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
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.
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.
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:
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;
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!