CIMA MCS: November 2018

MCS Nov Dates

The CIMA MCS exam builds on the knowledge you have gained from the P2/E2/F2 papers, not too mention the experience you have from the operational level and in particular the OCS you have already passed.

CIMA Gateway Students

The only exception would be those students who are taking the Gateway route and this will be your first taste of a CIMA case study!! 

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 Code of Ethics

I’d thought I would kick off this blog post with a focus on the CIMA Code of Ethics.

It’s a subject that you might neglect or forget the importance of, but the MCS case study exam is the perfect time to roll out your knowledge on ETHICS!

Morals-and-ethics

If you are struggling to remember the fundamental principles behind the CIMA Code of Ethics I have my own acronym to help me remember – OPPIC.

It’s very close to the word OPTIC which reminds me of the device used for measuring out whiskey or gin, which is usually quite close to my thought process after studying for a case study exam and ethics.

Anyhow, before I digress even further, here are the key principles that OPPIC stands for.

Objectivity

Professional Competence and Due Care

Professional Behaviour

Integrity

Confidentiality

Each and everyone of us as CIMA students/professional accountants must comply with the above fundamental principles of the CIMA Code of Ethics. And it’s a great framework to apply to your answers in the CIMA MCS exam if you are faced with an ethical issue.

EXAMPLE: 

“… It appears the CEO of the company has agreed the appointment of a new board member who is a close family friend with very little experience in the fashion industry.. ”

If faced with this type of ethical issue in the MCS exam, you can point to the fact there is an ethical issue with the appointment made to the board, quoting the CIMA code of ethics as an example of the framework professional accountants should adher to. Also adding to your answer that;

  • the CEO failed to follow Objectivity with the appointment of the new director as it’s a clear conflict of interest due to his relationship with the new director.
  • meanwhile, the new director doesn’t have the right skills to fulfill the role which breaches the Professional Competence and Due Care part of the ethical framework.

I’m sure the examiner will always appreciate students quoting the CIMA Code of Ethics in the case study exam, so don’t neglect it!

CIMA MCS Masterclass

Distance learning students should take advantage of any video tuition or interactive online tuition you can get your hands on for the MCS November exam. It’s especially important when trying to pass the CIMA case study exams.

Below is an example of the MCS masterclasses offered by Astranti;

Both masterclasses are 8 hours long with the first masterclass focusing on the keys how to pass the MCS exam, while the second masterclass is a full day revision on the subject of the case study for the November exam.

I found it a great way to hear other students opinions, test my own knowledge with the example questions we went through as a group and ask the tutor questions directly.

Below are are the dates for the upcoming Astranti MCS masterclasses.

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The CIMA Student MCS Advice

Here is a summary of my top tips to pass the CIMA November 2018 MCS exam.

Plan, plan and plan

Start by planning your time and the resources you need, dedicate set times when you will study and what you expect to cover.

And don’t worry if don’t stick to them 100% – no body every does. A plan is there to guide and ensure you tick the boxes you need to pass the exam.

Mock Exams

It’s a drum I keep banging, but I can’t stress enough the important of Mock exams. So I will leave it at that!

Produce a Balanced Script

You need to make sure you give balanced answers.

Include pre-seen analysis, unseen analysis, industry analysis and of course technical knowledge. AND OUR GOOD FRIEND MR ETHICS!

(where applicable – always be relevant with your answers)

And don’t forget to use your judgement and conclude with recommendations and the reasons why you are making them!

CIMA MCS Astranti Course

MCS EARLY

The full MCS course from Astranti is really packed full of resources;

  • 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
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CIMA OCS: November 2018

CIMA: Exam Tips

The November 2018 OCS exam will be the first case study exam you will be taking on your CIMA journey, so it will be new in many ways.

But it shouldn’t hold any fear for those students that are worried with the prospect of their first case study coming up.

It seems a world ago since I passed this exam but I remember heading into the exam full of confidence due to the preparation and work I had put in during the lead up to exam day.

I hope the advice below stands you good in steed to pass the CIMA OCS first time!

CIMA OCS Important Dates

There are still two weeks away until the pre-seen materials are released and over two months until the CIMA OCS November exam day itself, but preparation is key and you can already begin yours before the pre-seen materials arrive on Friday 21 September 2018.

Before you start planning, here are the important dates for the Nov 2018 OCS.

