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Any tips on better time management - Professional Level Paper P3

+7 Votes
Any tips on better time management - Professional Level Paper P3

So we have 1.8 minutes per mark. I have broken it down to 1.5 minutes per mark and the remaining time is for actually reading the question and requirements. I find it very difficult to allow for any sort of plan otherwise I go over on the writing time for answering the question. I have no clue how it's possible to write a plan and answer the question within the allotted time. I have a hard time staying within the time limit even without the plan. I've been doing questions in the revision kit and so far I have done 18 questions and can hardly seem to remain within the time limit. So far I've only done the 25 mark questions (45 mins).

A bigger challenge for me will be the 50 mark questions (90 mins). In exam I always go over by a lot and so end up answering only the 50 mark question and one option. If I make it to the second option I may only have time to read the question and jut down some quick points for the first part of the requirement. Especially for the 50 marker, I find it takes a significant amount of time to read all the information, recalling what I've read and putting it into a logical pattern for answering the requirements. It's an even bigger task when there is financial data. I actually prefer questions with no financial data but unfortunately this cannot always be avoided.

I'm currently writing P3, I think it's my fourth or fifth try. I can't even remember anymore. In my previous attempts I hardly did any revision questions which I believed is one of the major reasons for my failures. This time I'm seeking to rectify that by doing all the questions in the kit. I just feel that by now I should have seen some improvement in my ability to answer questions within the time frame allotted. Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to give as clear a view of my situation as possible. Any advice?

February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points 1 Flag

14 Replies

+18 Votes

Hello, I thought I let you know how I passed P3 with 75% . First of all I did study at BPP in London or you can choose any other provider as the tutors can give you invaluable advice and help. I did not read the study text at all . It is way too big and you do not need too much knowledge. You should only use course notes from the different providers or you can find some online for free. I decided that doing my own notes using course notes with my own words would be more memorable and much shorter so I can go through them often and it will only take me a few minutes to do so on the way home from work for example. I did most of the questions from the Revision kit to give me some idea and also help me remember better the notes as with practice is so much easier. When you do questions, you should try to write them down which will help you concentrate and also give you an idea how long it will take you to do the question. The biggest issue on P3 is the lengthy questions,specially Question 1. Dec 14 ,question 1 was huge and very much time pressured. When I am reading question 1, I make some notes and perhaps re-read each paragraph to ensure I have not missed anything. I would recommend that you do plan for at least question 1 as it can get very confusing and you can forget to mention something and you may start looking for what you have missed and it will take you ages giving the length of the question. Also if you have a plan , you would know what you are going to say, otherwise you would start a sentence which you do not know how it will end and this will actually slow you down. Choose which optional questions you will do in your reading time and perhaps spent 5 mins the most to read them quickly and write a few points coming to your mind straight away as I find that when the exam starts, even though we are all very stressed, we do have more clear thinking at the time and we remember things more at the beginning rather than later in the exam as we are getting too stressed out that the time is passing and our brain is not functioning so well. These are my thoughts on that anyway. I am sure I can give you some more tips which I can not think of right now so if you do have more questions,please do let me know. I am not sure if this will help you but I thought I will share it with you in case it does. Good luck and I hope June 2015 would be your lucky time and you will be fine. P3 is not that hard exam and stressing out will actually fail you .

March 4th 2015 AN ACCA USER 340 Points
+4 Votes

Allot 1.6 minute per mark if you consider you need time to read and plan the answer. That is done to set a limit so never over run that limit. Once the time ends leave that part.

You don't have to plan the answer completely. You would have read Q1 in the first 15 minutes so just read the requirement. Underline all the requirements (one sentence me require 2 different things like identify the factors.... and explain....) Just think of basic knowledge stuff that is relevant to the particular requirement then start writing. Start reading the question and at the same time write on your answer booklet. This will ensure you won't miss any point. And the scenario develops gradually you'll definitely go the right way by following this approach.

Don't explain in too much detail. Make a point and justify/ explain it i.e WHAT and WHY !! ( e.g. merger is a better way to grow BECAUSE......). That's it. Move on to the next point. If the requirement is of 10 marks e.g. and it asks for Identification and explanation You'll have to understand that you have to write good 5 points. You have to learn how marking scheme might work. This can be done by question practice and see how question sets are based on specific marks. Don't just write the sentence from the scenario (examiner doesn't need that alone..this is just the identification bit) You need to JUSTIFY everything !!

