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.

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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!

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The Week Ahead – 7th November 2016

CIMA resources and study tips

The OCS students will be counting down the hours until their exam as the Marici Power case study begins from Tuesday this week. Meanwhile, the MCS and SCS students still have a week or two to finalise their exam preparation.

Here a few exam tips for students taking their case study this month.

  • Time Management: divide the number of sections by the time you have available and manage your time effectively. i.e. 4 sections gives you 45 minutes per section – stick to it!
  • Planning your answer: spend the first 5-10 minutes planning your answer, read the requirements of question and plan your answer using headings and sub sections so you have a framework when writing out full answer.
  • Review your answer: make sure (where possible) you have linked the pre-seen materials, syllabus content, industry examples and new materials to your answer.
  • Ethics: always think about your answer in relation to ethics and the CIMA code of conduct. The examiner will appreciate it!

CIMA News

CIMA have announced their third instalment in their Certifed Global Business Services professionals programme with the diploma in global business services.The programme is designed for business leaders, managers and team leaders working in the shared service or global business services environment.

You can read the full press release from CIMA here.

The CIMA Student Website

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks on the site but I plan to get some more articles up this week on my E2 revision as well as another look at the upcoming case studies for the MCS and SCS students.

If you’d like to see anything specific on the site please get in touch via twitter or email on thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com.

CIMA OCS November 2016: Marici Power

It took CIMA a couple of days longer than expected, but the pre-seen materials were released this afternoon for the OCS exam. By now, hopefully, you will have refreshed your knowledge of the E1, P1, and F1 syllabus areas you passed not so long ago.

Because you will be expected to use the knowledge and key theories/models from those CIMA papers in your OCS exam in November.

The more you can relate the case study scenario to the relevant areas of the syllabus then the better chance you have of passing the CIMA OCS first time.

The case study for operational students is based around a company called Marici Power. They offer solar power solutions to commercial and private customers. Your role, as assistant management accountant, is to assist with the production of financial information like annual budgeting, monthly management accounts as well requests from management.

You can find the official pre-seen material for the November 2016 OCS from CIMA here.

Marici Power: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

You have six weeks to digest and pick out the key information in the Marici Power pre-seen materials. So the preview videos from Astranti are a great way to focus your studies and pick up some useful tips and tricks on how to analyse the pre-seen and what information to be aware of.

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

Marici Power: Strategic Analysis

Once you’ve understand the pre-seen materials and made your notes regarding Marici Power, you should be thinking about the strategical analysis of the company. So what are their strengths and weaknesses? What is the mission and strategy of the company?

Thinking about the case study from a strategic point of view will help you add more depth to your answers on exam day and help highlight the threats and opportunities the companies face.

You can find the full set of videos (including Strategic Analysis) on the November OCS here.

Marici Power: Top 10 Issues

If you’re still concerned about the content of the exam, then the Top 10 Issues video brings together all of the information in the pre-seen materials of Marici Power and highlights the most likely topics to crop up on exam day.

I found it a brilliant way to make myself more comfortable about the exam and gave me some specific concrete areas to study on before exam day.

You can find the full set of videos (including the Top 10 Issues) on the November OCS here.

Astranti OCS Pass Guarantee

If you’re impressed with the preview videos from Astranti, then the full OCS course offers much more; including three mock exams with marking and feedback. (based on the Marici Power pre-seen materials).

While the masterclasses are live full day sessions with the tutor to go through all theory and practical advice on how to pass the OCS.

Astranti are so confident you will pass the CIMA OCS exam first time, they offer a pass guarantee to all students.

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

OCS Course Contents:

  • OCS 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 Case Study Advice: November 2016

The seemingly never-ending cycle of CIMA Case Study exams is beginning to rear it’s head again with the pre-seen materials for the operational level case study being released next week.

So for students who are sitting case study exams in November, here is a run down of the best resources and what you should be doing if you want to pass the CIMA case study first time.

Post Exam Kits – August 2016

Learning from previous exam sittings is a great way to boost your chances of passing the CIMA November case study sittings. CIMA have provided all students with the previous exam papers for the August case study exams with the suggested answers – for ALL FIVE variants as well as other

The home page for the post exam kits (links below) will direct you to the;

  • Pre-seen material
  • Case study exam paper
  • Suggested answers
  • Examiners report
  • Exam marking guidance

TIP: As of writing, the examiners report and exam marking guidance for the August sitting are not yet available but if you search for the May 2016 case study post exam kits you will find these documents for that sitting there.

The examiners report – a topic I have written about here – is another brilliant free document provided by CIMA that will give you tips and advice on how to pass CIMA case study exams first time.

OCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

MCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

SCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

Case Study Master Classes

For those students who are self studying for the case study exams, the master classes hosted by Astranti offer TWO full days of live classes with one of their CIMA tutors – and it’s a great way to supplement your existing study resources.

The first one is based around the keys to passing the case study exam, while the second master class is scheduled a week before the actual exam date and packs in a whole day revision on the case study scenario and the likely questions that could crop up.

The video below is an example of the master class that was held regarding the SparkSpace scenario with the August 2016 MCS exam.

