Each P1 paper offers 4-6 marks for displaying professional skills,which can easily be the difference between a pass and a fail.The marks are available for both format and the tone and style of your answer,where you may have to prepare a speech or write a letter on behalf of the Board addressing specific concerns.Take a look at the Article of 24 August 2009 for more guidance and some great hints on style.
P1 is a very wordy paper,and the examiner wants to ensure that you have a good grasp of the theories behind the questions,but also that you can successfully apply the theories to given scenarios.Therefore,it is very easy to get lost within a question if your layout and approach to a question is poor.
A good approach is to apply 3 rules in your answer:
Introduction–this should be very short,but can help you get over any‘writers block’.It might include a read back of the question,or a definition of the subject matter(for example,if the question asks for the roles of NED’s,start by very quickly defining what an NED is)
Theory–this section will show the examiner that you actually understand the issue being questioned,again,as with the introduction,this should really be kept short,it can be a section quote from the code,or a reference to an author(Cadbury or Greenbury et al).
Application–This will be the main bulk of your answer and should relate directly to the scenario.This is often the most difficult section of the answer,but should be made easier by the use of the introduction and theory sections.
In addition remember the golden rules of written questions:
Plenty of white space
Headings as required
Short punchy meaningful paragraphs
Following are some of the famous topics that were tested in past:
Corporate governance critique and improvements.
Effective internal control systems,reporting within differing jurisdictions.
Influence of and intervention by institutional investors.
Diversification of Board
Function and importance of internal audit.
Risk definition,analysis of risk and the role of the Board of Directors.
Risk correlation and strategies for management of such risks.
Ethical standpoints and their application to business decisions.
Corporate codes of ethics critique and improvements.
Tucker’s ethical decision making model.
Social and environmental footprint.
Conflict of interest and independence
Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR)
ACCA P1 has had the following exam format since it was first examined in December 2007.
One compulsory question worth 50 marks which uses a lengthy scenario,often based on real-life events,to test all three main syllabus areas.
Typically,this consists of four written requirements,some of which may be broken down into smaller sub-requirements where discrete syllabus content will be tested both as knowledge and application.
Within the total of 50 marks,there will be 4 professional marks available for producing some form of written communication(such as a briefing note,press release or letter to shareholders)which tests a candidate’s ability to write logical,structured and appropriate content suitable for a particular purpose,often with the aim of presenting a certain point of view.
A choice of two from three written questions that are each worth 25 marks and typically test up to two syllabus areas by applying the syllabus to a smaller real-world scenario.Again,candidates will be expected to apply their knowledge to the scenario in order to score well.
P1 has the following syllabus areas:
A Governance and responsibility
B Internal control and review
C Identifying and assessing risk
D Controlling risk
E Professional values,ethics and social responsibility
From this sitting onwards,you will no longer be given the 15 minutes‘reading and planning’time separately as the exam duration is now 3 hours and 15 minutes to include reading,planning and writing.We would still advise you to use a period similar to this however to continue to plan the things you need to include in your answer.It is essential that you use the information in the scenario to make your answers relevant–due to the size of the scenario typically presented in question 1,we would advise that you still use this notional 15 minutes to plan this question above all others.
During this time you should also think about how you will produce your answer–pay attention to the verbs used in question requirements as these indicate the number of marks available.For example,the verb“explain”requires a sentence and will score one mark if properly explained whereas the verb“list”simply requires you to present information with no further explanation:this will typically only score.mark per point listed.
The June 2015 exam tested content from the examiner’s technical article on corporate social responsibility(CSR)strategy and strategic CSR so you should ensure you are familiar with any new articles that have recently been published just in case–they can be found here:http://www.accaglobal.com/zm/en/student/exam-support-resources/professional-exams-study-resources/p1/technical-articles.html
You can expect to see the use of stakeholder,ethical and other CSR theories applied to scenarios,as well as the use of risk and governance syllabus content,especially relating to board directors,remuneration and reporting–you should be aiming to revisit as many past-paper questions as possible as we are starting to see exam requirements that reflect those we have seen before.