Numbers are important. You can't avoid that you know so do work on that. Question practice is essential to pass P3 and professional judgement as well. Model answers are full of all the different ideas you might bring in for a question you don't have to write that much in exam. Examiners also don't expect such lengthy answers. Also focus on getting those professional marks and avoid repetition.

Good Luck.

February 27th 2015 AN ACCA USER 5,330 Points 1 Flag
Edited March 3th 2015 AN ACCA USER
+3 Votes

Ok thanks. Yes that's a good point about thinking for 5 mins to write for 1 min instead of thinking for less minutes and writing rubbish. I would have to practice this a lot. I've actually given up on trying to know the textbook inside out. I realized I actually don't retain the information.

So this time I adopted a new strategy. I decided to answer all the questions in the kit and I would read the requirements of the question, then refer to the textbook and read the related area. After this I would attempt to answer the question. In this way I am hoping to cover all the most examined areas and get a good idea of how to answer questions. And as I have done the paper so many times some of the information would have stuck in my head so it's not all new information.

February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
+3 Votes

If you want to improve the amount of time it takes to answer questions then it does not just depend on question practice. Yes, question practice is crucial and you must keep trying and you will notice that there will be a lot of similarities in questions which will make the planning and thinking time shorter as answering becomes nearly automatic. However, you must also read the requirement very, very well. The problem with a lot of people (including myself) is that you understand the subject of the question and you write as much as you know about the subject when in actual fact the question will only be asking about a small part of the whole topic. When you are practicing questions look out for this and if a question, for example, is 6 marks then it is usually the case that you will need about 6 points to answer the question. Do not go over or it will be wasted time for no extra marks.

February 27th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,500 Points
+2 Votes
Well I share in your frustration my fellow candidate, it does appear your are beginning to loose interest and tired of seeing the P3 textbook every 6mths now, try not to and stay focus and you will eventually get pass in this paper and in turn become a worthy Qualified Accountant.

I was in the same shoes as you doing my P2 and doubting if I will ever get past this paper, after the 4th attempt I did eventually get through it and now am taking P3 for the 1st time and there is no panic at all ,as I will be applying the same technique throughout my final level papers.

To start with, this whole idea and conspiracy about time management in the exam does not really exist, only a hand full of students can really finished the whole question in 3hrs and even though you finished it , it does not guarantee you a pass , it is how well you answer the questions that matters. I am saying this because I have passed F5-P2 and I have never finish the entire questions I have only done 75-80% and I passed, because this % I answered were well polished and done properly.

So focus on completing this % and do it properly and you will be guaranteed a pass or except you are trying to obtain a Gold in this paper then you will continue to fight this time management issue and racing through the exam paper in panic and not answering the questions you've been asked.

I hope this advice help.
February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,660 Points 1 Flag
+1 Vote
Thanks for your advice. Yeah I'm just aiming to pass. I'll be great with 50% :). Actually I haven't finished any of the exam papers that I passed either. I will try to focus on answering the questions properly. I'm struggling a bit with that too. It's hard for me to structure answers the way ACCA would want in the time frame allotted. I don't feel like I'm able to plan out what my answer will be in advance because it requires extra thinking time that I don't have so I just write points as they come into my head . I haven't yet figured out a way around this. Do you have any particular strategy that you use?

By the way glad to hear that you got through with P2. It's really hard doing the same paper over and over. I can relate to the struggle. I wish you all the best in P3 and hope you get through on your first attempt.

Thanks again for your reply.
February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
+1 Vote
Well if you are struggling to retain information like you are saying here, you can adopt my strategy No2.

With this strategy ,I start to study 6wks before the exams as I know it take me 4wks to complete a textbook and also to retain those informations and another 2wks to revise.

You will then go into the exam with those information smoking hot.

You are right when you start studying early you forget those information and that alone a nightmare.
February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,660 Points
+1 Vote
Wow you only need 4 weeks to complete the text book. That's impressive...well at least to me. For me the problem isn't starting too early regarding retaining the information. It's that when I read the text all I see is words. There's nothing to make me retain the info. That's why doing the questions is good for me because it helps me to apply the knowledge as well as retain it because I'm learning how to use it rather than just seeing it in the textbook and not being able to really relate it to anything.

I need to practice something to remember it. But thanks for the suggestion and it's awesome that you can study in 6 weeks and pass.
February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes
Well from what I gathered from here, the strategy I mentioned previously fits the bill for you.

You appear to me a slow thinker just like me here in the examination hall and need extra time to read every question, sorry that luxury is not available to you and I, except you are a very fast thinker then you can apply this time management idea you are having.

