Tag Archives: OCS

The CIMA Case Study: Last Minute Advice

Studying for the CIMA Case Studies require a completely different approach from the objective tests. I also find there is also added weight of pressure and expectation that comes with a case study exam.

It’s a milestone.
It’s three hours long and you will have write somewhere between 3000-4500 words.
No select all that apply (thank god).
No flag for review.

You get the picture.

The Case Study Countdown

With the SCS exam in my sight, I feel like a boxer in a training camp for a big title fight. I have the experience of the previous two case study exams, not to mention the countless objective tests to date.

But this is the big one.

Potentially the final CIMA exam I will take.

The preparation also mirrors that of a boxer entering a training camp, once the opponent (Zoom) has been announced (pre-seen materials released) there is an intense six week training camp.

And much like a boxer, I am trying to peak at the right time with my preparation of pre-seen analysis, question practice and finally leading up to the fully marked 3 hour practice mock exams.

That would my advice to anyone CIMA student sitting a case study, the preparation is all about doing the right things at the right time, gradually build yourself up until you are confident enough to tackle a full mock exam in exam conditions.

As I have just entered the final two weeks before my exam on August 20th and I feel confident at this stage, well in terms of my preparation.

It all seems to be falling into place – at the moment I feel calm.
This can and probably will change as the final few days tick down.

Be Practical and PLAN!!

With this in mind, I thought I would share my TWO top tips on how to handle your case study exam.

Be Practical Rather than Technical

A case study answer that goes in depth on technical detail will score lower than a hands on practical answer.

And you should use this to your advantage, if you are struggling to refer back to the technical side of the syllabus then you should think practically.

DON’T PANIC!

When planning your answer, think;

How I do answer this in terms of the scenario?
Give practical advice on the situation.
Avoid general wishy washy statements.
Backup your thoughts with reasons how and why.

Plan your Answer

I spend around 20% of my time at the beginning of each section planning my answer. Firstly, identify the requirements and calculate how many marks I need to score.

A 60 minute question equates to 30-33 marks, so assuming your score 2 marks for every valid point made, you’ll need to make about 16 valid points in that 60 minute question.

A 60 minute question will usually have 4 sub questions inside the task, meaning I’d need to make approx. 4 valid points for each sub question.

If it has 3 sub questions I would make between 5-6 points on each.

Then I make headings for each point I want to make that directly fulfills the requirement. During that time I also add some brief notes under the heading of where I want to refer back to specifics in pre-seen, industry examples or technical content.

With the remaining 75-80% time left, then only I begin to type out my full answer.

Student Advice

Finally, here is some advice from I gathered from twitter on how to tackle your next CIMA case study exam;

 

CIMA Case Study: Industry Analysis

Students who want to pass their CIMA case study exam will need to develop their knowledge and understanding of the underlying industry. It’s been highlighted in many of the examiners report that students had a basic (if any) knowledge or current industry conditions and failed to apply them to the case study exam.

Personally, it also helps me understand the scenario better if I can relate it to real life situations rather than  a fictitious company CIMA has developed for the exam.

Here you can find a insight on the industry for each level of the upcoming CIMA case study exams in November 2016.

OCS: Marici Power

  • What is the industry history behind Solar Power?
  • What are the current industry trends?
  • Who are the biggest players in the market?
  • What are the biggest selling products for Solar Power companies?

Here are a few useful links and resources on the solar power industry.

10 Solar trends to watch out for in 2016

Solar markets around the world

The EnergyTrend website

You can find the full industry analysis video on Marici Power here.

MCS: Portafone

  • Who are the biggest players in the telecommunications market?
  • What are their best selling products and why?
  • What are the industry forecasts?
  • Can you give some real-life industry examples?

The industry analysis for the MCS exam: Portafone will, in effect, cover more than ONE industry. You will have to think of the hardware and software for mobile phones.

So mobile handsets as well as the network and telecommunications industry. If you’re still struggling to get to grips with it all, the Astranti video below will give some more focus.

Deloitte top five telecoms trends for 2016

The industry handbook: The telecommunications industry

Euro-monitor: Mobile phones industry

You can find the full industry analysis video on Portafone here.

SCS: ADF – Anderson Dairy Farms

  • What is the history of dairy farming?
  • How has it advanced with technology and mechnisation?
  • What are the latest market trends in dairy farming?
  • How have supermarkets impacted the industry?

The SCS case study exam focuses on the historic industry of dairy farming, so there is plenty of information out there. Here are a few links and resources you might find useful.

Challenges and trends in the dairy industry.

US dairy: industry trends and initiatives.

10 trends to impact dairy farming.

You can find the full industry analysis video on ADF here.

CIMA Case Studies: Know your role!

The CIMA case studies require a different approach to the objective tests. The idea of the case study exams is to place you in a realistic scenario and you will be effectively playing the role of financial accountant/finance manager/finance director – depending on what CIMA level you are on – OCS, MCS or SCS.

