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10 September 2018

ACCA 2018 September exam feedback. What sitters said...

Time management was a problem for some, with several sitters admitting to leaving the last question blank! It was even suggested (tongue-in-cheek) that time management should be a topic in PM! Those who got the building block question in section C found that a tricky test. “I didn’t type a lot,” admitted one sitter. It didn’t help those leaving the exam room to discover that others got ratio analysis and variances. Question envy will be a key emotion post exam with the CBEs. The MCQs were a lot better than last time, suggested one Open Tuition student. For many this exam could go ‘either way’.

It was all quite on the Taxation paper front this September, it seems. Most sitters felt it was ‘OK’, ‘doable’, and then ‘wasn’t bad’. One sitter said: “IHT, CGT and CT seemed to be the flavour of the day.” Even section C was deemed easy! Let’s hope this all translates into a good pass rate.

Overall not easy but OK, is how many sitters described this one.
Some PQs felt it might have helped to have a bit more information about what the examiner wants. Another ‘compliant’ was the fact that the ACCA exam spreadsheets don’t work like a normal Excel spreadsheet. “It would make our lives so much easier,” said one trainee.

If you are sitting CBE exams then you will need ear plugs, is the big piece of advice coming out of the September sitting. If students go straight onto section B then their keyboard tapping is really distracting those going through the MCQs. Those ear plugs might also help you avoid noisy fans and chattering invigilators, which both came in for some stick on the Open Tuition notice board. Also one guy who went to the toilet and came back to find his exam was gone! When it came to the actual exams sitters felt the MCQs were pretty easy. However, one PQ said they didn’t expect an analytical procedures question in this exam. But it was the deficiencies of cash collection process that many admitted struggling with.

Many sitters admit to finding this one ‘pretty horrible’. The MCQs were deemed hard and section B ‘not much better’. The long questions covered areas such as lease v buy, EAC, CAPM, business analysis, hedging, sensitivity analysis, EOQ model. Voting on Open Tuition shows two in three sitters found this one either ‘hard’ or a ‘disaster’.

The first-ever SBL exam was all about a road construction company. Many students were worried that they placed too much store in the specimen papers, and one student even suggested it felt more like sitting an audit paper. The question centred-in on strategy, financial and non-financial issues, ethics, control, project management, risk committees and big data. The PID question definitely made it uncomfortable for many sitters.
But, it wasn’t all negative comments. Some thought it was just hard because it was the first one. Another PQ told us it was “not a bad paper”.

Many PQs admitted they weren’t expecting a cashflow in Q4, and what a cashflow it was! There was also a lot of focus on current issues, such as integrated reporting, APM’s and the conceptual framework. Based on the Open Tuition poll it looks like this paper was a bit of a disaster for many sitters – some 43.36%, in fact. Another 35.25% called it ‘hard”. Only the September Advanced Taxation had a worse poll rating. That said, one PQ felt it was a nicer paper than P2. Students did complain about how much they had to write – “felt like my hand was going to fall off by the end…”

AFM sitters liked this test even less than those sitting FM! Many wondered why the examiner had included the formula sheets this time around, as they were hardly needed. It was also felt to be a tougher exam than June, by those who have sat both.
All-round it was just felt to be ‘a bit strange’, with some students saying they left the exam room feeling cheated. They asked where the option pricing, APV, CAPM, WACC, or gearing questions were? They were no-where to be found. Instead September sitters got currency forwards futures and options (in Yen’s), ratios and trends, and equity value of combined companies. The ratio question was a particular surprise, with some PQs saying it was more a P3 question.
Q1 was again a struggle for many and definitely the hardest question on the paper – but we expected that!

Was felt to be a tough but fair exam, although very timed pressured with some confusing wording thrown into the pot. Q1 was on the balanced score card and KPIs, Q2 on corporate failure and Q3 BPR. There is a worry that some PQs are making past papers fit the September test, but both Q2 and Q3-type questions have appeared before.

In complete contrast to the TX exam, the ATX test flummoxed many. Words such as ‘quite hard’, ‘’very tough’, and ‘absolutely horrible’ were all used. The problem seems the examiner chose what students felt were more obscure, niche, parts of the syllabus. “I wanted more IHT and employment income,” explained one sitter. The sale of a company at a loss threw many. That all said many still felt it was better than the June exam!

Many ACCA students sitting the AAA paper on the first day of the exams left the hall feeling ‘miserable’ and ‘gutted’. Quite a few admitted to being thrown by the sheer volume of work needed in Q1. One PQ said they spent 2 hours and 15 minutes on it. They weren’t alone! The problem is that by the time they got to the other two questions they felt drained and exhausted. One sitter went as far as calling Q1 “a bit evil”. The worry is that time is such a problem that exam technique goes out of the window, and it becomes just a scramble to survive, said another sitter. As one PQ explained: “The exam is so frinkin long. OMG.” Students are also wondering if the examiner knows it’s not a four-hour exam! It was even claimed the examiner couldn’t finish the paper in the allotted 3 hours and 15 minutes. A student who tweeted PQ said this exam had ‘taken time pressure to a new level’.

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