the scenario from a strategic point
  • Top 10 Issues: a tutors view on the top 10 issues with the case study scenario
  • Industry Analysis: a look into the industry surrounding the case study.
  • Masterclass 1: live session with CIMA tutor on how to pass the case study.
  • Masterclass 2: another live session focusing on CIMA syllabus revision.
  • 3 Mock Exams: based on the actual case study (with marking and feedback!!).
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – a favourite CIMA topic that should never be under estimated!!

You can find full details of their courses for all levels below for the August 2017 exams.

OCS Course – August 2017

MCS Course – August 2017

SCS Course – August 2017

CIMA Case Study Pass Rates

CIMA case study exam tips

It’s been a while since I have looked at the pass rates for the CIMA case studies but the latest set of results that were released for the February 2017 case studies make for interesting reading.

CIMA Case Study Pass Rates

OCS – Operational Level

Generally speaking 2 out of 3 students pass the OCS exam first time based on the 2016 exam sittings, however, this dropped dramatically in the Feb 2017 OCS sitting when only 45% (less than 1 in 2) passed the exam. 

This tells me that the OCS exam is probably one of the hardest exams to pass the CIMA qualification. Why?

Well, the OCS exam will be the first time students are sitting this style of exam and it takes a lot of preparation and exam practice to get yourself ready.

Students are also under estimating how tough this exam will be.

My advice for students taking the OCS exam for the first time to make sure you prepare in advance for the exam, refresh your knowledge of P1, E1 and F1 and make sure you spend enough time on digesting the pre-seen materials and mock exam practice.

MCS – Management Level

The next level up actually has very good pass rates considering, in theory, it will be a tougher exam to take in terms of content than the OCS. This just echoes the previous point I made with the OCS – by this stage, students will have had the experience of the OCS under the belt and won’t face any surprises on exam day.

Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that MCS students shouldn’t prepare as much as the OCS, it just suggests that the MCS students have a better understanding of whats required.

Personally, I am still struggling to find the time to complete my P2 exam but once I have the MCS exam will be my next stop! (More than likely it will be the Nov 2017 sitting).

SCS – Strategic Level

The pass rates for the SCS exam are also surprisingly encouraging. The pass mark over the last few sittings have been in the 60-65% region, which should give students who are tackling this exam in August that passing first time is achievable.

Again, SCS students will be well versed in taking the CIMA case studies and will be well aware of the expectations and demands on exam day.

The CIMA Connect site is a great source of information for students taking any of the case studies in August and I would recommend regular visits to the discussion boards there.

CIMA August 2017 Case Studies: Important Dates

The below timetable gives you all of the useful information you need in regards to the August 2017 CIMA case studies.

I’ve highlighted, in my opinion, the most crucial dates of all – the release of the pre-seen material!!

The OCS materials are released this time next (23rd June 2017) with the MCS and SCS pre-seen materials released in the following weeks.

CIMA August 2017 Exam Dates

 

Good Luck and happy studying!!

CIMA Case Study Advice: May 2017

The May 2017 CIMA case studies are just around the corner and this article should put you on the right track for a pass mark.

CIMA May 2017 Case Study Exam Tips

Having passed the OCS exam myself last year – you can read more on that here – I hope I can offer students who are facing the same problems and questions I had, guidance and some useful case study resources.

Here are my 3 top tips for passing your next CIMA case study.

Don’t be scared of the pre-seen materials

As soon as the pre-seen materials are released you should cover them back to front, make notes and re-read them over again. You may have the tendency to stick to revising theory based on the syllabus content but the six weeks between pre-seen materials being released and the exam date are crucial and you should focus your attention mainly on the pre-seen materials.

Plan Your Answers

You may be out of practice with longer written style exams since the introduction of the new style “multiple choice” CIMA objective tests. So this makes planning your answers in the case study even more critical. It will prevent you for rambling and also keep you on track to make sure you answer the requirements in the exam questions.

Be clever with your time and be sure to give yourself 10 minutes planning time before you start writing your answers. Read the question and requirements and make some brief headings on your answer paper, then add more depth under each heading making sure to include reference to pre-seen and industry analysis where possible.

Now you will be in a position to start your answers in full and ensuring in the process you will have ticked all of the boxes in terms of relevant content.

Take Mock Exams Seriously

Testing yourself is always the toughest part in any exam preparation. But mock exams are key to success and this rings true for CIMA case studies as well.

