Related Links

ACCA produces a wealth of resources designed specifically to support students taking P5. These resources have been developed to address areas which students typically find challenging based on a review of previous exam sittings.

Here, we help to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes made by students in past exams by directing you to specific resources on the ACCA website, explaining how they should be used and what issues they specifically address.

Using the examiner's reports

  • An examiner’s report is produced after every exam sitting and focuses on areas that students did well in and where they could have done better.  They refer to specific exam questions and provide guidance on how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
  • Ideally you should look at the last four reports – noting specific knowledge areas which caused difficulties as well as specific areas around exam technique.
  • Review the examples below for guidance on how the reports link to specific exam questions.

Example 1: (Taken from Q1, December 2014)

Q1(ii) Briefly justify appropriate management approaches to each of the stakeholders and, based on this analysis, evaluate the appropriateness of the performance measures suggested in Appendix 1.  (14 marks)

Extract from examiner’s report:
Many candidates chose to rework the analysis of interest and power stating whether or not they agreed with it, which wasted time when the focus of the answer needed to be on suitable management approaches. The discussions of the five performance measures tended to be general rather than specific to the issues at Boltzman and the stakeholder analysis.

Further comment:
The stakeholder analysis had already been done in the scenario and so students were expected to use this analysis to justify a management approach for each stakeholder. An evaluation of the performance measures required the student to then say what was good and what was bad about those measures in relation to the stakeholder analysis.

What a lot of students actually did was re-do the stakeholder analysis which was not asked for and instead of evaluating the performance measures in Appendix 1 they produced a list of new ones. Students may think that they have answered the question as they have recognised the application of Mendelow’s matrix when in fact they have not. If you had practised this question during your revision and answered the question in this way then without using the examiner report you may not identify that this was the incorrect approach. This illustrates why the examiner reports should be an essential part of your revision.

Example 2: (Taken from Q1, June 2014)

Q1(i) Evaluate the current performance report in Appendix 1.  (15 marks)

Extract from examiner’s report: There were a number of candidates who provided an irrelevant evaluation of the performance of Cantor. Those that attempted the question asked scored most of the marks associated with such reports in general (eg data overload, rounding numbers, lack of narrative). However, fewer scored the marks that were available for appreciating the scenario surrounding Cantor. It was especially surprising that despite comments in previous examiner’s reports, candidates still seem reluctant to use the mission/strategy of the business to evaluate the report.

Further comment: This requirement was asking for an evaluation of what was good and what was poor about the performance report for the company (Cantor) in the question. It was not asking for an evaluation of performance. The examiner’s report identified this issue and also gave other important advice which could be missed if these reports are not used in your examination preparation.

In addition to the examples given here, the technical article 'Improving your P5 answers – part 1' (see 'Related links') gives a more detailed analysis relating to example 2 above, as well as an example of a weak answer to this question, which further illustrates what not to do in the exam.

A second article, 'Improving your P5 answers – part 2' (see 'Related links') provides an example of a student answer which would pass this question, demonstrating the key points needed to gain sufficient marks to pass, along with a model answer.

The 'P5 effective study and exam technique' video (watch the streaming video if you don't have access to YouTube) provides you with some further detail around some of the more common areas included within the examiner’s reports – if you don’t want to watch the whole video at this stage, focus on the content in the four-and-a-half minutes starting 31 minutes into the video.

All of the P5 examiner’s reports are available on the ACCA website (see 'Related links').

Reading the question requirements

  • Close reading of the exam question requirements is an essential skill.
  • You should aim to identify the verb, which area of the syllabus is being examined (the key theory) and how you are expected to apply the syllabus area.
  • The structure of the requirement can also help you to identify how you should structure your answer.
  • Look at the marks available also as this should give an indication of how much you are expected to write.

