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3 Myths to Debunk About CIMA Exams

When we began to design our CIMA case study courses, it became clear that there are 3 myths that students believe. Read on to find out more!


When we began to design our courses for the CIMA case study exams, it became clear that there are 3 myths that students believe. Read on to find out what those myths are and how you can address them!

Myth 1 – “I’ll start my preparation by studying the previous three OT subjects again”. 

Your case study exam is NOT a retest of each of the previous three OT subjects. Yet, time and time again, when we speak to students that have had the misfortune of failing a case study exam, this approach is one of the most common pitfalls.

Many students feel that the case studies are simply testing the information within the OT syllabus areas again, broadly in the same manner. This is simply not the case.

Let’s consider the logic – why would CIMA ask you to sit an exam which basically tests the same thing? If your main preparation is rereading the syllabus areas within your study materials then, in effect, you’re studying the content, but not in the context of the case study exam.

If this is your starting point, then you’re making a big mistake.

Myth 2 – “I need to be an expert in the industry.” 

You DO NOT need to be an expert!

If you look over the examiner’s reports in recent years you will find constant references by examiners that industry knowledge does not get any marks. In other words, if you’re pouring through Google every day trying to get a feel for a particular industry that may be foreign to you, that time is not time well spent.

The case study exam is NOT a test of your expertise in a given industry. Of course, the imaginary company in the case study exam may well be an industry you’re familiar with it, but expertise is absolutely not required in order to pass.

All that you require, and we will provide you with this within our case study courses, is a general ‘feel’ for the industry. But a bit like Myth 1, the number of times we have seen and heard students suffer the misfortune of failing a case study exam, claiming “Well, I felt I knew the industry quite well and spent a lot of time researching it”, is staggering.

Myth 3 – “I can pass without attempting mock exams under full exam conditions”

The good news is that this myth is probably the one that’s easiest to deal with, as there is a strong correlation between the number of mock exams that you sit under full exam conditions and your chances of passing the exam.

Given that we know you know this, why is it that students tend to think that they can pass their case study exam without having actually attempted one, if not three or more, prior to the big day?

We think there are a couple of reasons. And unfortunately, one of them is that, and we know this from our own personal experiences of sitting exams, a mock is hard work!

We know that it’s easier to perhaps research the industry or a section of notes on P3 or E1 or F2. Of course, it is. But you simply must practise mock exams. We provide within our courses high-level, exam-like mock exams for you to get practising with.

Note that when we say sit a mock exam under full exam conditions, we mean exactly that. Find somewhere quiet and dedicate three hours to doing a mock exam literally from start to finish, as best you can.

The key thing during this process is your follow-up, i.e. your comparison, and your performance against the mobile solution. And this is where gaining access to our markers will come in extremely handy.

Ultimately, if you want to optimise your mark on the day and pass the first time around, you simply have to do mock exams.

Learnsignal’s Case Study Courses

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Our case study courses are split into two distinct phases:

Phase 1: Case Study Kickstart

Kickstart is designed to help students pass their case study exams the first time. Kickstart resources are available anywhere, anytime i.e. students do not need to wait for the pre-seen to be released before commencing their study.

These resources are there for you to absorb the concept of case study exams and really understand what CIMA are looking for:

  • Case study exam approach
  • How to use the pre-seen
  • Strategic analysis
  • Syllabus transition guides
  • Key dos and don’ts
  • Gateway transition guides

As Kickstart resources are accessible anywhere, anytime. let’s get started and let’s get started early! Our advice do not wait until the pre-seen information is out as you will have enough to do from that moment onwards.

Phase 2: Pre-seen Material and Webinar Series 

Phase two resources are released on the same day that students receive their pre-seen.

This phase is designed to give you a real feel for the company and industry detailed in the case study and to ultimately act as a support to drive you towards success from week one through to exam week.

Our webinar series is an integral part of all our case study courses. These 6-part webinars are hosted by Learnsignal’s case study expert, Paul Russell that runs for 6 weeks up to your exam.

Strategic analysis, mock exam walkthroughs and how to build a passing script are just some of the key topics addressed throughout the series. Each webinar will also have a dedicated Q&A session, open to all participants. 

OT Revision

You should be aware that you have access to all 9 OT courses within the Learnsignal portal, as well as your case study resources and supports.

This means that you can easily switch from the case study areas to the subject content if you feel you are weak in a particular area.

Bear in mind what we advised previously: simply rereading the OT study materials should not be your starting point for approaching a case study exam.

Revising OT content within the case study exam context is recommended.

Gateway Students

Within our Management Case Study course, students will find tailored resources aimed at Gateway students.

Students entering the CIMA qualification via the Gateway route are often at a disadvantage over those who have worked their way up the exams and levels as they are not familiar with the CIMA language and style of exam.

Often, the Gateway exam, or Management Case Study exam, is the very first-time Gateway students will sit an exam in the CBE environment. This can prove challenging or daunting at the very least.

Our Gateway resources are there to alleviate such fears and provide a guide as to how students who have never sat a CIMA exam should tackle their case study.

Final thoughts

So there you have it, 3 myths that you shouldn’t believe if you want to pass your CIMA case study exams.

You may be tempted to try and take shortcuts to pass your exams but ultimately it’s about being prepared and focused in the lead up and having a good exam technique on the day itself.

If you would like any advice or information just get in touch with our tutor support team using the chat function on our site today.

Brian Rose
5 min read

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