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!

Industry Analysis – Feb 2016 OCS, MCS and SCS

If you are looking to pass the CIMA Case Study exams first time then you need to have a firm grip on the latest industry analysis. And with just weeks (days in the case on the OCS) to go, these resources and videos below are an excellent source of information.

Industry Analysis – OCS Feb 2016: First Class Bakery

The February OCS exam is focused on the baking industry with a company called First Class Bakery. It was a small family run business that recently 80% of it’s equity shares to a larger company called Universal Foods Groups.

Below are some I’ve found on the baking industry, trends and what consumers are demanding. While there is also a preview video from Astranti on their Industry Analysis for the Feb OCS.

You can find the full astranti video at their website here

 

Feel free to add any additional links or comments in the box below.

Industry Analysis – MCS Feb 2016: Pizzatime

Meanwhile, the MCS students have been given the mouth watering company called Pizzatime. Their role in the exam is of a finance manager and will need to have a different approach than then OCS.

Pizzatime have over 970 restaurants but they started in 1969 when two brothers came up with a simple idea of opening a pizza restaurant. Now they have a whole army of restaurants in different countries. The Feb 2016 MCS exam has a focus on franchising, so with this in mind the first link below shows the 2016 industry trends for pizza restaurants.

Finally, Astranti have also produced a video on their suggested Industry Analysis for pizzatime and preview is available below. Could be crucial in gaining those extra marks to pass the upcoming CIMA exam.

You can find the full video at their website here

Industry Analysis – SCS Feb 2016: Rio

The students who will be taking the Feb 2016 SCS exam will be eager to get over the line and become CIMA qualified.

The exam is focused on a fashion retailer called Rio and your role in the exam will be to give insights on special projects and strategic matters as a senior finance manager. As well as brushing up on your theory and pre-seen material, familiarising yourself with the fashion retail industry itself will help you on exam day.

So here are a few links of Industry Analysis that make for interesting reading.

The below video is a preview of the industry analysis by the tutors at Astranti financial training.

You can find the full video at their website here

 

Good Luck!

CIMA Release 2015 Exam Success Rates

CIMA have officially released the 2015 exam pass rates and they make for interesting reading. Below is a screenshot of the results for the Case Study and Objective tests.

The official comments from CIMA executive director Dr Noel Tagoe of the pass rates under the new 2015 syllabus were of a positive tone

“Our new exam system has now been live for a year, and we are seeing students feel increasingly comfortable with it, and increasingly confident in preparing for the more flexible, on-demand tests. As a result, pass rates are either remaining steady or are becoming higher, which is great news for our thousands of students looking to progress through their exams as fast as possible”

Dr Noel Tagoe – CIMA executive director of education

The CIMA 2015 Syllabus change was a massive shift in terms of how each subject is examined. It was especially tough for those students who were part way through their studies and had to adapt and decided to sit a case study in the first sitting.

Case Study Results

I feel particularly sorry for the students who sat the OCS in August as only 34% of them passed the exam, which makes me wonder what the reason was. Especially considering that 64% of the students passed in the previous sitting.

Was it simply a tough exam? Or where the questions too vague and difficult to understand the requirements?

In that respect, I consider myself somewhat fortunate to have sat the OCS in November when perhaps they took on board some of the criticisms or feedback from August.

Another interesting point here is how many people passed the MCS (Management Case Study) with the last three sittings getting a 62%, 77% and 78% pass rate. Even the Strategic students had a really healthy pass rate of 70%, 67%, 62% in the same period.

What this could tell us is the fact that by time you reach you the MCS and SCS level you will have the necessary skills and experience to apply yourself well. It’s an interesting thought as I would expect the OCS pass rates to be the highest.

cima_2015_pass

Objective Tests

Personally, I’ve yet to sit an objective test under the 2015 syllabus so I was really interested to see how people get on during 2015.

However, there was nothing really surprising that stood out. The E1, E2 and E3 exams are generally well passed. But the difficulties usually come with trying to pass the Financial Reporting or Performance Management papers.

I am slightly concerned about the pass rate for the P2 and F2 papers – both of which I will tackling in the next six months – only 44% of students passed P2 first time while 47% of students managed to pass F2 first time. So that’s less than a 50% chance of passing my next exams first. <— this reinforces the fact I feel that I will need to work extra hard to pass these papers at the first attempt.

Nevertheless, there was some intriguing reaction on the CIMA group on LinkedIn <— well worth joining if you are not a member already.

The general consensus being that the available exam materials for the objective tests are quite poor and can contain mistakes.

