ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

The Exam Review Board meets within two weeks of 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 obtain and responds to feedback from Platinum ALPs both in attendance and non-attendance (so 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.

A summarised version of the feedback relating to F4 to P7 for the June 2011 session is detailed as follows

F4

A fair paper with some challenging questions and also a range of fairly straightforward ones. 

Question 3 was found to be quite a challenging question and candidates may have confused the standard of care with the duty of care.

It was pleasing to see corporate governance examined in question 6.

Question 10 was considered to be a challenging question.

The feedback from the standardisation meeting revealed that in question 3 it was found that some candidates were discussing duty of care rather than the standard of care even though there was an article written on the tort of negligence in Dec 09 and the distinction is important.

Question 6 was deliberately set bearing in mind the new UK Corporate Governance Code issued last year.  In question 10 there are plenty of marks available including marks for discussing limited liability, and candidates do not have to calculate the financial situation to gain full marks.

A majority of candidates found this to be a fair paper, set at the correct level (84%).  93% of candidates agreed that the questions were clear and 90% found the syllabus was covered adequately.

F5

Overall this was considered to be a well written paper with good coverage of the five core syllabus areas.

Question 1, 2 and 4 received positive feedback.

Question 3 included a flexed budget and this may have surprised candidates.  Feedback from standardisation meeting however stated that candidates were performing well in part (a), but struggling in part (b) and (c).

It was felt question 5 was deemed to be long with lots of information to digest The feedback from the standardisation meeting confirms that candidates are finding question 5 difficult largely due to a lack of knowledge especially in part (b) and (c).
 
A point was raised regarding section B of the syllabus being rather heavy and enquired if any further clarification will be given on how this will be examined. ACCA responded by stating that there are no intentions to change the way the syllabus areas are examined and plan to continue with current split of roughly 20% of the examination coming from each section of the syllabus.

66% of candidates found the syllabus was covered well and that the questions clear.  50% felt they had little time to complete the paper.  Question 5 was found to be unfamiliar, complicated and not covered very well in materials.

F6

It was felt that this paper was a balanced and reasonable paper with good syllabus coverage, and a well prepared candidate should perform well.

Question 2 was found to be challenging due to a lot of information, but fair nonetheless.

In question 3, it was felt that candidates could still perform well without detailed knowledge of the takeover rules. 

Question 4 was felt to be fair, although with a couple of tricky bits.  Question 4 and 5 received positive feedback. 

85% of candidates felt the syllabus was covered adequately.  76% agreed the exam questions were clear.  However some candidates found question 3 on CGT challenging.

F7

Paper F7 was found to be a fair paper with a predictable exam structure.  A wide spectrum of the syllabus was tested and as such some time pressure issues were reported.  ACCA responded that its quality assurance process addresses a number of issues including time pressure both in the development of the examination and also within the marking process.

Questions 1, 3 and 5 either received positive feedback. 

The only comments regarding question 2 was that the

  • Convertible loan and debt factoring may have proved difficult for some candidates.  As it appears frequently in F7 exams candidates had plenty of past exam practise opportunities on these areas.
  • statement of changes in equity was a difficult topic for candidates.  ACCA responded that a significant number of candidates were not attempting this part.  There were some very easy marks obtainable.  Candidates must attempt all questions and all question parts to stand the best chance of passing

A point was raised regarding the provision of only one interest rate on the convertible loan in question 4 relating to earnings per share.  ACCA responded that this question was simplified for candidates in that it only provided one interest rate for candidates to work with as question 2 required candidates to appreciate the difference between nominal and effective rates.  ACCA is not keen on testing the same point twice.

51% commented that paper F7 was difficult.  69% found the questions clear and 83% agreed the syllabus was covered adequately.  There were a significant minority of candidates who felt there were too many adjustments in question 2. 

F8

F8 was found to be a reasonably well balanced paper. The question requirements were clear and unambiguous.  The theoretical elements were core to the syllabus.

The second part of question 3 (b) worth 5 marks asking for the auditor response to the risk may have proved difficult for candidates.

