The overall concept of the F5 syllabus is that it builds from topics that you have learnt at F2, gives you more management accounting techniques and focuses on the core fundamentals of performance management. It is important to remember that this is a performance management paper and not a management accounting paper.
You will be expected to manipulate numerical information using techniques learnt and also, perhaps more importantly, you will need to interpret that information in the context of a scenario. Knowledge provided by the analytical review of this information is key for managers to make decisions for businesses and this is the focus of this paper.
The following are some of the key skills that are essential for passing the F5 exam:
1. Understanding the reasoning behind calculations and how these calculations will be useful to management:
- Questions that are testing a management accounting technique will always try to make the link between the technique and its use as a performance management tool.
- You must make sure that you have revised the syllabus thoroughly and have the knowledge required of these tools.
- You must make sure that you are applying your knowledge to the information in the question and using evidence from the scenario in your answer.
- You must practise the written elements of questions in full, as this is where the examiner will test your understanding of the scenario and performance management implications of the question.
2. Managing your time effectively and identifying easy marks available:
- The examiner has previously pointed out that there will be easy marks available in the exam and students who answer these parts of questions usually perform well.
- Students who do not manage their time and miss easy marks are making it much harder for themselves to pass the exam.
- You must make sure that you are using your reading time effectively to identify any parts of questions that you can easily tackle and plan the order in which you will answer questions in the exam.
3. Reading the question and understanding the requirement:
- You must read the question very carefully and identify the instructional verbs used, remember there may be more than one thing to answer within each requirement. You must use the mark allocation to work out how much depth you need to go into in your answer.
- Make sure that you are answering the question set not the one that you would like to answer.
Common pitfalls pointed out by the Paper F5 examiner include:
- Students failure to make the step up from F2 to F5 - this is due to a lack of ability to interpret the calculations performed with reference to the scenario given.
- Poor interpretation of data - this would be due to lack of planning and understanding the requirements of the question.
- Poor technical knowledge.
Make sure that you are always thinking about these key skills during your revision and that each time you practice a question you are thoroughly reviewing your answer afterwards to identify if you need to work on any of these areas.
Written by a member of the Paper F5 examining team