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Excelling In CIMA Case Study Examinations


The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK conducts three case study examinations at each of the professional levels – Operational, Management and Strategy. These case study examinations are mandatory part of the professional cost and management accounting online course  qualification. Each of these case studies are aimed to test the student’s knowledge acquired from each of three subjects in three levels and three pillars which are, enterprise, finance and performance pillars.

Remember, you will proceed to the next level of the professional course only when you complete respective case study examination at each level. Just to mention, a student appearing for Operational Level examinations will proceed to next level, Management Level, only after he/she successfully completes the Operational Case Study (OCS) examination.

What Is CIMA Case Study?

CIMA case study examinations assess your understanding of the application of various concepts, technical aspects related to management learnt from three subjects pertaining to each level.

A pre-seen material is provided to the candidate several weeks before the examination which would contain a fictional company with simulated scenario that closely resemble a real-world company. On the day of examination, students are provided with additional information regarding the simulated company as described in pre-seen material. This additional information is called un-seen material. Students should bear in mind each level of case study differs from one another and are taken different industrial environment.

You, the students, will be made to play the role in financial function as junior officer (in operational case study), manager (in management case study) or senior manager (in strategic case study).  You are expected to provide or act as per the role given in each case study. For instance, you will adorn the role of finance officer in OCS, Senior Manager in Strategic Case Study (SCS).

These case study examinations have four windows per year for students to attempt – February, May, August and November each year. These case study examinations are detailed answers and are not in the form of multiple-choice questions. Students are provided with four to five new scenarios in the un-seen examinations which would elicit a detailed analysis and demonstrating understanding of basic concepts learnt from each subjects. This would include applying correct management and financial accounting framework.

Students are expected to provide a plausible conclusion to each of the un-seen scenarios. Remember, there are no correct or wrong answers, it is students’ perception of each scenarios. So, they are expected to justify their recommendations backed by strong arguments.

Examiners mark the answers which carry strong justifications. Application of correct concepts in the answer augurs well with them. Cross reference to real-world company that operates in the same industry buys their acceptance well.


Pre-Seen Material - Overview:

The pre-seen material is given with details / story-board containing 20 pages of information about a fictional company about five to six weeks before the case study exam. Typically, the the pre-seen material contains - 

  • A detailed background about the company in case study,

  • Both local and global (if required) markets the company play,

  • The fictional company’s activity depending on their business activity,

  • Product-wise description of the company,

  • Composition of the Board and Management teams with their hierarchy,

  • Financial statements of both fictional company and its competitors

  • Press reports

The objective of five to six-week window of pre-seen material allows students to get themselves acclimatized with the activities and other key information about the fictional company in question. However, remember, pre-seen material is also available in the digital format when students take the examination along with un-seen scenarios just in case if a student wants to make a quick reference.


5 Essential Actions You Need To Take To Prepare Yourself For Your Case Study:

Inadequate preparation is a primary cause of high rate of student failure in the case study examinations. We, however based on our past experience, have following advice to make to those students who are attempting case study examinations. Strict adherence to the following advise would only help you secure success and achieve your dream qualification – ACMA.

1 - Read, Carefully Examine, And Analyze The Pre seen Material

Understanding the pre-seen material is the most crucial aspect of your preparation. We suggest you thoroughly read it for multiple times to gain familiarity and better understanding of the company and its operation in the case study. 

2 - Research The Industry The Pre-Seen Company Operates In

Research the sector in which the fictional company functions. It's essential to have a strong understanding about the industry which helps significantly during the un-seen exams effectively. Also, ensure that advice you provide for the industry is relevant to the challenges and is latest. Hence, researching the industry and familiarizing yourself with real-life examples is beneficial for integrating into your responses. This effort makes CIMA the best Management Accounting course worldwide.

3 - Mock Tests:

The majority of your preparation time should be devoted to completing full mock exams, which are imperatively conducted under exam conditions. We suggest completing at least 5 full mock exams, but the more you can do, the better! This will help you equip yourself well with your technique in answering and align with the marking criteria.

When undertaking mock exams, it is crucial to adhere to exam conditions. It entails eliminating all distractions (and study materials) and adhering to the same time constraints as in the actual exam. 

Do not lose hope if you fail in the mock tests, because such failures are only giving scope of improvement in your answer. Explore those loose ends and fix it and attempt another time. By the time you are ready to sit for the examination, you have enough ammunition in your armour.

4 - Understanding Assessment Criteria:

One of the most important things in preparing yourself for the case study exams is equipping yourself with the evaluation criteria for your CIMA case study examination and ensuring you understand and significantly utilize all the material!

5 – Reading Examiners Report:

Study previous examiner's reports and avoid repeating the errors made by other candidates and increase your likelihood of exam success! Examiners offer an assessment of the examination and advice on areas where candidates performed strongly, and areas where they perform less! It is advisable to review these reports as a component of your exam readiness.

6 – Practice, practice and practice

The only way to triumph in case study examinations is to practice your answers. Do not become complacent if you have scored a pass in the mocks, always imagine there is a surprise element lurking in the corner. Simulate such scenario and practice your answer more. Leave no surprise for yourself. And no success comes without practice. So, dedicate time for practicing the answers.

Excelling in CIMA case study examinations is not just about fulfilling a requirement but seizing a significant opportunity for accomplishing your professional qualification, even better, prestigious ACMA from CIMA UK. These examinations assess technical knowledge, practical application, and ethical decision-making skills within a business context. To excel, thorough preparation is key. Understanding and analyzing the pre-seen material, researching the industry, completing full mock exams under exam conditions, familiarizing oneself with the assessment criteria, and studying previous examiners' reports are essential. 

By diligently following these strategies, candidates can increase their likelihood of success on exam day and open doors to new career opportunities in professional management accounting.

AKONTZ gives a detailed assessment of all case study pre-seen materials and focus on chapters which can expected to be tested in the examinations.