ACCA responded that question 3 on audit risks has been examined before and will be examined again, and the wording used was standard. Candidates are required to explain the risk and how to respond to it. Unfortunately however candidates are still using business risks rather than audit risks to answer the question.

95% of candidates found the syllabus was adequately covered. 84% felt the paper was set at the right level and 67% agreed they had enough time to complete the paper. 

F9

Paper F9 was found to be a fair paper covering all key areas of the syllabus.  All questions were successfully broken down.  The paper was described as a typical F9 exam with a standard mix of essay and calculation section than some recent papers. 
Question 1 and 4 received positive feedback.

Some feedback felt candidates may have struggled with question 2 (b). ACCA stated that this has been examined before and should not have caused problems

Question 3 was found to be challenging as the requirements were not specific.  They also felt part (b) had a high mark allocation for a peripheral area of the syllabus and this may have caused time pressure. ACCA stated that sources of finance are an important part of F9 syllabus but feedback from the standardisation meeting confirmed that candidates were struggling in question 3, in particular in parts (a) and part (c).

In part (a) most candidates were only doing a financial analysis without considering financial performance and financial position, while in part (c) most were discussing advantages and disadvantages to shareholders rather than to a company

82% of candidates found the exam questions clear which thoroughly covered the syllabus and 53% felt they had enough time to complete the paper.     

P1

P1 was found to be a fair and consistent paper covering key areas of the syllabus.  The scenarios were interesting and based around real life. 

In question 1(c) terminology was used relating to Extraordinary General Meetings which is no longer used under English law. It was pointed out that P1 as a global paper does not assess the specifics of national legislation, but the principles behind best practice.

It was suggested that Question 2 (a) did not explicitly link to the scenario and could be answered generally. In response it was explained that the requirement did request a critique of ‘beliefs’ stated in the case, so it did at least partly relate to the facts of the scenario. 

It was felt that three questions focused on one syllabus area, but this was discussed and it was explained that although similar areas were covered in different questions, these were examined in different ways and under different contexts. 

It was argued that question 3 on governance of not for profit organisations was not well covered by publishers, nor that well flagged within the syllabus. It was explained that this area is firmly within the syllabus and the examiner is now more involved in reviewing, in detail, the content and coverage of the Platinum approved study text.

Additionally, not-for-profit organisations have recently been covered in an article written by the examiner in October 2010 for student accountant. It is important to read all articles relating to the exam papers being studied each session.

86% of candidates found the questions clear and 89% agreed the syllabus was covered adequately.  49% of candidates felt they enough time, but some candidates had some concerns around the length of question 1.

P2

This paper was found to be fair and well balanced with very few contentious issues.

ACCA commented that two different approaches to foreign exchange determination were being used by candidates in question 1and that this was acceptable and were being marked as such.

Question 2 received some mixed feedback as some felt that although IFRS1 is listed as an examinable document and is a specific part of the syllabus it was a non current area for the examiner to be testing. 

ACCA responded that IFRS 1 continues to be very much of a current topic for many economies that are adopting IFRS for the first time and especially so for entities impacted by recent IFRS for SME developments. 

Some feedback was received that the financial instrument and pension were tested in a way which have surprised candidates.  ACCA responded that candidates should be able to appreciate the issues of the transactions thereby demonstrating their professional approach rather than simply apply rote learned processes/methods.

Question 4 on IFRS9 should have been welcomed by candidates. However, there was feedback that part 4(b) (ii) regarding expected loss approach to impairment, although listed as a potentially examinable document would have come as a surprise and candidates were likely to be ill prepared. 

ACCA responded that so far candidates were scoring well at the earlier parts of the question which is more than compensating for the weak attempts at part 4(b) (ii) worth 4 marks.

46% of felt there the paper was time pressured and 62% felt the paper was too difficult.  73% found the questions clear and 79% felt the core areas of the syllabus were covered well.  There were some comments that section B was too difficult and long.

P3

Paper P3 was found to be a fair paper of a manageable length.  However, it was felt strategy topics were lightly covered in this examination.  New areas of the syllabus were covered well.

It was pointed out that in question 1 (b) weaker candidates may have struggled to produce focused calculations and discussions within the allotted time.

