CIMA Case Study: Reasons for Failure

CIMA Case Study: Reasons for Failure


In my CIMA tutoring career, I’ve met students who have repeated their case study exams on multiple occasions. In fact, most repeaters had attempted exams more than thrice. However, after using TCS’s material and tutor support, all these students passed in the first sitting itself!

I wanted to know why students end up failing multiple times. So, I conducted a survey based on repeaters as well as students who pass first time. I also had a chat with Shah and Jared (both Lead Tutors at TCS), to gather insights into why students end up failing.

These were our findings.


Reason 1: Lack of exam practice


This is the largest contributor towards failure. Most students think that they can easily pass a case study exam, just because they have memorized OTQ syllabus content. Note that the case study exams are structured in a way to test whether a candidate can apply knowledge to a practical business situation, rather than replicate highly theoretical answers.

To excel in a case study exam, you need to be aware of exam technique, and practice at least 5 exam standard mock exams. This will help you understand the depth of answers to be provided, at the same time help you get accustomed to real exam conditions.

For instance, if you are supposed to gain 10 marks, you will have to mention 8 to 10 valid points in your answer. Writing 15 points, just because you are comfortable with the question does not mean that you will gain additional marks.

That is why you need to go through the suggested answers after practicing mock exams. TCS’s suggested answers will help you understand the type of answers the examiner expects you to provide. In fact, understanding the examiner’s requirement and sticking to it will help you pass the exam for sure.


Reason 2: Not adhering to a properly thought-out study plan


You just have 6 weeks between the pre-seen release and the exam. Since most students are into full time employment, it is essential that candidates stick to a well-thought-out study plan.

As per my experience, I’ve found out that most students are clueless about study planning. They either come up with a plan on their own or just listen to their colleagues.

Instead, it is recommended to stick to a study plan devised by someone with experience about CIMA case study exams. In fact, we at TCS have prepared our very own guidance, highlighting what needs to be covered under a study plan. This study plan will ensure that you utilize the limited time at your disposal in the smartest manner, without disrupting your daily lifestyle.

Refer to the blogpost The Pre-seen is Out. What Now?  to gain an insight into what needs to be covered when developing a study plan.

Additionally, you can get in touch with TCS’s tutors via the online discussion forum if you need guidance to prepare your own study plan.


Reason 3: Issues with time management


Most students run out of time when providing answers at the exam. This is so since most students do not know to plan their answers appropriately. Due to this reason, students end up providing half complete answers all the time, which significantly reduces your chances of passing.

To avoid a failure, you need to stick to a time management plan and adhere to best practice in relation to answer planning technique. You need to spend 1/3 of the allocated time to read and plan your answer in a concise manner and the remining time should be allocated for typing answers.

You can become a champion in time management, if you practice the same process, across all 5 mock exams. Students who practice this will never encounter issues with time in the real exam.


Reason 4: Being clueless about answering technique


Most students read the questions and end up typing answers straightaway. This is not the path you need to follow when providing answers.

As I mentioned previously, 1/3 of the allocated time (15 minutes per task for OCS & MCS. 20 minutes per task for SCS) should be utilized to read and plan your answer for the entire task. Answer plans are extremely important, since this is when all the analysis and thinking should happen, not when you type answers.

In fact, you need to keep practicing answer planning techniques until it becomes a routine, which will make your life easier at the real exam. The only way to practice is via attempting exam standard mock exams. TCS offers 5 mock exams, which forces you to practice answer planning on 20 different occasions (4 tasks per mock*5 mocks). After attempting all mocks, you will be a champion at developing answer plans, thus managing time.

Read the article Answer Planning Technique which highlights all steps you need to take to develop an effective answer plan, fast.


Reason 5: Letting exam stress get to you


This is a killer, both before and during the exam. Exam stress brings about unnecessary pressure, which shuts down you brain. In fact, you would have encountered this phenomenon at exams, where you know the answer but lo and behold, you cannot remember anything!

There is only one way to let go of stress. You need to prepare for the exam fully before the exam. Stick to the study plan which we have provided, refer to all additional material and attempt and reattempt mocks. This will help you build confidence.

Mock exam practice will help you understand your shortcomings before the exam. Afterall, it is better to identify shortcomings before, instead of identifying issues during the exam.

Read the article Building a Winning Attitude which comprehensively spells out what you need to do to overcome exam stress.


Concluding thoughts


You might have failed before, mainly due to shortcomings in your exam prep. Hence, you need to be ready to go for a total overhaul of how you work. Afterall, working hard won’t always help you. Instead, you need to start working “smart”!

If you failed before, simply get in touch with us via our website. Our expert tutors will get in touch with you. They will assist you in the process of figuring out what went wrong in the past. They will also provide personalized solutions to all you CIMA needs!



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.

About this blog

  Nick Jones
  11th May 2021