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Preparing for Professional level exams Steve Skidmore P3 Business Analysis examiner PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Preparing for Professional level exams Steve Skidmore P3 Business Analysis examiner. Before the exam. However you study, ensure that you cover the complete syllabus Practice scenario questions under realistic time constraints Practice your handwriting, in a three-hour session

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Preparing for Professional level exams Steve Skidmore P3 Business Analysis examiner

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Preparing for Professional level

exams

Steve Skidmore

P3 Business Analysis examiner


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Before the exam

  • However you study, ensure that you cover the complete syllabus

  • Practice scenario questions under realistic time constraints

  • Practice your handwriting, in a three-hour session

  • Read widely, keep up-to-date, be aware of global trends and issues

  • Revise properly and comprehensively. Don’t question spot


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Exam tips for June 2010

P3 exam

  • Internal/external analysis – could be based around a number of key models used to analyse the current position of the organisation. Value chain and BCG matrix. Assess current business performance using ratios

  • Generation and evaluation of strategic options, leading on from the analysis of the current position

  • Project management

  • Business processes and change management. This could incorporate changes to both upstream and downstream supply chains


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Exam tips for June 2010

P3 exam

  • Quality – may see it included as a part requirement underpinning a business decision

  • Marketing techniques and customer relationship management could feature in section B. Competitive behaviour through lifecycle modelling could be an underpinning issue

  • Stakeholders – identification of stakeholders


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During the exam

  • In general, read the questions before reading the scenario

  • Plan and allocate time properly

    ‘However, yet again there was evidence of candidates only answering two questions, rather than the three questions required.’P2 examiner

    ‘Often the ethics section is not being answered. This would seem to suggest that either candidates have a problem with ethical issues or the candidates do not appreciate the importance of attempting all of the exam paper.’ P2 examiner


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During the exam

  • ‘Pay attention to the number of marks available – this provides you with a clear indication of the amount of time you should spend.’P6 examiner

  • ‘With three marks on offer for each solution answers such as ‘buy a software package’ or ‘outsource to a specialist’ are clearly insufficient.’P3 examiner

  • Review the questions in the context of the syllabus

  • Analyse quantitative data, what picture does it paint? How will your answers use this data?


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During the exam

  • Read the question very carefully – what is the requirement?

  • ‘Read the requirement carefully – in the section A questions you will need to identify the various tasks from the document provided: instructions may be provided by both the ‘client’ and the ‘manager’. It may be helpful to list them out and tick them off as you address them. Marks are awarded for satisfying the requirements and not for other information even if it is technically correct.’ P6 examiner

  • 'The requirements of each question are carefully worded in order to provide you with guidance as regards the style and content of your answers. You should note the command words, any matters which are not to be covered, and the precise issues you have been asked to address.'P6 examiner


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During the exam

  • On the same theme:

  • 'It is better to invest time studying the case rather than writing a long but unfocused answers that fails to address the question.'P1 examiner

  • Beware assumptionsabout location and units

  • Answer the question in the context of the scenario

  • 'Candidates should closely examine case scenarios as answers often require the placing of case evidence into a theoretical requirement.' P1 examiner

  • 'Many candidates discussed project management in general and did not refer to the scenario, although links were relatively easy to make.'P3 examiner


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During the exam

  • Do not state assumptions which are contrary to the case study

    information

  • Stick to your plan, your time allocation

  • 'Ensure that you allow the correct amount of time for each question'

  • P6 examiner

  • Don’t unnecessarily restate information from the scenario

  • 'It was noticeable that many candidates begin their answers to discursive parts of questions by rewriting the requirement of the question and in doing so waste valuable time.'P5 examiner


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During the exam

  • Continuing with the same theme

  • 'Don’t provide general explanations or long introductions. There is no need to explain what you are going to do before you do it: just get on with it.'P6 examiner

  • 'Many also re-used wording from the requirement, for example: ‘the audit strategy is the strategy for the audit’. This earns no credit.'P7 examiner

  • Do not repeat verbatim answers form past papers

  • 'Many candidates had clearly memorised solutions to past exam questions and were determined to include them in their answers to question on the paper. Question 5 was the most common place for this to happen, using a past question on hotels as a template for dog kennels and suggesting surveying the dogs on the quality of meals and room cleanliness.'P5 examiner


