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2015 ACCA p3 study text BPP

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Study Text

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Paper P3
Business Analysis
Study Text for exams
up to June 2015

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Study Text

Paper P3
Business Analysis
This ACCA Study Text for Paper P3 Business Analysis
has been comprehensively reviewed by the ACCA
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depth and breadth of content and comprehensive
syllabus coverage.

Business Analysis

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PAPER P3
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BUSINESS ANALYSIS

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BPP Learning Media is an ACCA Approved Learning Partner – content. This means we
work closely with ACCA to ensure this Study Text contains the information you need to
pass your exam.
In this Study Text, which has been reviewed by the ACCA examination team, we:
Highlight the most important elements in the syllabus and the key skills you need



Signpost how each chapter links to the syllabus and the study guide



Provide lots of exam focus points demonstrating what is expected of you in the exam



Emphasise key points in regular fast forward summaries



Test your knowledge in quick quizzes



Examine your understanding in our practice question bank



Reference all the important topics in our full index

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BPP's Practice & Revision Kit and i-Pass products also support this paper.

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FOR EXAMS IN DECEMBER 2014 AND JUNE 2015

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First edition 2007
Seventh edition June 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of BPP Learning Media Ltd.

ISBN 9781 4727 1087 1
(Previous ISBN 9781 4453 9655 2)
eISBN 9781 4453 6742 2

A catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
Published by

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BPP Learning Media Ltd
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Printed in the United Kingdom by

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British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

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We are grateful to the Association of Chartered Certified
Accountants for permission to reproduce past
examination questions. The suggested solutions in the
practice answer bank have been prepared by BPP
Learning Media Ltd, unless otherwise stated.

©
BPP Learning Media Ltd
2014

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Your learning materials, published by BPP Learning
Media Ltd, are printed on paper obtained from
traceable sustainable sources.

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Contents

Page

Introduction

v
vii
xii
xiii

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Helping you to pass
Studying P3
The exam paper
Syllabus and study guide

Part A Strategic position
Business strategy
Environmental issues
Competitors and customers
Strategic capability
Stakeholders, ethics, culture and integrated reporting

3
21
61
87
121

Part B Strategic choices
6

Strategic choices

7
8

Organising for success
Managing strategic change

9
10

Business process change
Improving processes

Part E Information technology
E-business
E-marketing

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Part D Business process change

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Part C Organising and enabling success

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1
2
3
4
5

159
217
253
273
301
327
369

13

Project management

Part G Finance
14

Finance

15

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Part H People

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Part F Project management

Human resource management

413
477
527

Strategic development

549

Practice question bank
Practice answer bank
Index
Review form

565

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Part I Strategic development

579
611

Contents

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With current technology, things might seem a bit hazy but, basically, without the express permission of
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Helping you to pass
BPP Learning Media – ACCA Approved Learning Partner – content

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As ACCA’s Approved Learning Partner – content, BPP Learning Media gives you the opportunity to use
study materials reviewed by the ACCA examination team. By incorporating the examination team's
comments and suggestions regarding the depth and breadth of syllabus coverage, the BPP Learning
Media Study Text provides excellent, ACCA-approved support for your studies.

The PER alert

l.b

Before you can qualify as an ACCA member, you not only have to pass all your exams but also fulfil a three
year practical experience requirement (PER). To help you to recognise areas of the syllabus that you
might be able to apply in the workplace to achieve different performance objectives, we have introduced
the ‘PER alert’ feature. You will find this feature throughout the Study Text to remind you that what you
are learning to pass your ACCA exams is equally useful to the fulfilment of the PER requirement.
Your achievement of the PER should now be recorded in your on-line My Experience record.

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Tackling studying

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Developing exam awareness

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Studying can be a daunting prospect, particularly when you have lots of other commitments. The different
features of the text, the purposes of which are explained fully on the Chapter features page, will help you
whilst studying and improve your chances of exam success.

Our Texts are completely focused on helping you pass your exam.

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Our advice on Studying P3 outlines the content of the paper, the necessary skills you are expected to be
able to demonstrate and any brought forward knowledge you are expected to have.
Exam focus points are included within the chapters to highlight when and how specific topics were
examined, or how they might be examined in the future.