OCS Nov Dates

CIMA OCS Planning

I would start with a rough study plan, so you can plan the time when you will study and WHAT you will study;

  • F1/P1/E1 Syllabus refresh (keep it simple and brief for now.
  • OCS Exam Structure
  • CIMA Code of Ethics
  • Pre-Seen Materials Analysis
  • 3 Mock Exams (tutor marked with feedback)
  • Review and Revise

Just because the pre-seen materials haven’t been released, it doesn’t mean you cant start working! Refreshing your syllabus knowledge is a great idea now, especially the theories and models in the E1 exam.

However, this should be brief and very high level refresh. Don’t get bogged down with details, you haven’t got time to do that and you don’t need to.

This part of the exam preparation also helps you get into the “Study Mode” for when the Pre Seen Materials arrive, think of it as a warm up for your OCS exam.

Also take the time to get familiar with the exam structure and what’s expected of you on exam day.

As it’s your first case study exam, I would suggest to visit the Pearson VUE website to simulate a CIMA case study exam. It’s well worth it.

CIMA OCS Mock Exams Practice

Taking mock exams in exam conditions is the only way to get yourself 100% prepared for exam day. It’s the final piece of the puzzle.

I used the Astranti mock exams when passing the OCS and also part of the full course when passing the MCS first time this year. However, to make the most of this you should get any mock exams you take marked with feedback.

It’s the only way how to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and ensure you have enough in the tank to get a pass on exam day.

Below is a example of the feedback I received when taking one of the Astranti MCS mock exams.

Exam

I found getting detailed feedback on each question with the split of marks allocated was a brilliant way for me to analyse my script. It helps build confidence but it really does paint a true picture of where are you in terms of passing the case study exam.

The Examiners Report

Examiners Report

One of the most overlooked FREE resources from CIMA are the examiners report, it’s packed with great insight on how students fared in the previous sittings of the OCS operational case study exam.

I’ve read the May 2018 CIMA OCS Examiners Report and picked out TWO key highlights and points of note. If you’re interested, you can find the full document here.

  • Technical skills are by far the most important element of skills at the operational level. To score well a candidate must demonstrate these skills by applying the knowledge gained from studying P1 and F1.

 

  • In preparation for a case study exam it is vital that all candidates revise technical knowledge as a starting point; it is not enough to rely on retaining the knowledge
    from the OTQ examinations.

It appears that students at the OCS level are comfortable with the E1 paper and knowledge but are weak in applying knowledge in F1 and P1, as stated by the examiner technical skills are the most important at this level – don’t neglect them!!

CIMA OCS Astranti Course

OCS NOW

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

  • 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

 

CIMA SCS Aug 2018: Finch News Group

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The CIMA SCS August 2018 case study is around a very interesting multimedia and news company called Finch News Group and the pre-seen materials were released last week.

It sounds like a great case study to get stuck into as I’m sure we are all aware of the media. Whether it’s digital, newspaper or social. So it’ll be easy to relate in some respects – good luck to those taking the exam next month!

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

Meanwhile, below are the usual preview videos posted by Astranti.

Pre-Seen Analysis: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Strategic Analysis: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Top 10 Issues: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

I’ve used the Astranti the materials for the OCS exam and took the full course when passing the MCS exam earlier this year, so I know their materials and tutor support will get over in the line in the SCS!

The full SCS Astranti course currently has a £150 discount that runs until Monday 16th July – just use AUGUSTSCS18 at the checkout to take advantage.

What’s more, they so confident you will pass the SCS exam they offer 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

CIMA MCS Aug 2018: Montel

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The CIMA August 2018 sitting of the case study exam is only six weeks away. This means the pre-seen materials have been released and students should be analysing them from cover to cover by now!

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

CIMA Case Studies: The Four Stages of Preperation

Having passed the OCS and MCS exams first time myself, I believe there are four key stages for prepearion required for passing the CIMA case studies.

Syllabus Knowledge Refresh

Refreshing your syllabus is a good idea while you wait for the pre-seen materials to be released but it’s also key to refer back to the syllabus content for F2/P2/E2 during the next weeks during your exam prep – as you’ll need to revise your weak areas that have been highlighted from mock exams.

Pre-Seen Materials

Next up, you’ll need to get to grips with the pre-seen materials. Go through the materials by yourself first, making notes. Then use your study materials, classroom lectures or video resources to add more depth and understanding to your notes.

