Friday, 18 December 2015

Tips for Effective Industry Research

Today I came across an old article from one of our many esteemed affiliates, Matthew Evans. The article is centred around 5 tips for the best approach to take when analysing the case study industry.

Although the article relates specifically to the old T4 exam, the principles remain the same for the OCS. The industry analysis is an important part of the case studies now, with recent examiner's reports referring directly to the proper use of industry analysis within the exams. Although the company is at the centre of the case study, with a little bit of industry information provided alongside this, the examiners have highlighted the importance of not simply reciting the information found in the case study. 

Further research can have many benefits for your exam. For example it can help to back up certain theories or statements made within your answers and help to convey those key points by giving them context. Also, let's be honest, with so many exams to mark, the examiners will undoubtedly become bored of the same information being recited back to them from the case study. The industry analysis therefore gives you the opportunity to make your answers really stand out, as long as the information used is correct and relevant of course!

So as promised, here are the 5 tips on how to address the industry analysis...

Step 1: Set yourself a time limit

Conducting industry research can be a huge task, with some industries seemingly going on and on forever. It is important therefore that you do not get sucked into spending hours and hours compiling hundreds of examples, with very little context and relevance. The tip therefore is to set a time limit for this initial gathering of information, perhaps spending an hour or two each evening compiling a list of 30 or so industry examples, articles or key points, with each one explained to the appropriate level of detail.

Step 2: Use the main issues as keywords

The pre-seen case study will have a number of key issues that may or may not be clearly highlighted, (if you can find these then that's great, if you can't you may want to refer to Astranti's Top 10 Issues, where they have done most of this work for you). During your industry analysis, it is important to keep the key issues in mind, as it will help to give your points/examples/articles more relevance to the exam.

Step 3: Skim reading

A useful skill to have in any form of research, is to be able to skim through large documents, articles and banks of information, whilst being able to pick out the key terms that are relevant to your research. 
Not only will this allow your research to be more relevant, given the context of the case study, but it will also save a great deal of time and effort. 

Step 4: Summarising key points

Creating a series of summary paragraphs with a set structure will help you to choose the best parts of your industry analysis. By making sure that a certain few questions are answered with each paragraph, you will be able to see the relevance of your research much clearer. Some example questions could be:

  • Who is the real world company?
  • What are the specific figures involved?
  • What benefits/problems does the example provide?
  • How does this relate to the case study company?
Step 5: Practice, practice, practice!

By using practice exams you will be able to develop you ability of applying your industry findings to the case study under exam conditions. If you complete multiple practice exams before the final exam, each will highlight a different issue, helping you to adapt your knowledge and application of your industry analysis for each new exam.

In order to save you even more time when it comes to industry research and analysis, Astranti have created an Industry Analysis pack as part of the overall pre-seen package, with you can view samples of here: Astranti Pre-seen Materials

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