Key Study Skills

  • Assignment Calculator
  • Managing nervousness
  • Allocating time and using the marking system
  • Using the reading time effectively
  • Answering multi-choice and short answer questions
  • Answering essay and case study questions in exams
  • Managing exam stress
  • Academic Skills for Success

Answering essay questions in exams

Writing an essay in an exam is similar in many ways to writing an essay for an assignment: It needs to be clearly structured, and your ideas need to be linked and supported by evidence.

Essay questions in exams

  • Read the question through carefully to make sure you are answering what has been asked.  Missing one part of a question can cost you a lot of marks.
  • Make a quick plan of the points you want to include in your answer.
  • Use essay structure: introduction, points, conclusion.  But if you run out of time, it can be a good idea to write notes.
  • Get right to the point from the beginning.  Use the words from the question to write your first sentence. For example:

Question: What do you think is the most important intercultural communication issue in New Zealand? First sentence: At present in New Zealand the most important intercultural communication issue is...

  • Remember to include one idea per paragraph, and to begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence.
  • Make sure your writing is legible.
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling are not as important as in an assignment but should still be of a good standard.

Answering case study questions

Exam questions that ask you to anlayse case studies (also called scenarios) are usually designed to test your ability to relate theories and concepts to real-world situations.

Preparing for case studies before the exam:

  • Start by identifying the theories and concepts covered in your course.  Organise and review the information you have on these theories/concepts so you understand them.
  • Practice reading case studies and identifying relevant information. It's probably useful to practice doing this with a time limit as you will have one in your exam.
  • Practice relating concepts and theories to real-world situations: ask lecturers and check textbooks for practice examples. It is also worth checking past exams for your course to see if there are examples of case study questions.

During the exam

  • Take time to plan: Have a clear idea of how much time you have to answer the question. Then plan to spend some time reading the exam question, the case study and planning your answer. Take time to make sure you have understood the case study and know what the exam question is asking you to do:
  • Read the exam question(s)
  • Then skim read the case study to get the general idea. Highlight or underline key points
  • Reread the question to make sure you understand it and to focus your attention when you reread the case study.
  • Reread the case study carefully. Make a note of any ideas that you think of.
  • Answer the question linking relevant theories and concepts to specific information from the case study. Usually you will need to write your answers in clearly formed paragraphs which have a clear topic that is well-supported with evidence and examples.
  • Instead of simply describing or restating information from the case itself, use specific details or examples to support the points you are trying to make. This is where you link theory to the facts from the case study.
  • << Previous: Answering multi-choice and short answer questions
  • Next: Managing exam stress >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 14, 2023 11:36 AM
  • URL:

Case Study Exercises at Assessment Centers ({YEAR} Guide)

Why Do Employers Use Case Studies at Assessment Centers?

What to expect from a case study exercise, how to prepare for the case study exercise in 2024, how to approach a group exercise, how to approach a presentation, case study exercises at assessment centers (2024 guide).

Updated November 21, 2023

Fi Phillips

Should you be invited to be tested at an assessment center as part of an employer's recruitment process, one of the exercises you may face is a case study .

A case study exercise presents you with a scenario similar to what you would experience in the job you have applied for.

It will generally be accompanied by documents, emails or other forms of information.

You are asked to make business decisions based on the data you have been provided with, either alone or as part of a group of candidates.

A case study enables employers to assess your skill-base and likely performance in the job, providing them with a more rounded view of the type of employee you would be and the value you would bring to the company.

Commonly used in the finance, banking, legal and business management industries, the main advantage to employers of using case study exercises is to see candidates in action, demonstrating the skills they would be expected to use at work.

The skills assessed when participating in a case study exercise will vary depending on the employer, the industry and the job applied for, but may include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Stress tolerance
  • The ability to assimilate information quickly and effectively
  • Organisational skills
  • Situational judgment
  • Commercial awareness
  • Time management
  • Team working
  • Knowledge pertinent to the industry or job, for example, marketing skills

Despite the skills that the employer is actively assessing, such as those mentioned above, success in a case study exercise relies on your ability to:

  • Interpret and analyze the information provided
  • Reach a decision
  • Use commercial awareness
  • Manage your time
  • Communicate well

Practice Case Study Exercises with JobTestPrep

There are generally two types of case study exercise that you may face as part of a selection process:

  • Subject-related case studies pertinent to the job you are applying for and the related industry
  • General case studies that assess your overall aptitude and skills

The actual scenario of the case study exercise you face will vary, but examples of typical case studies include:

  • Expanding a team or department
  • Deciding whether an acquisition or merger is advisable
  • Investigating whether to begin a new product line
  • Re-organisation of management structure
  • The creation of an advertising campaign
  • Responding to negative publicity
  • Choosing from three business proposals
  • Developing a social media presence

Prepare for Case Study Exercises with JobTestPrep

For example: You are presented with the scenario of an IT company that went through an expensive re-brand one year ago. At that time, the company moved to bigger premises in a better area, and two new teams of developers were recruited to work with two new clients. The IT company has recently lost one of those clients and is facing increasing costs as the rent is raised for their premises. The company's directors have concluded that they must make one of the following changes: Make staff redundancies and offer the chance to several employees to change to part-time hours Move to less expensive premises in a less desirable area Combine a move to a flexible working business model where employees work part of the week from home and desk-share in the office along with a physical move to smaller premises in the same area where the IT company is currently based

You are asked to advise the directors on which change would provide the greatest benefit.

Here is another example:

A multi-national environmental testing organization buys out an oil-testing laboratory. A gap test is carried out on whether: The oil-testing lab should be brought in line with the rest of the organization concerning its processes, customer interface, and testing procedures The oil-testing lab should be closed down and its clients absorbed into the rest of the organization The oil-testing lab should be allowed to continue as it is, but new processes put in place between it and the larger organization

You are asked to consider the findings of the gap test and suggest the best course of action.

Just as you would prepare before a job interview, it is always in your best interests to prepare before facing a case study exercise at an assessment center.

Step 1 . Do the Research

There is a whole range of research you can look into to prepare yourself for the case study exercise:

  • The job description and any other literature or documents forwarded to you
  • The employer's website and social media
  • Industry related news stories and developments

Any of the above should provide you with a better understanding of the job you have applied for, the industry you will work within, and the culture and values of the employer.

Step 2 . Use Practice Case Studies

Practicing case study exercises in the run-up to the assessment day is one of the best ways you can prepare for the real thing.

Unless the employer provides sample case studies on their website or as part of their recruitment pack, you will not know the exact format that the exercise will take; however, you can build familiarity with the overall process of a case study through practice.

You can find plenty of practice case study exercises online. Most of these come at a cost, but you may also be able to find free sample case studies too.

For case study resources at a cost, have a look at JobTestPrep .

For two free sample case study exercises, you might like to visit Bain & Company's website .

Scroll down to the Associate Consultant Case Library. Europa also offers an extensive and detailed sample case study .

Step 3 . Timed Practice

Once you have sourced one or more practice case studies, take the opportunity to practice to a time limit.

The case study may come with a time limit, or the employer may have already told you how long you will have to complete the real case study exercise on the day.

Alternatively, set your reasonable time limit.

Timed practice will improve your response time and explain exactly how much time you should allocate to each stage of the case study process.

Step 4 . Improve Your Reading Comprehension

One skill that is key to handle a case study exercise successfully is your reading comprehension, that is, your ability to understand written information, interpret it and describe it in your own words.

In the context of a case study, this skill will help you to assimilate the information provided to you quickly, analyze it and ultimately reach a decision.

In the run-up to your assessment day, put aside time to improve your reading comprehension by reading a wide variety of material and picking out the key points of each passage.

You might find it especially helpful to read professional journals and news articles related to the job you have applied for and the related industry.

Try to improve the speed at which you can read but still retain information too. This will prove helpful during the real case study exercise.

Step 5 . Practice Mental Math

The case study exercise may include prices, area measurements, staff numbers, salaries and other numeric values.

It is important that you can complete basic mental math calculations, such as multiplication and percentages.

Practice your mental math using puzzle books, online math resources and math problems that you create yourself.

You can find plenty of online business math resources, for example:

  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham Math and Business Guide
  • Money Instructor
  • Open Textbook Library
If you need to prepare for a number of different employment tests and want to outsmart the competition, choose a Premium Membership from JobTestPrep . You will get access to three PrepPacks of your choice, from a database that covers all the major test providers and employers and tailored profession packs.

Get a Premium Package Now

How To Prepare for Case Study Exercises at Assessment Centers

Top Tips for Approaching Case Study Exercises

Now that you have prepared yourself, you can further improve your chances of a successful outcome by following our top tips on approaching case study exercises on the day.

Read the Information Carefully

Read all of the information provided as part of your case study exercise to understand what is being asked of you fully.

Quickly identify the key points in the task and the overall decision you have been asked to make, for example:

  • Has the exercise provided you with a choice of outcomes you must decide between, or must you create the outcome yourself?
  • What information do you need to make your decision?
  • Are there calculations involved in the task?
  • What character are you playing in the task (for example, HR manager or business consultant) and what are that character's motivations?
  • Who is your character presenting their response to? Company directors, client or HR department?

Prioritize the Information

Prioritize the information by importance.

Which pieces of information are most pertinent to the task, and what key data do they provide?

Can any of the information be dismissed? Does any of the information contradict or sit in conflict with others?

Divide Up the Tasks and Allocate Time

You will generally be asked to come to a conclusion or advise a course of action regarding your case study exercise; however, you may have to carry out several tasks to arrive at this result.

Once you have read through the information, plan out what tasks the exercise will entail and allocate time for each one.

Do Not Be Distracted by Finding the Only 'Right' Answer

Where you are provided with several outcomes, and you must decide on one, do not assume that anyone's outcome is the only right answer to give.

It may be that any of the outcomes could be correct if you can sufficiently support your decision from the information provided.

Keep the Objective in Focus

  • What does the task ask you to do?
  • Must you choose between three business acquisitions?
  • Are you providing advice on whether or not to invest?
  • Are you putting together a plan for a staff redundancy situation?

Keep the objective of the case study exercise in mind at all times.

Support Your Decision With Evidence

The conclusion you come to may seem obvious to you, but you must be able to support your decision with evidence.

Why would it be better for the company to invest in property overstock? What is the benefit to the company of entering a new market?

It is not sufficient to know which outcome would be the best. As in the real-life business world, you must be able to support your claims.

If you are assessed as part of a group, you must arrive at a conclusion as a team and bear in mind your strengths.

For example, do you have a good eye for detail and would therefore be suited to the analytical part of the task?

Arrive at a list of tasks together and then assign the tasks to different members of the group.

Please make sure you contribute to the group discussions but do not dominate them.

Group assessments are generally used by employers who place value on leadership, teamwork and communication skills.

If you are asked to present your findings or conclusion as part of a case study exercise, bear in mind to whom the task has asked you to make that presentation.

For example, a business client or a marketing manager.

Make sure that you can fully support the reasons that you came to your conclusion.

If you are presenting as a group, make sure that each group member has their role to play in the presentation and that everyone knows why the group came to that conclusion.

Act professionally to suit the job you have applied for. Be polite, confident and well-spoken.

Case study exercises are just one of the many methods that employers use to assess job applicants, and as with any other aspect of the selection process, they require a degree of consideration and preparation.

The best way to improve your chances of a successful outcome and reduce exam tension is to research the job and the industry, practice case study exercises and improve your skills.

You might also be interested in these other Psychometric Success articles:

Assessment Centres – A Guide for 2024

Or explore the Aptitude Tests / Test Types sections.

Case Study support 1 – preparing for the Case Study exam

This is the first in a short series of three articles written for students who are preparing for case study exams. It is based on the authors’ experience in setting and marking CGMA case studies. These articles will be valuable to candidates who are preparing for each of the three levels of CIMA's CGMA Professional Qualification.

Note: These articles take examples from the pre-seen materials and question tutorials for all three levels of the CGMA qualification to illustrate the points made, so a familiarity with these would be helpful. With that in mind, it is recommended that candidates read these articles in conjunction with the other resources that are available to them, including materials that are level specific.

Study planner additional resources: Operational question tutorial material Management question tutorial material / Gateway question tutorial material Strategic question tutorial material For further resources and variants visit the study planner and view a relevant exam session.

The purpose of the case study exam

CIMA describes the case study exam as a “role simulation”. It requires candidates to “respond to authentic work-based activities presented during the examination, drawing together learning from each of the three subjects to provide solutions to the issues and challenges presented”. The case studies at each of the three levels require candidates to imagine themselves as finance professionals with clearly defined roles that are linked to the Operational, Management and Strategic levels of the professional qualification. These roles are outlined in the examination blueprints for each level.

Each case study comprises two separate elements:

  • The pre-seen information is released in advance of the exam. It describes an entity, providing background information on its industry and other information that should help candidates to understand any issues that arise. Each level has its own pre-seen.
  • The unseen information is provided on the day of the exam. It comprises supplementary information that expands upon the background in the pre-seen, along with requests for responses from a colleague/superior that are the exam task requirements.

The case study exam can be described as a “role simulation” because it reflects what happens in the real world by providing scenarios which reflect various types of organisations and industries and require candidates to take on the kind of role a CGMA candidate or member would have in the simulated organisation. CGMA finance professionals are expected to understand the entities that employ them. As they progress through their careers, they are expected to be capable of accepting greater levels of responsibility. When assigned a task they should be able to apply their technical knowledge to the entity itself and the position in which it finds itself.

