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12 March 2018

Here’s your paper-by-paper guide to the March sitting

This one was deemed a hard paper, with very detailed questions in both section A&B. One student claimed the March CBE format was x10 harder than the paper-based December exam - that’s quite a lot harder then! However, many agreed that the F5 CBE is harder, and much harder than any practice OT question bank.
Students were ‘disappointed’ that is was so tough. Some PQs also felt F5 was too big a jump from F4. There are also stories of frozen screens and of sitters having to change stations, which only added to the pressure of it all. There also appears to have been problems quite a few venues. A PQ sitting at Kensington & Chelsea College in London claimed that students started playing drums and bass on the floor above their heads during the exam. “The discussion questions were really impossible to think through because of the noise.” Another students said they were forced to wait 40 minutes in front of their computer screen before they were able to start the exam. Then there were the students who went to three rooms before they were sat at their computers. Oh, and there was a busker outside the Newcastle exam centre too. ACCA earplugs for all!

‘Moderately OK’, with some ‘tricky’ and ‘rather hard’ MCQs, is the general feedback to date. The lack of a question on basis periods and partnerships surprised some. But, students sit different papers, so other students got a basis period MCQ!. One PQ reiterated the point that you definitely can’t pass this paper if you haven’t covered the WHOLE syllabus.

CBE sitters have finally begun to realise that they no longer sit the same exams! Having an easy online discussion does become more problematic. You are always searching for someone who had the same ‘experience’ as you. Overall the verdict was this was a toughie. There was also a worry from the paper-based student that taking CBE exams might make the paper harder. Another student reassured them that the answer to that question is ‘no’. In fact the CBE sitter said the exams was easier and liked the questions always being there on the left hand side of the screen. They also loved the spreadsheet application and using cells mean making changes was also easier. Some PQs said they were taken aback when they saw the disposal of a subsidiary with group accounts question. They were sure their ‘approved’ texts said a 20-mark question like this wouldn’t appear!

Sitters really loved this one! It was described as ‘easy’ and even ‘great’. Many students also admitted they had finished the exam with lots of time over, a rarity indeed. For some sitting the CBE exams it wasn’t so straightforward, and we heard from few students whose computer screens froze. “I had to be moved to another room,” explained one.
One student’s on Open Tuition’s noticeboard summed up what many thought: “Great exam, finished with one hour to spare – no surprises, everything was asked as expected.”

Those who got it were surprised with the joint probabilities question. “I was not expecting that!” said one sitter. A real ‘shocked” said another. Overall it was felt section A & B was fine, but section C was much tougher. And a lot tougher than the test in December 2017! The Islamic finance question in section C was deemed ‘tricky’ by some too.

A fair paper, but you needed to use all your time management skills again. Risk was a big part of the March test. One student said six of the technical articles got tested this time around, so it really does pay off to read these, obviously. That’s the ones on transactional cost theory, CER ethical dilemmas, the AAA model, risk (dynamic, assessment, purpose of risk committee), and independence & NEDs. “Thank God I read them just before the exam,” they stressed.
Another student said they had a giggle to themselves (not something that happens a lot in P1 exams) when they realised Q4 was all about Brexit. The UK was called LaLand, which suggested to this sitter that the examiner wanted to call it LalaLand!

A ‘dry’ part B, and pretty tough exam all-round, was the general consensus. “I have never seen a section B like this ever before…!!!”, said one student on Open Tuition . For this sitters section B was a disaster. Students wondered how there could be two exchange rates in the same country. “Where is this country?” one asked. Students feel the examiner tested almost all the standards. That said there seemed a lot in the exam about IFRS5 and not so much about IFRS 9. One student put it: “P2 was a disaster!” Another said they were just ‘very disappointed”.

The worry from some sitters here was the fact that the paper seemed to concentrate on just a small part of the syllabus. Another student was worried that not a thing predicted came up! That said it has felt to be a ‘fair paper’, if a bit long. Q1 was hard too.

A fair P4 paper this time around, said one sitter. Time management the only ‘issues’. Students admitted to wasting their own time going down blind alleys. As another PQ said; “Bad time planning again, I can’t used to the strict time allocation and this was my third attempt”. It meant many didn’t complete the whole exam, which makes it so much harder to pass. Candidates loved Q4 though.

Students asked the examiner for more time again. However, some admitted that this might be because they spent too long on Q1! “It’s the bloody time pressure,” said a sitter. There is just too much to read, they explained. Some questions were also deemed ‘very vague’. One hapless student said: “The likelihood is most of us will have failed.” But then that is often the case. What upset another PQ was the fact that they were good at performance management at university, but “this paper sucks”.

‘OK’ is the general line from those leaving the P6 exam. As one Open Tuition student said: “There were a few tricky parts, as you would expect, however overall there was a good range of questions and nothing horrible.” But they were “wreck mentally after that”. We also loved the other comment on OT noticeboard from another student who said: “I feel sizzled after that!”

We loved the fact that one PQ said this was “not an evil paper”. That still didn’t mean many didn’t suffer from the time pressures, that is so evident in many comments. Most sitters felt the exam itself was OK, it is just the time pressure they can’t cope with. As one PQ put it: “I can’t write any faster”. Another explained: “The time pressure will cost me dear.” Again candidates admitted they forgot basic exam technique and spent too long on trying to get the right answer to Q1. One sitter admitted to having only 1 hour 20 minutes to answer three questions!

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