ERB June 2012 | ACCA Global
ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

The Exam Review Board meets one week after the examination session and comprises Platinum Approved Learning Partners (ALPs) for Content and Tuition, and ACCA staff responsible for the development of the exams and the relationship with Students and ALPs.  ACCA obtains and responds to feedback from Platinum ALPs both in attendance and those not attending (through feedback received in advance).  The results of the student survey, which collates students' thoughts and comments on the examinations, is also reviewed by the board.  This feedback is given to examiners and assists them in finalising the agreed marking process for the session.  For more detailed information, all candidates should read the detailed examiners' reports for each exam paper including all the variant tax and law exams.

A summarised version of the feedback relating to F4 to P7 for the June 2012 session is detailed as follows

Paper F4 was fair and evenly covered all parts of the syllabus. As to the level of difficulty, the paper fully fitted the knowledge potential of candidates as legal non-professionals and therefore was adequate. The questions were clearly and simply structured and their wording was not confusing.

The paper was considered to be straightforward but some of the analysis questions were considered to be difficult.
ACCA responded that the difficulty level of these questions was deliberate in order to balance other more straightforward questions within the paper. 

A majority of candidates found this to be a fair paper, set at the correct level (85%).  90% of candidates agreed that the questions were clear and 91% found the syllabus was covered adequately.

The paper was felt to be difficult, not covering what were considered to be core areas of the syllabus and more weighted to high level discussion. Students also reported it was time pressured. There were concerns that one question was set in a public sector environment and another area was not core. Regarding the public sector, ACCA responded that the syllabus clearly states that subject areas could be examined in either public sector or private sector context. ACCA also responded that all areas of the syllabus are clearly examinable.

It was felt that the format of the paper had departed from that of past sittings. ACCA responded that the format of the exam did not change at all but only that new topics that have not been tested before appeared in this exam. As always, the exam contained one question from each of the five syllabus areas and was approximately 50% computational and 50% discursive.

60% of candidates found the syllabus was covered well and that the questions clear.  56% felt they had little time to complete the paper and 78% found the paper too difficult.

F6 (UK) Taxation


The paper was considered to be fair and reasonable, covering a good range of syllabus topics, containing a good mix of easy and slightly trickier questions, and overall good preparation for paper P6 (UK).

Question 2 was felt to be lengthy, although manageable by well prepared candidates. ACCA advised that some candidates were missing the different financial years in question 2, and so not applying the different tax rates.

It was felt that question 4 may have been unpopular with candidates due to the topic being losses, although question 5 was a good inheritance tax question to finish. ACCA advised that some candidates were finding question 4 challenging, however the majority of candidates were performing well on question 5.

90% of candidates felt the syllabus was covered adequately and 84% agreed the exam questions were clear, although comments from candidates indicated that they felt that the exam was time pressured.

Paper F7 was found to be a balanced paper including questions on major areas in the syllabus, testing candidates' technical skill, knowledge and time management.

Question 1 required the preparation of a consolidated statement of financial position.  Information about the associate was given in a note, and it was suggested that this may have been confusing but ACCA responded that this should help candidates as it would prevent the common mistakes of using full or proportionate consolidation for the associate.

The use of the term 'statement of comprehensive income' in question 2 was questioned as this has been updated in IAS1.

ACCA explained that the 2012 study guide and exams are still using this term, rather than the term introduced by the revision to IAS 1. The terms are interchangeable and both are permitted even after the revised standard comes into effect.

In question 5 it was suggested that the discussion of rules versus principles based standards may sit better in P2 although ACCA responded that this topic does form a distinct learning outcome in the F7 study guide.

62% commented that paper F7 was set at the right level.  80% found the questions clear and 89% agreed the syllabus was covered adequately.

The paper was considered to be well balanced testing a good range of core areas of the syllabus.  All question requirements were clear and unambiguously phrased and.   A fair test of candidates' abilities exam with a fair allocation of marks.

One question required an identification and explanation of sampling methods for only 3 marks and it was felt that this was a lot to do for 3 marks. ACCA responded that candidates would be awarded half marks if they mentioned a sampling method and therefore it was relatively easy for a candidate to gain marks.

It was considered to be surprising that audit risk was not examined in this paper. ACCA responded that it was a deliberate decision to omit an audit risk question as it is not going to be examined in every exam.

96% of candidates found the syllabus was adequately covered. 87% felt the paper was set at the right level and 66% agreed they had enough time to complete the paper.

Paper F9 was found to be a fair and balanced paper with all the four questions of equal standard.  

72% of candidates found the exam questions clear which thoroughly covered the syllabus (86%) and 62% felt they had enough time to complete the paper.

Overall this was considered to be a fair paper with core topics examined.  The majority of areas examined have appeared in examiner's articles. It was considered to be a most stimulating paper.

There was felt to be good coverage of all key syllabus areas, including some topics that were not examined in the last couple of sessions. Questions tested understanding and application, not just the book knowledge. Scenarios were interesting and realistic.

It was considered to be a fair paper with a reasonable level of difficulty such that well-prepared candidates should do well. 