OCS Role: Accountant

Using the November 2016 Marici Power scenario, the exact role the OCS students will be facing is the role of assistant management accountant. This information is detailed on the very first page of the pre-seen materials.

Looking at the August OCS pre-seen materials, it appears there was not a dedicated page for the job description for your role in the exam – there was just a brief sentence mentioning you are one of two finance assistants and will be reporting to the finance director.

However, I imagine some students failed to grasp their role and answered the questions from a different point of view. As now (Nov 2016 pre-seen materials) it even gives you the specific tasks you would be expected to perform in this role:

  • Assist with the production of the annual budget.
  • Produce monthly management accounts.
  • Provide information to management as required.

OCS Types of Questions

With this in mind, the types of questions you will face in the OCS exam will be of an operational nature.

  1. Explain the appropriateness of zero-based budgeting.
  2. Explain the benefits of a flexed budget.
  3. Explain the implications of a modified audit report.

MCS Role: Finance Manager

The job description in the MCS Portafone case study exam goes into much more detail and clearly outlines the responsibility and tasks that the Financial Manager for Portafone would be expected to do. You can find the full pre-seen material for Nov MCS here.

There is a clear emphasis on the fact the Financial Manager needs to liaise and consider all functional areas of the business (HR, marketing, sales, operations etc.).

Here is a summary of what’s expected in this MCS finance manager role:

  • Responsible for the management accounting.
  • Liaising with treasury and financial functions.
  • Engage with the wider community.

MCS Types of Questions

The types of questions you are expected to answer will differ from the OCS level, you can see below the types of questions you will face:

  1. Discuss the management of the project and associated risks.
  2. Discuss financial reporting implications of acquiring subsidiary.
  3. Discuss suitability of WACC in calculating NPV and the relevance of NPV to decision making.

SCS Role: Senior Manager

The final level in the CIMA qualification revolves around strategic decision making and the role you will be facing in the SCS is that of the Senior Manager.

In this role you will be typically reporting to the board of directors and will be advising on special projects and strategic decisions. So there will be no need to answer questions on the preparation of budgets and so on.

The pre-seen materials for the last two SCS exams have been quite vague with the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Manager in the case study scenario.

SCS Types of Questions

As role of senior manager you will need to be tuned into the impact of the decisions made to all stakeholders. Below is an example of the types of questions you can expect.

  1. Evaluate strategic investment.
  2. Establish priorities for different business units.
  3. Evaluate implications of awarding building contract.

CIMA Case Study Exam Tips

CIMA publish post-exam kits for all of the case study sittings and it’s well worth reviewing the published documents.

You can find the pre-seen material, exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report – by reviewing all of these documents together you can get a clear view of the whole end-to-end case study exam process.

August 2016: OCS post-exam kit

August 2016: MCS post-exam kit

August 2016: SCS post-exam kit

You can also find the historic exam kits on the CIMA connect site. It’s a great way to learn from other students mistakes made in previous exam sittings as well getting familar with the approach needed on exam day.

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 August ’16 Case Study: REVISION CLASSES

I don’t usually have two articles on the same day but I noticed Astranti have their final revision classes coming up for the August case study exams and thought I would share the details for those who are not aware.

Are you worried about the CIMA case study exam coming up?

Is this your first case study exam and you’re looking for that final push to get exam ready? 

If so, these LIVE revision master classes will help calm your nerves and give some crucial tips on how to pass the exam.

Revision Class Content

As you can see, the whole day case study revision class covers a lot of information:

  • In depth walk through of the post exam guide to clarify exactly what the examiner is looking for.
  • Pre-learned paragraphs and how to use the syllabus theory appropriately.
  • Time-saving tips.
  • Key comments from exam markers – learn where other students have gone wrong.
  • Depth of answer – how to integrate theory, detail and dept to your answers.
  • Industry examples and analysis.
  • Review of the best scripts from other students.
  • The top 10 likely issues based on the pre-seen material.

Revision Class Dates

You can find full details below on the revision class content/prices for the operational, management and strategic levels.

OCS August Case Study: Saturday 6th August 2016

MCS August Case Study: Saturday 13th August 2016

SCS August Case Study: Saturday 20th August 2016

If you cannot make the day the class is you held you can still access the recorded version of the class – although there isn’t much time between the class and the exam itself!!

August Case Study Exam Dates

Just as a final clarification, the screenshot below shows all of the dates for the August case study exams taken from the CIMA website.

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Good Luck to ALL students taking the case study – please get in touch if you’d like to share your experiences and case study exam tips.

Finally, for those that are interested, I got in touch with Pearson VUE and asked if it’s possible to use pen and paper in the exam to make notes and not the whiteboard and pens that are currently provided.

Personally I find it off putting to use the whiteboard and pen and would much rather use pen and paper – I found I needed a lot of space when making notes and calculations when taking the F2 objective test! I’ll update on this site if I get any feedback from Pearson VUE.

