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)
Example 2: (Taken from Q1, June 2014)
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)
Example 4: (Taken from Q1 from the sample questions from September 2015/December 2015)
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)
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.
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.