Three things

If you had to ask leading tutors to suggest three key things to remember about each ACCA exam paper, what do you think they would say? Tutors at Becker Professional Education recently took up our challenge. Read on to find out their responses.

Paper F1

  • Study the examiner’s report for June 2014 carefully so that you are aware of how students answered questions based on the new exam structure

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  • The syllabus is very broad but does not go into any real depth on any subject. Learn the theories/theorists and work through as many exam-style questions as possible to soak up the rest.  


  • Good exam technique can make all the difference. Never, ever, leave any question unattempted – if you are not sure, eliminate what is clearly wrong, then guess. 

Paper F2 

  • Paper F2 provides the foundation for Papers F5 and F9, so it’s important to aim for a good pass – try not to scrape through.
  • If you are sitting the computer-based exams, you must try the CBE demo
  • The exam contains 35 objective test questions worth 70 marks in total, and three multi-task questions worth 10 marks each.

Paper F3

  • Be comfortable with double-entry; a good understanding of debits and credits is a must.
  • Be confident with the longer form questions.
  • Practise consolidation techniques, make sure you're able to calculate goodwill, non-controlling interest and consolidated retained earnings.

Paper F4

  • Make sure you familiarise yourself with the new Paper F4 format by checking out the specimen exam
  • Understand the main sources of law, do not focus on just one or two areas of the syllabus. It is likely that the majority of the syllabus will be examined in every exam.
  • You are being examined as an accountant, not a lawyer. Knowledge of case law is useful but do not go out of your way to learn the details. Consider how the law affects the accountant and what impact it will have when it comes to the reporting of financial information.

Paper F5

  • There is a new exam format from December 2014, so work through the specimen paper to familiarise yourself with this.
  • The most common reason for not passing Paper F5 is lack of knowledge – you must know all areas of the syllabus.
  • There are some excellent technical articles on the ACCA website, which you should read.

Paper F6

  • Adjustment of profits: where a question requires the adjustment of profits, candidates will be told in the requirements what figure to start their computation with (normally the net profit figure for an unincorporated business, or the profit before taxation figure for a limited company). They will also be told that they should list all of the items referred to in the notes to the question, indicating by the use of zero (0) any items, which do not require adjustment. There are obviously marks available for adjusting items that require adjustment, but also marks for making no adjustment where an adjustment is unnecessary.
  • Income tax and corporation tax feature heavily in the exam. Ensure you can compute an individual’s taxable income and an entity’s corporation tax expense/gain and asset/liability.
  • Although this is a tax exam, you are not expected to be a tax expert. The focus will be on how tax legislation impacts on the role of the accountant. Ensure you are comfortable with the core knowledge of the underlying principles and major technical areas of taxation as they affect the activities of individuals and businesses.

Paper F7 

  • Work carefully through the specimen exam and appropriate mock exams so that you are familiar with the new structure before you sit the real exam.

 Ensure you know what is required in the exam.
  • Do not question spot.
  • Practise the format of financial statements – statement of financial position, profit or loss, changes in equity and cash flows.

Paper F8 



  • Work carefully through the specimen exam and appropriate mock exams so you are familiar with the new structure before you sit the real exam.


  • Study the entire syllabus – Section A of the exam gives greater scope for the examiner to examine areas that may never or rarely have been examined in the past.


  • Section B questions of the exam comprise four 10-mark questions and two 20-mark questions. The 20-mark questions will predominantly examine one or more aspects of audit and assurance from planning and risk assessment, internal control or audit evidence, although topics from other syllabus areas may also be included.

Paper F9



  • Work carefully through the specimen exam to understand the exam structure.  
  • 

Study the entire syllabus – Section A of the exam can test even relatively minor topics.


  • Section B questions will focus on shareholder wealth creation – via project appraisal, business finance and working capital management.   

Paper P1

  • Public sector governance and integrated reporting are two new syllabus areas for December 2014. Just because they are new does not mean they will not be examined in December.


  • Professional marks can make the difference between pass and fail. It is essential to ensure you obtain all four marks.


  • The exam answers have a certain style using key phrases (eg embed, underpin). Work through all past exams and embed this style into your answers.   

Paper P2

  • Integrated reporting is new to the syllabus for December 2014, so ensure that you are well read around this subject.
  • Financial instruments are a key part of the syllabus, so ensure you include time in your revision to really understand this syllabus area.
  • Cross reference all workings and ensure what you write is legible and understandable.

Paper P3

  • The examiner wants you to show that you can think for yourself, not just learn theories and recite these in the exam.
  • There is a 50-mark case study, so you need to have a good approach to such long questions.
  • Wider reading is recommended as this will help you to identify the issues better.

Paper P4

  • Check your foundations are solid – everything from Paper F9, Financial Management (except working capital management) is also examinable in Paper P4.
  • Start your studies early on the entire syllabus and in real depth (including current issues) – supported with wider reading of high quality financial press.


  • Paper P4 is a highly technical paper but markers will reward any reasonable attempt – as long as the approach is structured and well presented (which should also attract valuable professional marks).   

Paper P5

  • Paper P5 is not Paper P3 or Paper F5 again.
  • The examiner wants to test your skills of analysis and evaluation – these can be gained by practising past exam questions.
  • Ensure you read the examiner’s reports for the last four exams to understand better what the examiner wants.

Paper P7

  • Integrated reporting has been introduced into the syllabus from December 2014.


  • The examiner expects candidates to give added value in their answers through demonstrating higher level skills (answer plan, structured answer, significant facts, relevant content, inferences made, commercial awareness, and professional commentary).


  • Paper P7 is not just Paper F8 plus a few extras – failure to understand this, together with a lack of sound past exam question practice and analysis (understand how the examiner thinks), is a recipe for failure.