Find out how ACCA exams are marked, who’s involved, how the ACCA safeguard against mistakes, and what to do if you think your exam result needs checking.
- How are ACCA exams marked?
- How many markers are involved in marking my ACCA exam paper?
- How likely are exam marking mistakes?
- Can I appeal my ACCA exam mark?
This is part of our ACCA FAQs series, where we answer the questions hundreds of you have asked us. Learnsignal also run regular webinars addressing your questions live and often refer to your frequently asked questions on our popular podcast show – Forget the Numbers: The Student Accounting Show.
You can submit your own questions here.
How are ACCA exams written?
Your ACCA exam paper is written by an examining team, made up of the Examiner, the Assessor, the Subject Coordinator and the Exam Sitter. The Examiner writes the first draft:
- Covering as much of the syllabus as possible
- Ensuring questions are accurate and well phrased
- Inserting red herring answers based on common student mistakes
Then the Examiner passes the exam paper to the Assessor. The Assessor checks:
- The exam questions are relevant
- The paper is fair and balanced
- The suggested answers and mark scheme is suitable
Then the Assessor passes the exam paper to the Subject Coordinator, who checks:
- The exam correlates to the standards required at that level of exam
- The exam is consistent with previous exam sessions
- The exam doesn’t overlap too heavily with past papers
Then finally, the Exam Sitter sits the exam paper themselves:
- To confirm the paper can be completed in the time available
- To highlight any problem areas that need adapting
Throughout this entire process, the examining team work alongside a full-time team of Education Advisors who further ensure quality control and provide consistency throughout the process.
As you can see, an awful lot of thought goes into creating these papers, from a group of educated, knowledgeable professionals. That’s what you get, when you walk into that exam hall.
But what’s next, when you close your paper and leave the exam hall?
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How are ACCA exams marked?
The on-demand CBE exams are marked automatically by the computer and you get your mark immediately. There is no room for error here as questions are either right or wrong and the computer can tell immediately.
For all other papers, the examiner for each ACCA exam coordinates a team of qualified exam markers, who are responsible for marking exam papers for that exam. The ACCA marking process follows three main stages:
- Before marking starts: Once the final exam for that paper ends, all the markers have a meeting to discuss any potential issues on the paper and establish a clear, consistent mark scheme that all markers will follow. This makes the process objective and consistent.
- During marking: The examining team moderate the marking process, checking all markers are following the marking scheme correctly and consistently. There are nine independent checks during the marking process to ensure the exam markers are correct. The markers use marking software after scanning your paper online, to check they haven’t missed any questions, added incorrectly or made any other administrative errors.
- After marking: The marking team double-check any borderline scripts from 47 to 53, to check no mistakes have been made that would make the difference between a pass and a fail. Any discrepancies are investigated thoroughly and resolved. Your exam results are added to your student record and your entry options for next session created; then the ACCA conducts several further checks to ensure results are accurate before they are officially released.
A couple of questions students always ask us about how ACCA exams are marked are:
Do ACCA examiners know who I am?
No, the marking team only see your script. They don’t see your name or any other identifying details, to avoid unconscious bias or prejudice. When they mark your ACCA exam paper, that’s all they can see.
Do ACCA examiners have a target pass mark?
No, the examining team don’t set a target percentage of successful candidates. The ACCA want as many students as possible to pass – it’s in their very best interests. Your exam paper isn’t marked on a scale next to anyone else.
How many ACCA papers does each examiner mark?
This depends on the size of the examining team and the level of paper. However, there is a whole team of qualified exam markers and no one exam marker gets more than 400 papers, to avoid undue pressure leading to unnecessary mistakes.
What should be clear by this point is how much work the ACCA put into marking exam papers correctly. They have many, many checks and a strict process to ensure marking is clear, consistent and fair.
However… mistakes can still occasionally slip through. If you think that’s you, you can apply for administrative review, which is where you have your ACCA exam marks rechecked.
So, now you know.
ACCA exam papers are marked in accordance with a strict process and series of protocols and checks, so mistakes are very unlikely.
A whole team of expert examiners are involved in marking your ACCA exams, and they take professional pride in doing a good job. And they take professional pride in you doing a good job too.
Contrary to what many students think, the ACCA want as many students as possible to pass; the examining team will be absolutely thrilled if the pass rate is high. And they approach the exam papers with that attitude, hoping students have listened to all the advice, read the examiners reports, practised the questions – so the examining team have the satisfaction of awarding a pass.
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