Wednesday, October 26, 2011



BPP experts outline the most important syllabus areas for the November exams - more than just tips then

What follows are not a list of traditional ‘tips’ that you should rely on being examined for lots of marks in the exam. Instead they are the most important syllabus areas as identified by BPP’s subject specialists, set in a context in which they may be seen in your November exam, and should only form the core of your revision studies.

•The political, social and economic context – identifying and explaining factors that determine international competitive advantage.
•Operations management – explaining how developments in organisational structure and quality management have helped businesses gain a competitive advantage.
•Information systems – identifying the benefits of information systems and explaining the value of structured system implementation.
•Marketing – applying key concepts such as the marketing mix to a scenario that could include a not-for-profit dimension.
•HR – explaining the value of HR planning, recruitment/selection and training when dealing with any of the above changes.

•Approaches to strategy - comparing and contrasting the formulation / different levels of strategy.
•The competitive environment - analysing the environment or assessing the value/benefit of the analysis - could be extended to include stakeholders
•Business ethics and corporate governance (including CSR) - importance to the company and analysing potential issues arising within a business context.
•Management and Leadership - in relation to management styles and the importance of managing groups – likely to incorporate conflict if examined in Section B.
•Project management - tools and skills in a project management context, including project risks / management of cross functional teams.
•Culture - the theory and the impact it has on organisational success.

•Strategic choice – applying Johnson, Scholes and Whittington’s Suitable, Acceptable, Feasible model to the selection of strategic options.
•Strategic marketing decisions – whether an organisation should adopt a customer or product focused approach to strategy applying techniques such as Customer Account Profitability and Direct Product Profitability.
•Change management – possibly in the context of changing the organisation’s approach to marketing.
•Environmental uncertainty – describing the problems that uncertain environments present, and evaluating techniques such as scenario planning and game theory in dealing with uncertainty.

•Working capital management – the calculation of the cycle, the impact of decisions on the cycle, EOQ calculation, cash flow forecast and compound interest calculation.
•Operating statement reconciling budgeted to actual profits including fixed overhead variances and possibly mix and yield calculations.
•NPV including tax and inflation and/or incremental revenue and costs.
•Sensitivity calculations and yield to maturity using the IRR.
•Expected values, joint probabilities and risk based decisions.
•Decision trees requiring both appropriate construction and evaluation.
•Activity based costing calculations and discussion of benefits and drawbacks.
•Benefits of budgeting techniques for discursive marks.

•Relevant costing – in a short term decision making context.
•Value chain – discussion of how the use of the value chain can help drive profit in a given business.
•Pricing – discussion of pricing policies for new products incorporating the product life cycle.
•Activity based costing – extending to DPP, discussion in a retail environment.
•Responsibility accounting – controllability and impacts on motivation / performance measurement.
•Performance evaluation – via financial and non financial measures.
•Transfer pricing – discussion of differing policies and their consequences.

•Different types of interest rate risk and techniques for managing them.
•Strategic risks facing an organisation and recommendations of control measures.
•Focus on risks around HR and how these can be mitigated.
•Risks relating to IT projects, including supplier selection and how they can be mitigated.
•Tools for managing currency risk and evaluation of whether they are appropriate for a given organization.
•Issues raised by technology for auditors.

•Deferred tax calculations and the regulatory framework will almost certainly feature in Sections A and/or B.
•It is important that candidates know definitions for general principles of tax (eg hypothecation, underlying tax and withholding tax) and can perform basic calculations (eg sales tax) as it is likely that there will be a number of taxation questions in Section A.
•Leases are likely to appear in Section B or as a sub-requirement in Section C. Candidates must be able to identify the type of lease and carry out the calculations involved for finance leases.
•Construction contracts are also likely to appear in Section B.
•Accounts preparation requiring an statement of comprehensive income and a statement of financial position is likely in Section C.
•A consolidated statement of financial position featuring a parent, subsidiary and an associate is likely as the other Section C question.
•It is likely that statement of cash flows will be tested for 10 – 15 marks as either two or three section B questions or as a sub-requirement in Section C.
•Both audit and ethics, although smaller topics, will almost certainly be tested for 3-4 marks each, either as standalone Section A questions or as sub-requirements in Section B or C.

Section A
•Written question, eg convergence between US GAAP and IFRS, operating and financial review, environmental reporting or human asset accounting.
•Short consolidated statement of comprehensive income, statement of financial position or extracts from group financial statements.
•Recognition, measurement and/or classification of financial instruments – either an adjustment in a groups question and whole/part of a question in its own right requiring explanation of accounting treatment and/or calculations and/or journals.
•Pension accounting – numerical question with notes to financial statements or written question explaining accounting treatment for defined benefit pension and/or defined contribution scheme.
•Share-based payment – part or whole of a question requiring explanation of accounting treatment and/or calculations and/or journal entries.
•Interpretation of accounts – interpretation of pre-calculated ratios or written/numerical EPS question or limitations of financial analysis.
•Inflation accounting /asset valuation explanation/ comparison between or advantages & disadvantages of historic cost accounting, current cost accounting and current purchasing power
Section B.
•Group financial statements eg consolidated statement of financial position or consolidated statement of comprehensive income or consolidated statement of cash flow with a foreign subsidiary, complex group or change in group structure (disposal and/or piecemeal acquisition).
•An interpretation scenario including ratio calculations, segment analysis or the effect on ratios of changes in accounting treatment and/or limitations of financial analysis.

•Formulation of Financial Strategy - produce a forecast to assess whether objectives will be achieved. Discussion areas could include analysing the appropriate dividend policy and the inter-relationships between dividend, financing and investment policies.
•Financial Management - analysis of a source of finance, including cost of capital calculations / discussion of gearing levels.
•Business Valuations & Acquisitions – as well as the standard valuation techniques, could also cover post merger valuation and discussion of post merger value enhancement strategies.
•Also, make sure that you are able to explain the efficient markets hypothesis – recent stock market volatility casts doubt on the ability of stock markets to price securities in a rational way.
•Investment Decisions and Project Control in the context of overseas investment appraisal.
•Capital rationing could be examined along with a discussion of how to deal with capital rationing problems.
•Finally, post auditing is a project management technique that is regularly examined.

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