BUSS1 AQA predictions Watch
BUSS1 has some core elements that any well-prepared student simply must focus on.
For example, the calculation and interpretation of break-even has been included in every paper in some way. The format of BUSS1 questions has changed in recent papers and, increasingly, students are being encouraged to use their calculation and/or interpretation of break-even in other parts of the paper too - for example in helping to evaluate whether the case study startup is likely to achieve its key objectives.
It is absolutely essential in the preparation for BUSS1 that students focus on break-even and also the close link to cash flow forecasting. This is perhaps the most fundamental part of the BUSS1 specification - it is almost impossible to imagine an exam case study which doesn’t address break-even and/or cash flow - they are crucial to any startup business. For example, a startup that can reduce its fixed costs will lower its break-even output and will also reduce its cash outflows, meaning that less startup finance is required.
Other topics which appear regularly include:
· Calculation of expected profit
· Analysis of the benefits (and possibly drawbacks) of bank overdrafts as a source of finance for startups
· The definition of market segments and the benefits to a startup of targeting a niche segment
· Definition of different types of market and the calculation of market size
· The types and usefulness of primary market research
· Students should make sure they are familar with all of the above popular topics.
Over the course of a specification cycle it is to expected that the whole spec will be examined at least once in some way. It is interesting to note some BUSS1 topics that have not yet appeared in the first 7 papers. No guarantee, of course, that they will appear in the May 2012 paper, but it is worth spending a little time making sure that revision has covered potential “debut” topics, which include:
· Motives for starting a business
· Sources of a good business idea
· Secondary market research (primary research has been examined twice)
· Flexible working
· Social enterprise as a method of startup organisation / objectives
· Contents and limitations of a startup business plan
· Internal sources of finance (including personal sources)
· Here is a summary therefore of my ten top tips for getting BUSS1 right first time and avoiding a summer resit:
1.Always read the questions before reading the case study. This will give you focus and ensure your precious reading time is used effectively. If you’ve read the questions then you know exactly which bits of the case are going to be of the most use and enable you to apply your answers throughout
2. When reading the case study, look for information that will help you get the bigger picture about the business. Make sure you get your head around key areasto help apply your answers, such as:
a. The product (USP? A product or a service?)
b. The target market/customer being targeted
c. Competition and market conditions
d. The entrepreneur(s) and their experience
e. The market research conducted
3. Highlight every number in the case study. The numbers are all given to you for a reason and you can bring them into your
answers to help support points and boost application marks. They will also help you to get a viewpoint on the financial challenges that the business is facing
4. Timings are vital. If you have done a timed mock already you’ll know the challenge of finishing the paper in 1 hour and 15 minutes. You should follow the ‘mark a minute rule’ where you allow yourself a minute for each mark allocated to the question. This gives you 15 minutes to read the case and plan your answers.
5. Be clear about the objectives and motives of the business and the entrepreneurs. By getting a handle of this, you can
demonstrate through your analysis and evaluation that you have really got to grips with the specific challenges facing this business.
6. Get the basics right. You have a lot of key terms to learn for this paper,. You will
find it very hard to perform on this paper unless you know the basics and can accurately define these key terms at the start of your answers. Don’t forget, you also need to make sure you can state the formula in a calculation question.
7. Don’t be subtle with your application! To be awarded ‘good application’ you must demonstrate that your answers are firmly rooted in the case study and are not just your own rendition of your revision notes! Avoid subtlety by hitting the examiner with statistics from the case and points that refer very closely to the specific situation the business is in (see point 2)..
8. Analyse step-by-step. All answers in Q2 must show the skill of analysis, where you explain the impacts of your points on the business in the case. Avoid jumping straight to how profits may go up or down by taking the examiner through the things that might happen as a result of your point step-by-step. You can do this by using connectives such as ‘leading to, which means, therefore, as a consequence’.
9. Shine in Q2. Your paper is marked out of 60, 40 marks of which are allocated to Q2. Many students underperform on this paper as they fail to complete the paper and miss out one of the longer questions at the end. It is therefore vital that you plan your time and ensure you leave plenty of time to tackle the last three questions. The best way to ensure your timings are correct is to practise past papers and time yourself.
10. Evaluate! The last two questions require the skill of evaluation. In a 15 mark question, this skill carries 5 marks so
getting this right can have a huge impact on your grade. Evaluation is marked based on the 2 J’s:
a. Judgement – Make a firm conclusion on the overall question. Use words from the question to help give this focus. For
example ‘do you agree with x that the business will meet its objectives?’ should be tackled with a firm ‘overall I agree’ or ‘overall I disagree’
b. Justification – You must then explain why you have made that judgement. What evidence is there to back up your point of view?
What do you think your points will lead to? Why is it likely in this specific business? Which factors are of the greatest significance for this business?
They will be given a past paper (in this case BUSS1 from summer 2011) and two different responses to the same question:
Explain how the findings of Kate’s qualitative market research might have benefited her business (6 marks)
Qualitative market research means collecting information from customers that details their opinions and feelings. This may have benefited Kate’s business because by obtaining detailed information about customers feelings, Kate’s Catering have been able to better understand the needs of their customers. This should make it easier for Kate to start her business and make sure she is meeting the needs of her customers. She can therefore make changes to her business idea and hopefully be more successful.
