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.

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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

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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!

 

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.

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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!!