Angelo Koukios currently works as a financial advisor at Grant Thornton (see LinkedIn profile here). Angelo enjoys a versatile working experience in two different countries (England & Greece) within a variety of industries and roles. His main areas of interest are predominantly financial planning and analysis in the context of financial modelling, along with the application of advanced data analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) techniques. During his free time, Angelo loves to hang out with friends, exploring the beauty of Greece as well as watching and playing sports.
The Strategic Case Study represents the final hurdle for CIMA students. In this article, Angelo demonstrates the importance of the right attitude. His never-say-die attitude and ability to identify and improve his weaknesses saw him improve his score by 25 marks between his first and second attempts.
When did you take the SCS exam and how did you get on? Was it your first attempt?
I successfully passed the SCS exam in May 2019 and that was my second attempt. As the saying goes, “you are allowed to fall, but you must get back up”. I failed with my first attempt with a scaled score of 78 (just 2 marks below the passing grade), and I am sure that you can imagine how devastated I was. I had to go down the same road over again, in the context of a new case study scenario, only because I got a result slightly lower than the pass mark. By being persistent, paying more attention to those small things that make the difference and having the unlimited support of VIVA, I eventually got the desired pass mark, this time 103.
How long did you spend preparing for the SCS paper?
My preparation for the SCS paper lasted approximately 6 weeks. Believe me, time flies! On average, I was studying approximately 4 hours per working day and approximately 10 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Did you take a course or did you opt for self-study?
As you can imagine, self-study and commitment are the most important parts in this journey. However, VIVA’s SCS Genius Study Pack paved the way for succeeding in the exam. The case study preparation videos, professional marking of my mock exams with detailed comments and the one-to-one session helped me to familiarise myself with exam requirements and conditions. In the SCS exam it is not just a test of what you know, but also a test of how you manage to express that knowledge in a specific scenario. This is exactly where VIVA’s terrific contribution makes the difference and equips you with confidence during the actual exam.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with the SCS in relation to your preparation?
Definitely, balancing work, personal and study life is the toughest part of this process. As time is probably the most valuable asset that we have as individuals, the CIMA qualification requires substantial amounts of it, if you want to reap the benefits of this accreditation. Getting inspiration from the virtue of learning more and envisioning a better future are key incentives to push yourself forward and never give up.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with the SCS in relation to the exam day?
I believe that time management is key on the exam day. However, more often than not, good time management is highly correlated with good preparation. The more you know, the more efficient you become when you express that knowhow either verbally or on paper.
Was there an area of the Strategic syllabus that you liked more than others?
Most students struggle with hedge accounting or currency and interest hedges. I was one of those to be honest. However, this gradually became one of my favourites along with valuations, Big Data and the Balance Scorecard.
Was there an area of the Strategic syllabus that you liked less than others?
Probably the areas of Integrated Reporting and GRI were not “my cup of tea”. However, I grasp the main attributes of those two areas and I was prepared to implement them in the case scenario.
Do you have any tips for other students about to sit the SCS?
Stay focused, be confident, aim for the best but also be prepared for the worst. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. SCS is a “once in a lifetime” experience and as such, presents particular challenges that are unique to it.
Were there any study techniques you used that were particularly helpful?
Reviewing weak areas again and again with a fresh view and continuous familiarisation with the industry and the scenario itself are critical success factors for exam success.
Do you have any final comments/recommendations/feelings/thoughts about your SCS experience?
Have fun! The learning process and exams are tough. However, the whole experience makes you stronger and better. As the song says: “At the end of a storm, there's a golden sky”!