In response to points around the examination of risk issues in small companies and director/partner performance in an audit practice, ACCA responded that topics covered in question 2c) and question 3c) are all in the syllabus.  Some parts of the exam are not always standard and are therefore included to avoid predictability and to push the candidates a little harder to think about applying syllabus areas to different contexts and organisational types and sizes.
It was mentioned that tuition providers are clearly covering this paper very well and using relevant scenarios and real-life cases to prepare candidates for the exam.

Candidate feedback reported 86% found the questions clear and 90% agreed the syllabus was covered adequately.  54% of candidates felt they enough time, but some candidates had some concerns around the length of the scenario questions.

Overall this paper was found to be tough but fair and in line with expectations based on the examiner's approach as outlined at teachers' conferences.

It was suggested that there was too much emphasis on IFRS 9. ACCA responded that the examiner has identified financial instruments as a core topic and has always stressed that he will examine issues that are topical.

The absence of professional marks in question 1was questioned.  ACCA explained that the changes in respect of where the professional marks are awarded in the professional level papers as from June 2012have been publicised on the website including in the article - "Changes in professional marks" - in the Student Accountant Essential Guide in April 2012. 

Question 4 was considered to be a difficult question from what some members of the board felt to be an obscure part of the syllabus.  Despite having knowledge of IAS37 candidates may have struggled as the majority of the question was a discussion and application of the proposed amendments to IAS 37.

ACCA responded that the examinable documents list specifies which EDs and DPs are examinable. The examiner outlined in his last conference presentation that current issues questions are likely to include a part (b) testing application of the new rules. 

In this question, as in the whole of this paper, credit is given for application of basic principles and for all valid alternative answers.

39% of felt there was too little time to complete the paper and 42% felt the paper was too difficult. 77% found the questions clear and 78% felt the core areas of the syllabus were covered well

P3 was found to be a fair but lengthy paper and time pressured. 

The reduced word count of the narrative in Section A is seen as a welcome development. However, this was counteracted by an increase in word count for all of the questions in Section B. P3 continues to be a paper where some consider that it is very time pressured and where the marking scheme is a little too generic to be helpful to tutors and candidates. In response to the latter point, it was announced that in future more detail will be included within the marking scheme to explain more specifically how marks are awarded.

In response to a comment that the scenario to the first question contained a SWOT analysis which candidates might have expected to use in the answer, rather than see in the question, ACCA responded by explaining that candidates should not expect to assess strategic position every time in question 1, and sometimes other aspects of strategy might be required.


Where any potential ambiguity in the requirement in question 2a regarding the decision to adopt a software solution was concerned, it was stated that this had been recognised during marking and credit was given for alternative approaches.

It was noted that the first two questions in section B would require the candidates to be well versed in the specific subject areas and be able to contextualise their answers to the scenarios in the questions.

82% of candidates found syllabus coverage appropriate, 67% found the difficulty level about right and 61% felt there were few time management issues.  Candidates found question 1 was too long and ambiguous which caused panic among candidates as it was worth 50 marks.

Paper P4 was found to be technically challenging but reasonably well balanced covering core syllabus topics.

There were concerns about the paper being time pressured especially with question 1. There were also concerns that some parts of the questions were difficult. ACCA responded that the difficulty parts were worth only few marks to balance the paper and technical articles were put in the student accountant to help with some areas.

53% of candidates found the questions clear and 66% found the difficulty level too hard.  61% agreed the paper covered the syllabus well. Many felt they had too little time to complete the paper (70%). 

Paper P5 was considered challenging but fair.  It was felt that paper had clear scenarios and requirements although it contained more technical and numerical requirements than in past sittings. 

There were concerns about the paper being time pressured especially with question 1 which had a lot of details making it difficult to follow but it was acknowledged that this question was set at the appropriate level.  There were comments about some questions being difficult but that the articles in the student accountant helped.

63% of candidates found the syllabus was covered well and 79% felt time pressured. 57% of candidates found the questions unclear.

This was considered to be a challenging, but fair, well balanced paper with few surprises, and a good variety of topics. 

Question 1 was felt to contain some difficult calculations; however it was noted that the examiner gave guidance as to the breakdown of marks for the calculations compared to discursive elements which it was felt that candidates would have found useful.

Question 2a) was felt to be unclear in the single mark allocation of 11 marks, and it would have been preferred for this to be split.  ACCA advised that this was not split due the marks being equal over the 2 parts, however will ensure this is clearer in future papers.

It was also felt that the detailed requirements in question 2 were very helpful. ACCA responded that the detailed requirements in question 2 were appropriate as there were no professional marks available in that question, however also advised that requirements could still be embedded within the scenario in a future question 2, depending on the style of the question, albeit with no professional marks.

ACCA advised that most candidates were doing well on questions 1 and 2, and on question 4 which proved to be the most popular optional question.  However some candidates were not covering all the angles required in question 3.

62% of the candidates felt the requirements were clear, and 77% felt there was adequate syllabus coverage, although 61% felt it was too time pressured.

Paper P7 was considered to be a balanced paper with clear and understandable question requirements, although there were a few challenging areas

ACCA noted that in one of the questions candidates were missing the fact that the scenario was about money laundering as it was not explicitly stated, and were discussing fraud. There were hints in the question and candidates should have been able to spot these issues at this l level. However, marks were awarded for discussing other issues, such as fraud and poor internal controls.

79% of candidates found this paper to be fair and balanced and 68% thought the paper was set at the right difficulty level.

Last updated: 20 Aug 2012