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During the exam

  • Do not assume that case study characters are virtuous or correct

  • Do not be afraid to bring in knowledge from other ACCA papers

  • Do not spend too much time on theory – many professional questions

    focus on application

  • 'Candidates who based their answers on the unique governance situation at Sea Ships were rewarded while those who reproduced an auto-response (strategy, scrutiny, risk and people) tended to achieve few or no marks. Again it was important to analyse the case and read the question carefully. The question was not asking about the roles of NEDs but rather the contribution they (rather than executive directors) could make given the governance failures at Sea Ships Company.'P1 examiner


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During the exam

  • Make sure that your answers are easy to read and mark

  • 'Many candidates continue to display their answers poorly, with a lack of clear labelling to indicate which questions are being attempted. Hence, many candidates would benefit by giving more thought to the presentation of their answers. This would not only improve the organisation of their answers but would assist the marker.'P5 examiner


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During the exam

  • Here are some further comments from the P7 examiner:

  • 'Failing to answer the specific question requirements.'

  • 'Providing answers that are not relevant to the question scenario.'

  • 'Not explaining points in sufficient detail.'

  • 'Making too few comments given the mark allocation of a requirement.'

  • 'Lack of knowledge on certain syllabus areas.'

  • 'Illegible handwriting.'


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Example 1

The Wetland Trust (WET) was formed in 2003 with the aim of preserving, restoring and managing wetlands in Arcadia. In 2009 Dr Abbas stepped down and announced the appointment of a new CEO, Sheila Jenkins. She wishes to pursue a more inclusive strategy and she recognises that she should understand the strategic position of WET before considering strategic options and changes. She wants a concise assessment of the strategic position, covering environment, strategic capability, stakeholder expectations and organisational mission. This strategic position analysis can be achieved through using a number of models and frameworks. Both an internal analysis and an external analysis will give important insights. For an external analysis we will use a PESTEL analysis, which looks at P (political), E (economic), S (socio-cultural), T (technological), E (environmental) and L (legal) influences on WET. Each of these will now be considered in turn.

P (political) looks at political issues – often associated with government action. For example, changes in charity taxation would be considered here.

E (economic) considers issues in the economy. The country is currently in recession.

S (socio-cultural) aspects would include the attitude of people towards charities.

T (technological) perspective could consider WET’s website which is very rudimentary and needs improving.

E (environmental) – nowadays, everybody has to be 'green'. Recycling will be required and the charity must show low carbon emissions.

L (legal) – the charity must adhere to the laws of the land.


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Example 1

The Wetland Trust (WET) was formed in 2003 with the aim of preserving, restoring and managing wetlands in Arcadia. In 2009 Dr Abbas stepped down and announced the appointment of a new CEO, Sheila Jenkins. She wishes to pursue a more inclusive strategy and she recognises that she should understand the strategic position of WET before considering strategic options and changes. She wants a concise assessment of the strategic position, covering environment, strategic capability, stakeholder expectations and organisational mission.

This strategic position analysis can be achieved through using a number of models and frameworks. Both an internal analysis and an external analysis will give important insights. For an external analysis we will use a PESTEL analysis, which looks at P (political), E (economic), S (socio-cultural), T (technological), E (environmental) and L (legal) influences on WET. Each of these will now be considered in turn.


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Example 1

P (political)looks at political issues – often associated with government action. For example, changes in charity taxation would be considered here.

E (economic) considers issues in the economy. The country is currently in recession.

S (socio-cultural)aspects would include the attitude of people towards charities.

T (technological)perspective could consider WET’s website which is very rudimentary and needs improving.

E (environmental) – nowadays, everybody has to be 'green'. Recycling will be required and the charity must show low carbon emissions.

L (legal) – the charity must adhere to the laws of the land.


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Example 2

The strategic position of WET may be evaluated through a number of models and frameworks which analyse the internal environment (for example; resource audit) and the external environment (for example: PESTEL).

A PESTEL analysis would consider:

Political issues: the government has recently changed the principles on how charities will reclaim tax paid by members and donors. This will lead to a reduction in income for WET as research suggests that many people will not provide the information required to reclaim tax.

