The examiner’s report is probably the most valuable piece of reading that you will do for your exam; it is a goldmine of advice about what good candidates did and what poor candidates did and didn’t do.

As the examiner says himself:

“Don’t just read the Examiner’s report and file it away. Internalise it and emulate the approaches, techniques and good practice it suggests.”

Here are the 4 Basic Mistakes, Insights From The Examiners Report:

Let’s start with the low hanging fruit, these are ideas that the examiner highlights that don’t relate to the examinable syllabus. Of course, it is true that if you haven’t done any study, then these points won’t save you.  But if you have studied they will help you get the best value out of what you know.

So let’s start by looking at what the examiner thinks people did wrong in this paper specifically.

Poor time management

This is a really messy one.  It is not easy to manage your time in the exam, especially if you think that you can just spend a little more time and get the marks. Think of the 80:20 rule, you will get 80% of your mark from the first 20% that you write, so spending the extra time on a question when you should have moved on will not gain you the marks you think it will.  Leave space and come back later if you have time.

Not writing in report format, and so not gaining the available professional mark

This one is a no brainer.  Really, people are still doing this?  There are 4 marks for format, that is 4% of the exam, so if you get 47% in your exam, the deciding factor of you having to resit the exam and waiting another few months to qualify could be down to you writing a title, the date, who the report is to, and some headings at the start of each paragraph of the answer.

Not using the reading time properly

The examiner recommends using this time to plan Question 1 and choose your 2 optional questions you are going to do.  Honestly, I don’t know what else people could be doing with this time, since you are not allowed write in the answer booklet.  It seems like a redundant point.

Writing answers in bullet-point

Since the answers are meant to be a discussion of a topic, they should be written in paragraphs.  You can’t develop and explain an idea properly in bullet-point format.  This is a mistake no-one should make.  If you look at all the past papers for P4, all the answers are in paragraph format. You get points for the discursive element of your answer, not for just an information dump on the page.

Apply this knowledge to your exam and you are increasing your chance of passing!

Have you been reading the examiners report as part of your preparation for an exam? Do you feel it is an important area of your ACCA exam to have a grasp of?

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