For sections A & B study everything! As all areas of the syllabus can be tested here.
For section C make sure you study budgetary systems, planning and operation variances, mix and yield variance and evaluation of the company performance (whole and divisional). Don’t forget you are sitting a PM exam, so be prepare to evaluate some performance!
You are strongly advised to plan your answers to section C questions properly before you start typing. Always make reference to the scenario in your answer – it’s where the marks are.
The exam will be around 40% calculation and 60% discussion, meaning you won’t pass just with the numbers – interpretation and application are crucial, especially in section C.
In section A expect at least a couple of the OTs to be devoted to the administration of income tax and corporation tax. Make sure you are comfortable with these questions.
Among the other topics you should be comfortable with are:
*Due dates for the payment of income tax (payments on account).
*Due dates for the payment of corporation tax (instalments for large companies).
*Filing dates for the income tax and corporation tax returns.
*Penalties and interest for late payments.
Other topics likely to come up are:
*VAT rules on registration, impairment loss (bad debt) relief, and the SME schemes relating to cash accounting, annual accounting and flat-rate schemes.
*Inheritance tax due on lifetime transfers both in the donor’s life and on death.
*Statutory residence tests for individuals.
*Identification of groups of companies for corporation tax loss reliefs and gains.
*Trading loss reliefs for both companies and sole traders.
Section B questions will be similar to those of section A.
In section C you will be faced with longer, constructed response questions with scenarios and much more open requirements. At least 50% of your revision time has to be spent answering the section C questions in the practice and revision kit to build up confidence and speed.
To maximise your marks here:
1) Remember to learn your income tax and corporation tax pro formas.
2) Calculations which require no more than 2 or 3 entries into your calculator can be included on the face of your pro formas (eg time apportioning a salary). Calculations which are more complex (eg company car benefits) need separate workings, which are properly referenced (W1, W2, etc) and have a heading.
3) Actually attempt the narrative parts of the requirement – aim for as many sentences as there are marks with each sentence containing something technical. Keep your paragraphs to no more than 3 sentences long.
4) In both numerical and narrative answers leave plenty of the space on the page. So in pro formas – leave a gap between each line (you may need to add something in). Show working DOWN the page, rather than ACROSS the page as it makes them easier to mark. In narrative answers leave a line or two between each paragraph. Just in case you remember something later. Well-spaced answers are also easier to mark.
We know the two longest questions will focus on income tax and corporation tax. These are likely to include the following:
*Relief for pension contributions.
*Adjustments to profit to arrive at trading income for both companies and sole traders – in past sittings we have seen a number of questions whereby you have to correct errors in computations included in the scenario.
*Capital allowance computations.
The 15 2-mark OT questions will test the syllabus and should include several on consolidation and interpretation of financial statements. Expect a few questions on non-core areas (eg inflation, specialised entities).
There are two 20-mark questions, one covering interpretations and the other preparation of financial statements. One question is likely to be in the context of a single company and one in the context of a group, so you could have a single company interpretation and a groups preparation or vice versa.
Accounts prep questions may include extracts or stand alone calculations or full statements of profit or loss and other comprehensive income and/or statement of financial position.
Both questions will cover the accounting for items from other areas of the syllabus.
They may include a short separate part with a statement of changes in equity, a statement of cash flows extract, earnings per share calculation, or linked written topic.
Any consolidation questions would include one subsidiary and often an associate, with adjustments, eg fair values, deferred/contingent consideration, PUP on inventories/PPE, intragroup trading and balances, or goods/cash in transit.
A single entity question could be preparation from a trial balance ort restatement of given financial statements, with the usual adjustments for depreciation, revaluation and current/deferred tax (including deferred tax on revaluations) plus a mixture of adjustments on other syllabus areas, such as leases, substance over form issues, financial instruments (change in fair value or amortised cost), share issues, government grants, inventory valuation, revenue recognition, or construction contracts.
There are 3 mini-case style scenario based questions each with five 2-mark questions based on the scenario (total 30 marks). Each mini-case question will test single topic areas of the syllabus, and so will either test syllabus area A, B, C, D or E. Expect questions in section A to focus on syllabus areas A and E.
All 3 questions in section B will be broken down into sub requirements and be scenario based. The majority of marks in each question will test syllabus areas B, C, and/or D.
Area expected in Q16 to 18 include:
*Audit risk (identification and explanation of audit risks from a scenario and explanation of the auditor’s response to each risk).
*Internal controls (identification and explanation of deficiencies in internal control and the recommendation of suitable internal controls or description of tests and controls).
*Audit procedures (both substantive procedures and tests of control).
You should always think about how you will present your answer – try to use a tabular format in your solutions where relevant. Also pay attention to the verbs. For example, ‘explain’ requires a sentence and will score one mark if properly explained whereas the verb ‘list’ simply requires you to list out information with no further explanation and this will score 0.5 mark per point.
Section A is 15 MCQ/OT test questions worth 2 marks each. Questions will often be knowledge based and will balance out the questions in section B & C to make sure that all aspects of the syllabus are examined. A good number of these questions will test your understanding of financial management and objectives (ratio analysis, the concept of shareholder wealth) as well as the economic environment and financial institutions topics (financial intermediation, fiscal and monetary policies). The efficient market hypothesis is likely to be tested here too.
Commonly tested areas in section B are working capital management (the operating cycle, the impact of a change in credit period, or accepting a factor’s offer), business or security valuations (methods of valuation), and financial risk management (currency risk, and interest rate risk).
The two 20-mark questions in section C will focus mainly on syllabus sections C, D and E. Section C is working capital management, section D is investment appraisal and is likely to feature NPV with inflation and tax. section E is business finance; either an evaluation of financing options (interest coverage and gearing rations are likely to be important here), or a cost of capital and analysis.