Top tips to pass CIMA SCS exam in first time from Nissanka

Top tips to pass CIMA SCS exam
Top tips to pass CIMA SCS exam

Nissanka Silva was passed his CIMA SCS exam recently he is working at Accenture Lanka as an Assistant Manager in Finance. He is overlooking Group finance reporting, statutory audit, corporate finance and taxation.. He is also a Associate member of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka as well.

We thanked Nissanka for the great tips gave  for the future students and wish him all the very best with his carrier.

I joined CIMA through Gateway route and got through strategic level under the previous syllabus.
I only managed to get 72 marks in my first attempt of SCS in May 2016. I then analysed where I went wrong and changed my strategy. As a result of that, I was able to get 120 marks (which is 80%) in my second attempt in August 2016 and which is a turning point.

My advice to you will be as follows.

  • ·        Analyse the pre seen in detailed and prepare a summery. In my case I prepared a summary of AEN pre seen into just 4 pages.

  • ·         Go through tuition providers pre seen analysis, e.g. KYP, KYI by LearnCIMA, Practice work book by Kaplan and strategic analysis by Astranti

  • ·         Analyse the related industry to some extend as it will be useful in the exam to use real life industry examples. Industry analysis of Astranti will be useful.

  • ·         Attempt at least 15 mocks from different tuition providers as it will cover most of the possible issues. Kaplan and LearnCIMA mocks are preferred.

  • ·         Have your own 5 mocks (variants) based on your analysis of the given pre seen and past papers. When analyzing past papers, focus should be given on Leadership and People skills where 50% of marks is based on this (25% each)

  • Pre seen is issued 6 weeks before the exam which is first week of the previous month of the exam. During this month (first 3 weeks), fully focus on analyzing the pre seen and be familiarize with it. You will not have a time to refer to the pre seen in the exam, so knowing the ins and outs of the pre seen will be key here.

  • During the following month (last 3 weeks), more focus should be on mocks. The more mocks you attempt, you will cover most of possible issues.

When answering in the exam, do focus on below areas.

  • ·         Always use headings for each requirement and sub headings for each paragraph. Keep in mind that the examiner is looking for quality rather than quantity.

  • ·         Always argue for both benefits and drawbacks (Pros and Cons) even not asked to do so.

  • ·         Always conclude your answer with a recommendation and justify your recommendation.

Hope above tips will be useful to you for your preparation and wish you all the very best and good luck for the SCS exam and all your future endeavors. 

Best wishes,

Nissanka Silva

Top tips to answer the CIMA exam Questions ..

How to answer the CIMA exam Questions ??? -  Top tips
How to answer the CIMA exam Questions ??? -  Top tips

A key skill being tested in the case study exam is your ability to work out exactly what you are being asked to do. 

If we go back to the August OCS Examiner's Report the examiners placed importance on students getting straight to the point with their answers and addressing the key requirements of the question:

"The tasks set are tests of effective communication skill as well as technical know-how. In some tasks it was clear that candidates had knowledge of a particular area, but were unable to apply it effectively to the case study."

Some of the sections in the exam will have two or three sub-requirements. It is a massive risk to miss any - as you'd have missed out on a significant portion of the marks. Miss two and you may as well re-book your place at the next sitting! However with care and by following some simple steps, the requirements can become clear:

1. Read through carefully 

This may seem like an obvious, but it's amazing how reading through the text really carefully can help in highlighting the requirements of a question.

2. Don't 'assume' your own requirements 

under timed conditions, it can become tempting to jump to conclusions and think you have found a requirement when in reality the requirement may have been yet to be discussed.

3. Plan your answer

 Plan your answer

Learning how to effectively plan your answer will naturally help you to answer exactly what the question is requiring from you.

During your practise in the last couple of weeks before the exam, make sure you are highlighting the requirements of the practise questions, and are then addressing these requirements directly. This will develop good habits for when you come to sit your real exam.

Courtesy -

Top tips to pass CIMA OCS exam from students who did the exams

Top tips to pass your CIMA OCS exam
Top tips to pass CIMA OCS exam

Here are some tips shared by the OCS students in a survey regarding the CIMA Operational case study exam have a look may help for your future OCS exams good luck 

1) Do things within the given time.