In the real world, it should be expected that a finance professional would be able to make realistic and sensible recommendations that can be justified in the event of a superior who asks: “why do you think that?”. The case study approach enables CIMA to promote the employability of its students and members to organisations who are recruiting finance professionals who can do more than simply pass knowledge-based exams: the case study role simulation requires candidates to think and act as they would be required to do in the workplace.

CIMA has released a question tutorial for each case study level of the Professional Qualification.

  • The question tutorial for the Operational Case Study relates to GymFiT, a company that operates 102 low-cost gyms. The candidate is expected to assume the role of a Finance Officer, who supports the company’s Finance Manager.
  • The question tutorial for the Management Case Study relates to Grainger, a company that designs and manufactures mobile phones and that operates globally. The candidate is expected to assume the role of Finance Manager.
  • The question tutorial for the Strategic Case Study relates to Fizz, a soft drink manufacturer that operates largely within its home market but is contemplating overseas expansion. The candidate is expected to assume the role of a Senior Manager who reports directly to Fizz’s Board.

Each of the pre-seen documents for the question tutorials describes a very different business, and that is key to understanding what is required in the case study exam. For example, GymFiT is a service company that operates from a large number of separate locations. Candidates will have to take that into account in responding to any requests for support on operational matters.

Using the blueprint to support case study exam preparation

Candidates are expected to have already studied the syllabus material that is relevant to their case study, either through passing the relevant objective tests set by CIMA for the three objective tests at that level or through having been granted exemptions for previous relevant study. Regardless of how they got there, case study candidates are expected to have grasped the syllabus content and now be able to apply it in the context of the case study, to be able to formulate and structure a credible response to a request from a superior/colleague.

For example, the Management Case Study question tutorial sets a task that asks about the challenges associated with transfer pricing for charges to be made by one part of the entity to another, to reflect the transfer of resources. Clearly, a candidate who did not know what transfer pricing was or what a target costing exercise involved, would struggle to answer this requirement. (The need for application to the case – which is clearly crucial in a case study exam – will be explored in a further article.)

To assist candidates in their preparation, CIMA has published a series of examination blueprints, which spell out core activities and expands on those by breaking them down to “I can” statements (headed as assessment outcomes). So, for example, a candidate preparing for the Management Case Study knows that it is necessary to be able to manage internal and external stakeholders (Core Activity E) and that requires the candidate to be able to say “I can explain the behavioural and transfer pricing issues associated with internal trading.”

Making full sense of the blueprints requires careful study and preparation. Every candidate should complete a satisfactory course of study, whether self-led or facilitated by a tuition provider, to ensure that the necessary content has been mastered.

The case study exams reflect the real world in the sense that all tasks are compulsory. It is very risky to skip topics on the basis that they would take too long to revise or have been evaluated as unlikely to be in the exam. It should go without saying that knowledge that has been learned and examined in the past can be forgotten and so there is no substitute for revising study materials to refresh knowledge and to ensure that it is up to date.

Candidate responses which appear to have been written as a summary of the information in the pre-seen and do not reflect any of the framework that is expected from them will receive few marks.

For example, the Management Case Study question tutorial includes a sub-task requirement that relates to the challenges associated with ensuring that a proposed team will be effective. Ideally, candidates would have written strong answers by using their knowledge of the factors that can determine the success or failure of teams, drawn from the syllabus material, with the facts that were presented in the unseen material concerning this particular team. The syllabus material would be a significant element in offering a justification for the arguments, with the facts provided in the case itself enabling the candidate to demonstrate application of that material.

Reading the pre-seen

The pre-seen is made available on the CIMA website before the exam. It is expected that candidates will read and study the document closely and that they will be extremely familiar with it on the day of the exam.

Realistically, the examiner cannot expect candidates to have memorised every single paragraph of the pre-seen. A copy of the pre-seen material is available for reference throughout the exam so candidates can check details. It is quite common for the tasks themselves to repeat key facts rather than risk causing confusion or wasting precious time during the exam. For example, the Strategic pre-seen lists the directors’ names and areas of responsibility, but a task would not take it for granted that you had memorised that list. If a task referred to, say, Simon Bridges then it would remind candidates that Mr Bridges is the Production Director.

When working on the pre-seen material, the expectation is that candidates will develop an awareness of the way the syllabus knowledge that they bring into the case study should be applied. Returning to Fizz, it is clear that:

  • Fizz manufactures a range of products for the consumer market that are sold through third parties (mainly retailers and food outlets such as cafes, restaurants and bars).
  • This is a competitive industry with relatively little scope for innovation.
  • The company has effective governance systems in place.
  • There is financial information that might repay careful study.
  • There is a collection of news clippings at the end of the pre-seen.

The first two points are vitally important because they can help candidates avoid offering unhelpful or ill-informed advice. It is easy to lose credibility through ignoring the nature of the industry.

For example, the sample assessment 2 for the Strategic question tutorial asks about the implications of fixing the costs of ingredients for extended periods. Without going too deeply into the mechanisms available for doing so, Fizz has two basic choices for buying sugar: it can either accept the current market price whenever it places an order or it can make a contract that fixes prices for a specified future period.

The nature of the business really matters when offering advice because Fizz cannot necessarily pass any cost increases on to its customers. Supermarkets may not be willing to pay more for Fizz’s cola drink if the company’s competitors are keeping their prices unchanged.

Regardless of the level of the case study, the nature of the entity will have an impact on the advice that is offered. In the case of the Operational Case Study, our entity is a low-cost gym. Its clients are attracted by low costs and so cost control could be more important for GymFiT than it might be for a traditional full-service gym that promotes itself based on quality of service and facilities. In the case of Grainger, it sells mobile phones and customers might be more interested in quality and functions than in selling price and so cost control could be less important.

The initial read through the pre-seen should involve thinking about all the commercial, regulatory and financial issues that have been provided. The examiner has scope to develop tasks that require candidates to identify the relevant issues and to address them in the context of the case study.

Candidates should always ensure that they understand the content of the pre-seen. The fact that they have had several weeks to study it suggests that they should have been able to take time to interpret the facts that have been provided. For example, the Strategic pre-seen for the question tutorial charts the respective share prices of Fizz and its competitor Qwench. The most striking feature of the graph is that Fizz’s share price has remained relatively unchanged over the period under review in comparison to Qwench’s, which has declined slowly. Another key feature is that the two companies’ share prices have tended to move at the same times and in the same direction, implying that they have been affected by the same events. Candidates might be tempted to focus on the fact that Qwench’s share price was consistently higher than Fizz’s, but this means nothing whatsoever in financial or economic terms.

A closer read

When marking case study exams, it is clear that many candidates conduct their own independent study of the industry and the factors that affect it. That often results in them developing helpful insights that they can use to develop and inform their answers. For example, a candidate for the Operational Case Study might find it helpful to learn more about the background to the industry, the factors that drive demand and the contrast with full-service gym providers. Background research is not mandatory – there will be sufficient information in the pre-seen and unseen documents to enable candidates to write full and relevant answers – however some independent reading and research can benefit case study preparation.

Candidates should beware of the one major risk associated with independent research. Many candidates feel that they must demonstrate that they have read more widely and that often results in them including irrelevant arguments or examples in their answers. Marks are awarded for arguments that are both correct and relevant, so illustrating an argument with a real-world event that bears no relation to the case will simply waste time. Rather than researching the industry in very narrow terms, candidates might benefit more from keeping up to date with the general business news. Many candidates gain credit simply by demonstrating that they have a good grasp of the issues that might affect, say, a service industry and applying that understanding to the case study and its associated requirements.

Many candidates work through the information in the financial statements and use that information to illustrate their arguments. For example, GymFiT’s revenue increased by 24% compared to the previous year, which may be a useful statistic to cite in an answer. Numerical tasks are not set in the case study exams, but credit is given for any relevant computations provided by candidates, including accounting ratios, which support the response to the task.

As with personal research, care must be taken to avoid wasting time on insights from deep study of the pre-seen material just because it is possible to do so. There is no point in telling the marker something that does not relate to the task requirement, even if it is correct.

Candidates should always take care to read through the content of the press clippings that usually appear at the end of the pre-seen. Examiners often provide those in order to help candidates better understand the industry. These may not always be directly relevant to task requirements. They may also be provided with the intention of adding background information that could help candidates to better understand the context of a requirement.

For example, the question tutorial Operational Case Study Pre-seen includes a news article on data analytics and improving health. One of the tasks in the question tutorial deals with the potential usefulness of digital sources and the costs associated with providing gym members with a fitness app. Neither of those requirements could have been predicted from reading the news report, but the background information that it provides would have helped candidates to develop informed and relevant answers.

Prefabricated answers and question spotting

So far, we have argued that candidates can improve their marks by studying the pre-seen and thinking about what might happen in this particular case study, to this particular company. That is a legitimate and helpful frame of mind in which to read the pre-seen and be ready to address the requirements that are set on the day. In contrast, candidates should resist the temptation to read the pre-seen with a view to predicting the tasks that will be set and concentrating their revision on the related topics.

As mentioned previously, the purpose of the case study approach is to reassure employers that CGMA finance professionals are employable. In the real world, finance professionals are expected to be able to respond to unforeseen and unpredicted problems. Case studies will often reflect that by introducing a change of direction or a complication that could not necessarily have been predicted from the pre-seen.

For example, the Management Pre-seen for the question tutorial provides quite a detailed discussion of battery technology. That then informs requirements that deal with a collaborative effort to design a new model of phone that incorporates certain design elements that are restricted by the battery. Candidates responding to that task would have benefitted from close study of the pre-seen in advance of attempting those requirements but would have struggled to have guessed the task in advance.

Question spotting is dangerous because it risks candidates excluding topics from their revision that could form the basis of a task in the exam. The fact that the information in the pre-seen could lend itself to a particular topic does not guarantee that the topic will be examined.

Some responses read as if candidates have read the pre-seen and have prepared a response on a topic which has fortunately come up in the exam. Unfortunately, those answers often stress the information drawn from the present to the exclusion of the additional material that is provided in the unseen content that accompanies the requirements. These “prefabricated” answers read as if they have been written in advance and are then reproduced by the candidate without much attempt to reflect all of the facts that the examiner has provided. These types of responses earn few marks.

It should be stressed that it would be potentially helpful to read the pre-seen carefully with a view to understanding the business and the challenges that it might face. Problems only arise when candidates do not prepare themselves to adapt to changing scenarios or unexpected events.

To sum up …

The case study approach to exams is intended to provide candidates with the ability to demonstrate their employability by asking them to approach practical problems using their knowledge of the syllabus material to develop an appropriate response.

The pre-seen is a key element of that exam and it should be regarded as such by candidates. Close study of the pre-seen material and careful preparation will equip candidates to provide relevant and well-informed answers to the task requirements, drawing on their knowledge and skills to provide solutions to the practical problems presented in the exam.

  • Harvard Business School →

Read posts from

  • Author Alumni
  • Author Career and Professional Development Staff
  • Author HBS Community
  • Author HBS Faculty
  • Author MBA Admissions
  • Author MBA Students
  • 1st Year (RC)
  • 2+2 Program
  • 2nd Year (EC)
  • Application Process
  • Business & Environment
  • Career Change
  • Career and Professional Development
  • Case Method
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Aid
  • Health Care
  • Instagram Takeover
  • Letters to Classmates
  • MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences
  • MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences
  • Partners & Families
  • Social Enterprise
  • Student Life
  • Student Loans
  • Student Profile
  • Sustainability
  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Consumer Packaged Goods
  • Engineering
  • Entertainment / Media
  • Environment
  • Family Business
  • Health Care / BioTech
  • Manufacturing
  • Private Equity
  • Real Estate
  • Venture Capital
  • Diverse Perspectives
  • International
  • Socioeconomic Inclusion


  • Middle East and North Africa
  • South America
  • United States

how to prepare for a case study exam

  • 10 Jan 2018

8 Tips to Help You Prepare for the Case Method

Ninad Kulkarni just wrapped up the fall semester at HBS and wanted to share what he learned about the case method after his first few months in the classroom. 

You Might Want to Read

  • Insights From Harvard Business School’s Peek Program
  • College Students, Take a Sneak Peek at the HBS MBA
  • Getting a Peek Into the HBS Experience

Admissions Events

Check out our upcoming webinars, prospective student days, and information sessions on campus and around the world.

→ – View Events

Recorded Virtual Events

Curious about HBS? We have prospective student virtual events, available by geography, industry and interest.

→ – Recorded Virtual Events

how to prepare for a case study exam

All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study

how to prepare for a case study exam

What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.

What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?

While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.

Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.

The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.

Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:

Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.

Types of Case Studies

The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:

Types of Case Studies

  • Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
  • Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
  • Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
  • Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
  • Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.

Need a compelling case study? EssayPro has got you covered. Our experts are ready to provide you with detailed, insightful case studies that capture the essence of real-world scenarios. Elevate your academic work with our professional assistance.

order case study

Case Study Format

The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:

  • Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
  • Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
  • Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
  • Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
  • Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
  • Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
  • References. Provide all the citations.

How to Write a Case Study

Let's discover how to write a case study.

