Improving your performance in Paper P6 (UK)

This article is relevant for all candidates preparing to sit the Paper P6 (UK) exam. It is one of a series of five short articles on exam technique. The five articles cover:

  • Reading exam questions
  • Satisfying the requirements of a question
  • The importance of thinking
  • Time management and the first 15 minutes
  • The importance of question practice

These articles (listed under 'Related links') are likely to be particularly useful to those candidates who are not attending a course with a tuition provider, such that they are not receiving ongoing guidance and advice on exam technique.

Time management and the first 15 minutes

Time is your most precious resource in the exam. There is enough of it provided you use it efficiently and do not waste it.

The first 15 minutes

You have 15 minutes of reading time available at the start of the exam. You should have a clear idea before you go into the exam as to how you will use this time.

It would certainly seem to make sense to use the time to review the three Section B questions and determine which ones you intend to do. You could then use the remaining time to read through the first question that you intend to answer; this will depend on whether you intend to start with Section A or Section B.

It is up to you to decide on a strategy and then to practise it.

Time management as a continuous process

You should be aware of how much time has elapsed and how much time remains for each particular part of each question and you should tailor your answers accordingly. This continuous approach to time management will help you to get to the end of each question in the correct amount of time.

If you do not adopt this approach there is a danger that you will be too expansive at the start of a question, when there appears to be a significant amount of time available, such that you may find yourself rushing the final parts of the question or missing them out entirely.

Follow the guidance in the question

Exam questions contain the following guidance to help you manage your time efficiently:

  • the number of marks available provides a clear indication of the amount of time that should be spent on each question part
  • the command word(s) used in the requirement indicates the level of detail required in your answer.


Do not waste time

Because time is a finite resource in the exam it is important that you do not waste it. With this in mind:

  • think before you write so that you identify the most direct and time-efficient way in which to do what needs to be done
  • do not provide general explanations, long introductions or executive summaries unless the question tells you to
  • where a question requires you to calculate, there is no need to explain what you are going to do before you do it; just get on with preparing the calculation
  • only prepare calculations that have been asked for or that are necessary in order to address a particular requirement
  • keep your answer specific to the facts of the question and the requirements.


Good exam technique will help you perform to the best of your abilities in the exam and to maximise the number of marks you earn. As a result, you will be able to earn the marks that all of your hard work prior to the exam deserves.

Accordingly, as you prepare to sit your exams, in addition to adding to and refining your technical knowledge, you should be aiming to continually improve your exam technique.

Further guidance on exam technique and technical matters

There are three other non-technical articles that focus on the structure of the exam and exam technique (all of these are accessible on the Paper P6 technical articles web page).

  • 'Examiner’s approach to Paper P6 (UK)’, which explains the structure of the P6 (UK) exam and the skills required of candidates.
  • 'Stepping up from Paper F6 to Paper P6’, which provides guidance on the progression from Paper F6 to Paper P6 in terms of the syllabus, the style and format of the exam, and the approach necessary to maximise your chance of success.
  • ‘Guidance on answering Section A questions in Paper P6 (UK)’, which provides detailed guidance on the approach to be taken when answering Section A questions.

Although exam technique is important, and can even be the difference between failing and passing the exam, it is clearly not as important as technical knowledge. Excellent exam technique on its own will not be sufficient to achieve exam success. Accordingly, there are technical articles to support you in your studies – access the article 'Paper P6 (UK) – Summary of available articles' (see 'Related links') for details.

Written by a member of the Paper P6 examining team