The purpose of this article is to explain the structure and the styles of question that candidates will have to answer in the (F)BT exam.
The structure of the exam is based on two main sections or parts. Section A of the exam comprises questions worth both one mark and two marks. In total there are 16 one-mark questions and 30 two-mark questions. Section B of the exam has multiple-task questions (MTQs). There are six MTQs in Section B of the exam, each worth four marks.
There are six syllabus areas, and there is always one MTQ on each of them. Each MTQ is specific to a syllabus area, with no crossover between the six generic sections of the syllabus.
As just explained, Section A of the exam contains a mix of 30 two-mark questions and 16 one-mark questions. One-mark questions are usually shorter and either have no background statement or a brief one. The structure of these questions is that they are multiple-choice questions (MCQ) where there is one correct option from two or three options, or they will be multiple-response (MR) questions where there are two correct options from a total of three. In the MCQ versions of the one-mark questions, the two option questions may be presented as yes/no or true/false questions.
See Figure 1 below:
The two-mark CBE questions in Section A consist of a variety of question types from MCQ to multiple-response MR and multiple-response matching (MRM).
Note that, for all MR and MRM questions in this section, no partial marking is available, so candidates must select all correct options to obtain full marks, otherwise they will score zero.
The MTQs in this section introduce a variety of testing methods. It must be emphasised that this does not affect the level of the exam or the standard expected, and candidates should not be more time pressured as a result of the different type of question in this section as long as they allocate their time correctly to the marks associated with them.
Part B of the examination may appear visually very different to Section A. For example, candidates are more likely, but not certain, to see diagrams in the question prompt. Some scenarios may be longer than those encountered in Section A, though they will seldom necessitate scrolling up or down the screen to read through them. There is also a ‘collapse’ function in the CBE version that allows candidates to easily refer back to the background statement without scrolling unnecessarily.
The six MTQs in Section B may be sub-divided. Where this is the case, some or all parts may be related to a common scenario. However, a scenario may be relevant to just part of the question. For example, part (a) of a question may be built around a team scenario with a requirement to apply the theories of Belbin or Tuckman, with part (b) set on a related theme but not directly connected to the scenario.
Section B may contain MR questions with more than four options. MRM questions may have more than four options to choose from and partial marking is allowed, meaning that candidates who select the correct options in some rows, but not in others, will get credit for those correct selections which they make.
For example, a question may ask the candidate to choose two correct responses from six choices, or perhaps four choices from eight. The number of correct responses required is clearly signalled in the question prompt. The screen indicates the total number of marks available for the question (or part of the question) and, unless otherwise indicated, each response will be worth the same number of marks.
If a candidate selects more correct responses than are required, the system will deselect the previous response, so it will not be possible to make more choices of answer than the number required.
If a candidate selects fewer answers than the number required or selects some wrong options, marks are awarded pro rata. Thus, if a question has four correct responses, each worth 0.5 marks and the candidate selects only three responses or only three correct options, it is possible to score a maximum of 1.5 marks. Please note, as already explained, MR and MRM questions in Section A do not permit partial marking, so candidates must select all correct answers to such questions in Section A to score the marks available, or they will score zero.
Figure 2 shows an example of the more complex MR type question.
Figure 2: MR question with eight options
These questions require candidates to complete sentences or paragraphs by filling gaps that appear in the text. Responses are selected by clicking on the gap and choosing the response from a drop-down list. The list may include single words, short phrases or numbers.
The response is selected from the list that appears. Again, it is possible to change the answer by clicking again to select a new choice. Figure 3 shows how such a question would appear.
Figure 3: Gap-fill question
These questions ask candidates to select responses according to a grid of choices.
For example, a scenario may describe types of control and the candidate is required to decide whether each control is a general control or an application control.
The total marks available for the question or part of the question will appear on the screen, with responses carrying equal marks within that component of the question. Figure 4 shows how such a question would appear.
Figure 4: Multiple-response matching question
In Section B, if the candidate had two of the responses correct or only completed two of the four responses (and they were correct), they would earn (2 x 0.5) or one mark out of the two available for this question.
These questions ask candidates to choose the correct response by clicking on the appropriate choices on a set of boxes, or on a diagram.
The correct answers are selected by clicking on the appropriate boxes. Again, answers may be deselected by choosing a new option, which will cancel the previous one. The system will not permit more choices to be made than required.
These questions may also ask a candidate to make responses by clicking on a relevant part of a diagram or symbol. For example, a question may present a number of boxes of which the candidate must select the ones which apply. Figure 5 shows how such a question would appear.
Figure 5: Hot-spot question
Occasionally, candidates may be asked to complete a number entry in answer to a question, but these will be quite rare in the FBT/BT examination. Such questions could occasionally apply to subject areas like economics, such as elasticity of demand or aggregate demand type questions. For example, in these questions, candidates must calculate their answers and enter the number in the format required in a number entry box. The answer may be shown in denominations of $000 or $m, but candidates will be explicitly guided about this so that they are clear how to input the number into the answer in the correct way.
This article has explained how the FBT/BT examination is structured into two main sections and the types of questions which candidates will have to answer in the exam. The CBE system in which the examination is delivered is designed to ensure that clear instructions will be given for each question and for components of questions.