Why Students Fail Case Study Exams

13th Jul 2021

Why Students Fail Case Study Exams

From afar, CIMA’s Case Study exams can seem like an intimidating prospect. This unique assessment format thrusts students into the roles of finance professionals within fictitious organisations and asks them to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained to real world situations.

This is extremely beneficial as it gives students a taste of what to expect in the professional environment. However, this comes with its own set of challenges and hiccups that can trip up even the most well studied students.

Here are 4 of the most common reasons why students are unsuccessful when writing Case Study exams:

1. Lack of Theory Knowledge

You have to know the theory in order to apply it.

CIMA’s flexible course structure means that a large amount of time can elapse between the completion of your OT’s and attempting the Case Study exam. You might also have been exempted from certain subjects and not covered their content prior to writing the CS. It is vital to ensure you know the content of the E, P & F subjects well before attempting a CS exam.

2. Lack of Pre-Seen Knowledge

You MUST know the pre-seen inside out.

Eat, breathe and sleep the inner workings of the fictitious organisation on which your CS assessment will be based. It is virtually impossible to do well in a Case Study examination without being an expert on said Case Study.

3. Lack of Explanation 

Explain your answers clearly and in detail.

Never assume your marker is familiar with the CIMA syllabus and the pre-seen, or well versed in financial concepts and the effects thereof. Simply saying ‘It increased/decreased’ or ‘it is positive/negative’ is not enough. Remember to always use the word ‘because’ when explaining your answer. e.g.: ‘the price variance is adverse because’, this will force you to elaborate, giving a more meaningful answer in the process.

4. Answer Confidently

You will be asked to analyse a situation and make recommendations based on the scenario. Pick a side and stick to it. Remember, you are the Finance Professional and your organisation is counting on your judgement. Be brave and have the courage to stand by your recommendations. Sitting on the fence will only result in you not scoring any marks at all.