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Case in point

The Case Study Learning Materials have been rewritten. Here, Vital rounds up everything you need to know about the all-new, all-changed approach

The Case Study Learning Materials (LMs) have been rewritten and fully updated for 2014. The materials are clearly structured in response to ICAEW tutor and student demand, as well as examiner experience. The LMs can be used both in a tutor-led tuition process but also by independent learners. They comprise:

  • a study manual, which includes three truncated cases based on recent Case Study exams;
  • a walkthrough based on the Luvlox ( July 2012) case; and
  • two workbooks based on other recent cases – Watchwell ( July 2011) and Fluent Speech
  • (November 2012).

The extensive use of recent cases in the LMs, together with appropriately adapted marking keys, ensures that readers can easily identify what is required of candidates in their preparation for the exam.

The study manual comprises five chapters dealing with different components of the preparation process.

Chapter 1 introduces candidates to the Case Study exam. It brings together and summarises information on the Case Study structure and methods of assessment; provides an example of a typical marking key; and offers advice on preparing for the Case Study.

The other four chapters cover the Case Study from two interrelated perspectives. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 address the three key business analysis skills normally assessed in the Case Study requirements.

Chapter 2: Financial Statement Analysis, including a truncated case based on 4D (November 2011);

Chapter 3: Financial Data Analysis, including a truncated case based on IAJ (November 2009); and

Chapter 4: Operational and Strategic Analysis (subsuming Business Trust and Ethical Awareness), including a truncated case based on CROP (November 2008).

These chapters are interspersed with specific ‘skills tips’ for easy reference. The truncated (and fully-updated) cases provide opportunities for practising the analytical technique discussed in the chapter.

Although all chapters are designed so they can be studied individually, they cannot be viewed independently. They are intertwined because financial statement analysis – the analysis of how the business has been performing in its immediate past – informs financial data analysis, which usually considers a current issue facing the business.

The analysis of the business from these two perspectives (past and present) informs, and is informed by, the operational and strategic analysis, which considers the business from the present to the future.

Chapter 5 considers the assessment from an overall perspective of the four assessed professional skills:

  • Assimilating and Using Information (A&UI);
  • Structuring Problems and Solutions (SP&S);
  • Applying Judgement (AJ); and
  • Conclusions and Recommendations (C&R).

Advice is offered on how to demonstrate these skills as effectively as possible in the exam, and how they interact with each other. Chapter 5 also covers the Executive Summary: its purpose, form, preparation and assessment.

The other volumes forming the new LMs; the walkthrough and the two workbooks, will enable students to study in detail how to approach a full Case Study exam, providing material for them to practise ahead of the actual exam. The walkthrough contains a series of interactive questions for students to build up their knowledge and skills.

By working through these LMs, you should come away with extensive ideas on techniques to help maximise your chances of success. With tips, hints and extracts from the examiners’ commentaries, they form a comprehensive toolkit that, if used properly as part of your preparation, will provide a clear pathway to passing the Case Study. 

To listen to the special Case Study exam webinar recording, visit icaew.com/examresources

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 edition of VITAL.