Being able to concentrate for three hours and answer question after question in a pressured environment is not easy. The only way to be confident and exam ready is take a few mock exams before the real thing. Not only will have the experience under your belt, you will find out which areas you need to improve on (i.e. more links to pre-seen) and it will enhance your exam technique in the process.

Astranti Case Study Course

 

Astranti are growing in reputation with each passing year and I was glad to use their resources for the OCS exam I passed first time. In fact, it was an Astranti OCS student who ranked 1st in global November CIMA results.

But to take full advantage and guarantee yourself a pass mark (see the Astranti Pass Guarantee), their full OCS, MCS and SCS courses cover everything you need to pass the May 2017 CIMA case study.

CIMA OCS Exam Tips

  • Study Text 1: how to approach the exam.
  • Study Text 2: syllabus content that is easy to digest.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis: where it all begins! video analysis of the pre-seen.
  • Strategic Analysis: how to understand the scenario from a strategic point
  • Top 10 Issues: a tutors view on the top 10 issues with the case study scenario
  • Industry Analysis: a look into the industry surrounding the case study.
  • Masterclass 1: live session with CIMA tutor on how to pass the case study.
  • Masterclass 2: another live session focusing on CIMA syllabus revision.
  • 3 Mock Exams: based on the actual case study (with marking and feedback!!).
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – a favourite CIMA topic that should never be under estimated!!

You can find full details of their courses for all levels below for the May 2017 exams.

OCS Course – May 2017

MCS Course – May 2017

SCS Course – May 2017

CIMA Examiners Guidance

CIMA Exam Tips

A keen feature of this article in previous editions has been the links to the post-exam kits from CIMA on the case study exams. However, this time around, I have gone through the examiners report for each level OCS, MCS and SCS for November exams and picked out the key remarks from the examiner.

It’s clear from the comments below that students, must;

  • improve their technical knowledge of the CIMA syllabus.
  • remember ethical principles.
  • answer the requirements of the question and not just blurt all they know on that subject without any thought.

OCS: November examiners feedback

There was little evidence that time pressure caused any problems. However there were elements of answers missing or only briefly addressed in some cases; often in the more technical areas.

This was either due to a lack of technical knowledge or possibly the result of candidates not reading the task properly.

In a case study the most important thing to do is to answer the task asked within the context of the business. The random inclusion of models, with no application, earned no marks. In addition weaker answers included a tendency to knowledge dump rather than focus on the task given.

It is important to prepare for this examination by studying previous case studies and practice putting knowledge into context by answering past questions.

MCS: November examiners feedback

As with previous case studies, the strongest answers were those which were clearly applied to the scenario.

This case study continued the trend first observed in the August exam of candidates appearing to be getting weaker in technical accounting and stronger in general management.

Candidates must be better prepared in technical accounting areas in the future.

Some candidates demonstrated a worryingly poor understanding of several syllabus areas, including crucial material such as the accounting standards, transfer pricing, ethics, rights issues and even net present value.

This was clearly very disappointing; however there were also some very good answers where candidates made good use of the pre-seen material, were technically competent and made excellent attempts at answering what was asked.

SCS: November examiners feedback

Many candidates could not name the ethical principles or apply them. In some cases they were unable to recognise an ethical issue.

Finance was another weak area, where the lack of ability was surprising. It is clear that candidates are becoming weaker at technical accounting questions, though better at management questions.

You can find the full details of the examiners guidance from previous CIMA case study exams by visiting the CIMA connect site here – and searching under the relevant resources.

Good Luck and happy studying!!

CIMA Case Study Advice: February 2017

Passing the CIMA case studies are the toughest milestones in the CIMA qualification as it combines all of the theory you have learnt in the previous three papers into one BIG exam.

They can be especially tough if you have spread your studies out over a longer period of time! Nevertheless, there are countless amounts of resources, information and help out there for all students get a pass mark at the first attempt.

Astranti Case Study Courses

Astranti, in my opinion, are head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to CIMA case study materials.

I used their pre-seen analysis videos and mock exams to pass my OCS exam last year.

But to take full advantage and guarantee yourself a pass mark (see the Astranti Pass Guarantee), their full OCS, MCS and SCS courses cover everything you need to pass the CIMA case study.

