Simon* joined the July 2011 Training-by-Eos Core Tuition Programme having failed the Case Study 3 times. Despite coming through the other ACA exams with little problems, including passing the tough Technical Integration papers first time, his average Case Study mark was 43.
After attending Training-by-Eos tuition, including a 1:1 session with Programme Director and ex-Case Study Senior Examiner Neil Russell, Simon was delighted to achieve a mark of 60 in the July 2011 exam.
We asked Simon what difference Training-by-Eos had made to him, and how he prepared for his successful final exam attempt.
How did you approach your revision?
I made sure I had the core skills: Financial Statement Analysis, Financial Data Analysis and Strategic analysis.
I made my practice purposeful. One thing I hadn't done before was practice the Requirement 1 calculations much. I did this over and over and over again until it was like clockwork. Every second that you practice a question counts. I always did this to time, always as if it was the real thing.
I reassured myself I had the best teaching available.
I know Neil isn’t a fan, but I found spider diagrams very useful for my file to breakdown/summarise topics and also include some detail too if needed.
Did you have tactics for keeping focused during your preparation phase?
I maintained my work-life balance – I planned adequate time for study but also made sure I had time to see my girlfriend, friends, and get fresh air. Detach from the study otherwise your brain becomes bored by the sight/thought of the issues/AI. My rules were no alcohol, get to the gym (even the day before the exam), sleep well. Do not work late into the evening, it does no good.
In terms of mental robustness, I found it important to identify and deal with any areas of anxiety, admit to worst fears, accept them for what they are and be mindful they exist but do not be afraid. You have a job to do - chin up with a smile.
How did you approach the live exam?
Preparation is important. I turned up on the day 1½ hrs in advance. I sat in a cafe and literally wrote out my exam file notes (short hand) once. It got the information flowing through my mind, my brain switched on and settled my nerves.
Timing is also important. Ultimately all the questions are worth equal marks. I learnt from Neil that you must must must must(!) move on after your time on that section is done. The easiest marks to get are those you do at the start of a question. These are the ones you have to get and then your discipline will allow time to get to the second tier of marks. Leave the top marks to the crazy and gifted students – admit that you don't care if they get 90%, you just need 50%. Do your best in the time and get the hell out of there.
Start afresh for the each section. I put a small box at top right hand corner of my planning sheet for a time split between each sub-section of the question. This kept me on track and stopped me running over. I managed each sub-part as if it were a separate task (but obviously still connected).
Planning is essential. Plan each answer in quite a bit of depth. I did ok at this previously but the Training-by-Eos planning sheets helped me to be regimented, ensured a flow to the answer and that I covered all vital parts. Business issues are KEY, get as many down as possible. They are the life blood of your answer/argument.
I didn't do a front cover. Spend time on what can get you the most marks.
Self belief - Silly as it sounds I had a small flashcard with a few points that I read to myself in the exam hall before the start. Let others gaze around and chit chatter. I once read that pro athletes do the same before a big tennis match for example. They tell themselves over and over again they can do it, literally convincing themselves. Points I had written down:
- Trained and marked by the best
- x no. of weeks practice
- You are now a seasoned pro at this
- Do not try to write the perfect answer, pass all 4 sections in the 4 hours
- There will be difficulties, do your best and move on
- Your hard work will pay off, you will pass
- Cherish the day, it will be the last exam you do!
Any final words of advice for a student taking the Case Study exam?
For me the key changes I made between my failing attempts and passing were:
- purposeful practice – as much as it took for me to learn
- making sure I nailed timing & planning
- knowing and using business issues
*Not his real name.
ICAEW published results2
Welcome to our dedicated ACA Case Study website!
UPDATE (19 December 2017) - New London Weekend course dates announced!
As our London Saturdays course has sold out in record time, we are pleased to announce a second London Weekend course (the imaginatively-entitled London Weekend Course 2). Please click here for further details of this course, which will run on 2 Saturdays and 3 Sundays.
UPDATE (15 December 2017) - Results day!
After a rather tricky Requirement 3 in the R4 Limited November 2017 Case Study, we were delighted to see our classroom tuition students achieve our usual high pass rate - 98% overall and 99% amongst students retaking the examination with us after failing with another provider.
We have now released full details of our July 2018 classroom tuition courses so please click here for further details.
We are in the process of updating our Feedback Wall for further genuine comments received from our classroom tuition course students at the November 2017 sitting. Please click here to read a selection of comments received from our students over the last few sittings.
The fully updated July 2018 edition of Cracking Case is due for release in March 2018. Click here for further details.
UPDATE (15 September 2017) - Release of November 2017 edition of Cracking Case
We are pleased to announce that the fully updated November 2017 edition of Cracking Case is now available to purchase.
We have carefully updated the book for the main learning points arising from the markscheme for the July 2017 Case Study (Piccolo Limited) and have further improved our popular Planning & Reminder Sheets with further ideas from our July 2017 classroom tuition courses.
UPDATE (8 September 2017)
We are very pleased to have been informed of another ICAEW Case Study prize won by our students. Jordan Raiye placed first in the ICAEW North East region and first in KPMG nationally with a very impressive score of 86%! Well done Jordan!
This is now our fourth ICAEW prize for Case Study in the last few years - click here to read about our other prizewinning students.