How to Write a Case Study

Setting Up the Research

When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:

  • Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
  • Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
  • Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
  • Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
  • Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.


Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:

  • Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
  • Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
  • Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
  • Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
  • Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
  • Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
  • Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.

Need Case Study DONE FAST?

Pick a topic, tell us your requirements and get your paper on time.

Case Study Outline

Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.


  • Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
  • Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
  • Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
  • Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
  • Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
  • Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
  • Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
  • Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
  • Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
  • Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
  • Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
  • Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.

Writing a Case Study Draft

After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:

How to Write a Case Study

  • Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
  • In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
  • Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
  • Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
  • At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.

Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study

Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :

‍ With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.

Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.

Finalizing the Draft: Checklist

After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:

  • Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
  • Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
  • Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
  • Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?

Problems to avoid:

  • Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
  • Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
  • Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.

How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study

Let's see how to create an awesome title page.

Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:

  • A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
  • The title should have the words “case study” in it
  • The title should range between 5-9 words in length
  • Your name and contact information
  • Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.

Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:

There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.

Citation Example in MLA ‍ Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA ‍ Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.

Case Study Examples

To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.

Eastman Kodak Case Study

Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany

To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .

Get Help Form Qualified Writers

Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.

Don't Know Where to Start?

Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. Request ' write my case study ' assistance from our service.

Related Articles

How to Write a Concept Paper: Easy Guide for Students

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base


  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
  • Vague sentences
  • Style consistency

See an example

how to prepare for a case study exam

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, November 20). What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods. Scribbr. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, primary vs. secondary sources | difference & examples, what is a theoretical framework | guide to organizing, what is action research | definition & examples, what is your plagiarism score.

Case Study Exams

Case study exams and other types of exams.

Examinations are a core part of UK degree programmes, at all levels of study. There is no need to spend hours pacing the room and biting your nails – just prepare for your exam and understand exam types, and you will have no need to worry!

When are Exams Taken

Exams in the UK are usually taken in January and April/May. For some degree programmes you might not be required to sit formal exams in both or either of these exam periods – instead you might be asked to complete coursework during this period. If you are required to sit exams, you should be aware that the exam weeks usually come at the end of holiday breaks, which gives you ample time to prepare.

Types of Exams

  • Essay exams: The most common type of examination in UK undergraduate degrees is the essay exam. Exams of this nature typically require students to complete 3-4 short essays on topics that test a student’s knowledge of the course material. Students are given 2-3 hours to complete these exams. Essay answers should contain as much relevant detail from your module as possible, to demonstrate the level of your understanding.
  • Multiple choice exams: These exams are comprised of a number of questions with a range of answers, or ‘choices’ provided. Students must select the answer that best fits the question. Many students consider these exams easier because they only need to identify the correct answer among a group of 3-5 possibilities. However, most lecturers will include possible answers that seem correct, as a way of testing the accuracy of students’ knowledge.
  • Oral exams: Oral exams are most common to language programmes, but can also be found in many Humanities and even some Social Science subjects. Students are expected to answer questions posed to them by the examiner. This type of exam tests a student’s ability to apply the skills and knowledge from modules in an immediate, unplanned fashion. In addition, oral exams form a part of postgraduate assessments when students are asked to defend their dissertation through a presentation and question-and-answer session.
  • Open Book Exams : these exams are different from most traditional types of exams because they allow students to bring a course book and/or their course notes with them to the exam.

Case Study Exams or Problem-Based Exams

We will now look at one type of exam in more detail: the Case-Based exam sometimes called a Problem-Based exam. These are different from most traditional types of the exam; They present students with a practical problem that must be solved by applying knowledge from the course material.

Advantages and Disadvantages of case study exams

The advantage of Case study exams is that they allow students to demonstrate their practical understanding of the course topic rather than requiring them to memorise information. They focus on testing a student’s skill development instead of purely theoretical knowledge. One disadvantage is that they can be particularly challenging for students who experience exam stress because they require clear thinking and an ability to make well-thought-out choices in a short period of time.

When are Case Study Exams Used?

Case study exams and Problem-Based Exams in the UK are used mostly in practical skills-based subjects like science, technology, and medicine. They are particularly useful when testing a student’s ability to solve the sort of problems they would encounter if employed in their field. For example, they might test a medical student’s ability to choose an appropriate course of treatment, or a chemistry student’s ability to conduct suitable laboratory procedures.

How Can Students Prepare for Case Study Exams?

The Problem-Based and Case Study Exams require students to review the course material very thoroughly and ensure that they understand how theoretical information can be applied in real-life situations. Students in these exams must demonstrate that they not only know the course material, but they also understand its possible applications. This requires a different study approach than simple memorisation of facts and figures. In addition to ordinary study techniques, it can be particularly useful to practise mock questions. Lecturers will often provide students with the exam questions from previous years, and you can use these to hone your ability to apply course material under pressure.

What to Bring with You

In most case study exams you will not be allowed to bring anything with you other than a pen or pencil and perhaps a bottle of water. However, in some courses students are allowed to bring their course notes.

Preparing Your Notes

If students are allowed to bring their course notes to a case study exam, they should make sure that the notes are written clearly and are well-organised. Part of your revision process should include re-writing your exam notes and organising them in a way that will allow you to find relevant information quickly. This may involve adding sticky notes to pages to identify their thematic content or creating your own ‘index’ list. Regardless, you should ensure that your notes are written very clearly and concisely, but without leaving out key information.

General Assessment Criteria

The assessment criteria for Case-Based and Problem-Based Exams will vary according to the exam subject, so check your module handbook for more details. In general, examiners will be looking for evidence of a clear understanding of the course material. In solving the case study or problem, students should try to demonstrate their detailed awareness of all relevant course material. One way to do this is to ensure that you write down all the steps in your problem-solving, referring to particular elements of the course material as you do so.

Results and Grading

Case-Based exams are usually either Pass/Fail, or they are marked according to the standard UK grading scale, as follows:

70 and above = First class (A) 60-69 = Second class, first division (B) 49-59 = Second class, second division (C) 40-48 = Third class (D) 39 or below = Fail

In many degree programmes, students will be given a chance to re-sit exams if they fail or receive a very low mark. Check your programme handbooks for specific re-assessment criteria.

Understanding the format of exams is essential in helping you prepare properly. Once you know what will be expected, you will be able to spend your time studying in an appropriate way, and this will help you feel confident and relaxed when walking into the exam room!

You may also like

How To Prepare for January Exams


  • AON Hewitt G.A.T.E.
  • PI Cognitive Assessment (PLI Test)
  • Korn Ferry Leadership Assessment
  • Berke Assessment
  • Ergometrics
  • Thomas International
  • Predictive Index (PI)
  • NEO Personality Inventory
  • Leadership Assessment
  • Gallup’s CliftonStrengths
  • Sales Personality Tests
  • Personality Management Tests
  • Saville Wave
  • McQuaig Word Survey
  • Bell Personality Test
  • Myers Briggs Personality Test
  • DISC Personality Test
  • Management SJT
  • Supervisory SJT
  • Administrative SJT
  • Call Center SJT
  • Customer Service SJT
  • Firefighter SJT
  • Numerical Reasoning Tests
  • Verbal Reasoning Tests
  • Logical Reasoning Tests
  • Cognitive Ability Tests
  • Technical Aptitude Tests
  • Spatial Reasoning Tests
  • Abstract Reasoning Test
  • Deductive Reasoning Tests
  • Inductive Reasoning Tests
  • Mechanical Reasoning Tests
  • Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests
  • Fault Finding Aptitude Tests
  • Mathematical Reasoning Tests
  • Critical Thinking Tests
  • Analytical Reasoning Tests
  • Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test
  • Criteria’s CCAT
  • Matrigma Test
  • Air Traffic Controller Test
  • Administrative Assistant Exam
  • Clerical Ability Exam
  • School Secretary Tests
  • State Trooper Exam
  • Probation Officer Exam
  • FBI Entrance Exam
  • Office Assistant Exam
  • Clerk Typist Test
  • Police Records Clerk Exam
  • Canada’s Public Service Exams
  • Firefighter Exams
  • Police Exams
  • Army Aptitude Tests
  • USPS Postal Exams
  • Hiring Process by Professions

Select Page

Assessment Center Case Studies Practice & Tips – 2024

Aptitude Written Exams

Case studies are a central part of the exercises making up most assessment centers . Employers use them to provide valuable insight into the applicants. They provide a way to assess a graduate or job-seeker’s capability and their potential performance after selection. To do this, the assessment center presents the candidate with a simulated situation that might be faced on the actual job and waits to see how the candidate will respond. The information assessors collect proves invaluable to companies as they work through the screening and hiring process with the candidates who are most likely to perform well in the job opening.

What Is a Case Study Exercise?

Case studies are simulation exercises that put a candidate into situations they might actually see while on the job. The exercises can be done as a group or individually. Which it is will depend on the employer and the assessment center. The case studies typically provide information that includes financial reports, market studies, or competition analysis and other information that may relate to any aspect of the profession. It may also provide other company reports, consultant’s reports, new product research results, and more. This makes the exercise similar in some ways to an in-tray exercise though the documents are longer for a case study.

Key Features of Case Studies

The exercise can be presented at the end either in written report format or as a presentation, depending on the preference of those running the exam. The assessors then evaluate the candidate’s ability to analyze information with a logical approach to decision making and their aptitude for tackling difficult situations. From there, they score performance.

Case study exercises often are based on a few core topics. Some of these include:

  • Finding the feasibility and profitability for the introduction of a new product or service
  • Merger, acquisition, or joint venture related managerial decisions
  • Annual report evaluation and profitability and loss analysis
  • Task prioritization and problem-solving with a given deadline

Many times, the case study’s theme or scenario provides the stage for other assessment center exercises, so paying attention to what the scenario is and the information provided about it can prove helpful in further exercises. If this is the case, the problem-solving case study is likely to show up as one of the first few exercises you do after re-taking the necessary psychometric aptitude assessments for score confirmation.

Competencies Required for Case Studies

The key competencies that case study exercises usually assess are:

  • Analytical thinking and assimilation of information
  • Commercial awareness and Innovation
  • Organization
  • Decisiveness and Judgment

The goal of the exercise is to review and analyze the given information to come up with solid business decisions. The assessors will look at both the decision reached and the logical justification for the recommendations. Because of this, the test is not designed to have one ‘correct’ answer. Instead, it is concerned with the approach to solving the issue as much as it is with the solution.

This is the point in the assessment and pre-hiring process where candidates should show the recruiters what they can do. Usually, the exercise lasts around forty minutes. Employers may use either fictional examples or, in some cases, even real live projects with the sensitive information replaced for fictional information.

Due to the nature of the exercise, job-seekers and graduates taking this type of assessment should possess several key skills. They must be able to interpret large quantities of data from multiple sources and in varying formats, use analytical and strategic analysis to solve problems, formulate and commit to a decision, demonstrate commercial and entrepreneurial insight on a problem, and use oral communication skills to discuss the decisions made and the reasoning behind them. Without these key abilities, case exercises may prove challenging for individuals.

How to Prepare for Case Study Exercises?

With the large amount of information presented on assessment center case studies and the many things to consider, it can be difficult to know where to start. Particularly for those participating in a graduate assessment center case studies with no prior experience with assessment centers, the case study may seem daunting.

However, it is possible to prepare with some case study practice and by reviewing assessment case study examples similar to the ones that will be given in your assessment center. These tips for preparation and practice as well the day of will help those facing a case study assessment to do so with confidence.

Case Studies: Tips for Success

Review the advice below as you begin to prepare for the assessment center:

  • If it is a group exercise , show the recruiters you can work with the team.
  • For a group exercise, determine what roles individuals in the scenario are associated with and how they may interact with your or impact the analysis and decision-making process.
  • Determine what information needs to be kept and what should be discarded as early on as possible.
  • Manage time carefully and plan your approach based on the time available to you.
  • Consider all possible solutions and analyze them carefully before choosing a decision.
  • When finished, ensure that you have a solid foundation for the proposal and a plan of action to implement for your chosen solution.
  • Make sure you communicate that foundation and the logic behind your decision.
  • When presenting as a group, actively participate but avoid dominating the conversation or situation.
  • Gather information on the organization, job profile, and any other data that could be in the case study to be prepared before assessment center day if possible.
  • If you do not need to present for a group exercise, consider nominating yourself as someone who can respond to questions.
  • Practice structuring and delivering presentations in a case study format before testing.

If you follow the advice above and put in enough time practicing and preparing to feel confident, you should be able to ace this portion of your assessment center. Remember that the solution is not the most important thing about this exercise. How you work with others and the reasoning behind your answer is. So, use the time you have wisely and do not overlook anything as you work to come to a good solution. As you do this, relax and use this as a chance to show the recruiters that you really know what you said you did during the interview stage . That is what this exam is about.

Assessment Center

  • Written Exercises
  • Job Interviews
  • Competency-Based Interview Q&A
  • In-Tray Exercise
  • Case Studies
  • Group Exercises

Related Links:

  • Situational Judgement Tests (SJT)
  • Job Personality Tests
  • Aptitude Tests
  • Civil Service Exams
  • Police Officer Exams
  • Firefighters Exams
  • Assessment Companies
  • Assessment Centers Guide – 2024
  • Hiring Companies – Find an Employer

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

  • << Previous: Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Next: Writing a Field Report >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 8, 2024 10:20 AM
  • URL:

Management Accounting Mastery

Master the skills needed to pass the cima exams and become a chartered global management accountant, how to prepare for cima case study exams (and pass first time).

