Isn’t Planning a Waste of Time?

Dear MJ

Thank you for your feedback and for marking my mock. Can I ask you for your thoughts on the following?

I recently purchased the exam guide so I am familiar with the prescribed structure and planning guidelines as recommended by Astranti. I attempted mock 1 using this approach, as well as mock 2, incorporating your feedback.

However, there seems to be a discrepancy between the Astranti mock exams and CIMA’s actual exams based on past papers. The Astranti questions and recommended solutions are too long in comparison to CIMA’s past papers and recommended solutions.

I have an above average typing speed which should be sufficient to pass the exam as per CIMA’s guidance. However, for me to provide an Astranti ideal answer I would need to double the time or write 4 pages at a rate of 8 minutes per page.

My concern is that the Astranti approach may be too demanding for the actual exam. Time is lost executing a plan as opposed to just answering the question at hand. One runs the risk of waffling in answers just to fill up the paragraphs.

To put into context, this sitting will be my third attempt at the case study. I am really struggling to crack this exam.

Again I would appreciate your thoughts.


Dear Donald

I am concerned about your comment with regards “time lost on execution of a plan as opposed to just answering the question at hand”. If you’ve read through CIMA’s suggested solutions, I think you get the idea that even CIMA answers need to be planned out. Planning is really an integral part of answering, as everything like length, depth, structure is determined during this stage.

While following CIMA’s suggested solutions are great, I rarely find students this succinct when turning in answers, even for mocks. They tend to write more explanation to drive the point across.

Another truth is that we have to prepare students because not all written points will score marks. We always encourage students to write more, answering the requirements. Because the truth of the matter is, the more answers there are, the more possibility of marks.

You’ll note that there is minimal use of theory, application to scenario on the CIMA suggested answers. Yet, these are things that the examiners say they look for from students.

I would agree that CIMA’s suggested solutions are a good gauge of the points, options and discussions needed to be raised for a particular unseen situation, as is Astranti’s suggested solutions. You don’t necessarily need to match everything up with the suggested answers.

While I push to have more, I do realise that not all students are the same. Some think and type faster, some don’t. But we must still try.

What we’re trying to achieve here is to improve your technique to answer and approach the case study exams, to train your mind to see how to apply theories into scenarios without being overly technical, to teach your brain to analyse and come up with solutions, regularly referring to the pre-seen and unseen materials, etc. All this while you are in a time-pressured exam.

I hope this helps you some more on your preparation. I’d certainly agree this is not easy. But it’s a technique that can be learnt. So keep going, you’ll get there.

Your tutor


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