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How to pass CIMA’s case study exams

CIMA logo and Kaplan tutor Andrew Mower
Andrew Mower - Kaplan tutor
By Andrew Mower, Tutor Link to Andrew Mower's LinkedIn profile

Experienced Kaplan tutor, Andrew Mower, gives expert advice on how to pass your case study exams.

Plan your answer

When you read your tasks, summarise what you’re actually being asked. Jot them down on your whiteboard, or as headings in your answer box. More often than not, tasks are split into multiple parts, so if you plan your answer you’re less likely to miss something.

Timing is vital

When planning your answer, give each requirement a time scale. Unless one requirement is bigger than the rest, it’s a good idea to split your time equally. Remember - once the time stops on a task, you can’t go back.

For example:

If the exam starts at 10am, and there are three tasks within the exam, a suggestion of timings could be as follows:

  • 10.00am - 10.10am - reading and planning (10 mins)
  • 10.10am - 10.35am - requirement 1 (25 mins)
  • 10.35am - 11.00am - requirement 2 (25 mins)

If you’re strict with your timings you shouldn’t write more for one requirement than the other, and then run out of time.

Start strong

Whilst tasks are in a set order, the requirements of each task aren’t. This means you can tackle them in any order - but it’s best to submit them in the order they’re asked.

But this means you can focus first on the requirements you’re more confident about - the easy marks. This will also boost your confidence, and you may be more prepared to tackle the harder one afterwards.

Structure your answer

Don’t just blurt everything out. You need to make it coherent, so it’s best to structure your answer with headings, subheadings, short concise paragraphs and a neat conclusion. It’ll make your answer easier to understand, but will also help you write it.

Know the pre-seen information and apply it

This is key. Going into the exam you should know the company really well and know the key facts and figures like the back of your hand. This really helps to apply your knowledge to the company and get the marks.

Did you know?

We are the official publisher of CIMA study materials and the only training provider to work with CIMA directly. All our materials are examined by CIMA before we publish.

Markers don’t want generic answers - they want answers that tie back to the company. Referring to the company, and specific people’s names in your answer, is a good way to ensure you are applying it to your case study. As well as demonstrating you have picked up information from the pre-seen.

Keep typing

The more you write, the better chance you’ll have of scoring well. So just keep writing, you can’t lose marks, but watch your timings and stick to what you have worked on.

Practice makes perfect

It’s vital to practice applying the knowledge you have learnt at the Objective Test papers into structured reports. If you are doing the Operational Case Study this will be your first time writing reports for a CIMA exam. I would suggest you look at past exam questions or see if you can find some resources on your live pre-seen.

I strongly encourage you to submit answers to your Kaplan tutor. By doing this they can give you guidance as well as giving you advice on style, structure and generally answering the question.

Final words

My last message to you is to say ‘good luck’ in your exams. If you work hard, and are confident you've done the best you can, then I'm sure you'll get the results you need.