PM frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the format of Performance Management exams?

Performance Management currently has three exam sections. Section A comprises of 15 objective test (OT) questions worth two marks each. Section B has three questions worth 10 marks each which are comprised of five OTs worth two marks each. Section C contains two 20 mark constructed response (CR) questions. There is a mix of computational and narrative questions. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the techniques they are using and the implications of the calculations they have made.

A specimen exam can be found on the website.

How many marks will be given for calculations and how many for discussion?

Each exam will aim for approximately 50 per cent of the marks for calculations and 50 per cent for discussion but may go as far as 40:60 either way.

How much content is expected for interpretation in CR questions?

Candidates should look at the verb being used in the requirement, for example if asked to identify or briefly describe then bullet points or short sentences will suffice; however if asked to explain or discuss then more detail will be required. Candidates should be guided by the number of marks available and not write two pages for four marks. Candidates should also ensure that if their answer is expected to relate to a business scenario then their points should reflect that.

Will candidates be awarded marks for sound interpretation of incorrect figures?

Yes, own figure interpretations will be given credit in the questions which are not objective test items.

Is there an overall theme to the exam?

The exam's title is Performance Management and therefore this is its theme. Most questions will link to the performance management aspects of accounting.

For example, in the specimen exam the variances question asked for calculations but went on to ask why calculating these variances would be of use to the company in the scenario. Being able to assess the use of a technique and the performance of a business is an important skill in Performance Management.

There is a lot in the syllabus that does not seem to get examined. Is it better for candidates to only concentrate on certain topics?

Some areas tend to be less frequently examined than others but that does not mean they should be ignored. Candidates are always advised to study the whole syllabus regardless of how often a particular topic has been examined. This is important with the inclusion of objective testing as the breadth of the syllabus can be examined.

Is environmental management accounting likely to be tested in calculation form?

Simple calculations could be examined.

In how much depth will CVP (cost volume profit) analysis be tested - will the graph for a multi-product decision be tested?

CVP will be tested in a lot of depth. Candidates should be able to interpret all of the graphs covered by the syllabus (including a breakeven chart, a multi-product PV chart), discuss CVP and perform calculations.

Are we likely to have more than double decision points in questions on decision trees?

Yes. But whilst joint probabilities are included, they will not be unreasonably difficult to calculate. Sometimes they may be given in the question.

Is the value of imperfect information examinable?

Yes.  It is in the syllabus.

Why has budgeting been examined in a public sector context when it isn't explicitly mentioned in the syllabus?

Any area of the syllabus can be examined in either a public sector or a private sector context.

Is it possible that a question could be wholly narrative?


Are basic variances examinable?

Yes. Although the Performance Management syllabus specifically mentions mix and yield, sales mix and quantity and planning and operating variances, the more basic variances introduced in Management Accounting are still examinable. This is considered to be assumed knowledge in Performance Management.

In a computer-based exam, do I have to structure my answers in Section C in a specific way?

The CR questions in Section C of the exam will be expert marked so in a spreadsheet the marker can see the formulae you have used and the numbers you have calculated. There is no need to set your answer out in a particular way, but as always you need to make sure the marker will be able to follow what you are doing. It is therefore very important that you clearly label any workings.

Do I need to use complex formulae in order to answer spreadsheet questions in Section C of a computer-based exam?

Exam questions will be answerable using straightforward mathematical functions although formulae from the exam formulae sheet may also be required.

In a computer-based exam, will I be expected to add comments to a spreadsheet answer?

A spreadsheet question may require some comments to be added to a calculation. 

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