Kate conducted qualitative market research, which means she collected in-depth market information based upon customers’ opinions rather than statistical data. By speaking to businesses in Manford Kate discovered that many of them would prefer vegetarian options and that prompt delivery and friendly staff were more important than quality of the food. This meant she could focus her menu and service on the preferences of the businesses in Manford, which may make it easier for Kate’s catering to achieve their profit target of £20,000 per annum.
we can clearly see that candidate X has not applied their answer at all (just a bit of name dropping) whereas candidate Y’s response is well rooted in the case study. The students are given a copy of the mark scheme for the question and asked to grade each answer. Where most will recognise Y as the better answer, they are often surprised to see that candidate X is likely to achieve the low end of Level 2 (3/6 50%) where candidate Y’s response is likely to be a full mark answer. I have found this activity very powerful with new groups and helps to avoid the ‘name dropping’ type of application in future assessments.
Analysis is an important skill in Business Studies and can make the difference between a great answer and a mediocre one. Here are some examples of some techniques I have used with my students to develop analysis skills:
1. BLT Connectives
I find that students really grasp analysis once they recognise that good analysis involves discussing the impact of their points in a ‘chain’, using at least three connectives. To encourage students to remember to use three, I get them to think ‘BLT’ (Because, Leading to and Therefore). This works well when broken down into a ‘BLT’ grid, which makes a good class activity:
|Point||Because…(why is that likely to happen)||Leading to….(what are the impacts of this?)||Therefore….(further discussion of the impact)|
|e.g. market segmentation has helped Lego identify a new target market |
The students complete the blanks in the grid to fully analyse their points. Practising this and ensuring the three connectives/chains of analysis are used helps students to demonstrate the detail required for ‘good’ analysis which is the basis of a great answer.
2. The Blank Space
After practising the above task, ‘the blank space’ is an effective way to encourage students to develop detailed analysis. This works best with past exam questions where there is a particular ‘hook’ that students need to link their points and analysis back to. Take this question as an example:
Analyse two factors that might influence the competitiveness of Just Desserts Ltd. (BUSS2 May 2009)
To approach this question using ‘the blank space’ I would ask the students to select a factor that might be an influence in the competitiveness of Just Desserts. They would write this at the top of the page, using words from the question to open their statement: ‘one factor that might influence the competitiveness of Just Desserts Ltd is…..’. The students then identify the question ‘hook’, in this case ‘competitiveness’ and write this further down their page, leaving a large black space. I next tell them that the way they explain how their point will have an impact on the competitiveness of Just Desserts is their analysis, and set them on the task to fill in the blanks, using connectives (as above). My students in the past have found this a useful way to ensure their analysis has a focus and is detailed and structured.
3. Add the Analysis
With this approach, I give students a response to a question which has good application but no analysis. Their task is to identify where the analysis should be and label this with a double line. They then need to improve the answer by adding some analysis to the points. This works well if the students are asked to place the answer on the mark scheme in its original state, then peer-assess the new responses to see how the analysis has improved the answer and the grade given.
Consider this as an example, from the BUSS2 ‘Carrying the Can’ specimen paper:
Fingal is trying to increase its profit by cutting costs and increasing prices. Evaluate the relative merits of these two approaches
It can be summed up in 2 words:
(Just a note that the examples given are BUSS3 related but could be applied to any evaluation question in BUSS1 or 2 also)
So what does this mean? Let’s break it down...
Considered in relation to something else; comparative
In other words, it is the importance of one point or argument in relation or comparison to another.
So, how can you ensure you are meeting the requirements for “good evaluation”?
In your Points
You need good arguments - so the points you make must be relevant, supported by evidence from the case study, developed using connectives, with an evaluative sentence at the end (where you summarise the significance of the point in relation to the question)
In your Conclusion
1. Make your Judgement (e.g. in BUSS3 Question 4, do you recommend they adopt the strategy or not?) by weighing up the relative significance of each point you make in argument. In other words – compare the importance of each point to the business in the case study.
2. Justify your judgement by providing evidence that you have prioritised the most significant reason for the business
3. Identify the “Depends On” factors that the business needs to consider
4. Make supported recommendations for future actions (BUSS3 only)
Consider using prompts in your conclusions for any evaluation:
- Based on these arguments, I think that…(use part of the question to ensure you are answering the question)
- This is because….
- I believe this is significant for the business because…
- However, it depends on…
Prompts in your conclusions specific to BUSS3 Question 4:
- Based on these arguments, I recommend that…
- This is because….
- I believe this is the most significant for the business because…
- However, the success of this strategy still depends on…
- So I recommend…
Also, a checklist could be used for any evaluation:
- Have I made a clear judgement?
- Have I justified this judgement?
- Have I said why I think this is the most significant for the business?
- Have I identified the Depends On Factors?
- Have I made recommendations for future actions? (BUSS3 Q4 only)
If you practice this enough, you will be on your way to “good evaluation”
For the first VC per unit answer I did contribution p.u add selling price? I got 96 , but I changed it to 24 and then changed it back to 96 I think I rearranged the equation wrong
100/108,000 * 72,000 = 66.6%?!!