I mage: Flickr user Darien Library

How the CIMA Case Study Exams Work (An Overview)

  • The aim of the CIMA Case Study Exams is to teach you how to APPLY your knowledge from the three objective test papers in the workplace.
  • The exam sittings will be held during the fourth week (generally five days) in every exam-month –February/March, May, August and November
  • The tests are sat on PC at Pearson VUE centres and are human marked
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you can apply the following skills from the learning outcomes tested in the three OT exams to the particular business context set in the case – Technical skills, Business skills, People Skills and Leadership Skills
  • The pass mark is 60%
  • Your exam will be 3 hours long made up of 3-4 different time – bound sections and in each section there will be one or more tasks to complete. The requirements within these tasks will not always be easy to identify (this is a skill you will have to learn)
  • You’ll receive pre seen material about a fictitious company around 7 weeks before your exam week to give you background information
  • The exam will then give you updated information on the case and you must base your answers on the new situation brought up by this new unseen information

So how do you best prepare for such exams?

Well let’s look at my recommended steps below…

Step 1: Planning

  • Decide when you will take your exam and book it – You need to be disciplined as to when you book your exam and stick to it – if motivation is a problem, you’ll keep putting off the exam date
  • Decide on your method of study – you can self study (not recommended) or  join an online course
  • Have a study plan that you will realistically stick to right the way through to your exam date. This will be made easier if you use a proven structure from an online course provider. 6-8 weeks should be sufficent.
  • Decide when and where you’ll study – aim to study when and where you’ll be most productive
  • Familiarise yourself with the skills being tested and the role you’ll play, from by blog .
  • Familiarise yourself with exam format and functionality using the CIMA practice exam for your paper
  • Review any Examiners Guides on CIMA Connect.

Step 2: Studying

  • Revise key theories from the 3 subject papers on your level and work through the material that is likely to be tested in your case study exam. Your case study study text will help you focus on the right topics and how they are relevant to the exam you are taking. There are also courses and masterclasses available which are really useful in helping you to revise these topics.
  • Pre seen analysis – Work through the relevant pre seen material from CIMA Connect, paragraph by paragraph asking yourself which models/frameworks/techniques from the 3 objective test papers on your level seem the most relevant to that paragraph and make notes on your pre seen. More detailed advice on pre seen analysis here
  • One Page Summary – summarise all the key information you have obtained from your pre seen analysis into a one page summary and revise regularly
  • Top ten questions – List out the top ten likely questions you’ll be asked in your exam based on what your pre seen analysis suggests. Think about how you would deal with each to pass them should they come up.
  • Business awareness – Keep up to date with what is going on in the business news as it may just be the case that a key issue you have identified earlier will be played out in the real world and so you’ll be able to use how they dealt with it (successfully or otherwise) to demonstrate your business skills in your exam
  • Learn the exam technique required – the things to especially focus on are answer planning, time management, identifying all the requirements, reading the unseen and how to write your full answer to please the examiner.

Step 3: Exam Practice

  • Learn the marking criteria – the four skill areas you need to pass
  • Attempt full mock exams under timed conditions and be strict with your time management
  • Make sure you spend enough time on your answer plans and sense checking your answers for each section
  • Review the solutions – You should review the solutions to your mocks. As you do so take note of the following key elements:
  • What are the requirements and did you find them all?
  • What models/theories have been used that you did not use?
  • What are the key points that you did not make that you could use for similar issue in the future?
  • Notice the style and approach of the solution and remind yourself of the writing style required to pass
  • Get your mocks marked so you can review the feedback – Ideally you will get expert feedback on your mock exams as this will give you a knowledgeable and experienced point of view on your level of performance to tell you how well you are getting on. You can review your own script if you fully understand the marking scheme of the exam and note any key lessons learnt ready for your next mock exam attempt – but I find this very rarely works as we are not very good judges of our own performance.
  • Draw up action plan on what to focus on – don’t overlook this step! Look at the areas of weakness in your mocks and work on those. Perhaps it’s a particular model or theory you need to revise further. More importantly if you are struggling in your time management or writing approach, consider doing some sections of the exam again with a focus on rectifying the problems you have identified.

Step 4: Pre Exam Days

  • Re read the pre seen & the one page summary of your analysis
  • Create a list of key points you want to use in your exam
  • Review all the key lessons from your mocks
  • Re read the key theories just to refresh your mind
  • Try to visit your chosen exam centre
  • Make sure you have your admission slip and ID ready
  • Take it easy the day before your exam – no last minute cramming
  • Sleep well and relax the night before the exam
  • Practice thinking positively ahead of your exam – visualise success

Step 5: During Your Exam

  • Go into exam with confidence – even if you don’t feel like it, try and act like it (trust me this works)
  • Work quickly through your exam and aim to make lots of points
  • Keep going right to the end and try to maximise your marks
  • Keep an eye on the time throughout and stick to your timings
  • Stick to what has worked in your exam practice

Final Thoughts

The CIMA case study exams are more a question of application of knowledge (to the specific situations in the case) rather than detailed technical knowledge itself (this is tested in the objective test exams).

The key to passing is therefore being able to demonstrate your application skills as well as the business, people and leadership areas being tested.

As former golfing great Arnold Palmer said: “The more I practice, the luckier I get” This has never been more applicable than with these types of CIMA exam as exam practice is the real key to success .

Share Button

How to write a case study — examples, templates, and tools

how to prepare for a case study exam

It’s a marketer’s job to communicate the effectiveness of a product or service to potential and current customers to convince them to buy and keep business moving. One of the best methods for doing this is to share success stories that are relatable to prospects and customers based on their pain points, experiences, and overall needs.

That’s where case studies come in. Case studies are an essential part of a content marketing plan. These in-depth stories of customer experiences are some of the most effective at demonstrating the value of a product or service. Yet many marketers don’t use them, whether because of their regimented formats or the process of customer involvement and approval.

A case study is a powerful tool for showcasing your hard work and the success your customer achieved. But writing a great case study can be difficult if you’ve never done it before or if it’s been a while. This guide will show you how to write an effective case study and provide real-world examples and templates that will keep readers engaged and support your business.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is a case study?

How to write a case study, case study templates, case study examples, case study tools.

A case study is the detailed story of a customer’s experience with a product or service that demonstrates their success and often includes measurable outcomes. Case studies are used in a range of fields and for various reasons, from business to academic research. They’re especially impactful in marketing as brands work to convince and convert consumers with relatable, real-world stories of actual customer experiences.

The best case studies tell the story of a customer’s success, including the steps they took, the results they achieved, and the support they received from a brand along the way. To write a great case study, you need to:

  • Celebrate the customer and make them — not a product or service — the star of the story.
  • Craft the story with specific audiences or target segments in mind so that the story of one customer will be viewed as relatable and actionable for another customer.
  • Write copy that is easy to read and engaging so that readers will gain the insights and messages intended.
  • Follow a standardized format that includes all of the essentials a potential customer would find interesting and useful.
  • Support all of the claims for success made in the story with data in the forms of hard numbers and customer statements.

Case studies are a type of review but more in depth, aiming to show — rather than just tell — the positive experiences that customers have with a brand. Notably, 89% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy, and 79% view case study content as part of their purchasing process. When it comes to B2B sales, 52% of buyers rank case studies as an important part of their evaluation process.

Telling a brand story through the experience of a tried-and-true customer matters. The story is relatable to potential new customers as they imagine themselves in the shoes of the company or individual featured in the case study. Showcasing previous customers can help new ones see themselves engaging with your brand in the ways that are most meaningful to them.

Besides sharing the perspective of another customer, case studies stand out from other content marketing forms because they are based on evidence. Whether pulling from client testimonials or data-driven results, case studies tend to have more impact on new business because the story contains information that is both objective (data) and subjective (customer experience) — and the brand doesn’t sound too self-promotional.

89% of consumers read reviews before buying, 79% view case studies, and 52% of B2B buyers prioritize case studies in the evaluation process.

Case studies are unique in that there’s a fairly standardized format for telling a customer’s story. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity. It’s all about making sure that teams are clear on the goals for the case study — along with strategies for supporting content and channels — and understanding how the story fits within the framework of the company’s overall marketing goals.

Here are the basic steps to writing a good case study.

1. Identify your goal

Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

The answer is often found in one of the buyer personas that have been constructed as part of your larger marketing strategy. This can include anything from new leads generated by the marketing team to long-term customers that are being pressed for cross-sell opportunities. In all of these cases, demonstrating value through a relatable customer success story can be part of the solution to conversion.

2. Choose your client or subject

Who you highlight matters. Case studies tie brands together that might otherwise not cross paths. A writer will want to ensure that the highlighted customer aligns with their own company’s brand identity and offerings. Look for a customer with positive name recognition who has had great success with a product or service and is willing to be an advocate.

The client should also match up with the identified target audience. Whichever company or individual is selected should be a reflection of other potential customers who can see themselves in similar circumstances, having the same problems and possible solutions.

Some of the most compelling case studies feature customers who:

  • Switch from one product or service to another while naming competitors that missed the mark.
  • Experience measurable results that are relatable to others in a specific industry.
  • Represent well-known brands and recognizable names that are likely to compel action.
  • Advocate for a product or service as a champion and are well-versed in its advantages.

Whoever or whatever customer is selected, marketers must ensure they have the permission of the company involved before getting started. Some brands have strict review and approval procedures for any official marketing or promotional materials that include their name. Acquiring those approvals in advance will prevent any miscommunication or wasted effort if there is an issue with their legal or compliance teams.

3. Conduct research and compile data

Substantiating the claims made in a case study — either by the marketing team or customers themselves — adds validity to the story. To do this, include data and feedback from the client that defines what success looks like. This can be anything from demonstrating return on investment (ROI) to a specific metric the customer was striving to improve. Case studies should prove how an outcome was achieved and show tangible results that indicate to the customer that your solution is the right one.

This step could also include customer interviews. Make sure that the people being interviewed are key stakeholders in the purchase decision or deployment and use of the product or service that is being highlighted. Content writers should work off a set list of questions prepared in advance. It can be helpful to share these with the interviewees beforehand so they have time to consider and craft their responses. One of the best interview tactics to keep in mind is to ask questions where yes and no are not natural answers. This way, your subject will provide more open-ended responses that produce more meaningful content.

4. Choose the right format

There are a number of different ways to format a case study. Depending on what you hope to achieve, one style will be better than another. However, there are some common elements to include, such as:

  • An engaging headline
  • A subject and customer introduction
  • The unique challenge or challenges the customer faced
  • The solution the customer used to solve the problem
  • The results achieved
  • Data and statistics to back up claims of success
  • A strong call to action (CTA) to engage with the vendor

It’s also important to note that while case studies are traditionally written as stories, they don’t have to be in a written format. Some companies choose to get more creative with their case studies and produce multimedia content, depending on their audience and objectives. Case study formats can include traditional print stories, interactive web or social content, data-heavy infographics, professionally shot videos, podcasts, and more.

5. Write your case study

We’ll go into more detail later about how exactly to write a case study, including templates and examples. Generally speaking, though, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your case study.

  • Be clear and concise. Readers want to get to the point of the story quickly and easily, and they’ll be looking to see themselves reflected in the story right from the start.
  • Provide a big picture. Always make sure to explain who the client is, their goals, and how they achieved success in a short introduction to engage the reader.
  • Construct a clear narrative. Stick to the story from the perspective of the customer and what they needed to solve instead of just listing product features or benefits.
  • Leverage graphics. Incorporating infographics, charts, and sidebars can be a more engaging and eye-catching way to share key statistics and data in readable ways.
  • Offer the right amount of detail. Most case studies are one or two pages with clear sections that a reader can skim to find the information most important to them.
  • Include data to support claims. Show real results — both facts and figures and customer quotes — to demonstrate credibility and prove the solution works.

6. Promote your story

Marketers have a number of options for distribution of a freshly minted case study. Many brands choose to publish case studies on their website and post them on social media. This can help support SEO and organic content strategies while also boosting company credibility and trust as visitors see that other businesses have used the product or service.

Marketers are always looking for quality content they can use for lead generation. Consider offering a case study as gated content behind a form on a landing page or as an offer in an email message. One great way to do this is to summarize the content and tease the full story available for download after the user takes an action.

Sales teams can also leverage case studies, so be sure they are aware that the assets exist once they’re published. Especially when it comes to larger B2B sales, companies often ask for examples of similar customer challenges that have been solved.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about case studies and what they should include, you may be wondering how to start creating great customer story content. Here are a couple of templates you can use to structure your case study.

Template 1 — Challenge-solution-result format

  • Start with an engaging title. This should be fewer than 70 characters long for SEO best practices. One of the best ways to approach the title is to include the customer’s name and a hint at the challenge they overcame in the end.
  • Create an introduction. Lead with an explanation as to who the customer is, the need they had, and the opportunity they found with a specific product or solution. Writers can also suggest the success the customer experienced with the solution they chose.
  • Present the challenge. This should be several paragraphs long and explain the problem the customer faced and the issues they were trying to solve. Details should tie into the company’s products and services naturally. This section needs to be the most relatable to the reader so they can picture themselves in a similar situation.
  • Share the solution. Explain which product or service offered was the ideal fit for the customer and why. Feel free to delve into their experience setting up, purchasing, and onboarding the solution.
  • Explain the results. Demonstrate the impact of the solution they chose by backing up their positive experience with data. Fill in with customer quotes and tangible, measurable results that show the effect of their choice.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that invites readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to nurture them further in the marketing pipeline. What you ask of the reader should tie directly into the goals that were established for the case study in the first place.

