[If you’re looking for analysis of the professional papers, read this article instead]

So. You’ve recently received your results, and you’re wondering how they stack up against everyone else. You’re in the right place.

But before we share the December 2017 pass rates for the fundamental papers, remember one really important thing: 

You’ve undertaken a huge challenge. Even if your results weren’t what you were hoping. Not every journey is plain sailing, and no journeys worth taking are plain sailing all the time.

Remember that while you’re reading, and don’t get disheartened by comparing yourself to others. There are some solid lessons we can learn from the pass rates this sitting; use this as an opportunity to travel onwards and upwards.

First, the stats.

ACCA December 17 pass rates

5,548 students worldwide completed their final exams this sitting, on their journey to becoming fully-qualified ACCA members. A huge congratulations, if that’s you!

Nearly 140,000 students entered this exam sitting overall, sitting over 190,000 papers for this session. Plus another ~55,000 on-demand exams taken during the last three months.

Let’s look at how many of those papers were a pass.

Fundamental Level Pass Rates, December 2017

Fundamentals Pass Rates December 2017

The first thing you’ll notice is the clear shift from F4 onwards. This reflects the  growing complexity of the ACCA exams building towards the professional level.

F8 and F5 were the lowest pass rates of the group, at 40% and 42% respectively. F1 and F4 were the highest, both on 77%.

Overall, 4 of the 9 saw pass rates under 50% – not ideal. If you’re one of the students who didn’t quite make the grade this time though, take heart. You’re certainly not the only one, and you’ll get there if you learn your lessons and stick with it. That’s what LearnSignal are here to help with!

How did this compare to previous years?

Fundamentals Pass Rates

A trend analysis of these papers over a number of sittings reveals some important points.

First, this sitting saw a relatively large decrease in the F1 pass rate, even though it’s still the highest overall. And second, F6, F7 and F8 all saw an increased pass rate this sitting – despite low overall pass rates.

Bear in mind, these pass rates don’t just reflect the difficulty and complexity of the papers involved but also failure to build up a strong study plan and exam technique. Particularly the early papers like F1, there’s no reason not to pass as long as you’ve put the time into your study.

ACCA pass rates

What the examiners say about December 2017

Let’s look at the prevailing thoughts from the examining teams for each paper this sitting, in their own words. Then scroll to the bottom for an analysis of these findings from LearnSignal’s Head of ACCA, Alan Lynch.

F1 – “Most candidates achieved a pass, so clearly the majority of those presenting themselves for the examination were able to use their knowledge productively. The syllabus is broad, so it is challenging to gather sufficient knowledge across all topics. The examination is prepared with this in mind, with the intention that a candidate investing a reasonable amount of time in preparation will have a good prospect of achieving success.”

F2 – “As always, excellent scores were achieved by some candidates. In section A the worst answered MCQ questions were calculation based. Calculation questions account for approximately 46% of section A questions, and as usual were answered worse than the narrative based MCQs. 7 out of the 10 worst answered section A questions were calculation based.”

F3 – “Candidates need to have a thorough understanding of the syllabus and know how to prepare the key financial statements in their correct format. Candidates also need to adopt a good examination technique to ensure they complete all the questions in the time available.”

F4 – “The present structure replicates division in the previous examination structure between essentially knowledge based questions and questions requiring, not merely knowledge, but analysis and application in addition.”

F5 – “Preparing for the F5 exam may appear daunting but there are many resources available to help you. There are many technical articles available on the topics in this report. In addition, all the past exams referred to are available for your use. You should refer to these throughout your studies. Please make sure that you visit the ACCA’s website and look at everything available to you.”

F6 – “It is essential to practise as many exam standard questions as you can in the lead up to your exam.”

F7 – “One of the keys to F7 is question practice, attempting questions and reviewing the answer to see any areas you may have missed. This is particularly relevant on the analysis questions. Often on this question candidates feel comfortable, but reviewing the answers can show the depth of discussion that is being sought here.”

F8 – “In order to pass this examination, candidates should ensure they devote adequate time to obtain the required level of knowledge and application. Candidates who do not spend sufficient time practicing questions are unlikely to be successful as the written questions in particular aim to test candidate’s application skills.”

F9 – “Overall, candidates were well prepared in some areas of the syllabus, in particular those that have featured regularly such as calculating a WACC, but less well prepared in others. Furthermore, candidates continue to be well prepared in techniques requiring calculation, but less well-prepared in section C requirements for a discussion of knowledge and an explanation of terms and concepts.”

Most important takeaways from this session

ACCA exams pass rates

Alan Lynch, LearnSignal’s Head of ACCA, summarises these points so you can prepare better for future exams:

“As always practice, practice, practice is the key mantra for ACCA exams. This is especially true of some of the calculation questions as practice will also reduce the time you need to spend on a question. Some of the syllabi are very large but it is imperative that you cover as much of the content as possible.

As well as practice you can’t underestimate the benefit of a good exam technique. If you can master this early on in the process you will reap the rewards all the way to the end of your professional exams.”


So there you have it. The December 2017 fundamentals’ results, unpicked. Hopefully you’ve found this helpful to understand more about your own results, and how you can be successful during the next round of exams.

Remember, we hold regular live Q&A sessions with Alan Lynch via our Facebook page so if you’ve got any questions that weren’t answered here you can get an answer live. Just send us an email at alan@learnsignal.com or directly through Facebook and we’ll address your questions in an upcoming session.

If you’re not a member of LearnSignal yet, get your free trial here.