I’d also suggest to make a summary of the key points of the whole document on just two sides of A4. This will be easier to remember and recall on exam day. 

Mock Exams

I’d be very surprised if any students pass a case study exam without attempted at least one (you should take three) mock exams in exam conditions. CIMA case studies are notoriously time pressured and you’ll need to be prepared and have an answer planning technique to help you get the most of the 3 hours available.

Take mock exams!!!

But only once you have digested the pre-seen materials and refresh a high level review of the syllabus content.

Review: Mock Exams and Pre-Seen

Finally, you’ll need to reflect and learn from how your mock exams went. While also referring to the pre-seen materials and syllabus content to improve your weak areas.

It might sound alot of work (it is!) but with the right planning and commitment you can pass the MCS exam first time.

You can read how I passed the Feb 2018 MCS exam here for inspiration. 

CIMA MCS Montel: Top 10 Issues

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

CIMA MCS Montel: Pre-Seen Analysis

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

CIMA MCS Montel: Industry Analysis

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 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.

MCS Course Contents:

  • MCS 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

CIMA OCS Aug 2018: Thomas Fine Teas

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The August 2018 Operational Case Study pre-seen materials are now available and students sitting this exam are advised to make this 29 page document your bible for the next 6 weeks!!

You can find the pre-seen materials for the August 2018 OCS from CIMA website here.

CIMA OCS: Pre-Seen Analysis

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

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

CIMA OCS: Industry Analysis

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

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

 CIMA OCS: Top 10 Issues

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

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

CIMA OCS: Mock Exams

I find that Mock Exams are the best way to gain confidence and get REAL practice of what to expect when you sit the OCS exam. However, it is important not to rush into sitting the mock exams straight away.

You should make sure have understood the pre-seen materials and covered all of the necessary revision before sitting any mock exam.

But don’t fear if you fail the first one or two, the idea is to improve your technique and score with exam exam, so hopefully you pass the 3rd exam with flying colours!

To get a feel of what you can expect on exam day, you can take the free OCS mini mock from Astranti before taking the 3 full mock exams that are based on the Thomas Fine Teas case study.

Astranti Mock Exam Testimonial

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You can find out more information about the Astranti Thomas Fine Tea mock exams here.

CIMA OCS: Case Study Exam Tips

I passed the OCS exam myself a few years ago now, but you can read my thoughts on how I passed the Flores Rosa OCS exam here.

Good Luck and Happy Studying!

CIMA MCS May 2018: Menta

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CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the May 2018 MCS case study last week, so with this mind here are a list of tips, resources and links you might find useful when studying for the Menta MCS case study in May 2018.

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

Menta: Pre-Seen Analysis

The foundation of your preparation for the May CIMA MCS will begin and pretty much end with the pre-seen analysis you conduct.

This 24 page document is packed full of insight and information on what to areas could come up on exam day.

Furthermore, by having a firm grip on the content of the materials and being able to link them to the unseen on exam day will help you a lot to add depth to your answer and keep it relevant to the Menta case study.

Below is a video from Astranti to your pre-seen analysis started.

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

How I Passed the CIMA MCS

As you are aware, I passed the previous sitting of the CIMA MCS exam first time by taking the MCS course from Astranti .

However, it’s not as straightforward as signing up for a course and expecting to turn up on exam day and breeze through the exam!

There is a lot of hard work and dedication required in order to get yourself for the exam, as you can see by the MCS exam pass rates over the last 12 months, students are finding it a tougher and tougher exam to pass.

2018-03-26 12_57_09-Greenshot image editor

You read my full thoughts on how I passed the CIMA MCS exam and the process I went through here.

 

CIMA MCS: How I passed it first time.

MCS

I’ve never been a bingo fan, but I was delighted to see the “two fat ladies – 88” and the wonderful green background of the word PASSED.

But before I go into how I passed the CIMA MCS exam, I’ll start with my initial thoughts on receiving the results.

Passing CIMA MCS: Initial Thoughts

I was of course delighted to get the PASS on the email this morning as passing any CIMA exam is a relief and sense of satisfaction! The 6 week wait between the case study exam and the results is a killer though, as you go through a range of emotions.

A bit like an alcoholic trying to give up vodka.

First, after leaving the exam hall, there is the thought “Yes! I’ve done the exam.” I can relax and you’re confident you’ll pass. But as the days and weeks tick on you start to doubt yourself as you talk to others.