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Using the Syllabus and Study Guide

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You can find the Syllabus and Study Guide on page xiii of this Study Text.

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Testing what you can do
Testing yourself helps you develop the skills you need to pass the exam and also confirms that you can
recall what you have learnt.

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We include Questions – lots of them - both within chapters and in the Practice Question Bank, as well as
Quick Quizzes at the end of each chapter to test your knowledge of the chapter content.

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Chapter features
Each chapter contains a number of helpful features to guide you through each topic.
Topic list
Syllabus reference

What you will be studying in this chapter and the relevant
section numbers, together with ACCA syllabus references.

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Topic list

Introduction

Puts the chapter content in the context of the syllabus as
a whole.

Study Guide

Links the chapter content with ACCA guidance.

Exam Guide

Highlights how examinable the chapter content is likely to
be and the ways in which it could be examined.
What you are assumed to know from previous
studies/exams.

FAST FORWARD

Summarises the content of main chapter headings,
allowing you to preview and review each section easily.

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Knowledge brought forward from earlier studies

Demonstrate how to apply key knowledge and
techniques.

Key terms

Definitions of important concepts that can often earn you
easy marks in exams.

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Examples

When and how specific topics were examined, or how
they may be examined in the future.

Exam focus points

Formulae that are not given in the exam but which have to
be learnt.

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Question

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Formula to learn

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Case Study

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Chapter Roundup

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Quick Quiz

Gives you a useful indication of syllabus areas that
closely relate to performance objectives in your Practical
Experience Requirement (PER).
Gives you essential practice of techniques covered in the
chapter.
Real world examples of theories and techniques.

A full list of the Fast Forwards included in the chapter,
providing an easy source of review.
A quick test of your knowledge of the main topics in the
chapter.
Found at the back of the Study Text with more
comprehensive chapter questions. Cross referenced for
easy navigation.

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Practice Question Bank

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Studying P3

Much of the P3 exam is concerned with business strategy. As a Chartered Certified Accountant you are
likely to find yourself dealing with matters that are of strategic importance to your organisation. It is
important, therefore, that you have an understanding of the way business strategy is conducted so that
your input is appropriate and properly considered.

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However, the name of P3 is Business Analysis, not Business Strategy. Business Analysis is wider than
simply strategy and this paper will also draw from your financial and business skills gained during your
studies so far. It brings these concepts together and encourages you to take a wider view of the
organisations you are presented with in order to give your analysis of those organisations as a whole.

1 What P3 is about

The aim of the syllabus is to develop students’ ability to apply relevant knowledge and skills, and
exercise the professional judgement in assessing strategic position, determining strategic choice, and
implementing strategic action through beneficial business process and structural change that involve
people, finance and information technology.

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This is an advanced level paper which builds on a number of the topics covered in Paper F1 Accountant in
Business as well as topics you will have seen in Paper F5 Performance Management. However, as an
advanced paper it tests much more than just your ability to recall models and theories. You must be able
to evaluate data, assess the strategic consequences of decisions and advise on alternative courses of
action.

(a)

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The syllabus is divided into eight main sections, (although the Examiner is keen that you view them as an
integrated whole, rather than as a series of unrelated sections).
Strategic position

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The syllabus begins by considering the impact of the external environment on an organisation,
and looks at the competitive forces organisations face. It then also looks at an organisation’s
internal capabilities and expectations, to see how an organisation can position itself to get the
most value out of its resources.

(b)

Strategic choice

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However, an organisation also needs to consider its responsibilities to differing stakeholder
groups, and how the expectations of stakeholders, alongside ethics and culture, help shape
organisational purpose.

Strategic action

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(c)

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Once an organisation has established its current strategic position it can start thinking about the
direction it wants to take in the future. This section looks at the decisions which have to be made
about an organisation’s future and the way an organisation can respond to the influences and
pressures which it identified while assessing its strategic position.