Template 2 — Data-driven format

  • Start with an engaging title. Be sure to include a statistic or data point in the first 70 characters. Again, it’s best to include the customer’s name as part of the title.
  • Create an overview. Share the customer’s background and a short version of the challenge they faced. Present the reason a particular product or service was chosen, and feel free to include quotes from the customer about their selection process.
  • Present data point 1. Isolate the first metric that the customer used to define success and explain how the product or solution helped to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 2. Isolate the second metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 3. Isolate the final metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Summarize the results. Reiterate the fact that the customer was able to achieve success thanks to a specific product or service. Include quotes and statements that reflect customer satisfaction and suggest they plan to continue using the solution.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that asks readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to further nurture them in the marketing pipeline. Again, remember that this is where marketers can look to convert their content into action with the customer.

While templates are helpful, seeing a case study in action can also be a great way to learn. Here are some examples of how Adobe customers have experienced success.

Juniper Networks

One example is the Adobe and Juniper Networks case study , which puts the reader in the customer’s shoes. The beginning of the story quickly orients the reader so that they know exactly who the article is about and what they were trying to achieve. Solutions are outlined in a way that shows Adobe Experience Manager is the best choice and a natural fit for the customer. Along the way, quotes from the client are incorporated to help add validity to the statements. The results in the case study are conveyed with clear evidence of scale and volume using tangible data.

A Lenovo case study showing statistics, a pull quote and featured headshot, the headline "The customer is king.," and Adobe product links.

The story of Lenovo’s journey with Adobe is one that spans years of planning, implementation, and rollout. The Lenovo case study does a great job of consolidating all of this into a relatable journey that other enterprise organizations can see themselves taking, despite the project size. This case study also features descriptive headers and compelling visual elements that engage the reader and strengthen the content.

Tata Consulting

When it comes to using data to show customer results, this case study does an excellent job of conveying details and numbers in an easy-to-digest manner. Bullet points at the start break up the content while also helping the reader understand exactly what the case study will be about. Tata Consulting used Adobe to deliver elevated, engaging content experiences for a large telecommunications client of its own — an objective that’s relatable for a lot of companies.

Case studies are a vital tool for any marketing team as they enable you to demonstrate the value of your company’s products and services to others. They help marketers do their job and add credibility to a brand trying to promote its solutions by using the experiences and stories of real customers.

When you’re ready to get started with a case study:

  • Think about a few goals you’d like to accomplish with your content.
  • Make a list of successful clients that would be strong candidates for a case study.
  • Reach out to the client to get their approval and conduct an interview.
  • Gather the data to present an engaging and effective customer story.

Adobe can help

There are several Adobe products that can help you craft compelling case studies. Adobe Experience Platform helps you collect data and deliver great customer experiences across every channel. Once you’ve created your case studies, Experience Platform will help you deliver the right information to the right customer at the right time for maximum impact.

To learn more, watch the Adobe Experience Platform story .

Keep in mind that the best case studies are backed by data. That’s where Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform and Adobe Analytics come into play. With Real-Time CDP, you can gather the data you need to build a great case study and target specific customers to deliver the content to the right audience at the perfect moment.

Watch the Real-Time CDP overview video to learn more.

Finally, Adobe Analytics turns real-time data into real-time insights. It helps your business collect and synthesize data from multiple platforms to make more informed decisions and create the best case study possible.

Request a demo to learn more about Adobe Analytics.

Celebrating 150 years of Harvard Summer School. Learn about our history.

14 Tips for Test Taking Success

Worried about getting through your next big exam? Here are 14 test taking strategies that can help you do your best on your next test.

Mary Sharp Emerson

From pop quizzes to standardized tests, exams are an important part of the life of every high school student.

The best way to ensure that you’ll get the grade you want is to understand the material thoroughly. Good test taking skills, however, can help make the difference between a top grade and an average one. Mastering these skills can also help reduce stress and relieve test-taking anxiety. 

In this blog, we’ve divided our tips for test taking into two categories: seven things you can do to prepare for your next exam and seven things you should do once the test begins. We’ve also included four strategies that can help with test taking anxiety.

We hope these test taking tips will help you succeed the next time you are facing an exam, big or small!

Seven Best Strategies for Test Prep

You’ve probably heard the quote (originally credited to Alexander Graham Bell): “Preparation is the key to success.”

When it comes to test taking, these are words to live by. 

Here are the seven best things you can do to make sure you are prepared for your next test.

1. Cultivate Good Study Habits

Understanding and remembering information for a test takes time, so developing good study habits long before test day is really important. 

Do your homework assignments carefully, and turn them in on time. Review your notes daily. Write out your own study guides. Take advantage of any practice tests your teacher gives you, or even create your own. 

These simple steps, when done habitually, will help ensure that you really know your stuff come test day. 

2. Don’t “Cram”

It might seem like a good idea to spend hours memorizing the material you need the night before the test.

In fact, cramming for a test is highly counterproductive. Not only are you less likely to retain the information you need, cramming also increases stress, negatively impacts sleep, and decreases your overall preparedness.

So avoid the temptation to stay up late reviewing your notes. Last minute cramming is far less likely to improve your grade than developing good study habits and getting a good night’s sleep.

3. Gather Materials the Night Before

Before going to bed (early, so you get a good night’s sleep), gather everything you need for the test and have it ready to go. 

Having everything ready the night before will help you feel more confident and will minimize stress on the morning of the test. And it will give you a few extra minutes to sleep and eat a healthy breakfast.

4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

And speaking of sleep…showing up to your test well-rested is one of the best things you can do to succeed on test day.

Why should you make sleep a priority ? A good night’s sleep will help you think more clearly during the test. It will also make it easier to cope with test-taking stress and anxiety. Moreover, excellent sleep habits have been shown to consolidate memory and improve academic performance, as well as reduce the risk of depression and other mental health disorders. 

5. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Like sleeping, eating is an important part of self-care and test taking preparation. After all, it’s hard to think clearly if your stomach is grumbling.

As tough as it can be to eat when you’re nervous or rushing out the door, plan time in your morning on test day to eat a healthy breakfast. 

A mix of complex carbohydrates and healthy protein will keep you feeling full without making you feel sluggish. Whole wheat cereal, eggs, oatmeal, berries, and nuts may be great choices (depending on your personal dietary needs and preferences). It’s best to avoid foods that are high in sugar, as they can give you a rush of energy that will wear off quickly, leaving you feeling tired.

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water. If possible, bring a bottle of water with you on test day.

6. Arrive Early

Arriving early at a test location can help decrease stress. And it allows you to get into a positive state of mind before the test starts. 

Choose your seat as soon as possible. Organize your materials so they are readily available when you need them. Make sure you are physically comfortable (as much as possible). 

By settling in early, you are giving yourself time to get organized, relaxed, and mentally ready for the test to begin. Even in a high school setting, maximizing the time you have in the test classroom—even if it’s just a couple of minutes—can help you feel more comfortable, settled, and focused before the test begins. 

7. Develop Positive Rituals

Don’t underestimate the importance of confidence and a positive mindset in test preparation. 

Positive rituals can help combat negative thinking, test anxiety, and lack of focus that can easily undermine your success on test day. Plan some extra time to go for a short walk or listen to your favorite music. Engage in simple breathing exercises. Visualize yourself succeeding on the test. 

Your rituals can be totally unique to you. The important thing is developing a calming habit that will boost your confidence, attitude, and concentration when the test begins.

Explore College Programs for High School Students at Harvard Summer School.

Seven Best Test-Taking Tips for Success

You have gotten a good night’s sleep, eaten a healthy breakfast, arrived early, and done your positive test-day ritual. You are ready to start the test! 

Different types of tests require different test taking strategies. You may not want to approach a math test the same way you would an essay test, for example. And some computerized tests such as SATs require you to work through the test in a specific way.

However, there are some general test taking strategies that will improve your chances of getting the grade you want on most, if not all, tests. 

1. Listen to the Instructions

Once the test is front of you, it’s tempting to block everything out so you can get started right away. 

Doing so, however, could cause you to miss out on critical information about the test itself.

The teacher or proctor may offer details about the structure of the test, time limitations, grading techniques, or other items that could impact your approach. They may also point out steps that you are likely to miss or other tips to help improve your chances of success. 

So be sure to pay close attention to their instructions before you get started.

2. Read the Entire Test

If possible, look over the entire test quickly before you get started. Doing so will help you understand the structure of the test and identify areas that may need more or less time. 

Once you read over the test, you can plan out how you want to approach each section of the test to ensure that you can complete the entire test within the allotted time.

3. Do a “Brain Dump”

For certain types of tests, remembering facts, data, or formulas is key. For these tests, it can be helpful to take a few minutes to write down all the information you need on a scrap paper before you get started. 

Putting that important information on paper can relieve stress and help you focus on the test questions without worrying about your ability to recall the facts. And now you have a kind of “cheat sheet” to refer to throughout the test!

4. Answer the Questions You Know First

When possible, do a first pass through the test to answer the “easy” questions or the ones you know right away. When you come to a question that you can’t answer (relatively) quickly, skip it on this first pass. 

Don’t rush through this first pass, but do be mindful of time—you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to go back and answer the questions you skipped. 

* It’s important to remember that this technique is not possible on some tests. Standardized computer-based tests often do not allow you to skip questions and return to them later. On these types of tests, you will need to work through each problem in order instead of skipping around. 

5. Answer the Questions You Skipped

Once you’ve done a first pass, you now have to go back and answer the questions you skipped.

In the best case scenario, you might find some of these questions aren’t as challenging as you thought at first. Your mind is warmed up and you are fully engaged and focused at this point in the test. And answering the questions you know easily may have reminded you of the details you need for these questions.

Of course you may still struggle with some of the questions, and that’s okay. Hopefully doing a first pass somewhat quickly allows you to take your time with the more challenging questions.

6. Be Sure the Test is Complete

Once you think you’ve answered all the questions, double check to make sure you didn’t miss any. Check for additional questions on the back of the paper, for instance, or other places that you might have missed or not noticed during your initial read-through.

A common question is whether you should skip questions that you can’t answer. It’s not possible to answer that question in a general sense: it depends on the specific test and the teacher’s rules. It may also depend on the value of each individual question, and whether your teacher gives partial credit.

But, if you’re not penalized for a wrong answer or you are penalized for leaving an answer blank, it is probably better to put something down than nothing.

7. Check Your Work

Finally, if you have time left, go back through the test and check your answers. 

Read over short answer and essay questions to check for typos, points you may have missed, or better ways to phrase your answers. If there were multiple components to the question, make sure you answered all of them. Double check your answers on math questions in case you made a small error that impacts the final answer. You don’t want to overthink answers, but a doublecheck can help you find—and correct—obvious mistakes.

Four Ways to Cope with Test-Taking Anxiety

Nearly every student gets nervous before a test at some point, especially if the exam is an important one. If you are lucky, your pre-test nervousness is mild and can be mitigated by these test taking tips. 

A mild case of nerves can even be somewhat beneficial (if uncomfortable); the surge of adrenaline at the root of a nervous feeling can keep you focused and energized.

For some students, however, test taking anxiety—a form of performance anxiety—can be debilitating and overwhelming. This level of anxiety can be extremely difficult to cope with. 

However, there are a few things you can do before and during a test to help cope with more severe stress and anxiety:

1. Take a Meditation or Sitting Stretch Break

Take a minute or two before or even during a test to focus on your breathing, relax tense muscles, do a quick positive visualization, or stretch your limbs. The calming effect can be beneficial and worth a few minutes of test time. 

2. Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones

Learn to recognize when your brain is caught in a cycle of negative thinking and practice turning negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, when you catch yourself saying “I’m going to fail”, force yourself to say “I’m going to succeed” instead. With practice, this can be a powerful technique to break the cycle of negative thinking undermining your confidence.

3. Mistakes are Learning Opportunities

It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about a bad grade. Instead, remind yourself that it’s ok to make mistakes. A wrong answer on a test is an opportunity to understand where you need to fill in a gap in your knowledge or spend some extra time studying. 

4. Seek Professional Help

Test taking anxiety is very real and should be taken seriously. If you find that your anxiety does not respond to these calming tips, it’s time to seek professional help. Your guidance counselor or a therapist may be able to offer long-term strategies for coping with test taking anxiety. Talk with your parents or guardians about finding someone to help you cope.

Following these test taking tips can’t guarantee that you will get an A on your next big test. Only hard work and lots of study time can do that. 

However, these test taking strategies can help you feel more confident and perform better on test day. Tests may be an inevitable part of student life, but with preparation and confidence, you can succeed on them all!

Sign up for our mailing list for important information about Harvard Summer School.

About the Author

Digital Content Producer

Emerson is a Digital Content Producer at Harvard DCE. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and Yale University and started her career as an international affairs analyst. She is an avid triathlete and has completed three Ironman triathlons, as well as the Boston Marathon.

Everything You Need to Know About College Summer School: The Complete Guide

This guide will outline the benefits of summer courses and offer tips on how to get the most out of your experience.

