CIMA Case Study Tips: May 2018

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Having sat the CIMA MCS exam last month I thought I would base this blog post around the lessons I learnt from my experience in studying for the Feb case study exam.

I am still waiting for my result to come (March 29th) but I hope this advice will be helpful for students sitting a CIMA case study exam.


May 2018 Case Study Planning

I took my plan from the February case study exam and have mapped it out for all three levels for the May 2018 exam to give you an overview of how I planned my time according to the Astranti MCS course I took.


The general idea is that you spend;

  • 2 weeks before pre-seen release date on syllabus refresh and ethics.
  • 2 weeks focusing on pre-seen materials.
  • 3 weeks on mock exams, reviewing feedback and final revision.

I also included the dates on the Astranti Master Classes for each paper, I found the timings of these classes were great.

The first one is scheduled after a couple of weeks after the pre-seen materials are released and the second master class is scheduled just a few days before the exam to make sure you have covered all bases and ask any final questions from the mock exams or your revision.

But you can apply this same principle and schedule regardless of what materials or learning provider you are using.

For example, instead of sitting the Astranti masterclass on the above dates, you can use the same time reviewing other resources and the CIMA pre and post exam kits on the CIMA connect site.

Astranti Case Study Course

I used the full MCS course for the February 2018 exam last month and was happy with the materials and support I received. In fact there were some materials I didn’t even manage to look at in great detail.

For those interested, you can find the full details on the course contents below.

OCS Course – May 2018

MCS Course – May 2018

SCS Course – May 2018

Practice Tests Academy

Practice Tests Academy – I have used these guys a lot for mock exam questions on the objective tests but they are also releasing more and more materials on the CIMA case studies.

VIVA Financial Tuition

VIVA Financial Tuition – they have sent me a few articles on previous case study exams that were published on the site and they are new CIMA learning provider that are also providing more and more case study materials.

You can read an example of their financial analysis on SCS exam AutoAuto here.

The 4 Stages of CIMA Case Study Exam Prep

Having gone back over the study plan I have identified there are four different stages I went through when preparing for the MCS exam.

Syllabus Knowledge Revision

Don’t wait until the pre-seen materials are released before starting work on the case study exams. As you still have a few weeks to brush up on the CIMA syllabus you studied leading up to the case study exam.

Now don’t get too hung up on covering every page of your text books when refreshing your knowledge, it’s not needed.

Plus there is no chance you will cover everything in the detail you want.

I found this time leading up to the case study a great way to get my mind back into study mode so I could hit the ground running when the pre-seen materials were finally released. 

Pre-Seen Materials

As soon as the pre-seen materials are released you should focus your entire efforts on this document, making your own notes and using the resources and pre-seen videos you have on the case study.

Having made a thorough analysis of the document you should have a clearer picture of what areas to study in more detail.

A great way to do this is map out your own strategic analysis of the company using SWOT analysis. Below is a brief example of what I mean, but you should be able to pick out all of this information from the pre-seen materials.

Strengths: Does the company have a unique product? How can they exploit that?

Weaknesses: Are costs spiralling out of control?

Opportunities: Can the use of new technology create a new innovative product?

Threats: Are their low barriers to entry in the market place?

The answers to the above points will give you the framework to continue your revision in the lead up to taking your first mock exam.

Industry Analysis

I’d also like to mention a sub point here when tackling the pre-seen analysis, looking at industry analysis is a great way to give the pre-seen materials more context and you’ll find yourself being able to relate to the scenario much more.

For example; I knew pretty much nothing about the oil industry when the pre-seen materials came out for the Feb MCS and it wasn’t until I could connect the dots between the pre-seen materials and real life situations in the oil industry that I felt more comfortable with my revision. 

Mock Exams

I’m always banging on about the value of mock exams and I’ll always stand by that but to really benefit from there you need to consider three things.

  1. Don’t take them too soon
  2. Sit them in exam conditions
  3. Get them marked or feedback from a tutor

If you rush straight into taking a mock exam too soon you will fail, and fail quite miserably.

There is no need to damage your confidence as this stage, you should have make sure you have a firm grip on the pre-seen materials, know what’s expected of you in your role in the exam and know how what technique or writing style is required.

Secondly, if you don’t sit at least one mock exam in exam conditions then you will really struggle on exam day with the time pressure and conditions. It’s key not to cheat yourself when taking mock exams by either looking at text books or not sitting them in exam conditions.

Finally, getting them marked by a tutor is a great way to see where you and what you need to focus on.

Otherwise, you will find it difficult to move forward and progress. I found it invaluable to get the feedback from Astranti as the tutor comments really helped me evaluate where I was and what I needed to do in the next one.

Revision of Pre-Seen and Mock Exams

Once you have taken a mock exam you will then have focus areas you need to brush up on, whether it’s F2 consolidated accounts or E2 management theories. You should use the time in between taking mock exams to cover the areas have identified as being yoru weak areas.

