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August Operational Case Study: Here is a look at the pre-seen


The Operational Case Study exam is just around the corner. With the syllabus changes coming into effect in November 2019 it is imperative that you pass these exams. A fail could result in you having to transition halfway and therefore needing to learn a lot of extra material. We’ve been in the business for many years and, to be honest, we consider ourselves to be the Case Study experts. Here are a few things you need to know when preparing for your pass.

 What is it about and what kind off company is featured?

•    AKL Sparkle is a company that designs and manufactures silver beads for bracelets and sells these together with bought in bracelets to a range of retailers.
•    It is based in Newland, a country in Asia which has the N$ as its currency.
•    AKL Sparkle has been trading since 2005 and the founding members, a husband and wife team (Chakri and Kym Lee), still own and run the company.
•    Growth to date has been rapid: starting as artisan silversmiths with a staff of four in 2005 to present day, with a large purpose-built factory employing 829 staff.
•    AKL Sparkle sells two types of bracelet: a sterling silver chain and a leather cord. Both types are bought-in rather than manufactured in-house.
•    AKL Sparkle designs, manufactures and sells a large and constantly changing range of sterling silver beads that can be threaded on to bracelets. The beads are sold individually and are designed to snuggly fit the bracelets AKL Sparkle sell, although they also fit bracelets that competitors sell.
•    Due to the size of the bracelets that AKL Sparkle sells, most competitor branded beads do not fit its bracelets. 
•    AKL Sparkle does not sell its products directly to the end consumer. Instead AKL Sparkle sells to jewellery wholesalers and retailers.
•    AKL Sparkle does not own or operate retail outlets and has no online retail presence.
•    All AKL Sparkle’s sales are made in Newland.
There is more to passing an ICS exam than just regurgitating what you have learnt. We believe that the biggest error made by students is the way in which they answer the questions. Instead of applying what they’ve learnt, students use their answers as a dumping ground for their knowledge.
You cannot simply repeat verbatim what you have learnt, you need to be able to apply it. Therefore, we believe that when preparing for your Case Study exam spend 60% of your time learning and 40% practising exam type questions. Often the difference between a pass and a fail is the ability to apply what you’ve learnt to the situation presented.

For example:

WRONG: “ABC is a costing model that…”

RIGHT: “We have a range of products (name them) which use the resources to different degrees, so we need a system that fairly allocates …”
In addition to the above, be sure to keep the following in mind.
1.    The Case Study exam does not set out to have equal coverage of the underlying subjects. It sets out to have equal coverage of the competencies. Tasks are set around the competencies required. One question might be set to test both a technical skill and a people skill. Make sure you are familiar with the competencies required before you start studying.
2.    You will not be required to do any specific calculations. You may however use calculations in your answer. In fact, we even suggest that you do some ratios to illustrate a point you’d like to make, but the requirement won’t be to do a calculation. Instead of doing calculations, rather look at certain figures and do ratios to illustrate your point. 
3.    You must demonstrate a minimum threshold in all competencies plus integration. Nobody thus far has done well in the exam and then failed because of poor integration. Any well-constructed answer will have good integration.
4.    Keep the examiner in mind when writing your Case Study exam. Examiners consider your script from a ‘Would we employ this candidate in this position (the role of the persona relevant to each level) based on this script.’ Consider your script to be a job application. And consider the pre-seen case study as reading up on the company prior to your interview. It comes down to a pass/fail decision. The examiners ask, “Would I employ this person based on this script?’ As a result, planning is important. We recommend that you allocate 10-minutes planning to a 45-minute answer.
The Case Study exam is no easy task and with the upcoming syllabus change it makes the situation even more daunting. Don’t do it alone, it’s not worth the risk.

How IBTC can help you prepare for your case study exam:
Exam Prep Classes for the August sitting begin on 13 July for Sandton and Cape Town. To sign up go to and click on the book now button and secure a seat in one of our classrooms
IBTC boasts a remarkable pass rate for its Case Study Exam Prep Classes, ranging between 80%-90%.