A golf golfing range? A travel agency specializing in Mozambican adventures? A renewable energy company?
SAICA are going to present you with some interesting business scenarios when you write the ITC. It may be a business that is familiar to you but maybe it will be something unexpected.
How best should you respond? Here are my 7 tips:
- Breathe. Oxygen is good for you. Breathe deeply through your mouth and slowly out your nose. All the research confirms that this works to reduce anxiety. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to perform well. There will almost always be a weird scenario, so when it appears, breathe deeply and then get stuck in! Use your reading time to review the material given to you. Don’t try and predict the questions, that can often cause unnecessary panic, read intensely but let your heart rate drop. You got this.
- Read the required carefully. This is the most important time of writing. If you misread the required, you are forfeiting loads of marks you can’t afford to lose. Slow down and read it carefully. Please identify any sub-parts that might exist. For instance, often you will be asked to calculate and discuss, but could perhaps only ever calculate. Don’t make that mistake – answer every sub-part of the required.
- Read the scenario again looking for information. During the reading time you might have already tried to predict the question (even though I told you not to!) and that might blind you to what is really being asked. Slow down and review the information again but with the required in mind. If you have been asked to identify risks, read every paragraph carefully and see if it contains information about a possible risk. Don’t be shy to take the “2 step shuffle”. What it this? It is taking information from the scenario and applying it in depth. For instance, if the company imports inventory from the USA. That has several risks to it – inventory is vulnerable to the Rand weakening (1) and also would take a longer time to be delivered (1). Get both of those marks. Take the “2 step shuffle”.
- Think from the perspective of all the different people. Think of the people involved – employees, management, investors, suppliers, customers, competitors, government etc. If you are struggling to identify points in your solution, this can often help.
- Think of generic issues that impact all businesses in SA. Now apply your mind to generic SA points not mentioned in the question – Rand volatility, rising interest rates, political uncertainty, Brexit, labour unrest, electricity supply and cost, drought – these could all have an impact on the business scenario presented in the question.
- Think about the other side of the double entry. Still struggling to say something when analyzing financial performance? Remember the double entry principle and look to talk about the other side of the entry. For instance, if sales increases – was that cash or credit? If Assets went up, where did they get the finance?
- Write lots in the time allocated. When you are presented with an unfamiliar scenario it can be tempting to leave the question for later. You make a bigger deal of it in your mind. Run over time on the other question in the paper and then end up never really attempting it properly because “I ran out of time!”. The truth is that you lacked courage! You got scared and rather answered the other question. Don’t be like that. Remember the marking process – markplans get generous when students struggle. You have to give these tough questions a good response because it will score marks!