2) Do more practice exams.

(as many as you can find) Do revision of theory Go through previous exam questions and the answers. Typing speed is really very important, Learn touch typing, That would make things easier Go through the pre-seen analysis few times. Time management.

3) Practice as many past test papers as possible.

4) Find time to do industry research and don't loose focus. Finish answers well even if you feel you could have done better.

5) Practice more mocks and get the feedback package because it helps you get to on your personal weakness before the real exam.

6) Spend time on your theory and prepare to answer questions by putting your theory into context. Take your time and take a minute to calm yourself if you don't know the answer.

7) No your theory.

8) Time management is very essential to pass. So they have to practice more to manage their time

9) Absolutely revise theory the most!! Its useful to do industry analysis but very hard to make such points in the exam under exam conditions. I was very confident in my industry analysis but very disappointed in the fact that i found only 1 chance to talk about in a 3 hour exam.

10)  Do more practice of CIMA past exams Q&A's and Astranti mocks Q&A. Refer Astranti text material (which is excellent summarized material to the point to clarify concept if needed). If done this, there is a bright chance that they can pass OCS exam in the first attempt.

11) Practice your time management by completing mock exams a few times before the real exam, it would be almost impossible to successfully sit the exam without experiencing this beforehand at least once

12) Getting a wider view on the subject by not just relying on information from the CIMA syllabus

13) Look after yourself psychically and emotionally too!

14) Practice as many questions as possible

15) Know 100% of the E1 F1 and P1 syallabus. Anything could come up.

16) Everyone must be physically and mentally fit before entering into the exam hall especially one must have a good sleep and not be tired at all. 

17) Must complete revision of the entire syllabus at least once just before the exam.

18) Revise all aspects of theory and more of F1

19) Use materials from providers like Astranti , PTA, and VIVA , you can access the sites directly by clicking the name 

20) Studying past mocks and their answers is the best way to increase passing chances and know your theory in and out , study the pre seen material and practice time management.

CIMA exam latest pass rates October 2016 - Case studies & Objective tests

CIMA exam latest pass rates August 2016 - Case studies & Objective tests
CIMA exam latest pass rates August 2016 - Case studies & Objective tests 

Please check the updated latest CIMA pass rates here 

The latest batch of CIMA pass rates are in, and they are looking good!

The August case study exam results will please lots of CIMA PQs. The Strategic pass rate has jumped from 46% in May to 63% this time around (August). The management pass rate is a healthy 71%.

CIMA’s exam chief, Steve Flatman, pointed to the good news at F2. CIMA has piut in a lot of effort here and worked with its learning partners to help improve the material. He stressed that the computerisation of exams means that he is able to drill CIMA case study down into the data and really see where the help is needed. Having instant access means CIMA can react in real-time and provide instant guidance.

There has also been very slight increases in the P1 and P2 pass rates, to 43% and 45% respectively. Flatman admits he doesn’t miss the ‘terrible headlines’ about these pass rates. 

The E1 and E2 OTs continue to have the highest pass rates. E1 has a first time pass rate of 76% and E2 is even higher at 86%. 

For Flatman the pass rate story is “all about consistency, reliability and fairness”. And he believes CIMA has achieved this yet again. 

CIMA Case Study Exams –  

August 2016 pass rates: 

Operational     64% 

Management   71%

Strategic          63%.

CIMA OT overall pass rates (to October 2016): E1 86%; P1 67%; F1 82%; E2 93%; P2 71%; F2 75%; E3 80%; P3 77%; F3 75%

CIMA OT first time pass rates (to October 2016): E1 76%; P1 47%; F1 72%; E2 86%; P2 51%; F2 51%; E3 64%; P3 55%; F3 54%

CIMA OT total pass rates (to October 2016): E1 73%; P1 43%; F1 68%; E2 84%; P2 45%; F2 48%; E3 62%; P3 50%; F3 50%

