CIMA MCS: Why you passed it (or how you can next time)
Last month was a nervous time for many of you as the results of the CIMA MCS were released, and we’re delighted once again at how well our students did. […]
Last month was a nervous time for many of you as the results of the CIMA MCS were released, and we’re delighted once again at how well our students did. Given our excellent record, we’re often asked by people who weren’t so lucky what they could do better next time, so we thought we’d compile some traits of our successful students given the conversations we’ve been having with them over the last few days.
What’s the score?
Before we start properly, a quick note on marks. For many, the most important part of the email is that green ‘Pass’. Yet, we find that several students also get hung up on the actual number as well, especially if they felt they deserved a better score. Sometimes if you feel you’ve done really well in an exam on the day, your confidence or bravado can easily lead to feelings of expectation of an excellent mark. But take it from us – the only thing that matters in the long run is the fact you passed!
The old adage “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” often rings startlingly true when it comes to case study exams, as a lot of the hard work should be done before the day. And those that tend to do best in this paper are the ones whose preparation is top notch, from at least six weeks before the big day.
Here’s a simple list of what we think people taking this exam should prepare prior to it, which can be scheduled according to your own timetable:
– Revise syllabus content from P2/E2/F2
– Make sure you understand MCS exam structure
– Read previous MCS examiners’ reports
– Analyse pre-seen materials (either on your own or in a group)
– Revisit specific elements of P2/E2/F2 based on issues identified from pre-seen materials
– Take a mock exam and get it professionally marked
– Review mock exam feedback, and go back over the pre-seen material in relation to this
– Re-read feedback from mock exams and revise weak areas raised in feedback
– Relax again (or at least try to!)
What our students tend to find most useful are the mock exams we provide, with detailed, timely feedback from our professional tutors and markers. As case study papers tend to be unlike anything you may have ever done before, a dry-run is always advisable!
Resources at hand
Whether you study with us or not, there are various resources out there to help you with your preparation. Be aware though, the most helpful ones normally come at a price! We would generally recommend getting as much (professional) help as you can, including (a combination of):
MCS study texts
Pre-seen analysis (classroom/video/text – whatever works for you)
Strategic analysis (as above)
Industry analysis (as above)
Online master classes (recorded and live)
Mock exams – marked with detailed tutor feedback
Our top tip on the day
Our students will know how much we talk about this in class, but whatever state of mind you might be in on the day – however easy you might think the questions are to answer – we cannot stress the importance of planning what you write enough.
Your answers must cover all relevant bases in a balanced script. You must demonstrate technical knowledge, a thorough understanding of the pre-seen materials, and the ability to draw conclusions and make recommendations in the exam, so working out how you are going to do all these things before you start writing is important.
Our recommend rule of thumb is to spend 10- 20% of the given time for each question planning your answer. So for a 45 minute question that would be between 5 and 10 minutes. Your planning should involve identifying the requirements and creating some headings of areas you want to cover in your answer, then adding a few sub points underneath the headings, linking the syllabus content, pre-seen information, industry info and ethics (if relevant). After this, you should start to flesh out the bones of your answer, and then you’re ready to start writing properly. Sticking to a plan like this ensures you stay on track to cover all key points in a cohesive way.
Once again, congratulations to everyone who passed their CIMA MCS this time around, and we welcome queries from those who didn’t as to how we can help you next time.