CIMA exam guidelines: For Strategic Level with Practical Tips

If you’re looking for complete CIMA exam guidelines, you’ve landed at the right place. Following article helps you get through preparation for CIMA Strategic Level.

As a CIMA aspirant, case study exams are not a very new format of exams for you; the pattern of exam will remain almost same with some exceptions. Especially in Strategic level, you are assumed to be at a Senior Management level and hence required to have an idea of CIMA exam guidelines. You may not be required to concentrate/perform any calculations. But you can make use of findings from the financial statements provided.

Understanding how to approach the Case study, step-by-step:

  1. Release of Pre-Seen:

CIMA exam guidelines notifies you once the Pre-seen of the case study is out. You need to get a hardcopy of the case study which helps in underlining important facts and figure of the case study.

  1. Nature of Company:

Usually the case assumes you to be a Senior Manager/Finance Director/Group Account involved in setting up and implementation of strategic plans. Also there is a mention on the nature of company for example – private, not-for-profit, listed, partnership or proprietorship etc. Ideally, the nature of company should trigger many questions such as access to funds, cost of regulatory/statutory compliances, risks of people in partnership, etc.

  1. Country and market situations:

A discussion on current market/political situations will be conducted in the fictitious country debate/discussion. Ensure you do a PESTEL/SWOT analysis and ready with your notes.

  1. Business Model:

In this section, case highlights on the vision and mission of the company. This is an important parameter for a person who is in senior management role. Because this will basically drive the company’s business and operation. At the same time, it may talk about the nature of business (services/products) the company deals in, its targeted customers/markets, nature of competition the company is facing from its competitors and their strategies.

There also would be a discussion on whether the company is expanding its revenue base by organic (product penetration/product development/market expansion) or inorganic (mergers/acquisitions/divestiture/JVs etc.) means. Key risks faced during the business may also be captured.

Note: This is an important section of the case study. You need to do a research on the following:

  1. To which industry the fictitious company belongs to is considered in the case study.
  2. The dynamics of the industry such as size of the industry, major players/competitors, their pricing and growth strategies, key risks and their challenges.
  3. Latest updates on the industry,if any.
  4. Be well-versed with the company’s SWOT, TOWS, PESTEL, BCG, Mendelow’s stakeholder matrix, Bench-marking for competitors, Johnson’s change management matrix, Balance Score Card etc.
  5. You need to think whether you can apply and expect theabove as questions in post seen.
  1. Board members and its composition:

Discussion will be on board members, their qualification with experience and expertise. Key note is whether the board is composed as per the governance policy. Hence you need to refer back to company’s governance policy discussed in P3/E3. Special emphasis should be on independent directors and segregation of duties between CEO and Chairman.

  1. Financial state of the company:

This is an important section of the case study. It will be composed from the financial statement. You may be given 2 or 3 years historical data as well. You need to go through the trend of sales, profits, receivables, payables, cash and debt. It is good to have some financial ratios calculated and have it at your finger tips to quote during the exam.

  1. Post seen – during the exam:

Based on the topics discussed,  you will be tested on situations/scenarios created. You need to respond to them. Few of the topics of interest from the previous exams were:

  • Risks in overseas market expansions. Different types expanding the business.
  • Can the company take up the project explained in post seen? If taken what the risks/challenges it faces.
  • Challenges the company faces during the proposed change management in company. How do you accommodate it managing people, IT systems etc.?
  • How can you overcome the cash crunch or manage the cash?
  • If there areissues in available of funds, how it can raise it for the business needs?
  • Working capital management.
  • Company governance, internal controls etc.
  • (Please do not limit to the above. They are for guidance purpose only)

End note

Remember not only to quote the models which are theoretical in nature, you will need to present the synergy between the textbooks models with the company and its situations explained in the case.