How To Answer Case Study Questions Effectively

From ever since the day I was introduced to Case Study at the University of the West Indies, I came to be aware that most students had trouble analysing and answering cases. In my assessment, the problems stem from too much case information to process within a given time, lack of understanding of the subject area related to the case and most importantly, being unable to interpret information in cases to arrive at causative factors. If you can’t discern the causation factors, very likely you will be unable to suggest workable/practical solutions for the case.

Bear in mind that not all cases and questions are created equal. Cases are simply documented events or scenarios that have taken place in a profession, business, or social context. The case study requires reading and giving answers that are based on theory but applied to the real-life setting. However, some case studies are just easier than some. The easier ones are typically short and require simply reading and answering questions that are easily pulled from the case. This compared to the more difficult ones which require a high degree of absorption of information, applying theory to practical situations and making informed interpretations.

Either way, a good system for approaching and answering case questions will be a good platform for getting good grades.

1.As with all assignment or exam questions, be aware of the time that is available to do the case analysis and answering questions adequately. This is especially important in exams. Once the time allocation is decided on, at the very least, a refinement of the time is required to determine the time spent reading the case, making notes, and wiring the actual answers. Do not underestimate the importance of properly allocating the time available.

2. With time properly allocated, read through the case quickly then read through a second time, this time more slowly and carefully. To be effective in reading cases, practice and develop techniques to improve the speed of reading and absorption. During the second phase of reading, a strong recommendation is to take notes and highlight key areas in the case for easy reference when answering the questions.

3. Before attempting to answer questions, the next phase would be to identify the central theme/issue in the case. This will greatly assist in understanding the overall case and guiding the answers given.

4. Before attempting questions, be sure to take good note of the marks allocated to each question. This will be a good guide for where emphasis is in the case and level of effort needed to develop points and pull supporting information from relevant sections to support answers. As a guide, a question worth 10 marks will require four (4) or five (5) well-developed points with supporting information taken from the actual case.

5. In answering actual questions, do not re-write questions as some students practice. This is unnecessary and takes up valuable time. However, be sure to make specific reference to the relevant section of the case to support answers in keeping with marks allocated.

6. Note: A big risk with answering cases with time constraints is time management. As you practice, develop a good habit of moving on from the case once the time allocated has run out.  This will give you a better chance to remain focused and score evenly on the remaining questions especially in an exam setting.

7. General: As with all questions answered for assignments or exams, be sure to number questions properly, leave adequate space to return to a question if you are unable to answer in sequence and review answers, and make corrections once the time is available.

Useful Links

Answering case Assignments


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