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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Don’t take them too soon
- Sit them in exam conditions
- 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