Tag Archives: MCS Exam Tips

CIMA MCS Nov 18: Grapple

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!


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.


Professional Competence and Due Care

Professional Behaviour



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.


“… 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.

2018-09-13 09_07_11-Start2018-09-13 09_07_24-Start

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


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

Pre-Seen Materials: Grapple

MCS Nov 18

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the November 2018 management level case study on Friday 28th September.

It’s based around a company called “Grapple”.

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

Passing the CIMA Gateway Exam

CIMA students who are taking the gateway route can be find extremely tough to be exam ready and confident enough to pass the MCS exam.

But Nkunde C. Mbong did just that.

Here are a few words of wisdom from Nkunde on how she PASSED the CIMA Gateway Exam.

CIMA: Exam Tips

In an earlier article, I highlighted some of the difficulties Gateway Students faced and how this may have contributed to the low gateway pass rates, especially when compared to the management level case study results.

After a one time try, I passed with a pretty impressive score and this is how I did it.

Prepare for Success

  • So, this might be obvious, but I’m still going to put it out here just in case. It is important that gateway students purchase all 3 management level papers and carefully go through it all [plus the gateway/management case study text].

    Having a Masters in Accounting and Finance, I was tempted to bypass F2 (and some P2) because it was most of the technical material which I had covered in my masters, and also because I realized the case-study exam was void of calculations.

    This is obviously a mistake because even though calculations are absent, the case-study will need you to be able to interpret these calculations for decision making.

    So even if you can calculate it, the focus will be on your interpretation of it, so it is important to study it all again with that in mind.

    Besides, I realized CIMA takes them all a step further, so you are bound to see topics you may never have come across before. In addition, going through all the 3 papers enables you familiarize yourself with CIMA concepts, expectations, key areas and application.

Cover the CIMA Syllabus

  • I did self-study throughout my preparation for the gateway exam but I studied all 3 papers at the same time. That is, my weekly study program comprised of 2 days for F2, 2 days E2 and 2 days P2. So, I was studying 6 days a week. I did not concentrate on 1 paper, finish it before going on to the next and so on. I believe doing all 3 at once keeps them all fresh in mind and is obviously logical in this case.
  • After successfully going through all 3 papers, I went through the management case study, practiced, and when I felt comfortable enough that I’d grasped what was really required of me, I started revising while doing tons of practices and mock exams (By the way, I made sure to finish studies before the pre-seen was launched and by that time, I was focused on revision and practices).

Make the Mock Exams Count!

  • That leads me to the next important tip. I tell you, doing mock exams was as clarifying as the revision itself because they help you determine if you have understood the concept and can deliver in the exam.

    So, I did mocks tirelessly and they help a lot to reduce revision time. If you don’t have enough time to revise all papers, doing the mocks will help you gain balance across the papers and chapters, just the way CIMA will test you.

    Mock exams are available online via several tuition providers and some even provide some mocks for free.

Online Forums and Whats App Groups

  • Another thing I found very valuable were online forums and resources. After the pre-seen is released, WhatsApp groups dedicated to the case study only are usually created.

    I happened to be in one of these really good groups where we shared ideas, answered questions, clarified doubts and provided useful materials and online links to where we could access useful resources.

    It was really helpful. Also, CIMA connect was good – they usually have an “ask an expert” session just before the exam and sometimes webinars.

    Similarly, there are online tuition providers who analyze the pre-seen and offer these analyses for free. The more you connect with people, the more information you get.

Become Familiar with the Exam Conditions

  • Lastly, at the end of the day when you have studied the course work, the pre-seen and covered enough mocks, if you are new to Pearson VUE like I was, be sure to familiarize yourself with it too.

    Despite me downloading the Pearson Vue app and getting a practice session with it, during the exam proper, I almost went to the next question while trying to find how I could re-read the task I had been given.

    Luckily, I was given a warning which made me cancel that action, though I spent some good seconds figuring out how to get back to the task given from the answer page where I was. Time management is already a killer during the exam, so avoid wasting even a second (or failing to answer a question by mistakenly going to the next one as I almost did) by making sure you are already familiar with the Pearson Vue layout.

    Passing the gateway exam is a joy, but you need to put in the effort, know CIMA case study requirements (especially the competencies and the weightings), can manage the exam time given, remember the role you are playing and stay confident!

    All the best to the gateway students!

MCS: Menteen Industry Analysis

The pre-seen materials have been released for a few weeks now so the MCS students have had time to digest it, so it’s a good time to look at the Industry Analysis for the MCS Menteen case study.

With this in mind, Thomas Newman, from The CIMA Hub has kindly looked at the file industry for us to get MCS students thinking about what lies ahead for them in the MCS exam next month.

Menteen Industry Analysis

The Management Case Study is fast approaching, and perhaps you’re feeling a little disoriented. The Menteen case is fascinating, but the film industry is a big and intimidating one to begin to investigate!

The following article is not a complete analysis, but is intended to give you an initial sense of the current state of play in the industry from a global perspective, and point you in the direction of some useful data and considerations.