Example 3: (Taken from Q1 from the sample questions from September 2015/December 2015)

Q1(ii) For each of the three critical success factors at IC, briefly explain a weakness of the current KPI associated with that CSF and then provide a justified KPI.  (6 marks)

– explain/justify
Syllabus area – the relationship between CSFs and KPIs
Application – from the scenario identify IC’s three CSFs and their current KPI
Structure – there are three CSFs so your answer should have a heading for each one. Under each heading explain a weakness the current KPI and then justify an alternative KPI.

Example 4: (Taken from Q1 from the sample questions from September 2015/December 2015)

Q1(iii) Explain what the three improvement projects are, how they will help to meet the CSFs at IC and comment on the impact of each project on the existing three KPIs.  (15 marks)

Verb – explain/comment
Syllabus area – quality initiatives and their impact on CSFs and KPIs
Application – from the scenario identify the three improvement projects and from part (ii) you should already have identified the current CSFs and KPIs
Structure – there are three improvement projects so your answer should have a main heading for each one. Under each main heading there should be three sub-headings which should explain firstly what the improvement project is, secondly how it will help to meet the CSFs and thirdly its impact on the existing KPIs.

The technical article, 'Reading the question requirements of P5' (see 'Related links') gives several more examples of how to read the requirements of P5 exam questions – providing valuable insight into what is expected of you in your exam.

You can also watch another eight minutes or so of the P5 effective study and exam technique video (watch the streaming video if you don't have access to YouTube), which talks you though this process. If you want to do this, start watching at about 35 minutes in.

Application of models

  • Many P5 exam questions require the application of a performance management model. Students are particularly good at learning the theory of the models and are able to explain a model’s purpose and structure very well. Issues arise however when the model has to be put into context with the scenario.
  • If a requirement asks for a model to be used then the examining team are expecting that to be the approach to the answer. It is frustrating to have a student explain a model in detail and then subsequently not use it in the rest of their answer. 

Example 5: (Taken from Q1 from December 2014)

Q1(i) Explain the facets of the performance prism and discuss how the three initiatives relate to the facets.  (9 marks)


The first part of the answer was the explanation of the model but then students were expected to consider how each of the three initiatives proposed by Boltzman tied into the model. It was this latter part that demonstrated the application and understanding of the prism.

Example 6: (Taken from Q3 from the sample questions from September 2015/December 201)

Q3(a) Advise the board how the six sigma project at Posie to reduce returns from customers could be implemented using DMAIC methodology.  (15 marks)

Students were able to explain the DMAIC methodology which is an appropriate way to begin answering this requirement. The DMAIC method should then have been used to structure the answer otherwise the methodology is not being used to advise the board.

This application of key theories is a crucial skill to passing P5. It is not enough just to know the theory; you need to be able to practically apply it.

There is a useful short video on exam technique which illustrates these points further.

Assumed knowledge and overlap with P3

P5 draws on knowledge from both F5 and P3. There are two key articles which you should read.

  • 'Moving up from F5 to P5' (see 'Related links') identifies key areas for you to refresh from F5 in preparation for P5
  • 'Guidance for P3 and P5 studies' (see 'Related links') identifies what areas are common between the two syllabuses but distinguishes between how the two exams will test these areas

In addition, the 'Not wearing your P3 head when taking P5' video (watch the streaming video if you don't have access to YouTube) gives you further guidance on the differences between these two exams, ensuring that you don’t make the mistakes that students have made in the past – that is, by trying to use their P3 knowledge and approach in a P5 exam.

We discuss assumed knowledge in more detail as well as the interaction with P3 in the 'P5 effective study and exam technique' (watch the streaming video if you don't have access to YouTube) and again you can watch the relevant part by starting the video about 12-and-a-half minutes in – this part lasts for approximately seven-and-a-half minutes.

And finally...

Four professional marks are awarded in P5 and the short video 'Professional marks – the difference between a pass and a fail' gives some pointers to ensure you are awarded these crucial marks.

It is also recommended that you watch the 'P5 effective study and exam technique' video (watch the streaming video if you don't have access to YouTube) all the way through. This covers all of the advice given, as well as further pointers to help you pass P5 – for example, in terms of how best to approach this exam.

Last updated: 20 May 2016