The pass rates cover the objective test sittings 

Overall exam pass rate: Percentage of students who have passed the exam after one or more attempts.  86%67%82%93%71%75%80%77%75%
First time pass rate: Percentage of students who have passed the exam on first attempt.  76%47%72%86%51%51%64%55%54%
Exam pass rate:Total exams passed / total exams taken.  73%43%68%84%45%48%62%50%50%

Courtesy -

Typing Speed in CIMA case study exams

Typing Speed in CIMA case study exams
Typing Speed in CIMA case study exams 

Find out if you are typing fast enough to pass? Whilst you are working extremely hard to learn all of the key theory and considering how this can be applied to the pre-seen company, do you know if you're able to type quick enough to get enough marks to pass the exam? As such it is vital that you aim to type as quickly as you can and write as much as you can without compromising on the quality of your work.

For the majority of CIMA students who use computers regularly, most from a very young age, tying speed will not be a barrier. PC use is not a part of everybody's everyday activities, if you think this might be you then it would definitely be advisable for you to practise your typing to improve it prior to the exam. Your goal should be to get to a minimum of 20 words per minute. Ideally though, the faster the better!

If you want to find your own typing speed then just search online using the term “test typing speed” and you will find a host of free online typing tests you can take to test your speed along with a range of tools to help you improve. Here are a few free websites  which allow you to test your typing speed for free:

Also Try here a free mini mock of Astranti and improve your timing and thinking skill 

I'm sure you are and will work extremely hard in your revision to cover all of the key topics, so it would be a great shame if your typing speed was a barrier to Operational success. If you discover that your typing speed is not very quick, make sure you spend enough time practising to try and improve this.

One way to practise your typing speed under pressure is through the use of Mock Exams - whether you are doing the Case study exam or the objective test, mock exams are often the best revision tool! Practice makes perfect, so the more you practice what you have learnt through mock exams the more aware you are of what you are doing right, and where you need to improve.


Nick Best from 

How to save time in your CIMA case study revision! - A Simple guide

How to save time in your CIMA MCS revision!
How to save time in your CIMA MCS revision! 

Here is a must read quote from one of the May examiner's reports:

"Candidates should read the pre-seen material carefully and come into the examination understanding the industry and the company which will be the focus of the exam. This will help candidates formulate good answers that relate to the tasks given."

This quote was from the May SCS examiner's report, which goes to show that even students completing their final case study are still making the mistake of not analysing the pre-seen industry!

So what makes a good Industry Analysis?

Students often tell me how they google general questions about the industry and flick through documents, without a plan or a clear knowledge of what they are looking for. To save you time, I can tell you now that an online search to find out everything you can about the industry is not a good way to spend your time. The best way to get to understand the industry is to plan and structure your research, meaning you stay focused and are only reading relevant information!

You need to make sure you know what topics you are looking for when searching about the industry so that you discover the information which is going to really help you get those extra marks in your exam. With this in mind, I have created a free document for you to use, which will help you pick out what topics you should be looking for.
I would advise that you use this document as a check-list whilst you are analysing the industry, so that once you have been able to cover all of the listed topics you will have discovered everything you should know about the industry.
Some of the topics included in my Industry Analysis topics list are:

  • History of the Industry - How old is the industry? How did it start?
  • Suppliers - What are the key suppliers to the industry?
  • Technological Issues - What technology is necessary? What new technology are companies using?
  • Ethical Issues - Have their been any recent ethical issues that have arisen in the industry?
  • Competitors - Who are the main competitors? Have their been any mergers or acquisitions?

Industry Analysis Topics

The Products and their History

  • How old is the industry?
  • How did it originate?
  • What’s the history from that start point to now?
  • Industry life cycle

  • Product ranges of competitors
  • Product lifecycle of key products
  • New products being introduced
  • R&D - spending, trends

Production, Supply and Distribution

  • Methods
  • Technology used - new technologies
  • Inventory - methods, processes (e.g. JIT), problems or issues
  • Skills needed of staff

  • What are the key supplies to this industry?
  • Who are the key suppliers?
  • Do any suppliers have ‘supplier power’ (Porter’s 5 forces)? If so which ones?
  • How important is supplier management?

