Technique is everything

So you’re planning to do the case study in February, and obviously you want to pass. What’s stopping you? People fail for a variety of reasons – but some of the most common are:

• Their exam technique is poor. And, to be honest, that’s usually it. You wouldn’t have got this far through your studies if you didn’t know your stuff (those OTs at the strategic level are tough!). Anyway, to get your exam technique up to speed:

a) Fill in any knowledge gaps.

b) Get to know the pre-seen material really well.

c) Bring it all together in the last and most important part – application to the scenario.

Knowledge gaps

The biggest headache in this area has got to be the change from the 2015 to the 2019 syllabus and, in particular, the changes in the E3 syllabus. The P3 syllabus has changed a bit, too. Have a look on the CIMA website about the transition; frankly, unless you sat both exams in the last few months of 2019 you’ve got a bit of catching up to do. CIMA do have personalised transition advice, and it would seem a very sensible thing to do to have a look at it. You can even buy gap learning materials from CIMA.

A lot of the changes in the F3 paper are not as significant – it’s often about moving stuff from one area to another, which really isn’t that big a deal in this paper.

It doesn’t matter if you learnt about hedging foreign currency in F3 or P3, as long as you know the drawbacks and advantages of, say, currency futures.

Pre-seen material

The case study pre-seen will be coming out around about now, just as you’re reading this – the release date to students is Friday 13 December. You need to get it. NOW! (Okay, maybe read the rest of this article first.)

Once you’ve got it, read it, re-read it, and read it again. Be active about it – on every page, see if you could think about how you could link up at least one thing on the page to one part of the three syllabi.

The last four weeks

It is all about exam preparation at this stage – having a go at practice questions and if possible, doing a couple of three-hour practice exams.

This makes sure you know what the examiner is looking for – for example, no integration marks under the new syllabus, and no minimum marks needed under the different competences.

Feedback is essential here, so you can see if you’re on the right track. We can help here – and we write material specifically linked to the case study (see details below).

• Sean O’Leary has been a tutor, writer, moderator and examiner for nearly 20 years (not all at the same time) and offers CIMA Strategic Case via