 CIMA February 2017 Case Study Exam Tips

  • Study Text 1: gives you the vital information on how to approach the case study.
  • Study Text 2: summarises the syllabus content from previous papers.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis: CIMA qualified tutor video analysis of pre-seen material.
  • Strategic Analysis: more video analysis on the case study scenario you will be facing.
  • Top 10 Issues: perfect for giving your case study preparation a clear focus.
  • Industry Analysis: a look into the industry surrounding the case study.
  • Masterclass 1: live session with CIMA tutor on how to pass the case study.
  • Masterclass 2: another live session focusing on CIMA syllabus revision.
  • 3 Mock Exams: based on the actual case study (with marking and feedback).
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – a favourite CIMA topic that should never be under estimated!!

You can find full details of their courses for all levels below and dates when the pre-seen material is released for the November 2016 exams:

OCS Course – February 2017 – the pre-seen material is released from 9th December 2016

MCS Course – February 2017 – the pre-seen material is released from 16th December 2016

SCS Course – February 2017 – the pre-seen material is released from 16th December 2016

The pre-seen materials will be released any day now so preparing yourself and enrolling on a complete course will stand in your stead for passing the CIMA case studies.

CIMA Case Study Post-Exam Kits

Learning from other students mistakes is a great to boost your own chances of exam success when taking the case study exam. And CIMA offer you the perfect tools to do this with the post-exam kits for the previous case study sittings.

The Examiners Report

The best way to work the post-exam kits is to start by looking at the examiners report. Here you will find a summary of how most students fared in the exam, what they did well and what they didn’t do so well.

Below is an extract from the August 2016 OCS CIMA examiners report and it starts with the general comments that students struggled to refer to the F1 syllabus and technical aspects of P1 – so straight away, you should take that fact on board and make sure you do not make the same mistakes!

OCS Exam Tips

After the reading through the examiners report I would recommend looking at the exam questions and suggested answers to get a feel on how to approach the exam in terms of structuring your answers and what level of detail to go into.

However, I also believe it’s important to understand that the suggested answers will be more comprehensive than what’s expected from students on exam day. So don’t be too worried when the suggested answers are almost perfect and very detailed!

You can see the links below for the August 2016 case study post-exam kits and they include all of the documents, whereas the more recent exam kits for November 2016 do not yet have the examiners report ready.

OCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

MCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

SCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

Keys to Passing the CIMA Case Studies

Here is a preview video from Astranti on the keys of passing the case study exams from CIMA – a good insight on what the examiners are looking for and what to expect.

Students who enrol on the full Astranti case study courses will get a more complete version plus the chance to ask the tutor direct questions.

 

Study Support: Whats-app Groups

CIMA case study Whatsapp groups

I joined a Whatsspp group for the November 2016 OCS exam I passed and it was great to hear other students questions, answers and thoughts on the Flores Rosa case study.

Usually, students (or sometimes CIMA tutors) will organise a Whatsapp group for those students who are interested. As you can see from the image above, there is already a group started for the February OCS exam.

To find out more information, you can visit the links below that will take you directly to the discussion on the CIMA connect site.

OCS Whatsapp group – February 2017 exam.

MCS Whatsapp group – February 2017 exam (no link yet).

SCS Whatsapp group – February 2017 exam (no link yet).

Ask a CIMA Expert Session

CIMA Ask An Expert Exam Tips

Another important date for your diary should be the “Ask an expert” sessions that are held by CIMA – it’s a two hour sessions where you can ask a CIMA qualified tutor specific questions via the CIMA connect website about the case study exam you’re facing.

OCS “Ask an expert” is held on 20 January 2017

MCS “Ask an expert” is held on 26 January 2017

SCS “Ask an expert” is held on 2 February 2017

CIMA Case Study: Industry Analysis

Students who want to pass their CIMA case study exam will need to develop their knowledge and understanding of the underlying industry. It’s been highlighted in many of the examiners report that students had a basic (if any) knowledge or current industry conditions and failed to apply them to the case study exam.

Personally, it also helps me understand the scenario better if I can relate it to real life situations rather than  a fictitious company CIMA has developed for the exam.

Here you can find a insight on the industry for each level of the upcoming CIMA case study exams in November 2016.

OCS: Marici Power

  • What is the industry history behind Solar Power?
  • What are the current industry trends?
  • Who are the biggest players in the market?
  • What are the biggest selling products for Solar Power companies?

Here are a few useful links and resources on the solar power industry.

10 Solar trends to watch out for in 2016

Solar markets around the world

The EnergyTrend website

You can find the full industry analysis video on Marici Power here.