Harvard Division of Continuing Education

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) at Harvard University is dedicated to bringing rigorous academics and innovative teaching capabilities to those seeking to improve their lives through education. We make Harvard education accessible to lifelong learners from high school to retirement.

Harvard Division of Continuing Education Logo


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to study for a test: 17 expert tips.

author image

Other High School


Do you have a big exam coming up, but you're not sure how to prepare for it? Are you looking to improve your grades or keep them strong but don't know the best way to do this? We're here to help! In this guide, we've compiled the 17 best tips for how to study for a test. No matter what grade you're in or what subject you're studying, these tips will give you ways to study faster and more effectively. If you're tired of studying for hours only to forget everything when it comes time to take a test, follow these tips so you can be well prepared for any exam you take.

How to Study for a Test: General Tips

The four tips below are useful for any test or class you're preparing for. Learn the best way to study for a test from these tips and be prepared for any future exams you take.

#1: Stick to a Study Schedule

If you're having trouble studying regularly, creating a study schedule can be a huge help. Doing something regularly helps your mind get used to it. If you set aside a time to regularly study and stick to it, it'll eventually become a habit that's (usually) easy to stick to. Getting into a fixed habit of studying will help you improve your concentration and mental stamina over time. And, just like any other training, your ability to study will improve with time and effort.

Take an honest look at your schedule (this includes schoolwork, extracurriculars, work, etc.) and decide how often you can study without making your schedule too packed. Aim for at least an hour twice a week. Next, decide when you want to study, such as Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 7-8pm, and stick to your schedule . In the beginning, you may need to tweak your schedule, but you'll eventually find the study rhythm that works best for you. The important thing is that you commit to it and study during the same times each week as often as possible.

#2: Start Studying Early and Study for Shorter Periods

Some people can cram for several hours the night before the test and still get a good grade. However, this is rarer than you may hope. Most people need to see information several times, over a period of time, for them to really commit it to memory. This means that, instead of doing a single long study session, break your studying into smaller sessions over a longer period of time. Five one-hour study sessions over a week will be less stressful and more effective than a single five-hour cram session. It may take a bit of time for you to learn how long and how often you need to study for a class, but once you do you'll be able to remember the information you need and reduce some of the stress that comes from schoolwork, tests, and studying.

#3: Remove Distractions

When you're studying, especially if it's for a subject you don't enjoy, it can be extremely tempting to take "quick breaks" from your work. There are untold distractions all around us that try to lure our concentration away from the task at hand. However, giving in to temptation can be an awful time suck. A quick glance at your phone can easily turn into an hour of wasting time on the internet, and that won't help you get the score you're looking for. In order to avoid distractions, remove distractions completely from your study space.

Eat a meal or a snack before you begin studying so you're not tempted to rummage through the fridge as a distraction. Silence your phone and keep it in an entirely different room. If you're studying on a computer, turn your WIFI off if it's not essential to have. Make a firm rule that you can't get up to check on whatever has you distracted until your allotted study time is up.

#4: Reward Yourself When You Hit a Milestone

To make studying a little more fun, give yourself a small reward whenever you hit a study milestone. For example, you might get to eat a piece of candy for every 25 flashcards you test yourself on, or get to spend 10 minutes on your phone for every hour you spend studying. You can also give yourself larger rewards for longer-term goals, such as going out to ice cream after a week of good study habits. Studying effectively isn't always easy, and by giving yourself rewards, you'll keep yourself motivated.


Our pets are not the only ones who deserve rewards.

Tips for Learning and Remembering Information

While the default method of studying is reading through class notes, this is actually one of the least effective ways of learning and remembering information. In this section we cover four much more useful methods. You'll notice they all involve active learning, where you're actively reworking the material, rather than just passively reading through notes. Active studying has been shown to be a much more effective way to understand and retain information, and it's what we recommend for any test you're preparing for.

#5: Rewrite the Material in Your Own Words

It can be easy to get lost in a textbook and look back over a page, only to realize you don't remember anything about what you just read. Fortunately, there's a way to avoid this.

For any class that requires lots of reading, be sure to stop periodically as you read. Pause at the end of a paragraph/page/chapter (how much you can read at once and still remember clearly will likely depend on the material you're reading) and—without looking!—think about what the text just stated. Re-summarize it in your own words, and write down bullet points if that helps. Now, glance back over the material and make sure you summarized the information accurately and included all the important details. Take note of whatever you missed, then pick up your reading where you left off.

Whether you choose to summarize the text aloud or write down notes, re-wording the text is a very effective study tool. By rephrasing the text in your own words, you're ensuring you're actually remembering the information and absorbing its meaning, rather than just moving your eyes across a page without taking in what you're reading.

#6: Make Flashcards

Flashcards are a popular study tool for good reason! They're easy to make, easy to carry around, easy to pull out for a quick study session, and they're a more effective way of studying than just reading through pages of notes. Making your own flashcards is especially effective because you'll remember more information just through the act of writing it down on the cards. For any subjects in which you must remember connections between terms and information, such as formulas, vocabulary, equations, or historical dates, flashcards are the way to go. We recommend using the Waterfall Method when you study with flashcards since it's the fastest way to learn all the material on the cards.

#7: Teach the Material to Someone Else

Teaching someone else is a great way to organize the information you've been studying and check your grasp of it. It also often shows you that you know more of the material than you think! Find a study-buddy, or a friend/relative/pet or even just a figurine or stuffed animal and explain the material to them as if they're hearing about it for the first time. Whether the person you're teaching is real or not, teaching material aloud requires you to re-frame the information in new ways and think more carefully about how all the elements fit together. The act of running through the material in this new way also helps you more easily lock it in your mind.

#8: Make Your Own Study Guides

Even if your teacher provides you with study guides, we highly recommend making your own study materials. Just making the materials will help the information sink into your mind, and when you make your own study guides, you can customize them to the way you learn best, whether that's flashcards, images, charts etc. For example, if you're studying for a biology test, you can draw your own cell and label the components, make a Krebs cycle diagram, map out a food chain, etc. If you're a visual learner (or just enjoy adding images to your study materials), include pictures and diagrams.

Sometimes making your own charts and diagrams will mean recreating the ones in your textbook from memory, and sometimes it will mean putting different pieces of information together yourself. Whatever the diagram type and whatever the class, writing your information down and making pictures out of it will be a great way to help you remember the material.


How to Study for a History Test

History tests are notorious for the amount of facts and dates you need to know. Make it easier to retain the information by using these two tips.

#9: Know Causes and Effects

It's easy and tempting to simply review long lists of dates of important events, but this likely won't be enough for you to do well on a history test, especially if it has any writing involved. Instead of only learning the important dates of, say, WWI, focus on learning the factors that led to the war and what its lasting impacts on the world were. By understanding the cause and effects of major events, you'll be able to link them to the larger themes you're learning in history class. Also, having more context about an event can often make it easier to remember little details and dates that go along with it.

#10: Make Your Own Timelines

Sometimes you need to know a lot of dates for a history test. In these cases, don't think passively reading your notes is enough. Unless you have an amazing memory, it'll take you a long time for all those dates to sink into your head if you only read through a list of them. Instead, make your own timeline.

Make your first timeline very neat, with all the information you need to know organized in a way that makes sense to you (this will typically be chronologically, but you may also choose to organize it by theme). Make this timeline as clear and helpful as you can, using different colors, highlighting important information, drawing arrows to connecting information, etc. Then, after you've studied enough to feel you have a solid grasp of the dates, rewrite your timeline from memory. This one doesn't have to be neat and organized, but include as much information as you remember. Continue this pattern of studying and writing timelines from memory until you have all the information memorized.


Know which direction events occur in to prepare for history tests.

How to Study for a Math Test

Math tests can be particularly intimating to many students, but if you're well-prepared for them, they're often straightforward.

#11: Redo Homework Problems

More than most tests, math tests usually are quite similar to the homework problems you've been doing. This means your homework contains dozens of practice problems you can work through. Try to review practice problems from every topic you'll be tested on, and focus especially on problems that you struggled with. Remember, don't just review how you solved the problem the first time. Instead, rewrite the problem, hide your notes, and solve it from scratch. Check your answer when you're finished. That'll ensure you're committing the information to memory and actually have a solid grasp of the concepts.

#12: Make a Formula Sheet

You're likely using a lot of formulas in your math class, and it can be hard remembering what they are and when to use them. Throughout the year, as you learn a new important formula, add it to a formula sheet you've created. For each formula, write out the formula, include any notes about when to use it, and include a sample problem that uses the formula. When your next math test rolls around, you'll have a useful guide to the key information you've been learning.

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

Connect With a Tutor Now

How to Study for an English Test

Whether your English test involves writing or not, here are two tips to follow as you prepare for it.

#13: Take Notes as You Read

When you're assigned reading for English class, it can be tempting to get through the material as quickly as possible and then move on to something else. However, this is not a good way to retain information, and come test day, you may be struggling to remember a lot of what you read. Highlighting important passages is also too passive a way to study. The way to really retain the information you read is to take notes. This takes more time and effort, but it'll help you commit the information to memory. Plus, when it comes time to study, you'll have a handy study guide ready and won't have to frantically flip through the book to try to remember what you read. The more effort you put into your notes, the more helpful they'll be. Consider organizing them by theme, character, or however else makes sense to you.

#14: Create Sample Essay Outlines

If the test you're taking requires you to write an essay, one of the best ways to be prepared is to develop essay outlines as you study. First, think about potential essay prompts your teacher might choose you to write about. Consider major themes, characters, plots, literary comparisons, etc., you discussed in class, and write down potential essay prompts. Just doing this will get you thinking critically about the material and help you be more prepared for the test.

Next, write outlines for the prompts you came up with (or, if you came up with a lot of prompts, choose the most likely to outline). These outlines don't need to contain much information, just your thesis and a few key points for each body paragraph. Even if your teacher chooses a different prompt than what you came up with, just thinking about what to write about and how you'll organize your thoughts will help you be more prepared for the test.


Fancy pen and ink not required to write essay outlines.

What to Do the Night Before the Test

Unfortunately, the night before a test is when many students make study choices that actually hurt their chances of getting a good grade. These three tips will help you do some final review in a way that helps you be at the top of your game the next day.

#15: Get Enough Sleep

One of the absolute best ways to prepare for a test-any test-is to be well-rested when you sit down to take it. Staying up all night cramming information isn't an effective way of studying, and being tired the next day can seriously impact your test-taking skills. Aim to get a solid eight hours of sleep the night before the test so that you can wake up refreshed and at the top of your test-taking game.

#16: Review Major Concepts

It can be tempting to try to go through all your notes the night before a test to review as much information as possible, but this will likely only leave you stressed to and overwhelmed by the information you're trying to remember. If you've been regularly reviewing information throughout the class, you shouldn't need much more than a quick review of major ideas, and perhaps a few smaller details you have difficulty remembering. Even if you've gotten behind on studying and are trying to review a lot of information, resist the information to cram and focus on only a few major topics. By keeping your final night review manageable, you have a better chance of committing that information to memory, and you'll avoid lack of sleep from late night cramming.

#17: Study Right Before You Go to Sleep

Studies have shown that if you review material right before you go to sleep, you have better memory recall the next day. (This is also true if you study the information right when you wake up.) This doesn't mean you should cram all night long (remember tip #15), but if there are a few key pieces of information you especially want to review or are having trouble committing to memory, review them right before you go to bed. Sweet dreams!

Summary: The Best Way to Study for a Test

If you're not sure how to study for a test effectively, you might end up wasting hours of time only to find that you've barely learned anything at all. Overall, the best way to study for a test, whether you want to know how to study for a math test or how to study for a history test, is to study regularly and practice active learning. Cramming information and trying to remember things just by looking over notes will rarely get you the score you want. Even though the tips we suggest do take time and effort on your part, they'll be worth it when you get the score you're working towards.

What's Next?

Want tips specifically on how to study for AP exams? We've outlined the f ive steps you need to follow to ace your AP classes.

Taking the SAT and need study tips? Our guide has every study tip you should follow to reach your SAT goal score.

Or are you taking the ACT instead? We've got you covered! Read our guide to learn four different ways to study for the ACT so you can choose the study plan that's best for you.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

Student and Parent Forum

Our new student and parent forum, at , allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.

Join the Conversation

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!

Improve With Our Famous Guides

  • For All Students

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points

How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:

Score 800 on SAT Math

Score 800 on SAT Reading

Score 800 on SAT Writing

Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:

Score 600 on SAT Math

Score 600 on SAT Reading

Score 600 on SAT Writing

Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?

15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points

How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:

36 on ACT English

36 on ACT Math

36 on ACT Reading

36 on ACT Science

Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:

24 on ACT English

24 on ACT Math

24 on ACT Reading

24 on ACT Science

What ACT target score should you be aiming for?

ACT Vocabulary You Must Know

ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score

How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League

How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA

How to Write an Amazing College Essay

What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?

Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide

Should you retake your SAT or ACT?

When should you take the SAT or ACT?

Stay Informed

how to prepare for a case study exam

Get the latest articles and test prep tips!

Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?

Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:

GRE Online Prep Blog

GMAT Online Prep Blog

TOEFL Online Prep Blog

Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”

We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

  • Google Login

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

  • Google Analytics

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

  • Google Tag Manager
  • Infographics
  • Daily Infographics
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Data Visualization
  • Human Resources
  • Training and Development
  • Beginner Guides

Blog Case Study

How to Present a Case Study like a Pro (With Examples)

By Danesh Ramuthi , Sep 07, 2023

How Present a Case Study like a Pro

In today’s world, where data is king and persuasion is queen, a killer case study can change the game. Think high-powered meetings at fancy companies or even nailing that college presentation: a rock-solid case study could be the magic weapon you need.

Okay, let’s get real: case studies can be kinda snooze-worthy. But guess what? They don’t have to be!

In this article, you’ll learn all about crafting and presenting powerful case studies. From selecting the right metrics to using persuasive narrative techniques, I will cover every element that transforms a mere report into a compelling case study. 

And if you’re feeling a little lost, don’t worry! There are cool tools like Venngage’s Case Study Creator to help you whip up something awesome, even if you’re short on time. Plus, the pre-designed case study templates are like instant polish because let’s be honest, everyone loves a shortcut.

Click to jump ahead: 

What is a case study presentation?

Purpose of presenting a case study, how to structure a case study presentation, how long should a case study presentation be, 5 case study presentation templates, tips for delivering an effective case study presentation, common mistakes to avoid in a case study presentation, how to present a case study faqs.

A case study presentation involves a comprehensive examination of a specific subject, which could range from an individual, group, location, event, organization or phenomenon.

They’re like puzzles you get to solve with the audience, all while making you think outside the box.

Unlike a basic report or whitepaper, the purpose of a case study presentation is to stimulate critical thinking among the viewers. 

The primary objective of a case study is to provide an extensive and profound comprehension of the chosen topic. You don’t just throw numbers at your audience. You use examples and real-life cases to make you think and see things from different angles.

how to prepare for a case study exam

The primary purpose of presenting a case study is to offer a comprehensive, evidence-based argument that informs, persuades and engages your audience.

Here’s the juicy part: presenting that case study can be your secret weapon. Whether you’re pitching a groundbreaking idea to a room full of suits or trying to impress your professor with your A-game, a well-crafted case study can be the magic dust that sprinkles brilliance over your words.

Think of it like digging into a puzzle you can’t quite crack . A case study lets you explore every piece, turn it over and see how it fits together. This close-up look helps you understand the whole picture, not just a blurry snapshot.

It’s also your chance to showcase how you analyze things, step by step, until you reach a conclusion. It’s all about being open and honest about how you got there.

Besides, presenting a case study gives you an opportunity to connect data and real-world scenarios in a compelling narrative. It helps to make your argument more relatable and accessible, increasing its impact on your audience.

One of the contexts where case studies can be very helpful is during the job interview. In some job interviews, you as candidates may be asked to present a case study as part of the selection process.

Having a case study presentation prepared allows the candidate to demonstrate their ability to understand complex issues, formulate strategies and communicate their ideas effectively.

Case Study Example Psychology

The way you present a case study can make all the difference in how it’s received. A well-structured presentation not only holds the attention of your audience but also ensures that your key points are communicated clearly and effectively.

In this section, let’s go through the key steps that’ll help you structure your case study presentation for maximum impact.

Let’s get into it. 

Open with an introductory overview 

Start by introducing the subject of your case study and its relevance. Explain why this case study is important and who would benefit from the insights gained. This is your opportunity to grab your audience’s attention.

Explain the problem in question

Dive into the problem or challenge that the case study focuses on. Provide enough background information for the audience to understand the issue. If possible, quantify the problem using data or metrics to show the magnitude or severity.

Detail the solutions to solve the problem

After outlining the problem, describe the steps taken to find a solution. This could include the methodology, any experiments or tests performed and the options that were considered. Make sure to elaborate on why the final solution was chosen over the others.

Key stakeholders Involved

Talk about the individuals, groups or organizations that were directly impacted by or involved in the problem and its solution. 

Stakeholders may experience a range of outcomes—some may benefit, while others could face setbacks.

For example, in a business transformation case study, employees could face job relocations or changes in work culture, while shareholders might be looking at potential gains or losses.

Discuss the key results & outcomes

Discuss the results of implementing the solution. Use data and metrics to back up your statements. Did the solution meet its objectives? What impact did it have on the stakeholders? Be honest about any setbacks or areas for improvement as well.

Include visuals to support your analysis

Visual aids can be incredibly effective in helping your audience grasp complex issues. Utilize charts, graphs, images or video clips to supplement your points. Make sure to explain each visual and how it contributes to your overall argument.

Pie charts illustrate the proportion of different components within a whole, useful for visualizing market share, budget allocation or user demographics.

This is particularly useful especially if you’re displaying survey results in your case study presentation.

how to prepare for a case study exam

Stacked charts on the other hand are perfect for visualizing composition and trends. This is great for analyzing things like customer demographics, product breakdowns or budget allocation in your case study.

Consider this example of a stacked bar chart template. It provides a straightforward summary of the top-selling cake flavors across various locations, offering a quick and comprehensive view of the data.

how to prepare for a case study exam

Not the chart you’re looking for? Browse Venngage’s gallery of chart templates to find the perfect one that’ll captivate your audience and level up your data storytelling.

Recommendations and next steps

Wrap up by providing recommendations based on the case study findings. Outline the next steps that stakeholders should take to either expand on the success of the project or address any remaining challenges.

Acknowledgments and references

Thank the people who contributed to the case study and helped in the problem-solving process. Cite any external resources, reports or data sets that contributed to your analysis.

Feedback & Q&A session

Open the floor for questions and feedback from your audience. This allows for further discussion and can provide additional insights that may not have been considered previously.

Closing remarks

Conclude the presentation by summarizing the key points and emphasizing the takeaways. Thank your audience for their time and participation and express your willingness to engage in further discussions or collaborations on the subject.

how to prepare for a case study exam

Well, the length of a case study presentation can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the needs of your audience. However, a typical business or academic presentation often lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. 

This time frame usually allows for a thorough explanation of the case while maintaining audience engagement. However, always consider leaving a few minutes at the end for a Q&A session to address any questions or clarify points made during the presentation.

When it comes to presenting a compelling case study, having a well-structured template can be a game-changer. 

It helps you organize your thoughts, data and findings in a coherent and visually pleasing manner. 

Not all case studies are created equal and different scenarios require distinct approaches for maximum impact. 

To save you time and effort, I have curated a list of 5 versatile case study presentation templates, each designed for specific needs and audiences. 

Here are some best case study presentation examples that showcase effective strategies for engaging your audience and conveying complex information clearly.

1) Lab report case study template

Ever feel like your research gets lost in a world of endless numbers and jargon? Lab case studies are your way out!

Think of it as building a bridge between your cool experiment and everyone else. It’s more than just reporting results – it’s explaining the “why” and “how” in a way that grabs attention and makes sense.

This lap report template acts as a blueprint for your report, guiding you through each essential section (introduction, methods, results, etc.) in a logical order.

College Lab Report Template - Introduction

2) Product case study template

It’s time you ditch those boring slideshows and bullet points because I’ve got a better way to win over clients: product case study templates.

Instead of just listing features and benefits, you get to create a clear and concise story that shows potential clients exactly what your product can do for them. It’s like painting a picture they can easily visualize, helping them understand the value your product brings to the table.

Grab the template below, fill in the details, and watch as your product’s impact comes to life!

how to prepare for a case study exam

3) Content marketing case study template

In digital marketing, showcasing your accomplishments is as vital as achieving them. 

A well-crafted case study not only acts as a testament to your successes but can also serve as an instructional tool for others. 

With this coral content marketing case study template—a perfect blend of vibrant design and structured documentation, you can narrate your marketing triumphs effectively.

how to prepare for a case study exam

4) Case study psychology template

Understanding how people tick is one of psychology’s biggest quests and case studies are like magnifying glasses for the mind. They offer in-depth looks at real-life behaviors, emotions and thought processes, revealing fascinating insights into what makes us human.

Writing a top-notch case study, though, can be a challenge. It requires careful organization, clear presentation and meticulous attention to detail. That’s where a good case study psychology template comes in handy.

Think of it as a helpful guide, taking care of formatting and structure while you focus on the juicy content. No more wrestling with layouts or margins – just pour your research magic into crafting a compelling narrative.

how to prepare for a case study exam

5) Lead generation case study template

Lead generation can be a real head-scratcher. But here’s a little help: a lead generation case study.

Think of it like a friendly handshake and a confident resume all rolled into one. It’s your chance to showcase your expertise, share real-world successes and offer valuable insights. Potential clients get to see your track record, understand your approach and decide if you’re the right fit.

No need to start from scratch, though. This lead generation case study template guides you step-by-step through crafting a clear, compelling narrative that highlights your wins and offers actionable tips for others. Fill in the gaps with your specific data and strategies, and voilà! You’ve got a powerful tool to attract new customers.

Modern Lead Generation Business Case Study Presentation Template

Related: 15+ Professional Case Study Examples [Design Tips + Templates]

So, you’ve spent hours crafting the perfect case study and are now tasked with presenting it. Crafting the case study is only half the battle; delivering it effectively is equally important. 

Whether you’re facing a room of executives, academics or potential clients, how you present your findings can make a significant difference in how your work is received. 

Forget boring reports and snooze-inducing presentations! Let’s make your case study sing. Here are some key pointers to turn information into an engaging and persuasive performance:

  • Know your audience : Tailor your presentation to the knowledge level and interests of your audience. Remember to use language and examples that resonate with them.
  • Rehearse : Rehearsing your case study presentation is the key to a smooth delivery and for ensuring that you stay within the allotted time. Practice helps you fine-tune your pacing, hone your speaking skills with good word pronunciations and become comfortable with the material, leading to a more confident, conversational and effective presentation.
  • Start strong : Open with a compelling introduction that grabs your audience’s attention. You might want to use an interesting statistic, a provocative question or a brief story that sets the stage for your case study.
  • Be clear and concise : Avoid jargon and overly complex sentences. Get to the point quickly and stay focused on your objectives.
  • Use visual aids : Incorporate slides with graphics, charts or videos to supplement your verbal presentation. Make sure they are easy to read and understand.
  • Tell a story : Use storytelling techniques to make the case study more engaging. A well-told narrative can help you make complex data more relatable and easier to digest.

how to prepare for a case study exam

Ditching the dry reports and slide decks? Venngage’s case study templates let you wow customers with your solutions and gain insights to improve your business plan. Pre-built templates, visual magic and customer captivation – all just a click away. Go tell your story and watch them say “wow!”

Crafting and presenting a case study is a skillful task that requires careful planning and execution. While a well-prepared case study can be a powerful tool for showcasing your successes, educating your audience or encouraging discussion, there are several pitfalls you should avoid to make your presentation as effective as possible. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

Overloading with information

A case study is not an encyclopedia. Overloading your presentation with excessive data, text or jargon can make it cumbersome and difficult for the audience to digest the key points. Stick to what’s essential and impactful.

Lack of structure

Jumping haphazardly between points or topics can confuse your audience. A well-structured presentation, with a logical flow from introduction to conclusion, is crucial for effective communication.

Ignoring the audience

Different audiences have different needs and levels of understanding. Failing to adapt your presentation to your audience can result in a disconnect and a less impactful presentation.

Poor visual elements

While content is king, poor design or lack of visual elements can make your case study dull or hard to follow. Make sure you use high-quality images, graphs and other visual aids to support your narrative.

Not focusing on results

A case study aims to showcase a problem and its solution, but what most people care about are the results. Failing to highlight or adequately explain the outcomes can make your presentation fall flat.

How to start a case study presentation?

Starting a case study presentation effectively involves a few key steps:

  • Grab attention : Open with a hook—an intriguing statistic, a provocative question or a compelling visual—to engage your audience from the get-go.
  • Set the stage : Briefly introduce the subject, context and relevance of the case study to give your audience an idea of what to expect.
  • Outline objectives : Clearly state what the case study aims to achieve. Are you solving a problem, proving a point or showcasing a success?
  • Agenda : Give a quick outline of the key sections or topics you’ll cover to help the audience follow along.
  • Set expectations : Let your audience know what you want them to take away from the presentation, whether it’s knowledge, inspiration or a call to action.

How to present a case study on PowerPoint and on Google Slides?

Presenting a case study on PowerPoint and Google Slides involves a structured approach for clarity and impact using presentation slides:

  • Title slide : Start with a title slide that includes the name of the case study, your name and any relevant institutional affiliations.
  • Introduction : Follow with a slide that outlines the problem or situation your case study addresses. Include a hook to engage the audience.
  • Objectives : Clearly state the goals of the case study in a dedicated slide.
  • Findings : Use charts, graphs and bullet points to present your findings succinctly.
  • Analysis : Discuss what the findings mean, drawing on supporting data or secondary research as necessary.
  • Conclusion : Summarize key takeaways and results.
  • Q&A : End with a slide inviting questions from the audience.

What’s the role of analysis in a case study presentation?

The role of analysis in a case study presentation is to interpret the data and findings, providing context and meaning to them. 

It helps your audience understand the implications of the case study, connects the dots between the problem and the solution and may offer recommendations for future action.

Is it important to include real data and results in the presentation?

Yes, including real data and results in a case study presentation is crucial to show experience,  credibility and impact. Authentic data lends weight to your findings and conclusions, enabling the audience to trust your analysis and take your recommendations more seriously

How do I conclude a case study presentation effectively?

