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

We started our article on the fundamental pass rates with a reminder, so let’s do the same now.

Even if you didn’t get the results you wanted, don’t panic. You’ve chosen a tough path, and it won’t always be straightforward or without challenges. 

That’s what makes ACCA qualification so worthwhile – it’s a challenge, and it proves you have what it takes to build a fantastic career in accounting.

That said, passing the ACCA is definitely not outside your grasp – as the 5,548 students who completed their final exams this session prove. A huge congratulations to those students – and a reminder that the end is in sight!


Total ACCA exams completed December 2017

To reach that finishing line though, you need to learn from your successes and your mistakes, so you can keep growing.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the pass rates for each of the professional level papers.


Professional Level Pass Rates, December 2017


ACCA professional level pass rates December 2017

The first thing you’ll notice, if you’re familiar with the fundamental level pass rates, is the big drop from fundamentals to professional level.

Students often have a tendency to underestimate the leap from fundamentals to professional level, and exemptions may have meant you’re not as familiar as you should be with important basics.

You’ll also notice a second big drop, from the three Essentials papers to the Options papers. It’s never been more important to make the right choice with your options when the overall pass rates range from 29-36%.


Read our recent article, Which order should I do my professional exams in?, to help decide which options you should choose.


Do remember, you can now sit these papers in any order so choose wisely both in order and content.

Just because you like a subject or were successful in a similar topic in your fundamentals papers doesn’t guarantee success. You’ll need to weigh up lots of different factors, which we discuss in that article.


Options pass rates are low

Here’s how the December 2017 Professional pass rates compares to previous sessions:
ACCA professional pass rates


What the examiners say about December 2017


We’ve selected the most important quotes from the examining teams, talking about each of these papers. Then head to the end of this piece for an analysis of these findings from LearnSignal’s Head of ACCA, Alan Lynch.


P1 – “Once again the overall performance of candidates in this paper was good and it provided the opportunity for the well prepared candidate to score well. Future candidates are also advised to make full use of all the resources freely available to them… the published accounts for most public limited companies are freely available on the web.

Time is well spent reading through the corporate governance sections to get a feel of the type of information presented as well as the tone and style… candidates should make full use of the technical articles and study support videos.”


P2 – “It is extremely important for candidates to read the requirements of the question and not just simply answer the question that they wish to answer. Candidates will not obtain a pass mark on a question by setting out purely what is stated in a standard or without its application to the scenario.

The current issues element of the syllabus does not simply relate to examinable exposure drafts or discussion papers but also to current debate in the accountancy press. Hence, there is a need to read more widely than just the tutor manuals.”


P3 – “Candidates were better at applying a model than explaining more theoretical points.

Time management seemed to be relatively good although some candidates put themselves under pressure by over-answering question 1. Failure to complete the examination appeared to be due to lack of knowledge rather than lack of time.”


P4 – “At this advanced stage, candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to read and quickly digest comprehensive and detailed questions, apply relevant knowledge and skills, and exercise professional judgement expected of a senior financial adviser, in recommending or making financial management decisions that are likely to affect the entire business organisation.”


Mistakes on ACCA professional papers

P5 – “Building upon that knowledge, candidates need to be aware that performance management is an area which, at an advanced level, is dependent upon situation and environment – as exemplified by the need throughout the examination to relate or illustrate points by using the information relating to the business in the question scenario. A good, professional-level answer will go beyond the mere repetition of how a technique works and focus on relating it to the entity’s specific environment.“


P6 – “Those candidates who did not perform well did not have sufficient precise knowledge of the subject and/or did not spend sufficient time carefully reading the question and thinking before they started writing. This meant that they did not include sufficient relevant points and/or they wasted time providing information that had not been asked for.”


P7 – “This examination did not appear to be particularly time pressured with most candidates completing all the requirements. Overall candidates appeared to have correctly interpreted the majority of requirements although there was some evidence of candidates treating a given area as a repeat of a previous exam question and giving rote learnt answers on that topic rather than answering the requirement as set. This is particularly noticeable on group audit risks and other assurance assignments.”


Most important takeaways from this session


Fundamentals to professional papers is a big step

Here’s what LearnSignal’s Head of ACCA, Alan Lynch, has to say.


“Continuing on from the fundamental papers, practice of previous exam papers and exam technique cannot be overstated. However, there is a sea change in the professional papers that hopefully comes across in the comments from the examining team.

The biggest difference is the need to go beyond rote learning. Rote answers may have scraped by in the fundamental papers, but not here. Students must now carefully understand the specific scenario or situation provided and apply answers the deal with question asked.

Writing down everything you know about a specific topic will not lead to a good mark and will only waste your precious exam time in the process”




That’s all from us, for now. Hopefully this article has helped you understand more about your results, and what you can do to earn success next time around.

Remember, we hold regular live Q&A sessions with Alan Lynch via our Facebook page so if you’ve got any more questions you can get an answer live. Just send us an email at alan@learnsignal.com or directly through Facebook and we’ll answer your questions in an upcoming session.

Or if you’re not already a LearnSignal member, click here to get your free trial.