Students are also questioning the amount of time they have to complete the objective tests. Although there was some praise for the BPP materials and CIMA Aptitude materials for the objective tests – so this is worth bearing in mind you are preparing for exam any time soon.

You can find the full list of CIMA 2015 Exam Pass Rates here.

 

The Week Ahead – 25th January 2015

weekahead2

The clock is ticking and we are getting closer to the February sitting of the case study exams. With this in mind, I posted some valuable information last week on the best CIMA mock exam resources as well as how to use the CIMA examiners report.

On to this week and what’s coming up.

Feb 2016 Case Studies

OCS: exams begin from 09/02/16. Read how I passed the Nov OCS here, while there are also some useful resources on the scenario First Class Bakery.

MCS: exams begin from 16/02/16. You can find some free videos here on the pre-seen material of Pizzatime.

SCS: exams begin from 23/02/16. The fashion retailer Rio is the subject of the strategic case study for those students on the final level. Here are some useful resources to get you on your way.

CIMA News

Interested in finding out more about CIMA’s proposed joint venture with the AICPA? Then read this article on the CIMA website.

Do you have file tax returns with HMRC? Well, even if you don’t these top 10 excuses published from HMRC why people haven’t filed their tax returns make for amusing reading. The top 10 excuses article from PQ Magazine can be found here.

The CIMA Student Website

This week I will finally publish the article of the best social media accounts to follow on twitter for CIMA students and accountants.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear from any CIMA student out there who would like to offer some advice on how they are studying for CIMA. Alternatively, if anyone has any specific questions or syllabus areas they would like to see covered on the site then please email me thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com

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The CIMA Examiners Report

CIMA_OCS

One of the most under-rated documents produced by CIMA is the official Examiners Report that is available shortly after the case study exams.

The CIMA examiners report can be used in two different ways.

Firstly, a couple of weeks before you sit any case study I would suggest digging out the report for the previous sitting.

Even though you might think it’s not relevant as it relates to an old case study, the information you can pick up from the examiners report could prove to be the difference between as a pass and a failure.

The main reason I suggest you read the examiners report is that IT’S VITAL INFORMATION THAT HAS COME DIRECTLY FROM THE EXAMINER – it’s free information that CIMA provide and is there to guide students in not repeating the mistakes from previous students.

November 2015 OCS Examiners Report

CIMA released the report for the operational case study from November 2015 and here are the key points made by the examiner. Take notice if you want to understand how to pass CIMA case studies.

  • Overall performance was much better than August sitting (where only 1 in 3 passed).
  • There didn’t appear to be any signs of time pressure from students.
  • Some candidates are wasting time with formatting, report headings and unnecessary introductions comments such as;

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help address your problems, it is my pleasure to help you. Was it July when I produced that cash flow forecast? It seems only yesterday… how time flies”. <—- Whilst the integrated case study is designed to represent a real life work situation, these sorts of comments waste time and score no marks.

  • Many candidate answers would be improved if they added “because of ….” at the end of a sentence to explain their responses.
  • Many candidates used adjectives such as “crucial”, “vital“,“very important“, when asked for benefits or advantages but failed to explain why.
  • Similarly when commenting on variances it is not enough to say that “it is adverse therefore we must have spent more”. To score well the answers must give possible reasons why this is the case. 
  • Candidates struggled applying knowledge from P1 and F1.

I find that the first page of the CIMA examiners report is the most crucial – this is where you will find general feedback from the examiner rather than the specific details of each variant and how they were marked.

So you don’t even need to read the FULL report if you’re struggling for time, the first page is where the most useful comments are.

Post-Exam Reflection

However, as well as using the report to prepare for your case study exam, I believe it’s a useful tool for reflection as well.

The full report includes a breakdown for each variant and goes question by question explaining what was answered well and what areas needed more attention.

I would suggest using the exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report together so you can read through the questions, model answers and the examiners thoughts on how it was answered in reality.

It’s a great way to analyse your performance and identify any weaknesses. This is especially crucial if you are re-sitting the case study in the next sitting.

All of the previous examiners reports are available from the CIMA connect website.

CIMA Mock Exam Resources

The key to passing any CIMA exam is to master the mock exams before you sit the real thing. It’s no use accumulating all of the theory behind the exam if you haven’t taken several mock exams in the lead up to exam day.

This statement rings true for the objective tests and case study exams.

You must really push yourself to take mock exams in test conditions so you are well prepared on the day.

CIMA Case Study Mock Exams

The case study exams require a range of knowledge and skills and none more so than being able to digest the unseen material in the exam and answering the questions in the time available.

Here is a short overview of the FREE case study exam resources.

