by Teach Accounting
15 Feb 2010
Areas of poor performance
There are two key areas of the syllabus which seem to cause problems for candidates at every exam session and the December 2009 examination was no exception:
- Section 3 of the syllabus, 'Management theory, principles, and techniques', (sections 10 to 13 of the study sessions): At each exam session, there are a significant number of candidates who do not attempt to answer this question [now Question 3 (b) of the paper], suggesting that it is an area that is either not taught or not included in exam preparation.
- Section 5 of the syllabus, 'Heath, safety and security in the working environment', (sections 19 and 20 of the study sessions): The main problem here is that regardless of the question asked students produce very general answers on health and safety (the hazards etc and how to avoid them).
The one overriding reason for candidates failing this paper is that they do not read the questions carefully and do not focus their answers to deal with the specific requirements of the question.
- Nevertheless, there are always a good standard of answers and many candidates display a very comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the syllabus area being examined. This suggests that they have been well taught and have prepared themselves well for the exam. However, where candidate performance could be improved, there are a number of approaches that I would advise tutors to consider; all areas of the syllabus are equally weighted and each distinct area will be assessed in every exam. It is important therefore that all areas of the syllabus are taught and included in any exam preparation.
- Given the difficulties that candidates have with Question 3 on the paper, I would recommend that tutors pay particular attention to this area when revising. This syllabus area is well covered by the study texts but I would also recommend that tutors encourage candidates to read around the subject to increase their understanding. Undertaking classroom activities which require candidates to draw on their own experiences (eg what motivates them, which leadership style they prefer etc) can be a useful and effective way of consolidating learning and enabling them to link theory and practice.
I would recommend that tutors give students the opportunity to practise as wide a variety of past questions on health, safety and security as possible. Note: Look out for an article on this subject matter in the March 2010 issue of Student Accountant on this area, and I would encourage tutors to work through this article with students.
- I would recommend that tutors focus on exam technique as well as on syllabus coverage. This might include stressing the importance of planning answers before beginning to write; checking the mark allocation for each section so that appropriate time can be allocated to each section; practising past exam questions; undertaking the practice activities and exercises in the study texts.
- It is important to stress to students that answer guides are just that - a ‘guide’ to what might have been included in the answers to a specific question on a past paper. There is no merit in students learning these by rote and reproducing them in the exam as the questions will always be different.