The May 2016 CIMA Operational Case Study Examiner's Report has just been released – as always it contains valuable information for students about to take their CIMA exams.
It amazes me that so many CIMA students don't pay attention to the Examiners' Reports. After all, they are the people you need to impress on the big day!
These reports highlight the same old issues that come up time and time again. They summarise the mistakes students are making in the exams and give important and helpful advice on areas they should improve.
Make sure you don't ignore these! To help you out we've captured the key points from the May report here:
Getting to the point
The first point made by the examiner is about candidate's getting to the point with their answers.
As the examiners put it:
“It is not necessary to write long introductions that explain the business context. Nor is it necessary to embellish the back story to the case. Some candidates are still wasting time giving extraneous information. There are no marks for introductions or setting the scene; candidates need to address the task being asked and no more.”
It's important to assess what the question is asking of you and ensure your answer addresses this as directly as possible.
It can be tempting to feel like you need to make your answer as long as possible by embellishing it with extra information. However this will not get you any extra marks, so try to answer exactly what the question is asking of you.
Application is key
In a similar theme to what is mentioned above, the examiners also stress the importance of application:
“Application to the scenario is key to achieving a good mark. Simply reproducing rote-learned answers or pure knowledge of a topic area will score very few, if any, marks. Similarly taking a scatter gun approach to an issue and commenting on everything that you know about it from a theoretical point of view will score few marks.”
Simply explaining a theory you know will not get you any marks, unless you can apply it to the scenario that you are faced with.
Planning your answers
This is a point which we have raised on numerous occasions, and it is one which the examiners also suggest is important:
“It is important to take time to plan your answer so that you are able to apply your knowledge to the specifics of the case. I would suggest that for certain tasks you plan your answers in the answer screen itself. This will allow you time to think about all of the points that you want to make and will help to give your answer a clear format. Ultimately, it should save you time.”
Answer planning is a skill which you should factor in to your revision as it really will benefit you in the exam if you use it correctly.
It's tempting for students to feel like they need to rush straight into their answers because of the time pressure, however as the examiners suggest, you could actually save time by planning your answer first.
Success in a case study exam relies on effective analysis of the pre-seen. This is something which cannot be stressed enough and it is a point which the examiners again make:
“Preparation on the pre-seen material is vital. Ensure that you are very familiar with the business, especially the financial information, before the exam as this will help you with applying your knowledge and will save you time. Similarly, an awareness of the industry that the business is in will help you to think of the wider issues that might impact on decisions that you could be asked to comment on.”
The point raised by the examiner is interesting in that it mentions the need to take your pre-seen analysis further. Not only do they recommend you analyse the pre-seen company, but also analyse the industry in which it operates.
This analysis will help with that all important application that the examiners remind us is so important.
Materials to help
We have materials which can specifically help to address the issues raised above. Why not take a look through our OCS resources?