In response it was explained that the marking team would take a flexible approach to the workings used by candidates and how they were prepared and presented and that there were several ways of approaching this part of the question. 

The requirements of question 2 (a) were found by some to be confusing and examining the matrix structure may have been unexpected which may have posed problems for some candidates.

However, it was pointed out that business structure is covered in F1 which directly underpins P3 and this area is covered in the P3 syllabus under organisational design and it is expected that P3 candidates understand the principles and implications behind alternative business structure and design in formulating and implementing strategy.

76% of candidates found syllabus coverage appropriate, 64% found the difficulty level about right and 46% felt there were few time management issues.  Some concerns were raised regarding the Swimlane diagram in Q3 and that the wording was too small. 

P4

Paper P4 was seen as a welcome change to the previous paper.  The length was shorter and manageable. It had a good technical content and testing knowledge required at P4 level but

Some feedback was received that question 1 had unusual terminology which might have confused candidates such as market debt to equity ratio of unlisted co and the government rate being given as the risk free rate. ACCA responded by stating that every company has a market value except that unlisted companies do not have a readily market ascertainable value and hence an approximation needs to be made.

Government base rate is assumed to be risk free and hence also is relevant to calculations. It was also felt that the question was time pressured. Feedback from standardisation meetings reported that there were little evidence of this being an issue

Question 2 part (b) was considered tough. It was felt that there were also other different ways of answering the question. Feedback from the standardisation meeting confirmed that full credit was being given for other acceptable methods.

Some feedback felt Question 3 part (b) was difficult. Feed back from the standardisation meeting reported that the question was the least popular with candidates.

46% of candidates found the questions clear and 54% found the difficulty level too hard.  67% agreed the paper covered the syllabus well. Many felt question 1 was unclear and required too many calculations.

P5

Paper P5 was found to be fair but challenging.  There was little calculation but it was acknowledged this had been indicated by ACCA in advance of the examination session.  The syllabus coverage was reasonably good. 

Some feedback felt in Question 1 was difficult as it focused on controllable/non controllable factors and it was expected that most candidates would not pick up on this, nevertheless it was thought to be a fair question

It was felt that the question 3, 4, and 5 were all focused on particular models and most candidates would struggle with this. Feedback from the standardisation meeting revealed that candidates were performing well in Section A but poorly in Section B. 

Question 5 would prove difficult although it has been examined before but candidates would struggle to get points. Additionally the topic is not covered well in Kaplan text and very little coverage in BPP. ACCA responded by stating that there is an article in student accountant which coverers all the elements asked for.

Some feedback felt there might have been an overlap between P3 and P5 in question 5. ACCA responded by stating that an article will be issued to help tutors and candidates to clearly know what should be expected in each of the papers.

73% of candidates found the syllabus was covered well and 58% felt time pressured.  Many commented that this exam paper felt more like a P3 exam.

P6

Paper P6 was found to be a well structured exam, with a good mix of clear questions.  It was a fair and well directed paper.  It was felt to be less technically difficult than previous sittings, but the number of calculations may have balanced this.   

Question 1 received positive feedback.

It was felt that some candidates may have found the partial exemption in question 2 challenging.

Questions 3 and 4 were felt to be clear and well directed; although some felt candidates may have found EIS tricky in question 4.

Question 5 was felt to be fair, although areas of group relief and overseas aspects could be challenging.
 
43% of candidates felt the requirements were clear, and 63% felt there was adequate syllabus coverage.  76% felt it was too time pressured, although candidates seemed surprised at the lack of calculations required.

P7 

Paper P7 was found to be a demanding but fair exam.  |It was pleasing to see real world scenarios, and that the majority of the paper was based on application.

It was felt that the UK paper was more challenging than the international paper.

It was felt that question 3b) on opening balances may have been unexpected by candidates.

Question 3(b) on opening balances has not been examined before but it was pure knowledge and the second part on inventory was basic knowledge that P7 candidates should not have found difficult.

78% Candidates found this paper to be fair and balanced and 57% thought the paper to be set at the right difficulty level.

Last updated: 21 Feb 2012