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This section deals with the implementation of strategic choices, and the transformation of these
choices into organisational action. This action takes place in a context of operational processes and
relationships, which need to be managed in line with the intended strategy, and involves the
effective coordination of business processes, information technology, people and finance.

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You will be expected to identify problems and issues in an organisation which prevent it from
achieving its strategies, and make recommendations about how these problems can be resolved.

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Business and process change

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(d)

This section is the first considering how organisational elements support business strategy, and it
highlights that business process redesign can lead to significant organisational improvements.
Again, you will be expected to identify problems or inefficiencies with existing processes and make
recommendations as to how they can be made more effective.
(e)

Information technology

(f)

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The application of information technology is often one of the ways that business processes can be
redesigned. This reflects the fact that many existing processes are less efficient than they could be,
and that new technology and the application of e-business models make it possible to design
those processes more efficiently.
Project management

In (c) above we noted that effective strategic action requires the coordination of a number of
operational processes. This coordination can be facilitated through effective project management.
(g)

Financial analysis

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(h)

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Strategic planning and strategic implementation should be subject to financial benchmarks.
Financial analysis explicitly recognises this, reminding you of the importance of focusing on key
ratios and measures that can be used to assess the viability of a strategy and to monitor or
measure its success.

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Human resource management plays a vital role in underpinning strategy. Successful strategic
planning and implementation require the effective recruitment, training, and organisation of people,
coupled with strong leadership.
As with so many other areas of the syllabus, it is crucial that an organisation’s personnel resources
are appropriate for the strategy it is pursuing.

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2 Skills you have to demonstrate

An ability to integrate knowledge and understanding from across the syllabus



Application of your knowledge to the specific circumstances described by the question



An ability to make reasoned judgements and give practical, commercial advice based on the
facts presented in the question scenario



Careful reading and analysis of the question scenarios, and the question requirements



If you read the main capabilities listed by ACCA that students are expected to have on completion
of P3, you will find continued reference to the verbs ‘evaluate’, ‘assess’, ‘advise’ and ‘explain’ –
make sure you can do all of these in relation to the different aspects of the syllabus.

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Study the entire syllabus – questions may span a number of syllabus areas and you must be
prepared for anything!

Practise as many questions as you can under timed conditions. This is the best way of developing
good exam technique. Make use of the Question Bank at the back of this study text, and, more
importantly, BPP’s Practice and Revision Kit. The Kit contains numerous exam standard
questions (many of them taken from past exam papers) as well as three mock exams for you to try.

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3 How to pass

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P3 questions will be scenario-based and all the information given in the scenarios will be relevant
to the questions set. Make sure you relate your answers to the scenario rather than letting them
become generic. Answers that are simply regurgitated from texts are unlikely to score well.

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Present your answers in a professional manner – there are marks available for coherent, well
structured arguments and for making recommendations when required. You should be aiming to
achieve all of these marks.



Manage your time in the exam hall carefully. Answer plans will help you to focus on the
requirements of the question and enable you to manage your time effectively. Also, do not waffle.
Make your answers complete, but brief.



Answer the question that you are most comfortable with first – it will help to settle you down if you
feel you have answered the first question well.



Answer all parts of the question – leaving out a five mark discursive element for example may
mean the difference between a pass and a fail.



Read the financial press and relevant web sites (for example, the BBC business website) for real life
examples. The examination team is specifically looking for evidence of wider reading. They have
repeatedly stressed the importance of reading the finance section of a good quality newspaper so
that you can draw on real-life situations to help inform your answers.

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Check the P3 section of the ACCA website regularly – it often contains technical articles written
either by, or on the recommendation of, the examination team which can be invaluable for future
exams.

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4 Brought forward knowledge

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This does not, of course, mean you should simply quote real life examples in your exam just to
show you have read widely. Instead you should use the real life examples to help inform your
answers to the questions set.

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As mentioned previously, this paper builds on knowledge brought forward from Paper F1, Accountant in
Business and F5 Performance Management. If you have not studied F1 or F5, or were exempt, you should
spend some time considering the syllabus and study guide to identify any gaps in your knowledge. You
must ensure you cover any areas you are unsure of before your exam, so that you would be comfortable
referring to them as necessary.

