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Exam Technique - Calculations: Always Show Your Workings Out

Calculations appear regularly on the BUSS1, BUSS2 and BUSS3 exam papers and knowing how to approach the calculations can help you to avoid dropping costly marks. For the purpose of this blog I am going to focus on BUSS1 however this information also applies to BUSS2 and BUSS3 as well as most other exam boards; both at A Level and GCSE.

In a recent BUSS1 paper, students were asked to calculate the expected market share of the business in the case study. This question was worth 3 marks. Knowing how these marks are awarded can be really beneficial to students especially if they don't/ didn't know how to calculate market share.

In order to calculate the businesses market share students needed to work out the firms expected 2013 sales from a cash flow forecast (which covered 2013 and part of 2014), divide this by the 2013 total market size and then multiply this by 100.

If students correctly calculated the businesses market share then they were awarded (obviously) full marks; with or without their working out. If students wrote an incorrect answer with no working out then they dropped 3 marks. But, a student who got an incorrect answer but showed some evidence of understanding in their working out could have been awarded some marks. Let's look at how the marks are allocated.

Firstly, if students couldn't work out the 2013 sales of the business or find the 2013 market size then 1 mark could be awarded for just writing the formula, even with no valid calculation.

If students correctly calculated the businesses 2013 sales then a mark was awarded. Another mark was awarded for finding the total market size for 2013 in the case study and then a further mark for dividing these two numbers and multiplying this by 100.

So, if students correctly worked out the 2013 sales and then found the 2013 market size but forgot to multiply by 100 then they would still be awarded 2 marks.

If students did the correct calculation, using the 2013 sales of the business but used the 2014 total market size instead of 2013 by mistake, then they would still be awarded 2 marks.

In a nutshell, always show your working out! If you can't find the figures then at least write the formula. This way you can help maximise your marks even if you get part of the answer wrong.

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