Friday, 28 May 2010

A question for you...

What did you think about the use of the Strategic Level pre-seen material? Did you need to use much information from it, in answering the Q1s?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What order?


Anonymous said...

Just like to say a massive thanks for posting your blogs - I have found them very useful.

Just one question can you choose to answer the questions in any order, ie for E3 can you do you the two choice questions first and then do the Case study?

Thank you for the question. Yes, you can.

Some people find it 'comforting' to do their 'best' question first. This is fine, but make sure you don't use up too much time on (what you perceive to be) your best question.

Please don't answer the requirements (a, b etc.) out of sequence, as it really winds up the marker! The question requirements are in a certain order because the examiner thinks this is the most logical. Quite often, there's a 'storyline' that links the requirements. If you choose to do them out of sequence, you might miss something.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Good Luck!

Well, with a week to go before the May exams, I just wanted to say 'good luck' to everyone.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Strategic Level pre-seen

I rashly promised, a few days ago, that I would post something more about the Strategic Level pre-seen material. Since then, I’ve been talking to a number of tutors, and also to some of the people more closely involved in the development of the syllabus and the examination process.

Well, the prevailing view seems to be – DON’T PANIC!

After having looked again at the Specimen Papers, I’m not sure that the pre-seen material is going to figure very highly in the Strategic Level exams. The vast majority of the information that you need, to answer the questions, seems to be in the unseen material. Indeed, it seems very much as if you will be able to pass the Section A questions quite comfortably if you only use the unseen material. Obviously, there’s no reason why you would do that, as you’ve had the pre-seen material to work with for several weeks. It does, however, take the pressure off having to do lots of detailed analysis of the pre-seen material.

I go back, therefore, to the advice I gave on the 5th March – use the pre-seen material as a revision aide; as a context in which you can practise application of the various tools, models and approaches in the Strategic Level syllabus. Don’t get hung up on doing loads of industry analysis, for little return.

If you want a prediction (after all, it’s election night here in the UK), I’d suggest that your answers in Section A of the Strategic Level exams should be based about 90% on the unseen material, with only about 10% (if anything) on the pre-seen material and any industry examples.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Where do I plan?


Sarah said:

"Just a quick talk about answer planning in your book, I have been practising using scrap paper before writing out my answer, but in the exam, where would you suggest writing it?

I bought your book last November about 2 weeks before my first 3 CIMA exams, P1, P4 & P7. I passed all 3 and am convinced it was thanks to the great advice in your book!

When answer planning for P4 I scribbled my answer plans on the question paper, but you mention in the 'exit strategy' to write 'see answer plan', so was wondering where to put it!"

Put your answer plans in the answer booklet, so you have plenty of space, and so the marker can see them. Markers know that students who plan generally pass, so they are likely to be a bit more generous - a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy, if you think about it. Also, you can then refer the marker to a plan for your last question, if you run out of time.

That said, it does mean that you can't do your answer plans in the reading time, as you're not allowed to write in the answer booklet until the exam starts. However, I recommend spending the reading time analysing the requirements (verbs, topics, marks), deciding on the best way to approach each requirement, and finding any relevant data in the scenarios. This shortens the planning time, and also means that you'll spend more time understanding the question.



I’ve been asked for tips to pass Paper E3. Well, there are two things I think are important:

- You need to understand how to use the pre-seen material. This is covered by an earlier post, and one of my Learning Bursts. There is also a useful article on CIMA’s website, which talks about the ‘clues’ in the pre-seen, relating to each of the three papers.
- You need to understand how scenario-based questions work. Once again, there’s a presentation about this on my presentations page. You need to recognise that there are ‘hints’ in the scenario, which should lead you to the ‘points’ that the examiner wants you to mention in your answer.

The examiner wrote an article in Financial Management magazine, explaining the differences between E3 and P6, and there’s also a very useful transition guide on CIMA’s website. Together these will be of great help to those of you who are sitting E3, whether for the first time, or as a result of failing P6.

E3 isn’t a difficult paper, but the verbs used are at a very high level. When you are revising the theories in the E3 syllabus, you need to recognise that this exam really only looks at the application of those theories, and at their weaknesses and limitations. You shouldn’t expect to get marks for simple explanations and diagrams – these are more appropriate to the Operational Level. Concentrate on how the models work (or don’t), and recognise that solving real-life problems is generally about using ‘a bit of this, and a bit of that’, rather than applying one model in its entirety. Be prepared to ‘assemble’ a unique solution to a unique problem (as all real-life problems are).