Shit! I forgot to mention this and cover that on the exam… And then you forgot half of your answers and start to doubt yourself even more. Then you get nervous about results day.

Finally as you’re only days away you just get angry with the whole thing and cannot wait any longer. Frantically refreshing your email in the morning of exam results like and alcoholic checking their bank balance the morning of payday getting ready to run down the off licence.

Anyhow, I’m digressing.

Joy and Disappointment

My sense of joy at passing the CIMA MCS, however, is tinged with disappointment at getting a score of 88.

You might think that’s a bit crazy and I don’t want to sound arrogant or ungrateful but I’ll explain why:

1) I felt leaving the exam I had done very well, a good pass score at least.
2) I have first hand experience of working in shared service environment, so I was already at an advantage.
3) It sounded like the variant I sat was one of the easier ones, so what score would I have got if I had the tougher variant?
4) The exam prep went well, the mock exams were all passed with good scores.

Plus, I felt I had really applied myself to the exam and had the right preparation heading into the exam. A bit like a boxer primed for a heavyweight title fight in the shape of his life, so with everything seemingly in my favour I felt I would score 100+ (bearing in mind this out of 150, so 100+ should be expected with the conditions I felt I had).

It makes me wonder how I would fare further down the line when my confidence is not as high, will I be able to get over the F3/P3/E3 exams first time?

Then what about the SCS? 

Anyhow, there is time to tackle these questions once I have digested the fact I am now the holder of the CIMA Adv Dip MA title. 🙂

How I passed the CIMA MCS Exam first time

CIMA Feb 2018 Case Study

Before I started to think about the pre-seen materials being released, I needed to have a plan and structure for following two months.

That plan looked a bit like this:

  • Revise syllabus content from P2/E2/F2
  • Understand MCS exam structure
  • Read previous MCS examiners report
  • Analyse preseen materials
  • Delve further into P2/E2/F2 syllabus based on issues identified from pre-seen
  • Take mock exams 1/2/3
  • Review mock exam feedback
  • Re-read preseen materials making 2 pages of key points.
  • Relax.
  • Re-read feedback from mock exams and revise weak areas raised in feedback.
  • Relax (try to!).

Of course I didn’t stick to the plan 100% in terms of timing but it gave me structure and ensured I didn’t waste anytime in the build up to exam day.

CIMA MCS Materials Used

As you know from my previous blog posts, I used the full Astranti MCS course and found it to be packed with resources, videos, materials and classes.

In fact there was so much I didn’t manage to watch all of the tuition videos, which perhaps in hindsight was a bad idea on my part.

  • MCS 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)
  • Tuition videos
  • 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
  • Pass Guarantee

Lessons Learnt

2018-01-13 10_33_00-February_2018_management_pre-seen_V2.pdf

What I found the most useful from the Astranti MCS course were the mock exams with feedback. The mock exams you take on the course are actually based on the pre-seen materials and case study you are sitting (in my case Nortan) – it’s an invaluable experience as it’s as close to what you will face on exam day.

Planning. You must plan your time accordingly and make sure you cover all bases, the key to passing the CIMA MCS exam first time is having a balanced script.

You must have the technical knowledge, pre-seen details, know how to apply them, industry examples and the ability to draw conclusions and make recommendations in the exam.

Also, there was a little gem in the Astranti MCS course, it is the Study Text Part 2. 

This is a condensed version of the E2/P2/F2 syllabus, it was a great resource for me during the 6 weeks study preparation. It had all of the syllabus content I needed at the right level of detail.

It would almost be impossible to go through your previous study texts and found this bite-sized version (well, there is still 700 pages!!) is perfect. I could find the section I needed and revise in the right level of detail – in some cases you just need a high level view to jog your memory.

The CIMA Student MCS Study Tip

free CIMA resources and study tips

Finally, I would like to point to the importance of planning your answer before you start answering the question in full.

I would spend about 20% of my time in the question (so in a 45 minute question I would spend 9 minutes) planning my answer.

This involves identifying the requirements and creating some headings of areas I want to cover in my answer. Then I add a few sub points underneath the headings, linking the syllabus content, pre-seen information, industry info and ethics (if there is any to consider).

Then I would finally add all of the meat to the bones of the answer.

Planning my answer in this manner made sure I stayed on track and didn’t ramble off point, as you can see I did in my opening paragraph or two here.

Good Luck to students sitting May case study and hope all of the February case students got the result you wanted!