The overall concept of the Performance Management syllabus is that it builds from topics that you have learnt from the Management Accounting (MA) exam, gives you more management accounting techniques and focuses on the core fundamentals of performance management. It is important to remember that this is a performance management exam and not a management accounting exam.
You will be expected to manipulate numerical information using techniques learnt and also, perhaps more importantly, you will need to interpret that information in the context of a scenario. Knowledge provided by the analytical review of this information is key for managers to make decisions for businesses and this is the focus of this exam.
The following are some of the key skills that are essential for passing the Performance Management exam:
(1) Understanding the reasoning behind calculations and how these calculations will be useful to management:
- Questions which are testing a management accounting technique will usually try to make the link between the technique and its use as a performance management tool.
- You must make sure that you have revised the syllabus thoroughly and have the knowledge required of these tools as exam changes mean that the syllabus can be examined in a lot of breadth.
- You must make sure that you are applying your knowledge to the information in the question and using evidence from the scenario in your answer.
- You must practise the written elements of CR questions in full, as this is where the examiner will test your understanding of the scenario and performance management implications of the question.
(2) Managing your time effectively and identifying easy marks available:
- There will be easy marks available in all sections of the exam and students who answer these questions usually perform well.
- Students who do not manage their time and miss easy marks make it much harder for themselves to pass the exam.
- You must make sure that you are using your exam time effectively to identify any OT questions in Section A or parts of questions in Section C that you can easily tackle and plan the order in which you will answer questions in the exam.
- Make sure that you try to answer all the OTs in an exam.
(3) Reading the question and understanding the requirement:
- Read the question carefully and if it is a narrative OT read all the distractors carefully. Ensure you follow the instructions in the question on how to answer the question as different question types will require different interactions.
- You must read the question very carefully and identify the instructional verbs used, remember there may be more than one thing to answer within each requirement. You must use the mark allocation to work out how much depth you need to go into in your answer.
- Make sure that you are answering the question set not the one that you would like to answer.
Common pitfalls pointed out by the Performance Management examining team include:
- Student’s failure to make the step up to Performance Management from the Management Accounting exam – this is due to a lack of ability to interpret the calculations performed with reference to the scenario given.
- Poor interpretation of data – this would be due to lack of planning and understanding the requirements of the question.
- Poor technical knowledge and failure to closely read the question.
- Not enough practice of the new question types shown in the specimen exams, past published exams from September and December 2016 and all the published sample questions to ensure familiarity with the new exam format.
Make sure that you are always thinking about these key skills during your revision and that each time you practice a question you are thoroughly reviewing your answer afterwards to identify if you need to work on any of these areas.
Written by a member of the Performance Management examining team