To conclude a case study presentation effectively, summarize the key findings, insights and recommendations in a clear and concise manner. 

End with a strong call-to-action or a thought-provoking question to leave a lasting impression on your audience.

What’s the best way to showcase data in a case study presentation ?

The best way to showcase data in a case study presentation is through visual aids like charts, graphs and infographics which make complex information easily digestible, engaging and creative. 

Don’t just report results, visualize them! This template for example lets you transform your social media case study into a captivating infographic that sparks conversation.

how to prepare for a case study exam

Choose the type of visual that best represents the data you’re showing; for example, use bar charts for comparisons or pie charts for parts of a whole. 

Ensure that the visuals are high-quality and clearly labeled, so the audience can quickly grasp the key points. 

Keep the design consistent and simple, avoiding clutter or overly complex visuals that could distract from the message.

Choose a template that perfectly suits your case study where you can utilize different visual aids for maximum impact. 

Need more inspiration on how to turn numbers into impact with the help of infographics? Our ready-to-use infographic templates take the guesswork out of creating visual impact for your case studies with just a few clicks.

Related: 10+ Case Study Infographic Templates That Convert

Congrats on mastering the art of compelling case study presentations! This guide has equipped you with all the essentials, from structure and nuances to avoiding common pitfalls. You’re ready to impress any audience, whether in the boardroom, the classroom or beyond.

And remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Venngage’s Case Study Creator is your trusty companion, ready to elevate your presentations from ordinary to extraordinary. So, let your confidence shine, leverage your newly acquired skills and prepare to deliver presentations that truly resonate.

Go forth and make a lasting impact!


Guide Your Child Through Exam Prep With These 8 Strategies

P arents today are looking for any advantage they can give their children when it comes to their education and those all-important exams. After all, the better your child does on their exams, the better their chances of getting into a good university and eventually landing a good job.

There’s so much pressure on students, and it can be tough to guide your child through their academic challenges. But, if they need online exam help, and you’re wondering how you can best support them as they prepare for their next big test, we’re here to help!

Let’s go over some strategies you can use to guide your child through exam prep and help set them up for success.


Give them practice exams.

Encouraging your child to practice for the real thing is always an effective strategy when it comes to studying for tests. We all know “practice makes perfect,” or at least “better.”

Not only do practice exams give children and young adults crucial experience in an exam environment, they’re a great way to find out what you know, what you don’t know, and what kinds of questions you might find on the tests. 

A great way to help your child beat test anxiety and feel better prepared for taking tests is to schedule some of these mock exams. These will give your student a very similar experience to the one they’ll be getting in the classroom. And, will give them an edge once it’s time to take the real exam. 

Practice tests are also a terrific tool for evaluating how well your child understands each concept and will allow you to monitor their progress.  


Having scheduled times for studying is another smart way to help prepare your child for exams. It helps them organize their time and gives them a sense of structure. Just be sure you encourage your child to take breaks while they’re working. 

A good tip is to create smaller blocks of study time that are easier to manage, with regular short breaks throughout. This method is actually  more conducive to remembering what you’ve read and learned  versus powering through a marathon study session.

Having a schedule and working bit by bit toward a goal can also reduce anxiety during the school term. Encouraging children to plan ahead and give themselves sufficient time for quality preparation can go a long way toward helping them succeed!


Exam season can be a stressful time for children, but breaking down study material is a good way to make the information more manageable.

Teaching kids how to break down topics into smaller sections, and writing out the key points they need to learn helps immensely when it comes to better understanding the material and committing it to memory. 

This technique doesn’t come easily to many of us, and children can and do become frustrated and overwhelmed when there’s a large task in front of them.

By taking a step-by-step approach and making a plan of action, students can avoid becoming overwhelmed by their studies. This allows them to stay focused and helps them manage their time better.


Embracing study aids as part of their exam preparation strategy is another way children can take charge of their learning and become more confident. Here are some popular choices:

  • flashcards 
  • study guides
  • practice quizzes
  • online resources
  • educational apps
  • video explanations
  • highlighters

Creating  visual and tactile aides  can help to reinforce a child’s understanding of the material. And, introducing some of these aids is a wonderful way to boost your child’s confidence and enthusiasm for the study subject.

All children learn in their own way, so find the study aids that are best suited to your child. These tools are well worth including as part of your overall approach to helping your child learn effectively.


Preparing for exams can be a stressful experience for the whole family. A great way to battle test anxiety in children is to quiz them frequently–it not only helps build confidence, but encourages them to review topics and develop their test-taking skills.

Just be sure to make the sessions short and enjoyable. 

Quizzing your child on what they’ve learned can also create a bonding opportunity for parents and children. It’s a time to discuss what your kids are learning. You can even let them quiz you, which is another way for them to review information and learn!


From creating a comfortable home study zone to providing healthy snacks and meals, the support of parents and teachers is vital.

Don’t forget that kids need regular breaks to enjoy hobbies or  spend time in nature . This is a must. Children need to continue being kids, even as they prepare for important exams.

Most importantly, reminding children that exams and grades are not a measure of their worth will help keep things in balance, creating an atmosphere where learning becomes an enjoyable experience.


Be sure to reward your child’s hard work. This is a powerful strategy to help motivate a child during exam prep.

Tangible rewards are an effective way to recognize your child’s effort and all the steps taken along the way, from setting daily goals to succeeding at practice exams. 

It’s important for parents to be thoughtful in their choice of rewards. Tangible items, experiences, and even emotional support can work together to provide incentives for excellence.

By validating the dedication that goes into studying, children will feel appreciated for their hard work.


Proper exam preparation is an important part of any student’s educational path, and  building a child’s confidence  can be a crucial part of the process. It can boost a child’s belief in their abilities and equip them to more readily accept challenges related to learning, problem-solving, and taking tests. 

It also gives students the courage to experiment with new strategies which can lead to enhanced academic success–and success in other areas too. Find what works to boost your child’s self-esteem, so they can develop a healthy, confident mindset.

Exam preparation can be stressful for both parents and kids, but the best way to tackle those difficult tests is by following the strategies we’ve shared.

Above all else, it’s important to remember that your child’s confidence is key to their success; this means having patience with them as well as providing a supportive and stress-free environment for them.

Ultimately, you have to believe in your child and their abilities—utilizing study aids, practice exams, positive reinforcement, and planning out study schedules are surefire ways to help make exam preparations more effective.

With these tips in play, there’s no doubt your children will tackle their studies with confidence!


How Parents Can Help Children Who Struggle with Homework

Teaching Coding to Kids: 11 Terrific Online Resources

9 Important Benefits of Using a Planner

You can find MomsWhoSave on  Facebook ,  Instagram ,  Pinterest , and  Twitter . Join us for updates.

Don’t miss a thing!  Subscribe to MomsWhoSave’s newsletter .

Need Online Exam Help? Guide Your Child Through Exam Prep With These 8 Strategies


  1. How to Write Case Studies With 30+ Examples and 4 Templates

    how to prepare for a case study exam

  2. How To Write A Case Study Assignment Example

    how to prepare for a case study exam

  3. 5 Top Tips for Effective Exam Revision

    how to prepare for a case study exam

  4. How to study for final exams

    how to prepare for a case study exam

  5. How to write a Case Study (Tips & 2 Templates)

    how to prepare for a case study exam

  6. 49 Free Case Study Templates ( + Case Study Format Examples + )

    how to prepare for a case study exam




  3. Case study practical

  4. Day-2 Topic: Case Study Method for better Teaching

  5. choice of case study

  6. Preparing for the CIMA Case Study Exam


  1. Tips to pass a case study exercise

    Time Management A case study exercise may be timed to test the deadline meeting and stress management capabilities of the candidate. In such a scenario, the candidate should plan their approach to solving the case study based on the time available.

  2. Answering essay and case study questions in exams

    Preparing for case studies before the exam: Start by identifying the theories and concepts covered in your course. Organise and review the information you have on these theories/concepts so you understand them. Practice reading case studies and identifying relevant information.

  3. How to Prepare for Case Study Exercises at Assessment Centers

    Start Practicing Should you be invited to be tested at an assessment center as part of an employer's recruitment process, one of the exercises you may face is a case study. A case study exercise presents you with a scenario similar to what you would experience in the job you have applied for.

  4. Case Study support 1

    Case Study support 1 - preparing for the Case Study exam This is the first in a short series of three articles written for students who are preparing for case study exams. It is based on the authors' experience in setting and marking CGMA case studies.

  5. 8 Tips to Help You Prepare for the Case Method

    1. Develop Your Viewpoint Effective and efficient case prep is, at least for me, the most challenging part of the whole experience. You can easily spend 2-3 hours on a case if you focus on every detail and supplementary piece of reading.

  6. How to Write a Case Study: from Outline to Examples

    Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you're researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences. Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.

  7. Writing a Case Study Analysis

    Preparing the Case Before you begin writing, follow these guidelines to help you prepare and understand the case study: Read and Examine the Case Thoroughly Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems. Focus Your Analysis Identify two to five key problems. Why do they exist? How do they impact the organization?

  8. What Is a Case Study?

    Revised on November 20, 2023. A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research. A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods, but quantitative methods are ...

  9. Case Study Exams

    How Can Students Prepare for Case Study Exams? The Problem-Based and Case Study Exams require students to review the course material very thoroughly and ensure that they understand how theoretical information can be applied in real-life situations.

  10. CIMA Management case study exam explained

    As part of the Management case study exam, you'll have 30 to 60 minutes to write a financial report or response to a colleague, manager, or senior executive via email. In the exam you can expect 4 tasks to answer. A good, clear, writing style is very important. Use short, digestible, paragraphs to make it easy for the marker to read, and give ...

  11. Assessment Center Case Studies Practice & Tips

    The key competencies that case study exercises usually assess are: Analytical thinking and assimilation of information. Commercial awareness and Innovation. Organization. Decisiveness and Judgment. The goal of the exercise is to review and analyze the given information to come up with solid business decisions.

  12. Writing a Case Study

    The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case ...

  13. How to Pass Management Case Study Exam

    Exams are marked manually by CIMA, so it takes 6-7 weeks to find out if you passed or not. You will get a mark out of 150, according to a scaled score. The cima pass mark is 80 (around 53%). You do not need to demonstrate proficiency within any of the core activities, you just need to get at least 80 marks.

  14. How To Write a Case Study: Definition, Tips and Example

    A case study is a document that focuses on a business problem and provides a clear solution. Marketers use case studies to tell a story about a customer's journey or how a product or service solves a specific issue. Case studies can be used in all levels of business and in many industries. A thorough case study often uses metrics, such as key ...

  15. How to Prepare for CIMA Case Study Exams (and Pass First Time)

    Step 1: Planning Decide when you will take your exam and book it - You need to be disciplined as to when you book your exam and stick to it - if motivation is a problem, you'll keep putting off the exam date Decide on your method of study - you can self study (not recommended) or join an online course

  16. Case Studies Assessments & Test

    How to prepare for a Case Study Interview These tests usually do not require any prior knowledge. Nevertheless, before taking these tests, it is recommended to check the particular company's website, recruitment literature and the industry's overview and recent news to have an idea of what to expect during the exercises.

  17. How to write a case study

    Basics How to write a case study — examples, templates, and tools Adobe Communications Team 12-13-2022 It's a marketer's job to communicate the effectiveness of a product or service to potential and current customers to convince them to buy and keep business moving.

  18. 14 Tips for Test Taking Success

    Last minute cramming is far less likely to improve your grade than developing good study habits and getting a good night's sleep. 3. Gather Materials the Night Before. Before going to bed (early, so you get a good night's sleep), gather everything you need for the test and have it ready to go.

  19. How to Study for a Test: 17 Expert Tips

    How to Study for a Test: General Tips. The four tips below are useful for any test or class you're preparing for. Learn the best way to study for a test from these tips and be prepared for any future exams you take. #1: Stick to a Study Schedule. If you're having trouble studying regularly, creating a study schedule can be a huge help.

  20. How To Succeed in a Case Study Interview

    How to prepare a case study interview? If you have reached the interview stage, here are some tips to help you prepare for a case study interview: 1. Research the framework of case study interviews. A case study interview, also known as a "fit interview," is laid out like a brief. You'll be informed about a business scenario.

  21. How to Prep for a Case Study Interview

    Avg. Time: 5-6 hours Skills you'll build: Prioritizing, planning, data analysis, error spotting, communication, strategic thinking Businesses use case study interviews to assess your abilities in real-time.

  22. How to Write an Effective Case Study: Examples & Templates

    Step 2: Prepare for the interview. Case study interviews are like exams in school. The more prepared you are for them, the better they turn out. Preparing thoroughly also shows participants that you value their time. You don't waste precious minutes rehashing things you should have already known. You focus on getting the information you need as ...

  23. How to Present a Case Study like a Pro (With Examples)

    Title slide: Start with a title slide that includes the name of the case study, your name and any relevant institutional affiliations. Introduction: Follow with a slide that outlines the problem or situation your case study addresses. Include a hook to engage the audience.

  24. Guide Your Child Through Exam Prep With These 8 Strategies

    PLAN A STUDY SCHEDULE . Having scheduled times for studying is another smart way to help prepare your child for exams. It helps them organize their time and gives them a sense of structure.