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How to prepare to retake the Case Study exam


Published: 16 Sep 2021 Update History

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If you find yourself retaking the Case Study exam we have put together a guide to support you with your revision, look at where things went wrong and prepare for your resit.

At each sitting approximately a quarter of students are unsuccessful, however, students retaking Case tend to enjoy higher pass rates, typically closer to 85%. This guide aims to help you prepare to take Case after an unsuccessful attempt. It will cover:

  • Understanding why you were unsuccessful 
  • Getting restarted
  • Exam tips

Why were you unsuccessful?

The road to retaking Case Study must start with a period of reflection. It was Sir Winston Churchill who famously said: 

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

Before thinking about your next attempt it is essential that you stop and pause. To quote Churchill once again:

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Insight into what may have gone wrong is probably best done in two parts.


The news that you failed to pass an exam is unwelcome and can be unexpected. However in many cases you are able to look back at the events leading up to, and including the exam and identify where and why you underperformed. Common issues include:

  • Poor time management. If you did not complete the exam and your Executive Summary, then you will have far less chance of passing. Remember – 10% of all candidates fail to complete their reports each sitting, the most common reason for failing the exam.
  • Over-confidence. For many unsuccessful students this is the first time they have ever failed an exam.
  • Lack of practise. Did you attempt enough past Case Study exams?


With each set of results that is released, the examiners release an in-depth review of the exam. These are freely available on the Case Study exam resources web page and are essential reading ahead of retaking your next Case Study exam. These reports cover:

  • An overview of student performance at that sitting
  • A review of the advance information 
  • A review of the exam, in whole and on a requirements basis
  • A detailed analysis of the mark key and candidate performance across it
  • Examples of the appendices
  • The marking key itself

If you have failed an exam you can automatically access your Marks Feedback from your online training file. This gives you a detailed breakdown of the marks you achieved per question. As the Case Study is not marked in the same fashion as the other Professional and Advanced Level exams, the layout of the marks feedback is presented differently. Therefore in addition to the marks plan you will need to refer to the Case Study Guidance for further understanding.

Alternatively, you can apply for a marks review of your script. It is important to appreciate that a marks review will not result in your script being re-marked. However, what you will receive is:

  • An exam marker checking that no errors or omissions were made during the marking process.
  • A check that all the marks awarded have been correctly calculated and transferred to the ICAEW marks database and your results notification.

Getting restarted

It may be tempting to wait until the next advance information is released to start studying, but if you sat in November you will be waiting until the following June. In the meantime you are advised to visit the Case Study exam resources and start building and practising your skills using any of the recent past Case Studies you have not seen before. There are advance information and past exams from the previous year to work with, and blank software files you can use to practise with. Remember, you will need to perform extensive research on the advance information of any past Case Study you choose to work with. There are documents and webinars that guide you through how to work with the advance information, as well what is required in each section of the exam. These may be useful refreshers for you to refer to.

When working through past Case Study exams be sure to make full use of the examiners' review documents and marking keys. These will allow you to attempt the exam in full, and then mark and debrief your work. Take time to carefully compare your answer to the marking key, and then compare your performance in the exam against the commentary of the examiners.

When the new advance information is released work carefully through the guide on how to prepare. This will give you the opportunity to practise your analysis and time management skills with the advance information for your upcoming Case Study exam.

Tips for success

The following steps will help you prepare for your next Case Study exam:

  • Understand what went wrong - critically appraise your own performance.
  • Use the examiners' report - can you see what you did well or badly in your exam?
  • View your Marks Feedback in your online training file, along with the Case Study Marks Feedback guidance.
  • Consider a marking review if you cannot see why you were unsuccessful.
  • Use past Case Study exams and advance information to help you refresh and practise the skills you need.
  • Immerse yourself in the new advance information.

Be confident in yourself. You are on the final step of your exam journey. You've come so far, and worked so hard; you are so close to the summit - you can make that final step towards completing your exams.

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View this short webinar to help you prepare to retake the Case Study exam.

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