Economic issues: the country appears to be in an economic recession. Donations to charities fall in recessionary periods because people are less able to give money. What money is donated is likely to be given to charities associated with the effects of that recession – such as homelessness.


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Example 2

Socio-cultural issues: the citizens of Arcadia are generally well educated and live in a generally prosperous country. These people are pre-disposed to give money to charities and this is borne out by the donation levels to charities as a whole.

Environmental issues: Arcadia is becoming drier and windier. This may affect the future of the wetlands (will they dry out?). It may also prompt the government to drain the wetlands to provide water for domestic and industrial consumption

Legal issues: WET must continue to be registered with the Commission of Charities which regulates charities in Arcadia.


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Example 1

The Wetland Trust (WET) was formed in 2003 with the aim of preserving, restoring and managing wetlands in Arcadia. In 2009 Dr Abbas stepped down and announced the appointment of a new CEO, Sheila Jenkins. She wishes to pursue a more inclusive strategy and she recognises that she should understand the strategic position of WET before considering strategic options and changes. She wants a concise assessment of the strategic position, covering environment, strategic capability, stakeholder expectations and organisational mission. This strategic position analysis can be achieved through using a number of models and frameworks. Both an internal analysis and an external analysis will give important insights. For an external analysis we will use a PESTEL analysis, which looks at P (political), E (economic), S (socio-cultural), T (technological), E (environmental) and L (legal) influences on WET. Each of these will now be considered in turn.

P (political) looks at political issues – often associated with government action. For example, changes in charity taxation would be considered here.

E (economic) considers issues in the economy. The country is currently in recession.

S (socio-cultural) aspects would include the attitude of people towards charities.

T (technological) perspective could consider WET’s website which is very rudimentary and needs improving.

E (environmental) – nowadays, everybody has to be 'green'. Recycling will be required and the charity must show low carbon emissions.

L (legal) – the charity must adhere to the laws of the land.

1

½

½

1

3 Marks


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Example 2

The strategic position of WET may be evaluated through a number of models and frameworks which analyse the internal environment (for example; resource audit) and the external environment (for example: PESTEL).

A PESTEL analysis would consider:

Political issues: the government has recently changed the principles on how charities will reclaim tax paid by members and donors. This will lead to a reduction in income for WET as research suggests that many people will not provide the information required to reclaim tax.

Economic issues: the country appears to be in an economic recession. Donations to charities fall in recessionary periods because people are less able to give money. What money is donated is likely to be given to charities associated with the effects of that recession – such as homelessness.

Socio-cultural issues: the citizens of Arcadia are generally well educated and live in a generally prosperous country. These people are pre-disposed to give money to charities and this is borne out by the donation levels to charities as a whole.

Legal issues: WET must continue to be registered with the Commission of Charities which regulates charities in Arcadia.

Environmental issues: Arcadia is becoming drier and windier. This may affect the future of the wetlands (will they dry out?). It may also prompt the government to drain the wetlands to provide water for domestic and industrial consumption

½

1

1

1

1

½

1

1

7 Marks


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Professional marks

There isan excellentarticle on professional marks in the Student Accountant June 2009 edition

'This question had four professional marks. Given that many candidates only fail marginally, gaining these marks could be highly beneficial. Unfortunately, some assumed that simply giving a suitable title was sufficient, which was not the case. Higher professional marks were awarded to answers that gave due care to the structure of the report and the presentation of the answer.'

P4 examiner

'Marks were available for professional skills in questions 1 and 2. In order to earn these marks candidates first had to satisfy the requirement in relation to the format of the document requested. Further marks were then available for addressing the specific of the question, for directing the answer towards the needs of the particular client, for structuring the answer in a sensible manner and for the ease with which the answer could be reviewed by the client.'

P6 examiner


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Professional marks

  • The final comments on professional marks are those of the P7 examiner

  • 'Regarding professional marks, the best candidates used a proper format, separated their notes into sections, used clear heading, and provided a conclusion which summarised the assessment of risk. However, many made no attempt at a format, simply producing bullet points as their answer.

  • Professional marks are awarded partly for the quality of the language, and this requirement asked for briefing notes for a meeting with your audit team. Comments such as ‘the company might be going down the drain’ would not appear in a professional document and detracts from the quality of the answer.

  • Similarly txt lang w%dnt B acepabl n yr answers!!'


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