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In this guide we introduce some tips for success to help you master the Business Planning: Banking exam.

Study advice

The Business Planning: Banking exam is not a test of memory, but an exam where understanding and high-level application is tested. You need to work out which techniques to use for calculations, which areas of the syllabus to use to answer questions and then use the information presented to apply the knowledge from that area of the syllabus.

Studying needs to involve familiarisation with each area of the syllabus and gaining knowledge to clearly understand the items on a bank’s balance sheet.

Download a bank’s financial statements alongside working through the study manual – this will ensure a clear link between theory and real life which the examiner will expect you to demonstrate.

Revision advice

Question practise and lots of it, to time, with full detailed debriefs, revisiting areas which scored poorly or were missed completely.

Complete full mock exams to time. This improves time management, exam technique in terms of which parts of questions to answer first and gets the brain used to moving around the syllabus areas.

Do’s and Don’ts – the area students often make mistakes

  • Working out how many marks are allocated between requirements and therefore knowing how much to write.

Spend a little time at the start of the question estimating the mark split - commonly tested areas also have similar mark allocations; financial reporting issues are around 4 to 5 marks per issue, the audit risk and procedures part is worth around 16-20 marks and ethics are often 8-10 marks.

  • Using the scenario information in the answer.

If the examiner has asked about risks, they will award a mark for the generic answer around that type of risk but then they want it illustrated with information from the question. This is also key around audit risks; the examiner does not want lists of general audit risks but wants to see them based on the information in the question.

  • Running out of time on a question and/or not finishing the exam.

This means scoring 55% becomes significantly more difficult. Time allocation of 1.5 minutes per mark needs to be calculated at the start of the exam and stuck to.

On the day of your exam

Have a good breakfast, hydrate and get some fresh air. Avoid last minute revision which will only lead to anxiety.

Ensure everything you need for the exam is to hand including all the open book material, proof of identity, calculator and water in a clear bottle.

Remember if something in the exam causes you to panic, take a deep breath and try to start writing something. If all else fails, park it and move on.

Mastering a retake

Be positive and start over - learn from your mistakes and use the ICAEW marks feedback. Put together a study plan and stick to it.