How do MTQs deal with narrative answers?
The CBE software is not able to assess free form narrative answers. Instead, candidates may be required to answer questions in a variety of objective testing formats. Examples of these are:
- Multiple choice
- Drop down lists
Alternatively, they could be asked to correctly complete an argument by selecting appropriate phrases from a drop down list, as shown.
- Multiple-response matching and multiple-response questions
On the paper-based exam, candidates could be asked similar questions that require free form answers. For example , instead of the multiple-choice question (task 3 of Cab Co), they could be asked to '’Explain and justify briefly whether the tracking project should be accepted'.
Are there any negative marks?
No, the worst a candidate can be awarded is zero. Therefore, they should not leave any answers incomplete. If candidates cannot think of the correct answer, guessing becomes a sensible alternative.
Will candidates be penalised for rounding errors?
Sensible rounding is acceptable on both the paper-based and computer-based exam. On the paper-based exam, markers will manually make allowances for rounding. On computer-based questions, when appropriate, the computer will allow a range of answers.
For example, if a question asked for the present value of $1,000,000 receivable at the end of each of the next five years at an interest rate of 10%, various answers would be acceptable.
(i) Using annuity tables
$1,000,000 x annuity factor for five years at 10%
$1,000,000 x 3.791
(ii) Using the present value table
$1,000,000 x (0.909 + 0.826 +0.751 + 0.683 + 0.621)
(iii) Using the annuity formula
$1,000,000 x 1-(1.10)-5
The computer would be instructed to accept answers in the range of 3,790,000 – 3,791,000 as correct.
Do candidates need to include units of measurement in their answers?
Generally, the question will specify the measurements to be used, usually at the side of the answer box. These will include $, kg, %, units, etc. Candidates simply need to put in the figure. The system will not allow you to input these measurements inside the answer box.
There may be other important measurement that might be outside the answer box that might affect the answer as shown in the following examples. It is important that candidates present their answers exactly as requested, otherwise the answer will be marked incorrect.
These screenshots show examples of how this will be presented on screen.
In task 3 of Kinn, assume the correct answer is $57,150,000. Because the question asks for the answer in $000 it must be entered as 57150. If you put 57150000 it would be marked as incorrect.
In task 2 of Nicholson, assume the correct answers are 6.00% and 1.666%.
In the first box, the answer should be entered as '6.00'‘. Entering 0.06 into the box would result in the answer being marked as incorrect.
Similar principles apply to the second box, but additionally here we would expect candidates to round in the conventional way (see following paragraph on rounding). In this case, 1.666% rounds to 1.67.
The most common approach on rounding is to 'round half up' – that is, halfway values and above are always rounded up. For example, by this rule the value 23.5 gets rounded to 24, but −23.5 gets rounded to −23. This approach is adopted in ACCA questions
Do CBE candidates need to include commas or minus signs in their answers?
(i) Commas. Commas as separators should not be used in number entry answers in the CBE and, in fact, the system will not allow you to do so. Paper-based candidates should remember that it is good practice to use commas as separators in numbers because it makes figures easier to read.
(ii) Minus signs. The system accepts minus figures. CBE candidates need to read the question carefully here. Sometimes (commonly in the area of standard cost variances) the question will not require you to enter a minus sign, even if the figure is actually negative. In this task the sales price variance is $5,120 adverse, which in many real-world situations would be recorded as a negative number, -5120.
Here, however, we require candidates to indicate in a separate box whether the variance is adverse or favourable. The adverse variance should therefore be entered as a positive number, and candidates should then select the correct sign (adverse or favourable) from the drop down list. (Entering -5120 would result in an incorrect answer: after all, a negative adverse variance would be favourable.)
Similarly in the calculation of NPVs or in cash budgeting, candidates should check whether to input minus signs if the answers were negative or this has to be completed through a choice of positive/negative for NPV and inflow/outflow for cash flow.
Will formula sheets and maths tables continue to be provided with the exam?
The formula sheet and maths tables will continue to be provided with each exam. In paper-based exams these will continue to be given as part of the exam booklet.
In the CBE, these will be available on line as part of the exam and no hard copies will be separately handed out. Candidates simply have to click on the symbol as shown here.
What do you next?
The ACCA website contains specimen papers and extra MTQ practice questions for the CBE for Paper F2/FMA, as well as showcases explaining all of the functionality of the CBE exams. There is also a specimen of the new format paper-based exam. It is strongly recommended that you should work through these questions as part of your preparation the real exams. Go to 'Related links' to access the specimen exams.