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Higher Business


Post Prelim Exam Doctor


Command Words
Marking Higher Business Management
Top 10 Banker Questions
General Exam Tips
From Bullet Points to Bs
Good, Bad and the Ugly

Command Word Definition

Compare Identify similarities and differences between two or

more factors

Describe Provide a thorough description

Discuss Examine closely taking account of strengths and

weaknesses in an argument; offer reasons for and

Distinguish Identify the differences between two or more


Explain Give a detailed response (definition and explanation)

as to how/why something may benefit/hinder

Identify Give the name or identifying characteristics of


Justify Give reasons to support suggestions, conclusions

Outline State the main features


The table below summarises the key terms in questions and what is required for each in an
The numbers shown in brackets refer to the Examination Paper and Question in which these
terms have been used.


Advantages and Pros and cons of option(s) – at least Ensure that marks awarded for
Disadvantages one advantage and one disadvantage advantages are not repeated by
should be given to attract all marks straight negatives given for
available disadvantages.

Analyse Scrutinise/evaluate/consider A detailed account should be given of

the factors that are to be analysed.
Use examples, if you can, to support
your findings, options.

Compare and Evaluate/weigh up against/ put Differences between items/options

Contrast options side by side should be emphasised. Assess items
Draw up a distinction between the being examined and stress the unique
options features of each in comparison to the

Describe Explain/illustrate/express Definition and explanation should be


Differentiate Make a distinction/distinguish Make a distinction by comparing

between/set apart/separate options/items and defining

Discuss Debate/examine/confer/talk Negatives and positives should be

about/deliberate – infers explored, although this is not
"development" necessary in all cases.

Identify Name/classify/categorise Definition

Identify and Name/classify/categorise and then Define item(s)/option(s) and then

Describe explain/illustrate/express explain what it does/how it
works/affects …

Justify Give good reasons for/ State why a course of action or

rationalise/give explanation for option has been chosen.

Outline Summarise/run through Description without too much detail.

Lists attract few marks eg POCCC (Planning, Organising, Co-ordinating, Controlling,

Commanding), POGADSCIE (Problem, objectives, gather information, analyse, devise, select,
communicate, implement, evaluate)
Marking Principles for Higher Business Management

In Higher Business Management the external assessment is based on a single written paper.
The paper consists of two sections, this is reflected in the Marking Principles. Below are

1. General Marking Principles which apply to both Section 1 and Section 2

2. Specific Marking Principles for Section 1 - Question 1.

We recommend that, after reading the Marking Principles, you make yourself familiar with the
Key Terms as shown in the right-hand side index. You can then use this information as guidance
when attempting the Examples.

General Marking Principles

1. Marking schemes will cover many of the possible candidate responses but fair and
reliable marking requires the marker to apply her/his 'professional judgement'.

2. 'Bulleted' answers are acceptable but ensure that enough detail is given to be
awarded the marks available.

3. Up-to-date examples may be credited with development of points, where appropriate.

It is easy to be over generous in a 100 mark paper.

4. When a diagram is asked for, it will attract marks, and the answer will not get full
marks unless the diagram is there. However, when a diagram is NOT specifically asked
for, although it is likely to attract marks, it is possible to gain all the marks without it.

5. Marks awarded to questions are an indication of the depth of answer being sought.
(See Marking Principle 1 - 'professional judgement.' )

6. One word answers for 'descriptions' are very unlikely to gain marks – usually
expansion of the answer is required.

7. No half marks are awarded – if part of an answer is almost right and the candidate
goes on to expand the point further through the answer, the whole section should be
indicated and awarded one mark.

8. When marking a candidate response you should be careful that the candidate response
relates to what was actually asked. 'Key terms' used in questions are explained in the
glossary of key terms available in the right-hand side index.


Section 1 of the examination tests the candidates' knowledge, understanding, problem solving
and decision making and is assessed through a case study or interpretation item of about 750
words. There are a number of mandatory questions and candidates may be required to assume
a management position making decisions necessary to solve problems or identifying problems
from the stimulus material.

Question 1

This question tests the candidates' ability to apply their understanding of management theory
to the case study/interpretation item. In this question a number of aspects of management
theory are identified and the candidates are asked to analyse the case study under headings
eg human resources, operations, marketing. This question is worth 10 marks.

1. To gain any marks, the response must always relate to the case study/interpretation
item. General statements on, for example, human resource issues will gain no marks if
not related to the passage.

2. The question will include a number of headings, under which the question should be
answered. It is important that the candidates use these headings in their responses.
There will be a maximum number of marks available if no headings are used.

3. Each heading will attract a maximum number of marks. So, for example, all 10 marks
cannot be gained under one heading.

4. If the question asks only for concerns/problems/issues, ‘solutions’ to the

concerns/problems/issues will not be accepted.

For Describe, Explain and Justify questions, get in the habit of a

definition, followed by an example and/or an explanation.

Describe 2 strategic objectives of a public sector organisation. (2)

A public sector organisation is owned by the Government.
The NHS is an example of a public sector organisation.
One strategic objective of a public sector organisation would be to
provide an efficient health service for everyone.

Another strategic objective would be to serve the public interest, as

people want to be healthy and live longer.

For Compare and Contrast/Distinguish questions use connecting words

stuck just use whereas every single time. It may be boring but it will get

The following are not guaranteed to come up in the final exam, but are
ones that often do.

Therefore it is imperative you know them like the back of your hand!

If you don't know how to answer these questions, make sure you see me.