Recent Revenue Trends

Menteen Industry Analysis

For the film industry, the most important indicator of success or failure is box office revenues. The box office of course literally refers to the place where cinema (movie theatre) tickets are sold, but is also used as a general term for revenue generated by movies during their run in cinemas.

The box office numbers are crucial as they are the earliest, objective indicator of a film’s value and future revenue-generating potential. So when trying to assess the health of the industry as a whole, box office revenues are an obvious place to start.

In recent years, box office revenues have been increasing steadily.

Gross revenues for 2011 were $32.6 billion dollars, increasing year on year to 2015 when they finished at $38.3 billion – an 18% increase in 5 years. Now if we look at the graph above, we can see that there are some interesting points of detail.

With the US and Canada, there is no obvious growth trend. Rather, there were ups and downs, though 2015 settled at a higher gross than any of the previous 5 years. The real growth trend is seen in the “International” category.

From the pre-seen, we know Menteen is a European film studio, and based on its translation activities, we know it caters to the European market. So are these positive international growth trends indicative of a healthy, growing European box office?

Well, not so fast! Let’s look at this next graph, which breaks down the international market further. Though Europe in this analysis is lumped in with the Middle East and Africa, there is still reason to be cautious about the European market based on these numbers.

The EAMA box office revenues actually declined in that period from $10.8 billion dollars to $9.7 billion dollars – a 10% decrease. How much of that decline is attributable to Europe alone is hard to discern, but if we look at large European domestic markets like Spain and France, there were declines of 8% and 18% respectively! So we’re certainly dealing with an uncertain European market, to say the least.

MCS Exam Tips

We’ll begin to look into some of the possible reasons for this volatility in the mature film markets of North America and Europe below. The most we can say for now is that on balance, these mature markets have been more or less steady in terms of annual revenues in the last 5 to 10 years. There is neither a discernible upward nor downward trend. However, the obvious residual question is: where exactly is the substantial global box office growth coming from, if not from Europe and North America?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main driver of that growth is China!

What’s Selling and Who’s Buying?

So, what kinds of films are making waves in the current market? To get a sense of what’s selling, let’s have a look at the top 4 grossing movies internationally for the last number of years. In 2013, the top four in order were: Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Despicable Me 2, Frozen.

In 2014, the four was made up by: Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent. In 2015, we had: Star Wars Episode VII, Jurassic World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Inside Out. And most recently in 2016, we had four Disney productions with: Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia, The Jungle Book.

CIMA Exam Tips

Is there a pattern here? Three of the four number ones in the last 4 years have been Comic-book Superhero movies. Of the 12 in total, at least 6 could be categorised as Family movies (The Jungle Book, Zootopia, Finding Dory, Inside Out, Despicable Me 2, Frozen for sure; with The Hunger Games and Maleficent arguably falling into that category too, making 8 of 12).

Overall, the films all fall into one of the following categories: Family, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comic-Book Superhero – with some overlaps here and there. Certainly, the most common thread is: family-friendly, special-effects oriented adventure. There is a conspicuous lack of adult drama, comedy, horror, (non sci-fi/comic book) action, romance. Certainly, there seems a formula for success in recent years in line with the common thread mentioned.

What would all this mean for a company like Menteen?

Well, we’re told in the Pre-seen that Menteen has just had considerable success with Runaway. Based on the profile of the lead actor Justin Fletcher and the description given, it seems a family-friendly comedy.

So Menteen are at least on the family track, and following through with Runaway 2. However, expansion into the Comic-Book Superhero and Animated-Family movies may be difficult to achieve.


There are several other important points for consideration in this intriguing industry, but too many for this short overview! The CIMA Hub’s full industry analysis looks at issues surrounding marketing, the guilds, financing, and a number of other important challenges facing the industry and companies within it.

The Week Ahead – 14th November 2016

free CIMA resources and study tips

The OCS students can now put their feet up and look forward to the Christmas period but this means it’s time for the MCS students to sit the Portafone case study this week.

Here is a quick look at the industry analysis surrounding Portafone for some last minute revision.


I found a brilliant CIMA related website last week that really helped me with my E2 study. If you haven’t already heard of it, then I would thoroughly recommend using the Kaplan Knowledge Bank website – it’s free to use and doesn’t require any login details.

It gives you detailed descriptions of key topic in the CIMA syllabus.

For example, I wanted to understand Porter’s Diamond in a bit more detail and it gave me a comprehensive breakdown of each element. The Kaplan Knowledge Bank is like a CIMA wikipedia and should go into your favourite sites list.

You can find the Kaplan Knowledge Bank website here.

The CIMA Student Website

This week I will be taking a look at Ansoff’s Matrix and what it means in terms of the E2 syllabus using an exam style question. I will also be writing a post on the CIMA materials I use when studying for the Objective Tests.

If you’d like to contribute or you have a burning issue you want to see on the blog then please feel free to get in touch via social media or leave your comments below.

Happy Studying and good luck to the MCS students this week!