The Week Ahead – 4th July 2016

weekahead2

As you may have read last week, I failed my F2 resit on Friday and I’ve now got my scaled score which was 94 out of 150 – so I was just six away from a pass – which is probably a question or two on the wrong side of  pass mark. So agonising.

I am half a mind whether to re-take the F2 next or move on to a different subject as quite honestly, the prospect of sitting another Advanced Financial Reporting paper and the weeks of revision beforehand is at the back mind. However, I saw some interesting comments last week that I should re-take it as soon as I can while it’s still fresh.

Anyway, I have a couple of weeks holiday planned so I will make a decision after that.

CIMA News

The CIMA August case studies are edging closer at the final set of pre-seen materials for the SCS is released today (I believe?). I will get the preview videos posted on the site tomorrow/Wednesday, meanwhile students are taking the OCS and MCS can find some helpful resources below.

OCS August 2016: Wise Choice Hotels

MCS August 2016: SparkSpace

The CIMA Student Website

If you’ve passed a CIMA exam recently and would like to share some advice or tips then please get in touch via mail or twitter – or leave a comment below. The idea of this site to share resources, tips and advice that will help other students.

As mentioned, this week the final set of August case study resources will go live while I will also be looking at CIMA qualified jobs – a reminder why we are all sitting these exams!

May Case Studies: The Final Countdown!

final

The CIMA May 2016 case studies will begin in two weeks time with the OCS: Sanchez Navarra exam, closely followed by MCS: IC Optical and finally the SCS: DreemPark. Therefore, students who are sitting these exams are facing the final crucial period of case study preparation.

What I have I tried to do here is run through a check list of milestones and collate important resources and information in one place – for ALL of the three levels.

Pre-Seen Material Analysis

The pre-seen material is the foundation on of preparations and is of course key in passing the CIMA case study exam. You should know it inside-out!

There should be no excuses for not having a full grasp of the materials.

Here are a few points to consider when analysing it:

  • Do you understand the company background and how it’s developed over time?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the company?
  • Have you analysed the financial statements and linked this to the company weaknesses? (i.e. cash balance has improved in current year, so cash is available to invest more into marketing the products)
  • Do you understand the company structure?
  • What opportunities is the company not exploiting?
  • Think about ethics!!! (i.e. does the company follow unethical practices or this there a conflict on interests at board room level)

You can find my earlier posts on the pre-seen material and preview videos here for the OCS: Sanchez Navarra, MCS: IC Optical and SCS: DreemPark

Industry Trends

Another area that is crucial when preparing for the case study exam is the real life industry analysis. The examiner loves it when you are able to point out to industry trends in the context of the case study.

You’ll also find it will help you relate to the scenario more by understanding what’s happening in the real world.

For example; the MCS case study is on IC Optical so the optician and eye care industry affects ALOT of people on a daily basis – use your own experiences and observations when thinking about your case study scenario.

You can find a full breakdown of all of the May case study industry trends from my article earlier this month here.

Case Study Exam Style Preperation

Sitting the case study exam under the new CIMA 2015 syllabus can be a daunting prospect, but it needn’t be. You should familiarise yourself of what to expect on exam day by taking plenty of mock exams and it’s also worth visiting the Pearson VUE site directly where you can simulate a case study exam.

There is a great .pdf document from CIMA here for students who are taking their first case study on what to expect. It covers all three levels and gives you;

  • Introduction to case study exams
  • Time management guide
  • What to expect
  • Study and exam guides
  • Links to practice exam
  • Other practical advice

Finally, I posted an article on CIMA Mock Exam Resources a while back when gives you an insight and links to case study mock exams from Astratni with the option of tutor feedback and marking. While you can also find details on how I passed the OCS exam last year here.

Student Interaction

Students who are home studying or distance learning for the May 2016 CIMA case study exams maybe missing student interaction. It’s an underestimated element of revising and studying – being able to bounce ideas and theories off of other students in the same boat – this can can prove invaluable in passing your CIMA case study

I was part of a Whatsapp group chat when taking the OCS exam last year, it was a very valuable tool for me to be able to ask for help from other students, while it gave me an insight to what others where thinking about in terms of the case study scenario.

I would suggest visiting the CIMA connect site and see if someone has already started a discussion on creating a Whatsapp study group you can join – or you can always start one of your own!

CIMA connect: OCS student discussion

CIMA connect: MCS student discussion

CIMA connect: SCS student discussion

CIMA Case Study Exam Day

When exam day is eventually here you should “hopefully” be feeling well prepared and relaxed (although not too relaxed, personally I find a certain amount of nerves makes me perform better!).

By covering all of the pre-seen materials, industry and strategic analysis and mock exams you will be in a good position to get the pass mark you need.

Finally, in my CIMA case study exam check list you might want to read the articles on my experiences with the Pearson VUE testing centres and my top ten CIMA exam revision tips.

Stay focused and GOOD LUCK!

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