“In order to fail, you will have to lose 50 marks. Do you realize how hard it is to make mistakes worth 50 marks?” – Ujjaal Shiwakoti Sir, Faculty for PM paper at Seed Financial Academy
Like every other exam, the ACCA exam is time-bound, and you will be tested on unseen questions from a fixed syllabus. So I think it is safe to say that passing ACCA exams are just as easy as any other exam you’ve given so far, entirely depending upon your level of preparation and understanding. Maybe, it depends even on the exam questions but remembers: ACCA WANTS ITS STUDENTS TO PASS, and has done everything possible on its end to ensure that the students do pass.
ACCA, being UK-based, certainly has a difference in teaching-learning-examining approach than what we have been familiar with up to our +2 level in Nepal. (Those from A-levels know a taste of it already.)
In ACCA, the pass marks are 50.
The Foundation and Skills level exams are computer based, and the Professional level is in the process of being upgraded to CBE too, so one has to know their way around using computers and especially spreadsheets.
Here, rot-learning won’t take you far; deep understanding and analytical ability is absolutely necessary.
There is no question bank from which literally ALL questions are adapted into the finals as in +2, i.e. there are no fixed questions, so NO chance of successful question spotting.
No marks are awarded for lengthy answers that is not exactly the question’s requirement; only the weight of the content matters NOT the volume.
But there are ways one can make the most of ACCA’s examining approach and crack the exams, let’s find out what.
PREPARATION IS THE KEY:
One has to have technical knowledge of the content as well as be prepared to tackle the exam.
For knowledge, the best way is to get yourself ACCA prescribed text-books and exam kits from an Approved Content Provider (Kaplan or BPP), take tuitions from the best tutors in town in Approved Learning Providers such as our Seed Financial Academy, explore the vast pool of resources ACCA has on its website (technical articles, past exam questions, examiner’s reports, prepare to pass guide) or even research on key matters from the internet.
For deeper understanding, one should know the “why” behind every step. One should know what the practical examples could be, and one should be able to link the topics in the same paper or from carried forward knowledge of other papers.
Question practice from past questions and exam kit is A MUST. (I cannot emphasize this enough!)
Follow up closely with the tutor’s pace, don’t leave any topic for last minute cramming. When the exam is one week away, you should be revising and revisiting topics about which you have already learnt in depth.
Practice solving long questions in the constructive response practice area of ACCA website, which is a simulation of actual exam’s answer-sheet screen. You must not solve on paper first then transfer it to the spreadsheet, you must be able to solve using the spreadsheet.
In the exam, depending on your confidence, plan whether you want to tackle the MCQs first or the constructive response question. Take a moment to plan the structure (of table or workings) before every answer.
Read the requirement of the question TWICE and plan an answer exactly to-the-point.
Poor time management during the exam is the major reason for failing. So practicing long questions under timer and taking the mock tests can help. Don’t get stuck in one question for too long. We have 1.8 minutes per mark. (3hrs/100marks= 3*60/100= 1.8 minutes per mark). Too long is more than 2 minutes for a mark, if you can’t solve it, flag it and move onto another question. Come back to it during review.
NEVER leave any question blank if you have time. Make a format or at least try. You may gain some marks from step marking.
EXPLOIT ACCA’S EXAMINING APPROACH
Every paper of Foundation and Skills module contain entirely or partly of MCQ style questions, with no negative marking. Many of those require direct application of knowledge and thus offer easy marks.
In the constructive response questions, ACCA does step marking, which means you will be awarded marks for correct steps even though your answer is not entirely correct. To identify easy marks, practice using the marking scheme at the end of every answer in kit.
Computer-Based Examinations (CBE) is a boon for the examinee. The answers can be well-structured and well-presented. Calculations become faster and more accurate using spreadsheet formulae. Flagging and navigation tools allow marking doubtful answers and going back to them at one click that makes reviewing answers easier.
ACCA offers 4 exam sittings in a year. Learning providers provide flexible sessions according to the exam sittings. You can choose to appear one paper in 3 months or two (or three if you dare) in 6 months.
Make sure you choose matching subjects. For example, PM and AA both with low global pass rates, is not a good combination for one sitting. Similarly, FR and FM exams are always on consecutive days, so make sure you are prepared enough that you can revise for FM. Also, ensure you are mentally prepared to handle the stress that may arise due to a bad FR exam, so that you don’t underperform in your FM exam on the next day.
Booking FR in the morning shift and FM in the evening shift of the next day will buy you some more crucial time to revise. This is especially useful to job holders and interns, who have little exam leave.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS: Passing ACCA exams is not that difficult if you put dedicated and smart efforts into preparation.
Asmita Thapa, Strategic Professional Level Student at Seed Financial Academy