In terms of answer structure and layout that you asked, that needs practicing as it is very difficult to advise on this, you need to purse and think before writing your answer in the exam as the examiner has said, say for example you think for 5mins and it takes you 1mins to write your answer and you gain 3marks or you prefer to think for 1min and write 5mins of rubbish without gaining any marks at all, what would you prefer?

So it appears we are very similar , so with my strategy, the 1st step is to know the textbook inside out this will allow you to be confident in any choosing question you've selected and the answer will also get polished too, this should gain you that 50% crossing line that you are yawning for.

I agree with you reading the same textbook over and over is boring, you need a way out ,and here is one.
February 26th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,660 Points
0 Votes
Yes I will definitely work on the numbers through questions. As for the detail that's one of my weak areas. I think I tend to write too much on what I know when I should learn how to effectively say the same thing in less words. Additionally, sometimes it's hard for me to come up with say 5 good points so I try to write whatever I hope might apply so that I can earn some marks by ***'s grace.

After doing questions I try to analyze the text book answers to see how and where I failed to answer the question as required and what types of points I should have included.

Thanks for the tips. I will try to incorporate them in my preparation.
February 28th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes
I do this a lot, writing more than I should. I think it's because I figure the points I make may not always be accurate so I want to put in as much as I can think of in the hope that enough of them are accurate to award me a pass. P3 is a very practical subject and even though the text book goes into a great deal of effort to explain, sometimes the answers required is nothing you could ever get from reading a text. It needs to be a combination of text book knowledge, business sense and awareness of how the various concepts are actually applied in the real world. I believe the last two points to be my major downfall.

Regarding that I don't have a clue where to start. There's millions of business related articles out there. How do I know which will be of most benefit to me in the limited time frame that I have till exams. Also honestly business doesn't really seem that exciting to me, reading about it. I am a person who needs to experience things to truly grasp them. I work in accounting and I like my job so it's not that I don't like the profession.

Anyway I've gone off topic...prob needed to vent. Thanks again for your advice.
February 28th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes
Thanks for your advice. Yeah I realized that reading the text isn't helpful. I have notes I made from last year so I refer to those from time to time. I think an important thing for me to do, as you suggested, would be to make a plan of my answer for question 1 at least. Usually what I do when I open the question paper during the 15 minutes reading time is that I would read the requirements of all the options and see which two might be better for me to do. I would just skim the information in the options' scenarios but I wouldn't actually read the scenario. (This sometimes has not worked out well as I choose badly. A question can seem difficult based on the requirements but it's actually simpler than anticipated after reading the scenario and vice versa.) Then I would move on to the 50 mark question, read the requirements and then start reading the scenario and just highlighting the important points. Usually I'm not done reading by the time the 15 minutes reading time is finished. I'm beginning to wonder if I read at a slower pace than everyone else.

So regarding your suggestion to read the option questions scenarios and put down a few points during the 15 minutes, I don't see how it's possible for me to do that and still have time to read the majority of the 50 marker scenario.

I have been doing questions from the revision kit and timing myself, writing down the answers to see how long it will take me. I'm trying to master time management on these 25 mark questions first as well as build my way up in terms of knowledge (I'm doing the questions in the order in the kit and I intend to have completed all by the time I have to do my exam in June. I am sticking to the schedule thus far). My reading time for these 25 mark questions is usually exact or maybe a minute over.  I would apply your tips for when I get to the 50 mark question because if I'm having trouble staying within time for the 25 mark questions I will definitely need help to read, understand and have some form of recall (in the form of points and a plan) when reading the 50 mark questions. I believe that will help me to at least not have to re-read it or go searching for info as you stated. Now it's just to learn how to make smart and relevant points. At the time of reading so much seems relevant.

Thanks for your well wishes for me in my exam and for taking the time to message me. I really hope that the hard work will pay off this time.
March 5th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes
wont that startegy fpr 6wks work if you are writing only one paper, what if you are doing two or four? what startegy, cause P3 and P2 are hindering the completion of ACCA. please help
April 29th 2015 AN ACCA USER 240 Points
0 Votes

Honestly Jinelle, everything you have stated above is just a mirror image of myself. Too length passages in P3. Reading your articles give me a flavour that you are in control. There is some element of luck in examination in addition to strong preparation for the examination. The night before can have significant effect. I relate to you and your statements have given me strength. I also think the advices given you I will also take on board.

I think when you pass you will pass very well. You may have actually passed by the time this is posted. You may actually know P3 better than those who have passed.

October 17th 2015 AN ACCA USER 190 Points
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