I’d also suggest to use this time to read the pre-seen materials every now and again, it will help you cement the information so it becomes second nature on exam day.

Important Dates – CIMA May 2018 Case Studies

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Good Luck!!


CIMA MCS Feb 2018: Nortan

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The February 2018 CIMA MCS case study exam is fast approaching and I can feel it as I am sitting the exam myself! If you are taking he exam next month and you haven’t read the pre-seen materials then you can find the official document released by CIMA here.

With this in mind, I thought I would share my thoughts on the pre-seen before sharing the preview videos on the Industry Analysis and Pre-Seen Analysis.

Nortan: What do we know?

Well, first of all there are two aspects consider.

  • Nortan is major global oil company with a strong history.
  • The Nortan FOSSC is a shared services function that was setup in 2002 at the Nortan head office – your role is Finance Manager at the FOSSC.

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, the bulk of the pre-seen materials talk about the FOSSC, the history, the management team, this issues and press articles about the FOSSC.

So it’s clear the case study itself revolves around the FOSSC – what are the strengths and weaknesses at the Nortan FOSSC? What is it’s mission statement?

However, we must also consider Nortan as an oil company and how their operations will impact the FOSSC? Will Nortan be making an acquisition – how will this impact the accounting that will be required at the FOSSC?

So don’t neglect the oil industry and remember to see the bigger the picture with Nortan – our immediate focus should be on the FOSSC and it’s mission but the day to day operations of Nortan and strategic decisions made will have an impact on the demands at the FOSSC.

Nortan: The FOSSC

Shared Services Centre’s are common place in this day and age with large multinational companies. It makes financial sense to centralise the accounting operations in one location as opposed to having local finance offices in every country.

  • The pre-seen tells us that the setup saves Nortan 35% on their accounting costs (see snippet from the interview).

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While it makes sense financially to setup a Shared Services Centre there are potential problems and risks that the Nortan FOSSC could face.

Staffing would appear to be a potential problem given the fact the FOSSC employs over 3000 people and a reliant on a motivated workforce to meet the strict deadlines.

  • How do Nortan keep their staff motivated?
  • Does the HR department have the resources to vet all of the incoming applications in order to filter the right candidates?

There is also mention of redundancies in one of the companies that Nortan have acquired. The below snippet was taken from a press article in the CIMA pre-seen materials. It appears that Nortan are acting responsibility as they state they will make every effort to assist the affected staff to find new posts.

However, the theme of redundancies and staff turnover (which is a particularly hot topic in Shared Service Centres) could well appear in one of the exam variants.

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Nortan: Industry Analysis

I find the Industry Analysis is very helpful in this case study as it gives you a clear insight into the oil industry itself. Which is something missing from the pre-seen materials where the focus is on the FOSSC and no real details on how the industry operates and how to relate it to Nortan.

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the February 2018 MCS here.

Nortan: Pre-Seen Analysis

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the February 2018 MCS here.

CIMA OCS Feb 2018: King Crystal

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The CIMA February 2018 OCS exam is based around a scenario called King Crystal.

Here are some thoughts from me on what to look out for when analysing the pre-seen materials for King Crystal – hopefully it will set you on your way to a first time pass next month!

CIMA OCS: King Crystal Pre-Seen Analysis

Firstly, you can download the official pre-seen materials for King Crystal from CIMA here.

Once you have analysed the materials I would suggest using the Astranti video series to add more depth to your notes and get you thinking about what could come up on exam day.

The below video is over 1 hour long and is a great starting point.

Having used these materials when I passed the OCS a couple of years ago (and currently using them for the MCS exam next month) – I’ve have found that the pre-seen materials contains lots and lots of hints, tips and suggestions on what will come up on exam day.

Don’t neglect any page!! Not even the introduction!!

Every single page of the pre-seen contains an insight to how the company operates, strengths, weaknesses and you need to ensure you have covered this detail and understand how to tie it back to the Operational Level syllabus.

CIMA OCS: King Crystal

I’ve taken a screenshot of the analysis made just on the first page of the pre-seen and you can see the amount of notes and points made by the tutor.

And this continues throughout the King Crystal pre-seen, the level of detail you can take from the pre-seen is huge so your immediate attention in the first few weeks should be focused on this.

Another nice touch, when watching the Astranti video, is the fact the tutor mentions that King Crystal could well in fact be based on the real life company Dartington.

So get yourself familiar with the UK company Dartington – It’s a great way to understand the scenario and industry that King Crystal operate in.

As well as the pre-seen analysis, Astranti also cover Strategic Analysis, Industry Analysis and the Top 10 Issues for King Crystal.

You can find the full set of videos on the February King Crystal OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

Finally, I wrote a general article of the February CIMA case studies for all levels with some advice and tips on the approach to take – you can find it here.

Good Luck and please feel free to share your own advice in the comments section below.


CIMA SCS November 2017: Steelcast

CIMA Nov 2017 SCS

The final set of pre seen materials for the November 2017 case studies were released last week – it’s the final step for some students – and the case study is based on a company called Steelcast.

