CIMA Case Study Results Explained

In anticipation of CIMA May 2016 results being announced, CIMA have produced an article to explain the results.

The original article can be found here.

Operational Case Study Exam

 Grade descriptors for Case Study exams
Administrator, Editor, Moderator, Staff
20th June 2016

As part of our efforts to improve your learning experience while studying the CIMA Professional Qualification, we are publishing new “grade descriptors” to help you understand your case study exam results feedback across the competencies. Grade descriptors will be implemented from May Case Study exam results onwards.

How should I interpret my case study exam results?

Up to now Case Study exam results have been communicated with:

1. An overall grade (Pass/Fail)

2. A scaled score between 0 – 150 (80 or above representing a pass)

3. Sectional Feedback (An indication of performance against each of the four competencies and integration)

To pass you need to score 80+ and reach a minimum threshold score for each competency (approximately one third of the total marks available for that competency) and Integration.

The only exception to this is Operational level where the marks available for Leadership and Integration are only a small proportion of those available and so it would not be meaningful to set a minimum threshold. No candidate will fail at Operational level on Leadership or Integration for this reason.

Please note the passing criteria above remain unchanged, it is the feedback we provide on your performance across the competencies which has been improved. So, in terms of your overall grade: 

Pass Fail

Sectional feedback

The sectional feedback looks at how you performed against each of the four competencies (Technical, Business, People and Leadership skills) and Integration. This is all aligned to the CGMA Competency Framework. Reflecting the knowledge and skills employers told us they expect to see from finance professionals, at various levels in their organisations.  The framework is what sets the CIMA Professional Qualification and you as a CIMA student apart from other similar qualifications.

Success in the Case Study exams demonstrates your all round competence and employability. Successfully passing your case study exams gives employers the reassurance of your workplace readiness and that you are equipped with the appropriate skills and abilities to perform well in your role. Whether that’s as a Finance Officer (Operational level), Business/Finance Manager (Management level/CIMA Gateway) or CFO/ Senior Business/Finance Manager (Strategic level).

It’s important that you demonstrate your ability across the four competencies as well as scoring enough marks to pass the case study exam. For each competency you will receive a performance rating from one of three categories as shown below:


Grade descriptions are a very useful and objective way of describing the standards of achievement likely to have been demonstrated by candidates awarded a particular level of performance.

The new grade descriptors

Grade descriptions are a very useful and objective way of describing the standards of achievement likely to have been demonstrated by candidates awarded a particular level of performance.

For each level of the case study exam (Operational, Management and Strategic), we have developed a set of grade descriptors to map the performance ratings above (Fail, Moderate and Strong against each competency and Integration.

The grade descriptors are based on the skills and/or abilities expected for different roles. They are part of a holistic system which recognises links between categories and progression between levels. Few of you are likely to be “moderate” or “strong” across or even within all competences. Most exam performance will be a mixture of the categories. Your final result will reflect where you sit overall. Remember, a good in depth answer to all parts of the task requirements will hit the competencies and integration and is the best way to prepare to pass.

How should I use the grade descriptors?

The descriptors at each level are applicable across all variants and case study sessions and they offer a consistent way to feedback on your performance in the exam. Essentially they show you what you are aiming for and will help identify where your performance in an individual competency may have fallen short of the general standard for the level of case study you sat. They are best used in conjunction with the syllabus content and all other study resources available for the case study exams.  When preparing for the exam, you can use them to benchmark your performance and see what you need to achieve to become “exam ready”.

If you have performed strongly across all competencies, the grade descriptors will highlight what you should continue to do and which skills you can build on for future exams.

If you have failed a case study, they will be particularly useful when used in conjunction with other case study resources on CIMAconnect, including the post exam kit for your variant and the “walkthroughs” of real case study answers (available soon) which will illustrate how they can be used to review performance.

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