CIMA Case Study Exams: How To Identify ALL The Requirements

identifying the requirements

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are ten things you must do if you want to pass your CIMA case study exam.

One of these is to answer all parts of all the requirements otherwise you will miss out on vital marks and ultimately fail your exam.

But how do you spot the requirements in the first place?

And how do you know if there are any separate parts to answer within those requirements?

After all, for each section of the exam there’s usually a lot of information to read through in the scenario .  As well as any reference material.

And of course, with the time pressure of the clock ticking down on each section– together with the  natural exam nerves  – it’s easy to rush through your reading and totally miss out on what the examiner is asking of you.

Thankfully, identifying the requirements (and any sub-requirements) isn’t as difficult as it sounds…you just need to know what you’re looking for.

And that’s what we’ll look at today.

What a requirement looks like

Most of the information you are given in the exam is there to help you add context to your answer (i.e. quote key numbers from the data given or who is likely to be affected by course of action taken).

But when you first start to read the scenario in each section, what you are really looking out for is where you are asked to specifically do something.

And if you read carefully, the requirements are usually pretty clear.  They tend to ask you for your thoughts or advice on certain matters and to put them in a certain format (email, briefing paper etc).

Here’s an example of a requirement from each of the case study exams:

Operational Case Study Exam:

“it would be really helpful if you could let me know what this data tells me in respect of which of these suppliers we might prefer to approach first”

Management Case Study Exam:

“Please recommend a disciplinary procedure that we might follow…”

Strategic Case Study Exam:

“Please explain how we should evaluate the ethical issues associated with this proposal”

So how many requirements will there be?

Often (but not always) there will be two main requirements within each section of your exam.

And each requirement will carry similar marks (i.e. 12 marks for requirement 1 and 13 marks for requirement 2) and so will require a similar amount of time to be spent on it.

Therefore, you can’t afford to write a really in-depth answer for requirement 1, but not leave time to write an adequate amount for requirement 2.

Otherwise you’ll fail that section.  And possibly your exam overall.

How to determine if there are also sub requirements

Within each of those requirements, there could well be separate sub-requirements or different parts that you need to address.  Important words to look out for here are “and” or “also” as they tend to indicate there is more than one element to address within that requirement.

For example:

Operational Case Study Exam:

Requirement 1: Provide a report on.. “How the principles of sustainability apply to the maintenance depot’s work and how managers can influence the sustainability agenda”

Not only are you required to comment on “How the principles of sustainability apply to the maintenance depot’s work” but also “how managers can influence the sustainability agenda.” So that’s two elements you need to address within this requirement.

Management Case Study Exam:

Requirement 2: “Secondly please explain how we should evaluate the offer from Platt and the impact of the contract on our real options”

Not only are you required to explain “how we should evaluate the offer” but also explain “the impact of the contract on our real options.” Again, that’s two elements you need to address within this requirement.

Strategic Case Study Exam:

Requirement 1: “I need you to give me a list of stakeholders, along with an explanation of why each is affected and how their interests will be affected.”

Here we have three parts to the requirement – 1) list the stakeholders, 2) an explanation of why each is affected and 3) how their interests will be affected.

How this affects your ability to pick up marks

Let’s take a look at Operational Case Study exam, Variant 4, February 2016 – Section 2.

Here you are asked to send your thoughts in an email on:

  • Firstly, the likely impact of these new customers on our finance function, recoverability risk and brand.
  • Secondly, any measures that we should consider to mitigate any additional recoverability risk that may arise

On the face of it, this looks like 2 requirements.  But in reality the first requirement has 3 parts to it:

  1. Impact on our finance function
  2. Impact on our recoverability risk
  3. Impact on our brand

Now, this section was worth 17 marks in total.  And you’d need to score around 10 marks out of 17 to pass this section.

9 marks were available for your answer on the likely impact new customers would make, and 8 marks for possible measures to mitigate any additional recoverability risk.

So it is fair to assume that the 9 mark requirement was equally divided between the 3 parts…

  • 3 marks for impact on the finance function
  • 3 marks for Impact on our recoverability risk
  • 3 marks for Impact on our brand

Had you only commented on two out of the three parts, the maximum you could get is 6 marks out of 9.

And had you only talked about impact on the finance function (and not the other two parts) you would have only been able to score a maximum of 3 out of 9.  Leaving you needing to score at least 7 out of 8 on the measures to mitigate risk requirement, to achieve your 10 marks out of 17.

So you can see where marks can be easily lost.

Time To Practice

So now you’ve seen the importance of identifying every element of every requirement and then going on to answer all parts to all the requirements to be sure of securing a pass, it’s time to get practicing. 

I’ve put together an exercise for each level of case study exam.  Your task is to choose your relevant exam and identify all the requirements for each section. And also detect if there are any separate parts within each of those requirements.  

This may sound like a fairly simple task, but it really will work wonders for your exam results.

Once you’ve attempted the appropriate exercise above, you can check your answers against the solutions below:

Let me know how you get on in the comments section below

Matt

P.S.  Next time we’ll look at the importance of answer planning and the recommended step by step approach to take.  So look out for that blog post soon.

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