Preparing for a CIM Case Study Exam

The case study style exam is the module 100% of our students dread the most; they fear the unpredictability of the questions, the amount of analysis and auditing and the revision of marketing theory. Tutors have mixed feelings… We love having a case study where there is a level playing field for the student from a management consultancy, the charity worker and the sole marketer at the micro start-up company. We get quite excited at having a topic that’s a bit different but groan at some of the topics – The Prostate Cancer Trust was a memorable one! But we do get quite downbeat when students fail to do the work required at home… and by that we mean answering mock questions, in exam conditions repeatedly, night after night if that’s what it takes.

The case study exam requires a few months of commitment and then it’s done and dusted.

Here are my tips for success:

1. Attend class and do your prep work. You need the syllabus content so don’t miss a session because you’re busy – tell your boss your schedule and make it part of the working week.

2. There is a direct correlation between taking a mock exam and acheiving success. Despite everything we say, about a third of students don’t submit one!

3. Most questions can be predicted by examining past papers, the examiner’s report and the introduction to the case. Your tutor will also give you examples. Use them to practice at home.

4. Print out the case and read it through. Don’t make any notes. Don’t touch it for two days! What struck you about the organisation’s situation? How does this relate to what you know about marketing? Next, read it again and highlight key points, annotate it, do a mind map or whatever technique you prefer… This is a detailed read. Leave it again. Sweep 3 is when you do some analysis… Do PESTEL or your favourite version first, then Porter’s and SWOT. Now you have a clear idea of their situation, the rest of the analysis will be quicker.

5. Most students who fail didn’t answer the last question because of poor time management! Be strict with yourself.

As you can see, exam technique is the most important factor so tarting up your audit for weeks, is not as useful as practising answering questions!

The case study is demanding but it’s also stimulating, absorbing and immensely enjoyable. I still remember mine fondly 17 years on! Good luck!


Cheryl Greyson is TMF’s CIM Diploma Course Level Director and teaches the Delivering Customer Value through Marketing unit.

Cheryl also runs her own successful marketing consultancy business. To find out more information please visit her website here.

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About the Author

Quentin Crowe

Quentin Crowe

Managing Director & Founder of The Marketers’ Forum. Quentin has over 20 year marketing experience in the insurance, sports and education sectors. He has taught every level of CIM since 2002 as well as being a visiting lecturer at Greenwich University. He worked in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market for 13 years before setting up his own consultancy business in 2000.

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