The examiner’s reports are the closest thing to face-to-face contact with an examiner. They’re a massively valuable resource. They tell you exactly what the examiners want to see, and highlight mistakes from other students so you can learn – without making the same mistakes yourself.
We’ve pulled out the highlights for you, so you can take what you need. For further info on each, do check out the full reports on the ACCA Global site.
Fundamentals December 2017: General Advice from the Examiners
Let’s start with the general points raised, which apply across every fundamentals paper. Then we’ll go into detail on each paper.
- Time management. This is a constant theme for every exam. You are better attempting all questions than doing a percentage of questions very well. This never changes so accept it now and work with it. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did!
- Practice calculation questions. There’s nothing that improves your exam performance more than practice. That’s especially true of calculation questions. Going through questions and solutions over and over again and building up confidence, knowledge and speed is worth its weight in gold come exam time.
- Study the whole syllabus. Hedging your bets is a huge risk, because it’s very likely one of the topics won’t come up. You are better having a good understanding of all topics rather than a detailed understanding of a few.
- Allow time to think and plan your answer. When the examiner says ‘you may start’ there’s a big temptation to start writing. DON’T DO IT. If you spend some time planning your answers properly, the overall answer will be better and get more marks.
- Don’t answer the question you wanted. Answer the question you see. Which means knowing what to exclude as well as include. The temptation is to write everything you know about the topic you’re being asked about. If you take this approach you may be confused about a poor result but you won’t pass unless you’re specific, not general, with your answers.
Fundamentals December 2017: A closer look at each exam
Let’s look at the specific papers. Scroll straight to the paper that’s relevant to you, or if you’ve got a little more time feel free to read from here.
ACCA F1/FAB Accountant in Business
December 2017 pass rate 77%
The examiner noted that most students attempted all the questions and there was little evidence of time pressure. Which means the relatively high pass rates suggest that anyone who failed simply wasn’t well enough prepared for the exam.
It came across that more complex theories took students longer to think through, and then to answer. Students also struggled with the ‘softer’ aspects of governance and ethics.
There was a little evidence of questions not being attempted too. That’s a missed opportunity: all students should have made an attempt.
For future exams, students should ensure they have as broad a knowledge on the topic as possible. This will give you the best opportunity of passing. Be careful not to ‘overthink’ any questions – there are no trick questions!
ACCA F2/FMA Management Accounting
December 2017 pass rate 65%
Calculation questions were answered badly compared to theory questions. Students taking F2 must:
- Study the whole syllabus
- Practice, practice, practice – especially calculations
- Don’t spend too much time on ‘tricky’ questions
- But do attempt all questions as there are no negative marks.
ACCA F3/FFA Financial Accounting
December 2017 pass rate 71%
Students had obviously learned from previous F3 sessions, as the majority of students attempted all questions – fantastic.
This examiner report also gives some examples of questions that are indicative of the style and content of future technical questions. If you’re interested in those, do check out the full report.
Again, it’s really important that you understand this paper is testing the full syllabus. There are no shortcuts. Time management is key to this exam. It’s also vital you can accurately produce a basic layout of financial statements.
ACCA F4 (ENG) Corporate and Business Law
December 2017 pass rate 77%
Section A of this paper is marked by computer, and section B is marked by subject experts. You might be coming across this style of paper for the first time, as it combines knowledge-based questions with the ability to provide analysis and application.
Surprisingly students actually fared worse in the multiple choice section, section A, than in previous sessions. Practice in advance really is key. On a positive note though, breadth of course knowledge is improving overall.
In Section B, which looks for both knowledge and application, students often let themselves down with general knowledge answers. To do well in this section you must show the application to the specific questions provided in the exam.
This is a crucial area to practice if you’re preparing for F4 and beyond.
ACCA F5 Performance Management
December 2017 pass rate 42%
Positive feedback in that most students attempted all questions – great to see.
There are some good examples in the report that show an indication of the types of question which may appear in the future. The examining team also provide detailed feedback on various questions and how best to approach similar topics in the future.
Read this area carefully in the full report, because it really could be the difference between a pass and a fail.
Again, exam technique is a big one. Hopefully you’re spotting the trend here because this continues until you finish your last exam!
Specifically for this exam, the big issue was students failing to read the question properly. Please do give yourself time to think – mis-reading the question is an easily avoidable mistake.
The best way to handle this exam, especially the computer version, is to create a good plan for your answer. Especially as the information may be on a number of pages or overall several screens.
ACCA F6 Taxation (UK)
December 2017 pass rate 51%
This report complimented students for attempting an answer to all questions in section A and encouraged them to concentrate on covering all the syllabus. (Again, a real trend emerging here!) Bear in mind though, still only just over half of students passed this exam.
So where could students improve?
Reading the requirements is vital as the testing basis is ‘all or nothing’. Missing a key point will give a very low return for the marks on offer. This was a common mistake.
The examiner also points out that the written sections in F6 tend to be quite short. To maximise marks it might be a good idea to provide each point in a separate paragraph so they’re not missed.
Also don’t forget, your workings don’t have to be exam standard so don’t waste time making sure they’re all well presented.
ACCA F7 Financial Reporting
December 2017 pass rate 49%
The examining team for this paper take you through specific questions that were poorly answered in the exam and show you what the correct approach would have been. This is invaluable exam technique advice: check out the full report for these.
In section B, which is scenario-based questions, students need to understand that the questions in the exam are designed to examine as much of the course as possible. Hedging your bets will not work.
The examiners also pointed out that candidates who failed to provide workings of any kind tended to perform worst in this exam. Analysis means exactly that. To pass, you have to take the scenario and provide appropriate well-laid out solutions. Try not to repeat yourself or make comments that are outside the scope of the question though.
It’s also worth noting that the questions students most struggled with were ones where you had to explain issues. This can be practiced, so please do practice! It’s an obvious area to work on, and one the examiners are looking closely at.
ACCA F8 Audit and Assurance
December 2017 pass rate 40%
The first thing the examining team highlight is the need to spend more time practising questions. Hopefully that sounds familiar by now – but looking at the pass rate some students are still ignoring that advice.
As with other papers, students should note that all the main areas of the syllabus are examined, so you won’t pass if you pick and choose.
In this report, the examiner talks you through a particular layout that is most applicable to audit – read this fully and take note! These tips are available for most papers: following them shows the examiners that you are listening.
A continuing trend that clearly contributes to the low pass rate here is – again – students not attempting all the questions. This might be thanks to time constraints or to lack of knowledge, but either way there’s no excuse now. Make sure you study the whole syllabus and attempt every question and you’re much more likely to pass.
ACCA F9 Financial Management
December 2017 pass rate 48%
The same themes are coming up again and again. For ACCA F9, as for the other fundamental papers, there’s no great secret to success. Students let themselves down because they hadn’t studied the entire syllabus: there’s no excuse for that.
If you’ve got F9 coming up it is worth reading this report, because the examining team walk you through all the major sections of the exam. But the major takeaway is simple: study the whole syllabus; don’t try to question spot; do attempt every question!
Hopefully that’s given you some food for thought, and you’re feeling better prepared for your next exams. Remember, if you’re a LearnSignal member you can get 24/7 tutor support if you’ve got any further questions.
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