How to Ace the Case

October 2021

Kieran Doe has some top advice on how to pass the ACA case study exam. And he should know – he scored 92% in it!

The Case Study is unlike most other ACA exams as there is very little technical content to learn. So students who are used to memorising technical concepts and them ‘smashing out the question bank’ will be perplexed when they are presented with over 40 pages of advance information and a case study exam paper seemingly testing very little from their other 14 exams.

However, the Case Study is actually very similar to other ACA exams in that the three exam requirements are always the same, as are the mark schemes. By appreciating the consistency in the exam requirements and the mark schemes, you can develop your exam technique to ensure that you tick all the ‘boxes’ on the mark scheme and complete your ACA qualification in style.

I believe that there are five steps to case study success:

Step 1: Understand how Case Study is marked

The marking process is objective: there is a set marking key for each requirement and if your report includes a point which is on the mark scheme, you will get the mark. While it can be frustrating that making a valid point which is not on the mark scheme does not score a mark, it does mean that the marking process is very transparent and easy to navigate.

Each requirement has 11 boxes and you need to pass six boxes on each requirement.

The Executive Summary has seven boxes and you need to pass four boxes. To pass a box, you need to get three of the points included in that box. You need to pass each requirement and the Executive Summary in isolation. Have a look at some recent mark schemes to see what I mean about boxes and points.

Step 2: Understand what each of the three requirements involve

As explained above, the three requirements are broadly the same in each Case Study exam.

  • Requirement 1: Analyse the financial performance of the company.
  • Requirement 2: Evaluate a financial proposal.
  • Requirement 3: Evaluate an opportunity or issue.

The mark scheme for each requirement is also the same. This makes the exam predictable and by having a look at recent past papers, you will soon start to see the consistency in the requirements and build an understanding of what each requirement involves.

Step 3: Understand what information is provided in the AI and what is provided in the exam

In addition to the exam requirements and mark schemes being in the same format every time, the AI is also in the same format every time (albeit a different business with different issues).

By working through past case study exams, you will soon start to see that the AI always has the same exhibits with very similar types of information; industry background ; prior year accounts; customers; suppliers; strategic goals and risks. Likewise, the exams include the same exhibits with very similar types of information.

Having completed an exam, it is important to mark it and reflect on what information came from the AI and what came from the exam exhibits. You will soon start to see that most mark scoring points come from the exam exhibits rather than the AI. You will also learn which types of points tend to be rewarded in each box.

Step 4: Learn the Case Study exam technique which ensures that you hit all the boxes on the mark scheme

Having understood what the exam requirements are and how they are marked, you need to develop an exam technique which ensures that your report includes the points which are included on the mark scheme.

Fortunately for you, we have developed an exam technique which does this and it has resulted in two students wining the prize for the highest mark in the world (90% and 92%), another winning a prize for the highest mark in their region (88%) and another achieving the highest mark in their firm (81%).

Given the practical nature of the exam technique, it is not possible to explain this in text so click the link for a tutorial showing you exactly how to ace Requirement 1 and get a prize-winning mark –

Step 5: Practice mock exams to master your exam technique

By this stage in your ACA journey, you will already know that question practice is key to success. Having learn the prize-winning technique, you then need to practice mock exams on your case study business under exam conditions so that you master the technique and sign off your ACA in style.

  • Kieran Doe is a Senior ACA tutor at ACA Masters