How are CIMA Case Study Exams Marked?

How are CIMA Case Study Exams Marked?

When you’re sitting a professional exam like CIMA, it’s important to understand how each section of the tests are marked and what you need to do to pass. Read on to find out more about your CIMA case study exams.

The assessment of a CIMA qualification is done through two tests – the Objective Test (OT) and an integrated case study exam. Once a learner finishes with three OT exams, the next step is to pass the case study exam for each level: operational, management and strategic. 

Learners are allowed to advance to the next qualification level only if they've passed both. OT exams are subject to a unique grading called scaled scoring system. This system ensures that candidates get a score that is comparable across the different versions of the same exam. 

We've previously covered how OT exams are marked, but in case you missed it, here is the discussion. In this blog, we focus on marking for the CIMA case study exams.

CIMA Case Study Exams

CIMA case study exams test a wide range of skills, including communication skills, research & analysis, and information presentation. 

These exams are meant to gauge your application ability of the concepts and theories you've learned during the OT exams in real-life situations.

Case study exams don't involve much calculation but instead, how to analyse and comment on presented financial data.

When a student fails in CIMA exams, the reason is often due to the case study exams. Examiners attribute this to the lack of understanding of what is tested and how the exams are evaluated. Therefore, getting a solid grasp of the concept of a case study exam guarantees a pass.

CIMA syllabus changes and how they affect case study exams

In 2019,  CIMA adopted a new syllabus to adjust to the shift in the marketplace. The change mostly affected OT exams because they introduced new content. 

The case study exams, on the other hand, remained largely unaffected except for the marking scheme that changed.

Structure of the CIMA case study exam

Structure of the CIMA case study exam_Credit: Christin Hume

Pre-seen material

Six weeks before the exam window,  the pre-seen material is sent to learners. It is a description of a business scenario designed to give a learner perspective of financial records and details of a fictional company.

Exam format

Questions in the CIMA case study exam are essay-based so a little bit more complex than the OTs, but don't let that scare you. It's nothing you haven't covered before.

The case study exam is a reflection of a real-life business environment that involves a set of time-bound tasks based on the pre-seen material. In each question, you'll encounter an unseen aspect that you'll have to factor in when answering.

Case study exams are computer-based and administered over three days in four windows each year-end of Feb, May, Aug, and Nov. Three hours is allocated for the exam.

Time is divided accordingly, and each question has a dedicated duration you can spend on it. After the time limit has been reached, you are moved to another question with no option to revisit the question.

There are different versions of the exam, so the probability of the person next to you having the same question is low. The number of questions in the case study exam is between 3 and 5, depending on your level.

CIMA case study exams marking

The marking of case study exams is done manually. The results are then released 5 weeks after sitting the exam.

You get a mark out of 150 where a score of 80 and above is a pass (which is 53.333%). You also need to attain a minimum threshold score across all competencies. This score is approximately 1/3 of the total marks allocated for each competency.

Let's consider a case where 20 marks are allocated for the technical skills. In this case, you need to get a minimum score of 6.7 to qualify for a pass. 

This evaluation ensures a learner is 'business ready’ in all aspects.

The marking process is comprehensive and rigorous to ensure the learner's performance is a true reflection of their ability. Moderation checks are done to eliminate any errors that could have occurred in the marking process.

Below is an excerpt (explaining the marking process) that was obtained from a past Examiner Report:

'The weighting attached to each sub-task was stated, and candidates were advised to allocate the time available for each sub-task on the basis of those weightings. Markers were instructed to adopt a holistic approach to marking, which meant that the answer to each sub-task was read and judged on its merits. 

Markers were provided with specific guidance as to the characteristics of level 1, level 2 and level 3 answers for each separate sub-task. As always, the key to achieving a passing mark or better is to answer the question as set. Higher marks are awarded to fuller answers that are relevant and correct.'

After completion of marking, results are carefully and thoroughly evaluated to make sure they are accurate. They are recorded and then published. 

Candidates receive a pass/fail decision and a scaled score on results day.

Final thoughts

We hope this guide on the CIMA case study exam marking helps you prepare for the exam. 

Check out our  tips on how to pass the case study exam to help you fully understand the marking system for CIMA.

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Topics: CIMA