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

Here are facts about Steelcast and further down you can find some preview videos on the pre-seen analysis by Astranti.

Steelcast: Who are they?

  • The company was founded in 1896 and was incorporated as Steelcast 1910.
  • They produce luxury watches and are regarded as one of the worlds leading luxury brands.
  • Steelcast was listed on the Hiland stock exchange in 1982.
  • They do not sell direct to the customer but through retailers.
  • Their mission statement was created in 1930 and reads;

“We make watches for leaders, who wear them with pride.”

Steelcast: Pre-Seen Analysis

Analysing the pre-seen materials should be your first port of call when starting your SCS exam preparation. The below video should get you started on thinking in detail about how to interpret the pre-seen.

You can find the full set of videos on the November 2017 SCS here.

Steelcast: Top 10 Issues

Once you’ve gone through the pre-seen in detail you should have a rough idea of what topics you could face on exam day, if not the below video is recommended viewing! The tutor goes through, based on the pre-seen, what could come up on exam day.

You can find the full set of videos on the November 2017 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

Finally, the full SCS course for the Steelcase case study contains all of the mentioned videos alongside masterclasses, mock exams, ethics pack, advice and guidance from the tutor – what’s more it comes with a pass guarantee.

You can find full details on the SCS course with pass guarantee here.

SCS Course Contents:

  • SCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

*you will require login to CIMA connect to access pre-seen materials and the image above is a screenshot taken from the CIMA pre-seen materials.

CIMA MCS 2018 Exam Planning

I’ve been studying the P2 exam for what seems like an eternity now, but with the exam scheduled in around 4 weeks I have started to think past the P2 exam (probably a big mistake), and look at the 2018 CIMA Exam timetable for the case studies.

And I’ve noticed a massive benefit by sitting the MCS exam in February 2018 compared to the other sittings, you get a massive 60 days gap between the pre-seen materials being released and the first exam day of the February MCS.

I’ve looked at the gap between the pre-seen materials and exam dates for the May and August MCS and you only get 50 days and 46 days respectively.


The one caveat being that that of course the Christmas and new year period has to be taken into consideration – am I really going to study for the MCS during the Christmas break?

Usually not, no.

But knowing I have the possibility of extra time to digest the pre-seen materials (and turkey dinner) it would be foolish not to use this time to my advantage if I am in a position to take the February 2018 MCS exam.

I think at this level any marginal gain or advantage you can make for yourself could be the difference between a pass and a fail. 

So if you are close to a case study exam, I would strongly recommend to get yourself in a position to do so before the pre-seen materials released in mid-December. Rather than waiting for the May or August case study sittings.

And conversely, sitting a case study exam in August could be tougher given MCS students would have only 46 days between pre-seen materials and exam day and the fact it will be over the summer time when I’d rather be on holiday enjoying the sunshine rather than sweating of an exam.

Now, I need to get back to the P2 studies to make sure I get that pass mark before the 15th December!!!

Good Luck to those sitting any exam before the end of 2017 – make it count!

CIMA MCS November 2017: ZX Office

CIMA MCS November 2017

The CIMA MCS case study exam revolves around a company called ZX Office Furniture – you can find the official pre-seen materials released by CIMA here.

Below is a series of preview videos from Astranti that cover;

  • The Pre-Seen Materials
  • Industry Analysis
  • Top 10 Issues

But before viewing the videos I would strongly urge the MCS students to check out the CIMA connect site and download the November 2017 MCS Pre-Exam kit – it has lots of useful documents, advice, guides and resources and will give you a starting point on your path to passing the MCS exam first time!!

You can find the full details on the Pre-Exam kit here (login to CIMA connect is required).

MCS November 2017:  Pre-Seen Analysis

The pre-seen analysis below highlights the key information in the materials released by CIMA and will (hopefully) get you thinking about the scenario in more detail. What they company does well, what are their strengths and weaknesses etc?

You can find the full set of videos on the November MCS here.

MCS November 2017: Strategic Analysis

What are the strategic objectives of ZX Office Furniture? The below video considers them from a financial, internal, learning and customer perspective.

You can find the full set of videos on the November MCS here.


MCS November 2017: Top 10 Issues

This is one of the most sort after videos as it highlights 10 potential questions or issues that will come up on exam day based on the pre-seen materials. But remember this is just the opinion of the tutor and don’t assume they will all be tested on exam day.

You can find the full set of videos on the November MCS here.

MCS: Astranti Full Course

The MCS course from Astranti is worth looking into if you’re after a full comprehensive set of resources, what’s more, the course comes with a PASS GUARANTEE. Check out the conditions on the Astranti site for more information.

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.

Practice Tests Academy is offering a lot of free resources >>here<< and also free advice on our blog, website, FB page, Twitter, or YouTube channel.

We’ve just started creating a series of short videos (interviews) aiming at helping students pass their CIMA CS exams.