1. Stakeholders (Influence)
2. Product Life Cycle (Stages and/or Extension Strategies
3. Methods of Production (Job, Batch & Flow)
4. External Factors (PESTEC)
5. Quality (TQM, Quality Circles etc)
6. Recruitment and Selection (need to know the stages in order)
7. Business Objectives (profit maximisation etc)
8. Ratios (limitations)
9. Organisational Structure (Groupings - eg Functional,
10. Uses of ICT in Business

Also remember my tip for advantages/disadvantages cost/benefit
questions if you are stuck. TCP. (Time, Cost, People). It will get you 3
marks at least if you talk about how the topic is affected by or affects
these 3 elements.

If a question is 6 marks then give 6 points if possible.

Read the Case Study Questions first before reading the Case Study.

Remember question 1 in the Case Study may ask for problems or solutions
to the different headings. Make sure you write the headings and don't
get mixed up.

Look at the options questions in Section Two and pick the 2 questions you
will lose the least amount of marks, even if it means sacrificing your
favourite question. It is better to get 18/25 by maybe losing a duff 7
marker than getting 13/25 and of that you got 8/8 on your favourite

1. Know what you have to do

First you should go through your notes or an exam syllabus and list the
topics which have to be covered - your own study checklist. Also, make
sure you know exactly when your exams are and how many papers you will
have to sit.

2. Make a revision plan

Well before your exams, set up a revision timetable. Many people don't do
this, but it is essential. Set a realistic number of hours for revision each
week. Plan to work through each of the topics in the period up to the
exam, leaving a few weeks for final revision. Regularly review your plan
and make changes in the light of your progress.

3. Revise effectively

Find a quiet private place to revise (try the library if there's no room at
home), with a suitable, well-lit table or desk to work at and always have all
the equipment you need at hand - class notes, Study Guides, calculator,
etc. Work for a set period (30-40 minutes suits most people), and then
have a 10 minute break away from your desk.

4. Revise actively

Don't just read through your class notes - revision needs to be more
active than that if it's to stick. Make your own revision notes (they'll
come in useful for final revision), draw diagrams to summarise points,
make up word games to help memorise key points and, above all, keep
testing yourself (or get a friend to test you).

5. Practise exam questions

About two or three months before the exam, start to look at past papers
for the syllabus you are taking. Get used to the style of the questions and
the words used by the examiner. It is most important to answer the
question set and not one you would prefer to answer.

6. Handling stress
Start revising as early as possible. If you start late, don't panic, but
make a plan of what you have to do and stick to it. Do lots of exam
questions practice, so you know what to expect. Take regular, scheduled
breaks. And make sure you get some exercise and fresh air. Most
importantly, keep a sense of proportion - there is life after the exams.

7. The week before

You should have kept this time to go back over essential or difficult
points, rather than studying new material. However, if you have fallen
behind your schedule, you can use a few days of this time to catch up.

8. The night before

Don't rely on a lot of last minute revision. It's OK to revise a couple of

things the night before the exam, but don't get into a panic about things
you don't know. Convince yourself about how much you do know. Get all
the things you need ready the night before - pens, pencils, ruler,
calculator with spare battery, etc. And try to get an early night.

9. In the exam

Arrive at the place of the exam in good time. When you start, find a
question you can do well and do it straight away, even if it is not the first
question on the paper - this will build your confidence. Keep a careful eye
on the time and keep on schedule to answer every question you need to -
if you find a question you struggle to do, leave it and return to it later.

10. Be positive

It is very easy when you are revising to get despondent and to think
about all the things you cannot do or find difficult. It happens to us all.
You must look back at your original plan, from time to time, and realise
the progress you have made. With determination and the right approach,
you can succeed!

Often people panic and just jot down bullet point answers. This may be
acceptable if you are running out of time for ONE question but not for a
full paper.

You are a HIGHER candidate so act like one. Show off your linguistic
prose! There is always at least one Bullet Point King every year and they
argue all the time about 'this deserves a mark'. Listen, it is not up to me.
I am not the geezer who will mark your paper. It is a game and it is your
future at stake. So play the game. Avoid bullet points.

Using bullet points reminds me of a quote from Oscar Wilde:

"To use bullet points once is considered misfortune; to use bullet points
twice smacks of carelessness".

The trick is to practise writing out answers to questions WITH the bullet
point marking scheme in front of you. EXPAND the bullet points into
reasoned answers. Turn a bullet point into a sentence and into a
paragraph. This is one surefire way to turn those Fs and Ds into Cs and
more likely Bs.


Describe the benefits to an organisation of having a strong corporate
culture. (3)


• Employees feel part of the organisation.
• Is motivational to staff.
• Improves employee relationships.
• Increases employee loyalty.
• Gives customers a sense of quality/efficiency.
• May attract new workers.
• Improves the business image.

Now let's turn a couple of these bullet points into Bs.

One benefit of an organisation would be that employees feel part of the
organisation. This is because employees identify with the firm and are
proud to work there.

A strong culture motivates staff because they are all pulling in the same
direction and want to be successful.

It also improves employee relationships because it promotes team building

exercises or social gatherings, giving employees an opportunity to mix
outwith their department.

Here we will look at a question and 3 different answers. All which think
they are good but you will see they differ in quality and in reasoning.



You are communicating with examiner. Keep it neat and tidy (I know that
is hypocritical coming from me and my handwriting, but it is not me who
has to go into the Exam!!!) and use the space of the page.

In other words don't be afraid to spread your answers out using

diagrams, clear paragraphs and the odd use of underlining words (or
UPPERCASE or the odd bullet point).

You can put your working in the script also. You may wish to draw a quick
mindmap before you start or indeed a mnemonic.


Active Reading
Post Its
Talking and Recording (download and install Audacity)
Creating Powerpoints