ACCA exams F5 to F9 are changing and by next year, you might not be able to sit the old papers. Don’t worry though – it’s not as scary as it sounds!

What’s the story?

In September 2016, the ACCA launched session CBEs for ACCA exams F5 – F9 in some UK exam centres. These session CBEs are now becoming available in locations worldwide. Paper-based exams (PBEs) are being phased out with many locations only offering session CBEs from next year.

You can find the full list here.

What are session CBEs, and how are they different?

Session CBEs are computer-based exams that cover the same information as the traditional PBEs – so you won’t need to study any different material. You’ll complete these ACCA exams online, using tools like spreadsheets that better reflect the realities of a career in finance.

Session CBEs

You have slightly longer to sit the session CBEs than the PBEs – 3 hours and 20 minutes, compared to 3 hours and 15 minutes.

The format of the exam is different too. Apart from F8, the CBEs contain three sections with Objective Test questions, OT case questions and constructed response questions. F8 has only two sections with OT Case questions and constructed response questions.

OT Questions

Auto-marked questions worth two marks each.

  • Multiple choice
  • Multiple response
  • Fill in the blank
  • Drag and drop
  • Hotspot (select a point on an image)
  • Hot area (select one or more areas on an image)

OT Case Questions

Each OT Case question contains five OT questions based on a scenario, worth 10 points in total.

Constructed Response Questions

For constructed response questions, you write your answers using word processing and spreadsheet functions. These are marked by experts who see your workings as they would in paper ACCA exams.

The session CBE’s contain 5 seeded questions, which you get no marks for. These allow the ACCA to monitor exam quality, and will be either OT questions or an OT Case question. In total the session CBEs contain 110 marks, 10 of which don’t count towards your result.

Should I take a PBE or CBE?

The CBEs test the same knowledge as the PBEs, so both methods are equivalent and fair. However, many students prefer session CBEs. In fact, in the March sitting just gone some of the students who came 1st worldwide sat the CBE.

  • Your answers are always readable, so you won’t lose silly marks
  • The dreaded hand ache won’t stop you doing yourself justice
  • You’ll build skills with the tools you’ll need in your career

Session CBEs are changing

CBEs are faster and more intuitive than the traditional ACCA exams, as they include:

  • On-screen timer and progress review screen
  • Ability to flag questions to review quickly later
  • On-screen pad and calculator (and physical paper/calculator if you prefer)
  • Highlight and strike-through functions for ease of reading scenarios
  • Scroll alert, so you don’t accidentally miss any information
  • Screen split tool, so you can see question and answer at the same time
  • Relevant reference material where appropriate

Change is always scary, but session CBEs are a positive development. Many students fail their ACCA exams because of avoidable mistakes like misreading information or forgetting skipped questions. The session CBEs help you avoid these mistakes, so you’re more likely to do yourself justice.

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