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How to pass ACCA P3

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The March and June sittings will be your last chance to sit P3 under the current exam structure, before P1 and P3 become Strategic Business Leader (SBL) as part of the ACCA’s Professional Level changes.

The P3 exam requires some key skills and techniques that you’ll need to develop in order to be successful, so here are 5 techniques you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re planning to sit P3 before it changes.

1. Use models to provide answer structure

The P3 syllabus includes over 40 models and you will need to be familiar with all of them, knowing which model fits with each part of the syllabus and when to use them (the examiner does not always ask for them by name!). Using the syllabus guide and an official text can help you to understand where each model may be relevant.

No marks are provided for explaining a particular model; at this level you are expected to use the models as a framework for your answer. Think of the models as a way to provide the subheadings in your answer. If you avoid using the models you will struggle to cover the depth and breadth required to score sufficient marks to pass.

2. Make your answers relevant and specific

To score the necessary marks for analysis your answer needs to include relevance and specifics. In order to make your answer relevant, use the scenario and apply your knowledge to this example.You also need to be specific though - simply identifying something important won’t score marks if you’re not able to provide some analysis. The “analysis”, the why, is essential for scoring marks.

3. Include quantitative data when relevant

Questions will often provide some numbers, such as financial statements or a table of data, and you are expected to use these numbers to help explain the point you’re making. By not using the data you will lose a considerable number of marks.

You may have to create some of the numbers for yourself through calculations. But these shouldn’t be technically difficult and will have been studied in earlier papers. The test is whether you can calculate them quickly and use them to give advice or analyse an organisation.

4. Ensure broad syllabus coverage

Trying to guess what will come up in your P3 exam simply won’t work, as anything can be examined. You need to have a broad knowledge of the entire syllabus, or you might find that you can only sufficiently answer one part of a question. Before starting to write an answer to an optional question you must have read all parts of the requirement to ensure you can have a good go at all parts of the question.

5. Manage your time well

There are a few key rules to remember when it comes to managing your time:

 - Only answer the question that has been set. Although it can be tempting to demonstrate your knowledge, if it hasn’t been asked for you won’t score any marks so ultimately it’ll waste your time
 - Set a deadline for each question: 50 minutes for a Section B question and 100 minutes for Section A. When the time is up move on to your next question
 - Use the number of marks to understand how much you need to write. If a question is worth 15 marks then that’s all you can score, no matter how brilliant your answer!

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