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ACCA Advanced Performance Management
Quick Guide to Study and Exam
ACCA APM (Advanced Performance Management) is one of option papers in Strategic Professional Module. Since September 2018, the exam structure of all papers in Strategic Professional Module have been changed. P5 is its predecessor and the syllabus hasn’t been changed a lot.
However, exam structure is changed and all questions are compulsory to answer now.
The syllabus states its aim is to apply relevant knowledge, skills and exercise professional judgement in selecting and applying strategic management accounting techniques in different business contexts to contribute to the planning, control and evaluation of the performance of an organization and its strategic and operational development.
ACCA Advanced Performance Management pass rates are ranged between 30% and 36% in the past five sessions, which is considered to be one of the lowest in optional strategic professional papers.
In examiner’s report, it highlights a 3-step approach to prepare ACCA APM exam. The first step to passing APM is to have a good grasp of the basic knowledge. Without this knowledge, you cannot apply methods and then have little information to evaluate.
Next is building upon that basic knowledge, you need to be aware that performance management is an area which, at an advanced level, is dependent upon situation and environment – as exemplified by the need throughout the examination to relate or illustrate points by using the information relating to the business scenario in the question.
Finally, an critically, in order to pass APM, you need to be capable of analysing and evaluating the whole situation in the scenario using their technical knowledge.
All questions are compulsory. The 3 hours and 15 minutes exam will assess professional competences within the business reporting environment.
Section A will always be a single 50 mark case study, which will contain four professional marks in which you are required produce a business document such as a report or a briefing paper for the board of directors.
You should expect to undertake calculations, draw comparison against relevant information where appropriate and be prepared to offer alternative recommendations as needed. The case study focus on a range of issues from syllabus sections A, C and D, but depending on the business context of the case study.
Section B consists of two compulsory 25 mark questions. All section B questions will be scenario based and address a range of issues influencing performance of organizations in specific business situations.
One of two questions will come mainly from syllabus section E. However, the other Section B question can come from any other syllabus section.
ACCA will roll out Strategic Professional CBE in selected countries from March 2020, here is the link you can find Strategic Professional CBE Specimen exams:
The Advanced Performance Management (APM) syllabus further develops key aspects introduced in Performance Management at the Applied Skills level.
The syllabus introduces candidates to the strategic role of management accounting as a discipline for planning and controlling performance so that strategic objectives can be set, monitored and controlled. It recognises the impact of external factors on strategic management issues, such as macro-economic, fiscal, market and environmental impacts on performance and covers the risks these factors present and how they can be measured and managed. From appreciating the strategic context of performance management and the
impact of wider factors, the syllabus examines the issues relating to performance management information systems and their design. It also addresses the impact which developments in technology will have on the performance management and measurement systems used by organisations.
The syllabus then moves from performance management systems to the scope and application of high-level performance measurement techniques in a variety of contexts, including not-for-profit organisations and multi-national businesses. Having covered the strategic aspects of performance management and operational systems for the measurement and control of performance in a variety of contexts, candidates are then
expected to synthesise this knowledge in the role of an advisor to senior management or independent clients on how to assess and control the performance of an entity, including the recognition of whether a business is facing difficulties or possibly failure.
There are 5 sections in the syllabus, which are –
A Strategic planning and control
Use strategic planning and control models to plan and monitor organizational performance
B Impact of risk and uncertainty on organizational performance
Assess the impact of risk and uncertainty on organizational performance
C Performance measurement information systems and developments in technology
Identify and evaluate the design features of effective performance management information and monitoring systems and recognize the impact of developments in technology on performance measurement and management systems
D Strategic performance measurement
Apply appropriate strategic performance measurement techniques in evaluating and improving organizational performance
E Performance evaluation and corporate failure
Advise clients and senior management on strategic business performance evaluation and on recognizing vulnerability to corporate failure
It is a section sharing with you on ACCA Advanced Performance Management (APM, was P5) technical articles to help you understanding of complex concepts in simple way. In addition, you can find exam tips in our examiner review report on ACCA exam.
With 195 minutes available in APM exam, I still recommend you to use the “Golden Rule” in time management for each question, that is 1 mark per 1.8 minute. And why?
In Strategic Professional exam, you need to spend time in scanning the questions to get feel for them. In addition, you need to plan how to put your points in each question.
Other than “Golden Rule”, the risk in APM exam is many students too much time on Section A which consists of 50 marks but insufficient time on two 25-mark questions in Section B.
You should practice ACCA APM past exam on how to write valid points with details required before exam. It is very critical to pass APM with adequate practice on how to make your answers meet examiner’s requirements.
A lot of students ask whether they need Paper APM textbook and some tutors said it's their own choice.
If your answer to either of question below is yes, buy the book:
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As explained above, the 3-step approach suggested by ACCA is the general rule for every candidate to pass APM exam. In addition, what should you know in your exam preparation?
Except for covering the whole syllabus as we mentioned, you should note that unlike in the compliance topics such as financial reporting and tax, changes are not regularly made to the syllabus areas. You should read through the technical articles published by ACCA as well as broaden your general business knowledge by reading through good quality business articles.
Moreover, the links between APM and PM is very strong. Though you will not be tested in a PM style on topics but need to be aware that all of PM knowledge is assumed to be known and will be used in a more critical capacity.
Last but not the least, APM exam is testing you on how to interpret the data provided and further analysis of data in question. You have to demonstrate the ability to add value to your advice by taking information already produced. It means you can write your answers and comments to make the numbers more understandable. For example, you can compare numbers by showing the trend or benchmarking with competitors to advise.