Tackling ACCA P3 (Business Analysis)

Among all of the ACCA exams P3 has a distinct reputation for being (difficult to understand) mysterious and overall a tough exam to pass in the first go. I believe the reputation has a lot to do with the open endedness of the exam while other exams tend to focus on one area P3 Business analysis covers a wide range of topics which are inter connected with each other. The mystery is somewhat which makes it extremely interesting and as for the interconnected-ness you have to admit that strategy is connected to all functions, Hence the exam also puts us in a situation where a lot of topics are connected in a single question. However, this explanation doesn’t make it any easier to pass for you. I’;ll try to tell you what will help in passing the exam in the first go.

Notations on question paper

It is unlikely that you will have ample amount of time on your hands. Time management is a problem for almost all exams in ACCA but in P3 you have a case study type question spread on 3 pages. So it is probable that you won’t get enough time to go back to the question again and again. What you can do is make bets use of your time when you’re reading the question for the first time and start underlining, linking, marking important information, marking sentences that compliments a suggestion in your answer.

Basically you will have a good idea which information is useful to you and how.

Note the first reading of the question needs to be a detailed one once you have decided which question to attempt first.


While reading the question It will be very rewarding if you categorize which information relates to which part of the question (as question contains multiple parts). This will also clarify your approach to solving the question. This will also make the l;ength of the question seem less daunting. However, It is possible that one sentence is used for multiple exam requirements so marking it as part A doesn’t mean that it is exclusive for section A but can be used in supporting the part B requirement.

Connecting the dots

This might be a little hard to believe but the answer is in the question most of the times in the P3 exam you just have to use the data provided it in the question and apply various models and concepts on it. This can be sometimes a difficult exercise but it proves that if a analytical approach is used in reading the question much of the answer will be readily available as a result.

Be Practical

P3 is a strategy based exam and demands a practical approach from the candidate. Most of the questions are close to real life case studies and the solution to which is usually practical rather than technical and bookish. So your thought process should be like what would a CEO or Entrepeneur do rather than what would a middle level manager would do.

Keeping a business minded and practical approach will surely result in scoring better.

Justify your answer

As the exam is open ended it is sometimes very tricky to write an answer from the knowledge gained from models and concepts during classes. In these circumstances a mere justification in your answer can be a parachute. It doesn’t mean to counter open ended with absurdity but rather justified arguments.

Don’t over complicate

It is our habit to over complicate things and in the case of p3 it is very common. You need to understand that the models, matrices, concepts were as a result of recurring observations meaning that they were a product of human thoughts. If you are unable to identify which matrix to apply you can write the answer based on your own understanding as well. Most of the models are not very complicated but offer a time saving approach to solution.

by Rizwan Khanani

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