  • CIMA offer exam practice direct with Pearson VUE here.
  • Astranti offer a FREE mini-mock case study exam that takes 90 minutes to complete and replicates the real scenario you will be facing (see picture below).

mock_1

If you have any additional resources please mention in the comments below for other students to follow.

Tutor Feedback and Exam Marking

The free resources offer a good starting point but I found, when passing the OCS exam in November 2015, that the feedback from a CIMA expert tutor was invaluable and ensured I had an impartial view (and detailed feedback) when marking my mock exams.

Here are the steps I took when sitting the OCS.

  • I refreshed my knowledge on the syllabus areas that would examined. Ensuring I was comfortable with the key models from P1, E1 and F1.
  • I took the three Astranti Mock Exams with tutor feedback that are based on the actual pre-seen material you will be using the exam.
  • A week after sending my mock exam answers to Astranti I received a fully marked document with 9 pages of feedback (see sample below).
  • It’s a brilliant way to identify your weaknesses as well as gaining confidence you are on the right track. In fact one of the questions in the mock exam actually came in my OCS variant in November.

mock_2

If you want to follow the same path you can find the Astranti resources below.

Operational Case Study: OCS Mock Exams

Management Case Study: MCS Mock Exams

Strategic Case Study: SCS Mock Exams

*objective mock exam resources will be posted later in the year once I have some experience with taking the exams under the 2015 syllabus.

The Week Ahead – 4th January 2016

weekahead2

CIMA 2016 Study Plan

A new year brings new hope – but it also brings new challenges and none more so when planning your CIMA studies for the year ahead.
You may be in the middle of a new year detox but take this opportunity to plan your studies. I have gathered a few useful links below that will set you on your way.

You might also want to check out my F2 Advanced Financial Reporting 10 week study plan.

Strategic Level CIMAconnect Study Resources

Management Level CIMAconnect Study Resources 

Operational Level CIMAconnect Study Resources

Feb 2016 Case Studies

The pre-seen material for the SCS is released by CIMA this week, so strategic level students who are preparing for the February case study can get started on their exam preparation.

Meanwhile, the OCS and MCS students should have a made a start in their work for the February exams as their pre-seen was released a week or two ago.

You can find my advice on the OCS First Class Bakery here and the resources for the MCS will be posted later this week.

The CIMA Student website

This week there will be two articles going live on the site this week;

“What’s the difference between CIMA and ACCA?”, while I also look at the P1 subject of budgets and specifically “Beyond Budgeting”

Also, a new feature for 2016 will be the monthly interviews with CIMA students, staff and qualified accountants. So please get in touch if you want to share your experiences and advice.

And finally, don’t forget to pay your annual CIMA subscriptions if you haven’t already, otherwise you won’t be able to register for any exams!

Good Ethics is Good Governance!

photo from cornerstoneondemand.com

photo from cornerstoneondemand.com

The CIMA Code of Ethics is one of those areas you tend to gloss over when studying. It’s not really something I focused on particularly when studying for my E1 exam but after preparing for the Operational Case Study I realised that you can score easy marks by thinking about Ethics in pretty much any scenario.

But trying to remember all of the models and accounting standards can be a minefield. But I found a useful acronym on remembering the key principles of the CIMA code of ethics.

It’s OPPTIC.

I remember this by thinking of alcohol (which usually comes to mind after hours of study and revision) and the drinks optic that’s attached to a bottle of gin or vodka. It stands for:

Objectivity – to look at things from a fair and unbiased point of view and not allowing personal factors to influence decision making.

Professional Competence – having the knowledge and skills required to adequately perform the tasks expected of you.

Professional Behaviour – acting in a manner that is befitting of a professional organisation.

Technical Standards – meeting the standards required by working at a specific organisation.

Integrity – an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honour moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles.

Confidentiality – an expectation to keep sensitive information private.

Ethics in action

Ethics can cover such a broad range of areas too. Almost any topic in the CIMA syllabus you can relate back to ethics. Whether it’s a decision on the product mix of a company or the proposed outsourcing of an area of the business – you can tie it all up with ethics and score some marks in the process.

It wasn’t until I was watching some of the case study preparation videos from Astranti until I realiased that I could be missing out on easy marks by not covering ethics properly.

In fact the title of this post was mentioned in the Astranti text when I was preparing for the OCS “Good ethics is good governance!” was mentioned, And it’s a great point to remember – especially if faced with a governance question in the exams – as it’s the ideal time to refer back to the CIMA code of ethics.

I am also sure (well, maybe more hopeful) that the CIMA exam marker would be a happy marker if they saw students can refer back to the CIMA code of ethics. And a happy marker will hopefully be a generous marker.