“I hesitate to say this, but I actually quite enjoyed the format of this exam!” – by a February 2015 Operational Case Study Prizewinner

“I hesitate to say this, but I actually quite enjoyed the format of this exam!” – by a February 2015 Operational Case Study Prizewinner


Feedback from another Global Prizewinner, Richard, on his success in February 2015.

His comments on application certainly ring true following the examiner’s report stating that students who failed, generally produced textbook answers and lacked any application to the pre-seen.

How did the case study exam compare to what you had expected? 
In general, it was in line with my expectations. The exam wasn’t just asking me to repeat definitions and facts that I had memorised, which is a structure used by many exams. It was more about testing that I really understood the context behind different parts of the syllabus, and that I was able to communicate these concepts clearly and concisely. I hesitate to say this, but I actually quite enjoyed the format of this exam!

The main thing that surprised me in the exam was how I was expecting the questions to relate more closely to the pre-seen material. Most of the questions were quite general and could be applied to any company. The challenge was then working out how this should be applied in the context of the bottled water company that we were looking at.

I recommend reading Richard’s complete blog post and reflect on his tips for success.

Have a clear study plan and study frequently in order to build up knowledge and skills

Evelina, Global Prize Winner for Operational Integrated Case Study in February 2015, has shared her thoughts on the exam.

You can view the whole article here: –


Her biggest challenge and how she overcome it certainly provides food for thought for others who have either passed a E1, F1 or P1 under the 2010 syllabus or have received an exemption from a previous qualification.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge in the Operational Case Study preparation was F1 course content since I received an exemption from that exam. However I still decided to study for F1 exam in order to make sure that I have the required knowledge for the case study. This meant I had to study for F1 and the Operational Case Study simultaneously.

I tried to cover the main topics of F1 and understand the accounting treatment, therefore I followed the BPP online lectures and also the Operational Case Study Workbook was very useful including many practice examples.

Understanding roles to help your case study approach

Understanding roles to help your case study approach!


A recent article from CIMA highlighting the importance of understanding your role within the case study environment in order to frame your answer within the context of your role, the organisation you work for and ultimately to add value!

Examiner’s Report – Ops ICS May 2015

2015.05-Ops ICS-Examiner’s Report

Here’s the Examiner’s Report from the May 2015 Managerial Case Study sitting.

As candidate numbers increased this sitting, CIMA deployed all five variants of the exam and reported that some candidates produced excellent answers, some poor or partially complete. Most candidates produced mid-range answers.

Despite the introduction of forced time management, CIMA reported most candidates were well prepared deal with it and there was little evidence of time pressure and that incomplete answers were as a result of knowledge gaps rather than time pressure itself.

Tips for future candidates (page 12) again highlight that a lack of application to the scenario and that rote learned answers will score very little marks, always consider how the point you make in your answer relates to the pre-seen/task information in order for it to add value.

Although the MD/FD may suggest a model or theory to apply, don’t be afraid of nailing your colours to the mast and giving clear advice as to why their suggestion may be suitable or not within the context of your task.

E1, F1 and P1 syllabi are examinable in full, ensure that you address any knowledge gaps, especially if you passed one of the modules prior to January 2010 or have an exemption from another qualification. 64% of the marks come from technical knowledge, so

Finally, focus on getting to grips with the scenario and pre-seen, Merchants! See my other post with a suggestion of how to get up to speed with the pre-seen.

Getting up to Speed with the Pre-seen


I found this article today on CIMA’s website, which you may have already seen. This provides a useful guide of how you should get up to speed with the pre-seen information in advance of your exam.

Notice on the bottom of page 1, CIMA confirm “the case writers seek inspiration for their cases in what is happening in the real world, looking for business contexts, industries or issues which are topical and interesting. The case writers will regularly read the financial pages of quality newspapers in their search for new ideas so it would be a good idea if you did, too”.

I will be posting links to articles that I think are relevant for you to consider how they could appear in your exam, so please follow my blog.

CIMA have also produced a good range of DOs and DON’Ts to help you avoid common mistakes in preparing for the case study exam.

Past Exam Tasks – Ops ICS – February 2015

The CIMA Examiner will prepare five variants of the Ops ICS exam for each quarterly sitting, I recommend that as part of your exam preparation, you review the documentation from the February 2015 sitting.

DO NOT consider the Valley Spring case at all! Use the tasks to review your approach to identifying the requirements within each task, ensure you have the technical knowledge required to respond accordingly to each task or address your own knowledge gaps. In addition to this, you should also be mindful of the areas that the Examiners Report identifies students struggled with.

Whilst undertaking your own review, identify if any of the technical knowledge required in each task may be relevant to Merchants and thus developing your skill of application to the scenario to tailor your answer and improve your marks overall.

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 1-Exam Answer

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 1-Marking Guide

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 1-Tasks

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 2-Exam Answer

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 2-Marking Guide

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 2-Tasks

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 3-Exam Answer

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 3-Marking Guide

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 3-Tasks

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 4-Exam Answer

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 4-Marking Guide

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 4-Tasks

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 5-Exam Answer

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 5-Marking Guide

2015.02-Ops ICS-Variant 5-Tasks

Examiner’s Report – Ops ICS February 2015

2015.02-Ops ICS-Examiner’s Report

The inaugural Operational ICS Examiner’s Report highlighted that the majority of candidates were well prepared for their exam and naturally demonstrated the competencies of business acumen and people skills in their answer.

Candidates must be prepared for an examination that covers the syllabi for E1, F1 and P1. It is also worth highlighting that the examiner has stated in the report that each variant has technical integration marks for being able to link knowledge and content from different pillars.

Time management is a major factor within the exam, the first time CIMA (or any professional body) have introduced forced time management at a task level, within a professional stage exam. Each task will have a pre-determined time allocation within which candidates are required to read the information, identify the requirements and respond. Spending too long thinking or planning at the expense of writing, or vice-versa and candidates will not be considered competent. I find it incredibly reassuring that despite the challenges the forced time management presents, that “virtually all candidates” completed answers for each section.

A major area of concern is that some candidates rote learned answers, which will not attract credit within the context of any case study examination as you are required to assume the role of an employee within the company specified, Valley Spring. Answers lacking any application or reference to the scenario will not have scored well and would fail to add any value for Valley Spring (see page 12).

I recommend that you review the examiners report in detail to identify any knowledge gaps that you may have and those areas where students struggled in order to ensure that you are prepared for those issues in your own exam.

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