Meet Izzy Savage, our CIMA Operational Case Study prize winner

In this interview we speak to Izzy Savage, our CIMA prize winner, who received this joint first place for her Operational CIMA Case Study exam.

Izzy Savage CIMA operational case study prizewinner.

Meet Izzy Savage, our CIMA Operational Case Study prize winner

In this interview we speak to Izzy Savage, our CIMA prize winner, who received this joint first place for her Operational CIMA Case Study exam.

Find our CIMA prize winner Izzy’s top tips and advice for aspiring CIMA students below.

Congratulations on achieving 1st place for your CIMA Operational Case Study exam. What do you think was the biggest factor that led to this achievement?

It was a bit of a surprise to me; I honestly had no idea what my result would be. The biggest factor, without a doubt, was completing three mock exams during my FI Online Live course. Although I didn’t do particularly well in them, I was able to learn where I was going wrong. In the days leading up to the case study, I worked through past papers from the CIMA website. I applied my pre-seen material to the past papers so I could replicate exactly what I would write in the exam. I also want to say thank you to my tutor, Nadia; she taught us the exam technique really clearly.

What made you choose a career in accountancy? Was there anything that influenced your decision?

At university, I studied Economics and Politics and was interested in finance, I decided to do a year in industry to see if I liked it. I worked for Disney as a Commercial Finance Intern and gained a broad range of experience. I enjoyed my placement and knew I wanted to pursue finance further. In my final year, I was offered a place on the finance graduate scheme at Imperial College London. CIMA was the obvious choice for me, as I was particularly interested in data analysis and management reporting. During the scheme, I rotate between different departments. So far, I have completed placements with Management Reporting, Financial Accounting and have been shadowing our CFO for the last six months. Through the combination of exams and work experience, I have built up my knowledge of accounting and finance. I am looking forward to seeing where my career will take me.

Over the course of your CIMA qualification, you have studied via FI Online, FI Online Live via an apprenticeship. What was your preferred approach to studying?

I like both, but my preference depends on the exam. The live teaching for the case study is great as it is heavily focused on exam technique. I will definitely use FI Online Live for the next two case study exams. I also like live teaching for the more technical exams, as it’s good to have someone explain concepts to you and the ability to ask questions live. For the core exams, I tend to use FI Online.

Do you have any study tips for other CIMA students? Are there any factors you feel massively impacted your CIMA success?

The best way to get exam-ready is by doing as many practice questions as possible. I use FI’s question bank and mock exams to prepare myself. These are a good way to test how well you know the syllabus, and they show how CIMA tends to word their questions and what they are looking for. From my experience, I think CIMA likes to ask questions about small areas of the syllabus that are easy to miss. Make sure you pay attention to the details, even if it’s just one or two sentences in the study notes.

In my opinion, it’s really important to carry out ‘good quality’ revision. If you can’t focus, it’s better to do something else or take a break. It’s best to come back to it when you’re in the right headspace. Learning what works for you when it comes to studying and revising is vital. I am a morning person, so on the weekends leading up to an exam, I tend to study in the morning and have the afternoon off.

Specifically for the Operational Case Study exam, the hardest part is trying to understand the exam technique. I tried to give myself a formula for the ‘perfect’ answer, based on where I was picking up marks in the mocks. I think the key things are:

  • Mention the business from the pre-seen material in every single part of each question, even if just by name.
  • Include obvious points in your answer.
  • Always reference the material you’re given during the exam.

As a CIMA prize winner, what qualities would you suggest a new learner looks for in a tuition provider to get the best experience from their studies?

I started studying CIMA with another provider but moved to FI during the Operational level. FI is easy to get in touch with and has helped me with any queries efficiently. New learners should look for a provider that offers different modes of learning, provides plenty of practice questions and mock exams, and has tutors available for any questions.

How have you been supported by your company and colleagues throughout your studies and how has this contributed your success with CIMA so far?

I am studying CIMA via a Level 7 apprenticeship with FI, so I am lucky that I can do my courses during weekdays as part of the 20% off-the-job learning. I also get some study leave in the days leading up to the exam, which really helps with managing work-life balance. My colleagues are very supportive, and we have a small community of finance trainees at work, all doing CIMA exams, so we help each other out, which is great.

If Izzy has inspired you to start your CIMA journey, you can read more about the CIMA qualification at the links below.

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