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Study Zone

P5: How to be part of the 29%

Mustafa Muchhala offers some sound advice on how to pass the Advance Performance Management paper

March 2018

I want to share with you a typical email I received from a student last October: “Hello Mustafa, I was just wondering whether you could give me any tips on retaking P5 this December. What steps would you suggest I take to ensure I pass?”
P5 continues to see a very low pass rate (29% in December 2017). The examiner’s comments repeatedly spell out the reasons why students are not crossing the line, but it seems these comments are being ignored.
So how did I respond to this student? Well, I advised them to:
1. Start by reviewing the P5 syllabus to ensure that your knowledge is up to speed. Examiner’s comments have repeatedly mentioned that rote learning of P5 knowledge and then regurgitating it in the exam will score no more than 20-30% of the marks. As you know, this is not sufficient to pass the question – so that showing you understand the concepts is more important than rote learning.
2. Revising the assumed knowledge from F5 and F9 is critical to exam success. The examiner continually examines these and gets very annoyed when students can’t do basic calculations, which is understandable. Read the article ‘Bringing forward F5 knowledge and skills into P5’ from the ACCA website.
3. Question practice should take up over 50% of your study time. You should practise as many past exams as you possibly can. Plan your answers, even if you don’t write out all of them in full, before reviewing the solution. Use the
P-E-A approach (Point, Explain and Apply) to each scenario. Do not fall into the trap of auditing the answers: in the exam this will not be a relevant skill as you’ll have no answer to turn to.
4. Get some of your full written answers marked by your tutor, or by someone who is taking or has passed P5. Get constructive feedback and improve your answers.
5. Finally, attempt a mock exam to time, and get it marked. Feedback will help you work on your time management and exam technique. This final step is a must-do rehearsal before the actual exam.
Ensure you read the examiner’s comments to the previous exams and so avoid the mistakes that others have made. If you practice enough questions, and focus on understanding and analysis, success will be yours. Best of luck!
I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email after the December results: “Hi Mustafa, I passed with 56 marks. This was my fourth attempt (45, 49, 39 marks in previous attempts).Your tips really helped to obtain those extra brownie point marks to get me over the finishing line. Many thanks for all your help.”
To pass you must learn from your mistakes. We all make them. The key is not to let them get you down, but to learn and grow from them. And then not to repeat them!
• Mustafa Muchhala is a freelance professional tutor and writer

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