The dates of the master classes for the November case study exams are listed below:

OCS Master Classes: 8 October 2016 and 5 November 2016

MCS Master Classes: 15 October 2016 and 12 November 2016

SCS Master Classes: 22 October 2016 and 19 November 2016

Case Study: Full Course Contents

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive set of case study materials then Astranti also offer a full course with a PASS Guarantee – I passed the OCS last year by using their case study materials and they are really developing a strong reputation with their resources.

  • Study Text 1 – focuses on what you need to pass the case study.
  • Study Text 2 – summaries the key areas from the whole syllabus.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis – tutors detailed analysis of the pre-seen material.
  • Strategic Analysis – uses models & key theories and how to apply them in the exam.
  • Top 10 Issues – identifies the top 10 issues that could come up on exam day.
  • Industry Analysis – gives you the current industry trends for your case study.
  • Masterclass 1 – live session with tutor on keys to pass the case study exam.
  • Masterclass 2 – live session with tutor on revision of case study scenario.
  • 3 Mock Exams – with detailed feedback based on the actual case study scenario.
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – often overlooked but this comprehensive guide covers Ethics and how to apply it to the CIMA case studies.

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 – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the OCS exam is released on the week commencing 19th September 2016.

MCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the MCS exam is released on the week commencing 26th September 2016.

SCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the SCS exam is released on the week commencing 3rd October 2016.

Acorn Financial Tutors

Another learning provider who offer CIMA case study materials are Acorn and readers of this website can claim an extra 10% discount off ALL CIMA materials.

Their latest list of CIMA case study materials can be found here.

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Currently (offer ends 30 September 2016), the hard copy of their full Integrated Case Study kit has been reduced to £240 from £360 – so you can order it for £216 by emailing your request to thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com

Study Support: Whats App Groups

Whats App groups for student discussion around the upcoming case study exams also seems to be an idea that is growing with every passing exam sitting.

I was part of one for the OCS last year and, if you don’t need getting lots of updates and messages on Whats App (you can always turn notifications off), I found it very interesting to hear other students points of views about the pre-seen material and how they were handling their revision. Not everything was helpful but from the point of view of a student who is self studying it’s very much worth joining.

The sign up for the Whats App groups can be found on the CIMA connect site – here is the link for the OCS November 2016 group. I couldn’t find anything for the MCS or SCS on the CIMA connect site but I am sure they will be created shortly – or you could even start one yourself.

Good Luck and Happy Studying!

The Week Ahead – 12th September 2016

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CIMA News

The November case study exams will be in most students thoughts as the pre-seen material for the OCS exam is released from next week, with this in mind below is a schedule for the important dates for exam entry, pre-seen material and exam dates for all levels.

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Are you worried about automation of accounting processes will have a negative impact on your role? Well a recent CIMA study has revealed that businesses and finance professionals are welcoming automation and “robots” in the finance function – 1,628 CIMA members were surveyed and around 83% support the idea of automation if it saves time, money and helps with indecision in the business.

You can read more about this in the CIMA press release here.

The CIMA Student Website

This week I will be continuing to look at the E2 syllabus as I go more in-depth into this paper following last weeks blog post on business strategy. While I’ll also be looking at the Astranti case study materials for the upcoming November exams.

I passed the OCS exam this time last year using Astranti materials and I’d thoroughly recommend them to other students in the same boat. You can read more about how I passed the OCS exam here.

The Week Ahead – 8th August 2016

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CIMA News

It’s the OCS August case study exam week so good luck to the students sitting the exam in the coming days!

Meanwhile, I saw an interesting press release on the CIMA website that stated that salaries for management accountants are increasing at twice the national average.

The results reveal that average earnings among qualified members reached £64,011 in 2016 (an increase of 1.9%), £36,411 more than the current average UK wage.

According to the research, even those in the process of gaining their qualifications report earning 22% higher than the national average wage, receiving an annual salary of £33,638.

You can read the full press release in detail by visiting the link above.

The CIMA Student Website

This week I will be posting up a short interview with CIMA student who will be taking her first exam in November this year.

While I will also be looking at more detail on the subject of Project Management – I posted an article on this last week but now I will be looking at the process of project management and a few CIMA exam questions on the subject.

I’ve added a sign up pop-up to the website for The CIMA student newsletter – it’s a new monthly newsletter that will be sent out for the first time in the coming weeks.

Any feedback or comments would be gratefully received.

The Week Ahead – 1st August 2016

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This month signals the beginning of the August case study exams – all of my resources, notes and comments have already been posted on the site – so Good Luck to those sitting case study exams this month.

The CIMA Student Website

This week I will be looking at an underrated tool that students perhaps don’t even know exist – The Student Webinars.

CIMA have student webinars that are free of charge and accessible for all CIMA students. They cover all of the papers in the qualification and contain some excellent information. Make sure you check them out!

All of the information is available on the CIMA Connect site and I will be providing full details in the article later this week.

I’ll also be taking a look at Project Management – an area that is covered in the E2 paper. If you have any questions or would like to see any specific topics on the website then feel free to get in touch by email or the comments section below.