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  • 8/12/2019 Approaching Written Articles _ F5 Performance Management _ ACCA Qualification _ Students _ ACCA Global

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    2014522 Approaching written articles | F5 Performance Management | ACCA Qualification | Students | ACCA Global

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    accaglobal.com

    http://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/student/acca-qual-student-journey/qual-resource/acca-qualification/f5/technical-

    articles/approaching-written-articles.html

    Approaching written articles

    It is not uncommon to see students recoil in horror at the mention of Paper F5, Performance Management.The purpose of this article is to identify the reasons why sitting the Paper F5 exam seems to cause such a

    problem for students and try and improve performance in the future.

    As you are aware, Paper F5 builds on the blocks of knowledge gained from sitting the Paper F2 exam.

    Although the pass rates for Paper F2 tend to be on the low side when compared with some of the other

    Knowledge papers, they are still significantly higher than the Paper F5 pass rates. Therefore, although

    poor pass rates could be blamed on the fact that Paper F5 covers an area that most ACCA students have

    no experience of and find it difficult to relate to, the same could be said of Paper F2. Why then, does Paper

    F5 seem to invoke such fear and poor performance from students?

    One of the reasons why I think the problem arises is because the Skills papers, of which Paper F5 is one,

    are often the first time that students have had to tackle written questions. No longer is it sufficient to simply

    learn material and churn out calculations. With the Knowledge papers, ability to write clearly and set out

    workings logically and neatly is not required; the papers are in the form of sets of objective test questions.

    Instead, the skills involved become fourfold, with candidates being required to do all of the following:

    correctly interpret requirements

    actively read sometimes scenario-based questions, highlighting the information that is relevant for

    each part of the requirement

    use that information to perform calculations that are carefully structured and clearly set out, with allworkings shown in an easy-to-follow layout

    write accurately and coherently, using simple English rather than long, rambling sentences that have

    no structure and no real content.

    Another reason why problems arise is because candidates do not take the time to understand the

    differences between Paper F2 and Paper F5. Some subject areas are obviously included in both

    syllabuses, but you can be sure that where subjects are repeated in Paper F5, the skills required of you

    are over and above the knowledge required in Paper F2.

    I am going to concentrate on a brief step by step approach to the exam on the day and then on a more

    detailed explanation of how you should interpret all the different 'instructions' contained within question

    requirements. The points made in this article about interpreting requirements in questions are equally valid

    for interpreting the depth of the Paper F5 Study Guide which is attached to the Syllabus, since this too is

    written in terms of 'instructions' such as discuss, describe and so forth.

    READING TIME

    The Paper F5 exam, as with all three-hour exams, starts with 15 minutes of reading time. This time should

    be spent by quickly allocating your 180 minutes to each question and reading all the requirements and the

    questions so that you can think about your answers and decide the order in which you will answer your

    questions. Remember, always start with your best question first. It is important to build your confidence up

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    2014522 Approaching written articles | F5 Performance Management | ACCA Qualification | Students | ACCA Global

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    so that you perform your best.

    When it comes to answering the question, be sure that you are strict with your time allocation. If you are

    spending too long on one question, it is either because you can't do it anyway (in which case move on and

    come back to it later) or you are saying too much and going beyond what the examiner expected of you.

    How much an examiner expects you to write is directly linked to the marks available and therefore the time

    available.

    To spend half an hour, for example, on Part (c) of a question, which is only worth five marks is madness:the examiner expected you to spend nine minutes on it. As well as allocating time to individual questions,

    you should allocate time to individual requirements in questions.

    In the reading time, you should get a chance to have a good look at the requirements of all five questions.

    Remember: the requirement should always be the first thing that you look at in a question. What is the

    point in reading a question if you don't know what you are looking for? When you read each part of the

    requirement, underline the 'content' - what the question is about, for example target costing, and the

    'instruction' - what it is telling you to do. This helps you to focus your mind on answering the actual

    question rather than answering what you thought the question was going to ask you.

    As regards the content, you have either studied the area and can tackle it, or not. This instruction could be

    a whole variety of verbs ranging from numerical requirements such as calculate, produce, derive and

    apply; or more wordy requirements such as describe, interpret, outline, compare, identify, discuss, explain,

    evaluate, suggest and justify. The possibilities are endless and the one thing you can be sure of is that the

    verb used has been carefully thought about by the examiner, obviously taking into account any restrictions

    imposed by the syllabus. If you don't read and understand the instruction carefully, then you will find that

    you are not actually answering the question. If you are not answering the question, then you are not

    earning marks. For example, being asked to justify the use of target costing as opposed to traditional

    absorption costing is different from being asked to explain target costing. Each of the common exam

    'instructions' are dealt with below.

    ANSWERING NUMERICAL QUESTIONS

    'Calculate' and 'derive'

    Some instructions are easier to understand than others. For example, there can be no confusion as to

    what the word 'calculate' means; if you are asked to calculate a number, you just have to work it out.

    Similarly, 'derive' should pose little problem. In the context of Paper F5, you might have to derive an

    equation showing the relationship between price and quantity or derive a target cost for a product. Beingable to 'derive' a figure sometimes requires more than simply being able to calculate a figure, as a

    candidate may have to use their powers of deduction to derive something. However, the mechanics of

    'deriving' or 'calculating' would actually be very similar in most cases.

    'Estimate'

    If a question asks you to 'estimate' a figure it suggests that the answer cannot be calculated with certainty.

    For example, if you are asked to estimate the time taken to produce a batch of items where an 80%

    learning curve has been shown to exist, you are making an estimate rather than an exact calculation. This

    is due to the fact that the learning rate itself reflects what a business THINKS will happen but it is not

    certain until it has happened. Once again, however, as with a 'derive' instruction, the mechanics of'estimating' are much the same as 'calculating'. There is a set approach to the question (tabular or

    algebraic, in the case of learning curves).

    Why, then, do candidates often still perform poorly on the numerical parts of the Paper F5 exam paper? In

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    2014522 Approaching written articles | F5 Performance Management | ACCA Qualification | Students | ACCA Global

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    my opinion, poor numerical answers often arise merely as a result of candidates failing to study the whole

    syllabus well enough in the first place. Anyone who thinks they can question spot exam questions for a

    particular sitting, based on topics that have been examined or not examined in recent papers, is sadly

    mistaken. Certain publications publish 'top tips' which should most certainly be i

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