CIMA Case Study: Issues Vs. Solutions


Most students find the case study exams to be hard, relative to OTQ exams. According to the examiner, the key reasons for failure are the lack of understanding of the case study (pre-seen) and not being able to understand the exact requirement of questions.

Let’s have a look at common mistakes made by candidates when attempting CIMA case study exams. We have provided solutions for each issue to ensure that you pass comfortably.


Issue 1: Over analyzing the pre-seen and the industry


Most students spend too much time and effort trying to decrypt the pre-seen document, with the intention of finding hints about probable questions or scenarios that can be tested in the exam. Further, too much effort is put into industry analysis, which goes against the guidance provided by the examiner.

Over analyzing the pre-seen carries little significance, so is an excessive industry analysis. Note that the examiner does not expect you to be an industry expert and no marks are allocated for industry knowledge.

Solution: You can simply refer to the Annotated Pre-seen and the Industry Analysis documents, both of which are prepared by our Lead Tutors. The information highlighted on these documents will help you remember only the most important points. 

Both documents are concise, downloadable, and easy to use. Click to access samples of the Annotated Pre-seen and Industry Analysis documents.


Issue 2: Excessively revising the OTQ syllabus content


It is important that you have a good understanding about concepts and theories which are covered under each OTQ subject. However, just because you understand all concepts, it does not mean that you can easily pass the case study exam.

At the case study exam, the examiner is testing the business readiness of each candidate. Hence, over emphasizing or replicating theoretical knowledge in your exam (unless otherwise stipulated in the question) should be avoided. Instead, you should possess the ability of relating these concepts to the facts or issues highlighted in the un-seen.

Solution: You can simply refer to OTQ Revision Cards provided by TCS, which are concise and easy to use. All relevant syllabus content is summarized in a way to highlight the main points under each syllabus area, especially keeping the structure of case study exams in mind. Click to access a sample of Revision Cards: F1


Issue 3: Over reliance on past exam variants


This is a common issue faced by many students attempting case study exams. The past exam variants provide a glimpse into the type of questions which appeared in previous exam sittings. However, the past variants are based on a different pre-seen document, which is gravely different to the pre-seen which is relevant to your exam.

For instance, if your pre-seen is based on a manufacturing company, relating to past variants applicable to a company in the service sector adds little value and usually leads to confusion. Further, referring to past variants which are irrelevant to your pre-seen leads to information overload and ultimately becomes an added strain, especially closer to the exam.

Solution: The best and only solution is to refer to exam standard mock exams and suggested answers, which are relevant to your exact pre-seen. TCS offers 5 exam standard mock exams and suggested answers, and these mocks are all you need when practicing questions.


Issue 4: Not attempting mock exams


This is a cardinal sin and it is impossible to pass the exam without practicing mock exams. In fact, the case study exam is structured in a way to test how you can apply the knowledge gained via OTQ content to real business situations. Even if you aced your OTQ exams, it does not mean that you can pass the case study without attempting mock exams.

Solution: It is mandatory that you attempt at least 5 exam standard mock exams. Further, it is better if you can seek personalized feedback from an experienced evaluator on at least 3 mocks. Additionally, it is beneficial to attempt mock exams under exam conditions via an exam platform which is akin to the Pearson VUE platform.

It is further recommended to start attempting mock exams, a week after the pre-seen is made public. Then you will have enough time to attempt mock exams and seek personalized feedback. After going through the feedback, it is recommended to re-attempt the same mock and compare your answer with the suggested answer to finetune your answers.

Click to access samples of a Mini Mock Exam & Suggested Answers and to access a sample of Personalized Tutor Feedback provided by TCS.


Issue 5: Inability to identify important information and requirements highlighted in each task


As per the CIMA examiner’s report, this is one of the most common issues faced by students. Most students lack the capability to understand the exact requirement of each task and end up providing irrelevant answers. Further, students miss important information highlighted in the unseen which should be always considered when providing answers.

When faced with such issues, there is a tendency for students to provide general or highly theoretical answers which are not in line with the requirement of the task.

Solution: You need to devote time to read the question, pick important information, understand the exact requirement of the question, and develop answer plans. The answer plan should be cross-referenced with the requirement of the task to figure out whether your answer is line with the exact requirement. If not, you can amend your answer plan before typing the answer.

Click to access TCS’s guidance on Answer Planning Technique


Issue 6: Mismanaging time


This is one of the most common issues which leads to a sure failure. Most students, although having the knowledge to provide answers, panic and end up providing rushed, generic, or partially accurate answers when pressurized by time.

Solution: As per the examiner, 1/3 of your time should be allocated towards reading the question and developing answer plans and 2/3 of your time should be allocated to type answers. You need to stick to this methodology when practicing mock exams which will ensure that you will never run out of time at the real exam.


Concluding thoughts


Most students fail due to a lack an understanding of the case study exam. Further, most students expect to pass the exam, without using exam standard study material. To avoid these issues and pass first time, keep practicing the solutions which we have highlighted on this article.

Read the blogpost CIMA Case Study: Examiner’s Comments to further understand the requirements of the examiner.



Looking to pass your case study exam in the first sitting? You are just a click away. We at TCS provide exam standard mock exams and suggested answers, along with premium quality additional material which consists of videos and content which are concise and downloadable. In fact, all our products come with a Pass Guarantee!

You can attempt all mock exams under real exam conditions via our very own exam platform, which is akin to the platform of Pearson VUE. Professional feedback is provided for three mock exams and all answer scripts will be marked by our Lead Tutors with more than 10 years of CIMA tutoring experience.

You will also have access to the online discussion forum moderated by TCS’s Lead Tutors and you can share your knowledge, clarify doubts, and connect with Lead Tutors and colleagues 24/7, via the discussion forum.

Checkout our website on to get a glimpse into the type of services offered by TCS. You can also gain an insight into the quality of material provided by TCS by referring to the sample material which are included under each product page.

You can access the free content by accessing our website. The free content consists of pre-seen analysis video 01, video on exam technique and a mini mock exam and suggested answers.

Nic Jones