MCS: Portafone

  • Who are the biggest players in the telecommunications market?
  • What are their best selling products and why?
  • What are the industry forecasts?
  • Can you give some real-life industry examples?

The industry analysis for the MCS exam: Portafone will, in effect, cover more than ONE industry. You will have to think of the hardware and software for mobile phones.

So mobile handsets as well as the network and telecommunications industry. If you’re still struggling to get to grips with it all, the Astranti video below will give some more focus.

Deloitte top five telecoms trends for 2016

The industry handbook: The telecommunications industry

Euro-monitor: Mobile phones industry

You can find the full industry analysis video on Portafone here.

SCS: ADF – Anderson Dairy Farms

  • What is the history of dairy farming?
  • How has it advanced with technology and mechnisation?
  • What are the latest market trends in dairy farming?
  • How have supermarkets impacted the industry?

The SCS case study exam focuses on the historic industry of dairy farming, so there is plenty of information out there. Here are a few links and resources you might find useful.

Challenges and trends in the dairy industry.

US dairy: industry trends and initiatives.

10 trends to impact dairy farming.

You can find the full industry analysis video on ADF here.

CIMA Case Studies: Know your role!

The CIMA case studies require a different approach to the objective tests. The idea of the case study exams is to place you in a realistic scenario and you will be effectively playing the role of financial accountant/finance manager/finance director – depending on what CIMA level you are on – OCS, MCS or SCS.

OCS Role: Accountant

Using the November 2016 Marici Power scenario, the exact role the OCS students will be facing is the role of assistant management accountant. This information is detailed on the very first page of the pre-seen materials.

Looking at the August OCS pre-seen materials, it appears there was not a dedicated page for the job description for your role in the exam – there was just a brief sentence mentioning you are one of two finance assistants and will be reporting to the finance director.

However, I imagine some students failed to grasp their role and answered the questions from a different point of view. As now (Nov 2016 pre-seen materials) it even gives you the specific tasks you would be expected to perform in this role:

  • Assist with the production of the annual budget.
  • Produce monthly management accounts.
  • Provide information to management as required.

OCS Types of Questions

With this in mind, the types of questions you will face in the OCS exam will be of an operational nature.

  1. Explain the appropriateness of zero-based budgeting.
  2. Explain the benefits of a flexed budget.
  3. Explain the implications of a modified audit report.

MCS Role: Finance Manager

The job description in the MCS Portafone case study exam goes into much more detail and clearly outlines the responsibility and tasks that the Financial Manager for Portafone would be expected to do. You can find the full pre-seen material for Nov MCS here.

There is a clear emphasis on the fact the Financial Manager needs to liaise and consider all functional areas of the business (HR, marketing, sales, operations etc.).

Here is a summary of what’s expected in this MCS finance manager role:

  • Responsible for the management accounting.
  • Liaising with treasury and financial functions.
  • Engage with the wider community.

MCS Types of Questions

The types of questions you are expected to answer will differ from the OCS level, you can see below the types of questions you will face:

  1. Discuss the management of the project and associated risks.
  2. Discuss financial reporting implications of acquiring subsidiary.
  3. Discuss suitability of WACC in calculating NPV and the relevance of NPV to decision making.

SCS Role: Senior Manager

The final level in the CIMA qualification revolves around strategic decision making and the role you will be facing in the SCS is that of the Senior Manager.

In this role you will be typically reporting to the board of directors and will be advising on special projects and strategic decisions. So there will be no need to answer questions on the preparation of budgets and so on.

The pre-seen materials for the last two SCS exams have been quite vague with the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Manager in the case study scenario.

SCS Types of Questions

As role of senior manager you will need to be tuned into the impact of the decisions made to all stakeholders. Below is an example of the types of questions you can expect.

  1. Evaluate strategic investment.
  2. Establish priorities for different business units.
  3. Evaluate implications of awarding building contract.

CIMA Case Study Exam Tips

CIMA publish post-exam kits for all of the case study sittings and it’s well worth reviewing the published documents.

You can find the pre-seen material, exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report – by reviewing all of these documents together you can get a clear view of the whole end-to-end case study exam process.

August 2016: OCS post-exam kit

August 2016: MCS post-exam kit

August 2016: SCS post-exam kit

You can also find the historic exam kits on the CIMA connect site. It’s a great way to learn from other students mistakes made in previous exam sittings as well getting familar with the approach needed on exam day.