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The syllabus information is available on the ACCA website, www.accaglobal.com.

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Analysis of past papers

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The table below provides details of when each element of the syllabus has been examined and the
question number and section in which each element appeared. Further details can be found in the Exam
Focus Points in the relevant chapters.
Dec
2013

June
2013

Dec
2012

June Dec June Dec June Dec
2012 2011 2011 2010 2010 2009

STRATEGIC
POSITION
1

Business
strategy

1

Strategy lenses

2

PESTEL
analysis

2

National
competitiveness

2

Competitive
forces

2

Business
scenario
building &
forecasting

O

3

Marketing and
market
segmentation

O

3

Industry
lifecycle

4

Value chain;
supply chain
management

4

SWOT analysis

4

Benchmarking

5

Stakeholders

5

Culture and the
cultural web

C

O

O

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C

C

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O

O

C

O

C

C

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C

O

C

O

C

O

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C

C

C
O

O

C

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C

C

SAF

C

O
C
O

C
C

Corporate
parents

Organisational
structures

C

O

O

O
O

C

ORGANISING
AND ENABLING
SUCCESS

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Pilot
Paper

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O

Dec
2007

C

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C

C

Methods of
growth

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C

O

Product-market
strategy

6

C

C
O

6

6

C

C

C

Generic
strategies

6

C

C

6

BCG

C

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STRATEGIC
CHOICES

O

June Dec June
2009 2008 2008

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Dec
2013

June
2013

Dec
2012

June Dec June Dec June Dec
2012 2011 2011 2010 2010 2009

C

Managing
strategic
change

C

O

BUSINESS
PROCESS
CHANGE
9

Processstrategy matrix

9

Outsourcing

9

Business
process
redesign

10

Managing risk

O

O

O

0

O

C

O

0

C

O

INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY

12

E-marketing

12

Customer
relationship
marketing

O
O

PROJECT
MANAGEMENT
13

C

Project
management

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FINANCE
14

Finance

O

15

Job design

15

Staff
development

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

C

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

C
O

O

cc

Leadership

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PEOPLE
15

C

O

O

Pilot
Paper

O

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E-business and
downstream
supply chain
management

O

Dec
2007

O

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11

O

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E-business and
upstream
supply chain
management

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June Dec June
2009 2008 2008

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STRATEGIC
DEVELOPMENT

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Developing
strategies

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The exam paper

Section A:
Section B:

One compulsory case study
Choice of two from three questions, 25 marks each

Time allowed: 3 hours (plus fifteen minutes reading and planning time)

Number of
marks
550
50
100

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Format of the paper

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Section A will be a compulsory case study question with several requirements relating to the same
scenario information. The question will usually assess and link several subject areas from across the
syllabus, and will require you to demonstrate high-level capabilities to evaluate, relate and apply the
information in the scenario to the question requirements. There will always be some financial or numerical
data in the scenario and marks will be available for numerical analysis which supports your written
argument.
The compulsory Section A question can draw on ALL areas of the syllabus, making it imperative that
you cover all areas of the syllabus in your studies.

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Section B questions are more likely to examine discrete subject areas. They will be based on short
scenarios, and you will be expected to apply information from the scenarios to the question requirements.
Again the questions can be drawn from all area of the syllabus, and the limited extent of the choice (two
from three) reinforces the importance of covering all areas of the syllabus.

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P3 is designed to be a global paper, meaning that the case studies and the scenarios will focus on an
industry of global significance, which should be known to candidates wherever they live or work.
Although a lot of the examples in this text are based in the UK, they are designed to illustrate points which
could apply equally in other countries. The exam will not focus specifically on UK industries, nor the UK
business environment.

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Questions in this exam will not require specialist knowledge of any particular industries, nor the business
environment of any particular country. However, an awareness of current business issues overall will be
useful in providing real-life examples to support your answers – hence the examination team's instruction
that candidates should read the financial sections of a good quality newspaper or other business material
regularly.

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Syllabus and Study Guide

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The P3 syllabus and study guide can be found below.

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Introduction

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