When to use models in answers

SBL is examined in a very practical and analytical way rather than a technical or theoretical, academic one. So, no marks are awarded for explaining models in detail without applying directly and specifically to the case study in the exam and there are very few marks for simple generic answers. Therefore models /frameworks can be used in the exam in two ways:

  1. When either the exhibit or requirement has directed the candidate to use a model/framework.

    This is the case in the two examples produced below. The examining team is attempting to guide the candidates to develop their points and structure their answers with models/frameworks. These will either be shown in the exhibit and referred to in the requirement or exhibits or requirements may use specific wording to identify a particular model. In example 1 below, the exhibit and requirement specifically name the model. The second example guides the candidate to the framework to be used, in the wording given.

    This is the key reason why models and frameworks stated in the syllabus must be learned, and their use understood. Learning them will ensure that candidates are able to structure their answers and business knowledge in replying appropriately to the requirements. However, SBL requirements will rarely name one model directly in the requirement, in order to give candidates flexibility in using no model or other relevant models not named in the syllabus. This does mean that even if a student does not apply the model they were expected to, or uses a different model where a specific one is required, they will still score marks if they cover the relevant points in their answers.

  2. In cases where no framework/model is hinted at or named, candidates have two options.

    a) Use any appropriate and relevant models they can think of that may help in developing their answer to the requirement and to assist in presenting a well-structured answer, or

    b) Answer without using any model/framework if they cannot think of any. Students should avoid always using or worse, forcing a model into all answers as some questions can and should be answered without using one at all.



To: Chief executive officer
From: Chair of the Audit Committee
Date: Today
Subject: Risk Assessment Update

I have just received the attachments below from our risk manager. He informs me that this risk assessment is a key part of our enterprise risk management (ERM) framework. I would like to seek your advice on this before I meet with him later today.



The CEO has just forwarded you an email which he has received from the newly appointed Chair of the Audit Committee, who has asked for advice on the latest risk assessment report forwarded by the Risk Manager.

Prepare an email response to the Chair of the Audit Committee which assesses how the risk assessment framework could be applied to the risks included in the latest risk assessment report.

Comment – In this first example a framework for assessing risk has been provided and candidates are therefore expected to use it. The ‘TARA’ model is specifically included in the SBL study guide and so should be well known to students both as part of their SBL and other exam studies. The requirement clearly requires students to apply the model in answering the task. However, sensible approaches to managing the risks given that don’t simply use the four headings given but do appear to be commercially sound and appropriate will still gain marks here.



PEST analysis compiled by the operations director.


  • Markets opening up to encourage inward investment
  • Reduction in barriers for overseas companies entering Wayland markets
  • Stable period of government following recent elections
  • Government grants available in the IT sector
  • Strengthening data protection regulations
  • Employment legislation protecting works rights
  • Corporate governance developments


  • Slow growth in the Wayland economy
  • Inflationary pressure in the Wayland economy
  • Increased cost of borrowing for businesses
  • Low levels of unemployment
  • Tax incentives available for capital investment


  • Growth in importance of digital business relationships and the acceptance of cloud services 
  • Changing attitudes to data held on the internet and cloud-based systems
  • Wider acceptance of new and more advanced technologies
  • Increased dependency on technology in all areas of business, and the wider society
  • Demands for wider choice in IT service provision
  • Pressure for sustainability and environmental initiatives in business


  • Global communication technological advances
  • Extensive fibre optic broadband investment in Wayland  
  • High levels of innovation, with changing technologies rapidly becoming the norm

The board decided a strategic analysis should be undertaken to determine the company‘s competitive position in the industry, and consider the risks posed by the environment it operates in. You have been provided with a PEST analysis that has been prepared by the operations director and have been asked to produce a memo to the board which evaluates the strategic position of the company and the risks it faces.

Write a memo to the board which evaluates the current strategic position of the company, and the risks posed by the external business environment.

Comment – At first glance it may appear that this task is the same idea as the one above. It gives a framework in the exhibit and seems to ask candidates to use it in the requirement. However, this is not really the case as the requirement asks for an evaluation of the strategic position and of the risks faced. The PEST model has already been prepared so creating a PEST analysis is not required. What the requirement is really asking for is a ‘strategic position’ for the company. Strategic position means looking at internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats – SWOT analysis. The PEST covers the external elements, which, in this requirement, need to be evaluated as the risks it faces, but the strengths and weaknesses still need to be (identified and) evaluated as per the requirement. Students who learn the models/frameworks and why and where they are applicable should easily spot the ‘hint’ given here that makes it clear that SWOT is relevant. But again, if they don’t, but still make commercially sound points, they will still score marks.


Models and frameworks are part of the syllabus and must be learnt in order to be applied in answers but only where appropriate and relevant.

Written by a member of the SBL examining team