Transport and Distribution of Products
  • Methods used by competitors
  • Issues
  • Improvements providing competitive edge in terms of quality or reduced transportation damage
  • Environmental legislation regarding vehicles/emissions
  • Outsourcing vs inhouse

Technological Issues
  • What technology is necessary?
  • What new technology are companies using?
  • What types of internal systems are in use (e.g. Enterprise resource planning, finance, production, inventory management etc etc)
  • Online issues - importance of website etc
  • Social media - relevant to this industry?

Supply Chain
  • Security
  • Impact of technology e.g. use of internet
  • Current trends

Key Stakeholders and CSR

Staff - HR
  • Skills needed
  • Any areas of staff shortage
  • Health and safety issues
  • What training schemes are necessary for working in the industry?
  • Employee power (i.e. trade unions) - any impacts?
  • Union issues? Are staff unionised? What action has there been in the industry recently?

Ethical Issues
  • Recent ethical issues that have arisen in the industry
  • Bribery?
  • Staff treatment?
  • Integrity?
  • Confidentiality?
  • Pollution?
  • Wastage?
  • Social responsibility (e.g. for local community)?

Environmental Issues
  • Key environmental issues
  • What do competitors in the industry do in relation to the environment?
  • How important is the environment to this industry?
  • How important is the company’s approach to environmental issues for its consumers in terms of sales trends?
  • Recent media exposure of environmental issues linked to the industry.

Who are the other key stakeholders in the industry?
  • Shareholders/stock market?
  • Local communities?
  • Governments?
  • Environmental groups?

Competitors and Marketing

  • Changing demands
  • Importance of branding to industry
  • Key methods of reaching the market in this industry (e.g. TV, sponsorship, radio, website, social media)
  • Who are the key customers
  • Where are the customers?
  • Changing customer trends

  • Main competitors e.g. top 10 in industry
  • Or focus on one country (e.g. UK) as an example - top 3 in one country
  • New competitors
  • Recent mergers or acquisitions?
  • How are they trying to compete? What is their competitive strength?
  • Recent failures? why?

Industry Issues

Political and Legal Issues
  • Key laws to be abided by
  • Industry regulations
  • Industry bodies and their role
  • Political importance of industry (e.g. Oil very important)
  • New/changing legislation

Economic Issues
  • Effects/impact of recession on product and market
  • Impact of EU - other trading groups
  • Changes in tax laws e.g. VAT
  • Impact of interest rates
  • Exchange rate issues
  • Market prices (e.g. oil price, other commodity prices)

  • How to companies raise finance?
  • What opportunities are there to raise funding internally (e.g. selling assets)

Industry trends/statistics
  • E.g. graphs on changing demand
  • Effects of emerging markets on market share
  • Future trends
    • What are people saying will change in the future and how?

Analysis of one Real Life Industry Company

Analysis of one Competitor as an Example

  • Who are they?
  • History
  • Strategy
  • Basis of competitive strength
  • Operations (what? where? how?)
  • Marketing (how they reach the market, how successful are they?)
  • Financial performance
  • P&L
  • Balance sheet
  • Analysis of the P&L and balance sheet
  • Key problems or issues faced by them
  • Recent news - what have they been doing recently?

Industry Examples

  • 25 industry examples
    • Focused around the top 10 issues list so they are directly relevant to use in the exam
    • Include some industry statistics as these are very easy ones to incorporate into a variety of exam answers
    • Consider also:
      • What industry competitors have been doing to compete
      • Industry trends that would be relevant to the pre-seen company
      • Ethics, CSR, Environment (very commonly useful in the exam)
      • Major issues in the news in that industry over the last year or two (relevant and often used as inspiration by examiners for exam questions)
    • Focused around what is usable in an exam question (think about what exam questions could arise and what industry example would be relevant to that question).
    • It is okay to repeat examples that have appeared elsewhere in the text
  • Include exam paragraph which students can learn to use on exam day
  • Include focus on the pre-seen so people know where it is relevant

Courtesy -

Visit Astranti for more CIMA Case study exam free tips and free ananlysis