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.

The importance of question practice

The first four articles in this series cover various techniques that will improve your performance when answering a question and will therefore improve your performance in the exam. When you come to attempt exam standard questions you will be putting those techniques into practice and finding out how to make them work for you.

How to practise questions

The approach you should take when practising questions is to:

  • work them to time as precisely as you are able
  • work the whole question without stopping, and
  • resist looking at the answer until you have finished the question.

This approach will improve your time management and also your belief in your ability to start and finish a question without any outside help. This in turn will improve your self-confidence in the exam. Practising questions will also improve your ability to make a point in a clear and precise manner.

How to improve your performance

After you have finished a question and reviewed the answer, ask yourself the following questions to evaluate the quality of your exam technique.

  1. Did you take sufficient time to understand what was going on and to identify the relevance of the information provided?
  2. Did you address all of the requirements?
  3. Did you focus on the command words in each requirement and follow any specific advice that was given?
  4. Did you address the specific facts of the question?
  5. Did you stop and think?
  6. Did you manage your time throughout the question?

When you come to do another question you should aim to improve your exam technique. You should think back on your answers to these six questions and focus on those areas where you feel you need to improve.

More question practise will result in better exam performance

The more questions you practise, the more confident you will be that you have an approach that works for you and the better you will perform in the exam. You will also become more familiar with the way in which information is presented in exam-standard questions and the sort of tasks you will be expected to perform.

All exam questions are, of course, different but, in some ways, they are all the same. The questions in the exam will not come as a surprise to you if you have practised lots of questions – although the precise facts and requirements will not be the same as anything you will have seen before, the shape of the question and the nature of the requirements will feel familiar and comfortable.


Good exam technique will enable you to 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