Monday, 4 December 2017

What does CIMA's Case Study marking system mean for you?

CIMA’s Case Study marking can be tricky to get your head around. I’ve spoken to countless students who found it difficult to understand why they’d failed their case study. Often, students receive a ‘fail’ mark even when their results show they have a reasonably good understanding of all subject areas. 

So, what can you make of your Case Study results? With the August Case Studies coming up, it's a good time to explore what CIMA are looking for in order to grant that allusive ‘pass’!

CIMA Case Study exams are marked using not one, but two scoring systems. Perplexing results are due to the fact that a student needs to obtain a certain result in BOTH of these marking systems in order to achieve a ‘pass’.

Scaled scores

One of the marking methods CIMA uses is a ‘scaled scoring’ system. 

CIMA acknowledge that certain papers on the same module may differ in their difficulty levels and that exam results should be adjusted to reflect this. Scaled scores therefore reflect a student’s ability, no matter which particular paper has been sat.

For example, if Student A sat a paper that contained harder questions and scored 35, and Student B sat a paper that contained easier questions and scored 35, Student A would receive a higher scaled score.

In this way, the scaled scoring system is designed to make exam results fairer. These scaled scores are also used to mark the OT exams, and since August 2017, they have been using them to mark Certificate exams too.


The second method of assessment used in the CIMA Case Study exams is the ranking of individual ‘competencies’. These scores show how strong a student’s understanding of that individual area is.

This is what the following ranks mean:

  • Strong – you performed well in integrating across subjects and competencies and have demonstrated business competence. 
  • Moderate – you exceeded the minimum threshold for this area but didn’t perform strongly. This competency should be reviewed before your next exam. 
  • Fail – you failed to achieve the minimum marks for this competency, which are roughly 30% of the marks available. 

To pass the case study exams, you will need to achieve a scaled score of 80 points or more IN ADDITION to achieving at least a ‘moderate’ grade in ALL the proficiencies.

Now, this is where CIMA students can fall down. The key is to understand that there are essentially TWO aspects to these exams – applying knowledge gained from your OT exams to the particular business scenario AND understanding the scenario itself as well as the industry and the issues that particular industry faces.

So, if you get a ‘moderate’ or ‘strong’ grade in all of the competencies but still fail the exam (because you get less than 80 in the scaled scoring), it is likely that you have correctly applied your knowledge from the previous OT exams to this particular business situation, but have failed to understand and explore the particular scenario given in the pre-seen in enough depth.

It really is crucial to have an in-depth, sophisticated and practical understanding of the pre-seen, including the particular industry and market in which the fictional company is based. If you failed based on this, you have a much better understanding of the pre-seen industry going into your next sitting.

I believe Astranti’s pre-seen analysis pack (featuring documents and videos analysing the specific industry and the issues that are likely to be raised in the exam) is the best tool on the market for making sure you’re up to speed on the CIMA pre-seen and can confidently score an 80+.

Find out more about our pre-seen analysis pack.

Likewise, if you score highly on the scaled scoring but fall down on some of the competencies, it is likely that you’re not sufficiently applying your knowledge from the OT exams in the Case Study exam. Make sure that before your next attempt, you revisit your past OT revision so that all of that knowledge is at the forefront of your mind.
I can highly recommend our Case Study study texts to help you understand how to approach the CIMA case study with all the crucial theories and models in mind.  
Whether you use our materials or not, REMEMBER, to pass the Case Study exams you need to show you know the pre-seen industry inside-out and you also need to successfully apply your knowledge from the OT exams. 
I hope this has been helpful to all you CIMA students! For more revision tips and advice, like our page on Facebook and follow Astranti on Twitter. Until next time, good luck with your revision!

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