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PAper P3 Revision Notes

June 2009 Examinations

P3 examiner’s comments After each exam, the examiner makes very comprehensive comments on candidates’ performance. Many comments are very question specific and are available in full on the ACCA website. Here is our distillation of the recurring, more general comments and complaints (our emphasis of certain key words).

In even more condensed form, the advice is: *

Apply models to the information in the scenario. Merely explaining models does not gain many marks.

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Look for clues in the scenarios.

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Use the quantitative data.

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Pay attention to the marks available as this should determine the time you spend on each question part.

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Question….. was so popular that it led some candidates into over-answering it, leading to time problems. In such cases, answers to the final optional question often appeared to be rushed.

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Hand writing still remains a problem for some. Please check with peers or lecturers that your handwriting is legible. It is no use having great ideas if no-one can read them!

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A quote from …… was given to help candidates understand what was meant by ……There are important clues in the …..[scenario]

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Many candidate answers were much more up-beat …… Credit was given for this approach, illustrating again that candidates do not have to always agree with the examiner’s analysis to gain the marks on offer!

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The only general point I wish to make concerns the use of case study scenarios. Many candidates had a problem applying the theoretical knowledge they had learned to the context of the scenario. At this level, there are relatively few marks available for describing a model such as Porter’s five competitive forces. The vast majority of the marks are for recognising the presence and effect of these forces in the context of the case study scenario. Many of the answers seemed to suggest that candidates had very little practice in the application of models. If this is the case, candidates should integrate such practice into their preparation for the examination.

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It is important that the fifteen minute reading time at the start of the examination is used effectively. One of the ways of making it more effective is to read the questions before reading the case study! This allows the candidate to put the case study into the context of the questions. As in other papers, there is no irrelevant information in the case study scenarios. Candidates must concentrate on linking the scenario information to questions and (where applicable) to appropriate models.

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Unfortunately many candidates penalised themselves by actually describing and using all three models (five forces, PESTEL and SWOT), leading to long answers with significant repetition. There is little to be gained by using different models to make the same points. It was also apparent that this repetition led to some candidates having time problems later on in the examination. This part of the question was only worth 20 marks and time should have been allocated accordingly

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PAper P3 Revision Notes

June 2009 Examinations

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The three professional marks associated with this part of the question reflect the fact that candidates are given extra credit for a well-argued, coherent case for …. Candidates needed to extract the information in the scenario that could be marshalled to support the case for …..

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There was also evidence that some candidates put themselves under unnecessary time pressure by answering questions …….. too comprehensively. Candidates are reminded that the marks on offer should guide how long the candidate should spend on each question.

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Financial and quantitative information is provided in scenarios for a reason. Please use it appropriately. Many candidates ignored this information completely.

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The information in the scenario is very important. Many answers were too general and lacked appropriate context. Candidates must also make sure that they answer the question set, not the question they would like to have been set.

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Do not use theories inappropriately in a scatter-gun approach. Trying to reference too many theories led to some answers becoming too complicated, too long and too irrelevant. Candidates must make sure that answers are focussed and contain enough relevant points to get the marks on offer. . 

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Not enough use was made of the financial data. Relatively easy marks were available for calculating and interpreting standard financial ratios. One marker commented that the “analysis of the financial information was often weak. Use of this information often went no further than extracting superficial data that was immediately obvious from the tables, for example that net profit after tax had fallen”.

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Some candidates adopted over-elaborate frameworks and models to answer the question. On one hand this was good to see, but on the other it did mean that many of the answers were very long. Valuable time was taken up in explaining the model, rather than the strengths and weaknesses of [the business]. This was a particular problem when inappropriate models were used (such as PESTEL), leading candidates to discuss opportunities and threats which were explicitly excluded from the question…..One marker commented that “candidates frequently started this question with a paragraph describing SWOT analysis and then noting that only strengths and weaknesses were required for the answer. This was a complete waste of time”.

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Too many answers were neutral in tone and did not carry sufficient conviction.

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Most answers were general descriptions of the …. Such answers gained few marks, because this was not the focus of the question. The question concerned how such things would have helped prevent some of the problems documented in the scenario.

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The scenario gave plenty of opportunity for the basis of a good answer, but most candidates again opted for a restricted, theoretical answer which did not use the context of the scenario.

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The only criticism that could be made was that too many candidates wrote too much ... Some candidates wrote two or three pages on this, to gain the five marks on offer, when perhaps ten lines might have been sufficient. Such lengthy answers may have caused candidates time problems and meant that they did not complete the paper.

For latest course notes updates, free audio and video lectures and support please visit www.opentuition.com


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