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ACCA September exam feedback

What the examiners thought of the September exams – and what students thought, too

F5 Performance Management
Students said: Some tough MCQs this time around. Students felt they were more theoretical. Several PQs were disappointed that there was no demand equation or ABC questions. Overall, candidates seemed to feel the September test was better than June’s, but then that would not have been hard!
The examiner said: Section B contained 15 of the new-style OT cases. The scenarios are longer, with five questions per scenario. This means the questions are more likely to focus on one or two syllabus areas. The three main topics in section B were risk, budgeting and target costing. Students performed well in the risk and target costing questions. The budgeting questions were themed around flexing budgets, adjusting the original budget to actual activity level. The examiner stressed variance analysis is a key syllabus area, as is a knowledge of the basics of management accounting (covered in F2).

F6 Taxation (UK)
Students said: A weird paper, very different from the past papers, said one sitter. Another described it simply as “interesting”. Students seemed particularly unhappy with the MCQs, which one PQ said were “very very very tricky!”
The examiner said: Q16-20 case covered IHT. The taxpayer had died having made a chargeable lifetime transfer within seven years of death. The nil rate band of the taxpayer’s deceased spouse was not fully used.
Q21-25 looked at CGT. The taxpayer here was the controlling shareholder in an unquoted trading company, with both the taxpayer and the company making disposals of assets.
Q26-30 covered VAT with the taxpayer commencing trading and registering for VAT.
Q31 asked candidates to look at directors’ remuneration, tax and NIC.
Q32 was the income tax question, looking at a taxpayer who was employed and became self-employed.
Q33 involved two unrelated companies and was the corporation tax question. The first company had ceased trading and the second had six months of trading.

F7 Financial reporting
Students said: It was a tough one for many. This exam was, according to one PQ, all about performance and ratios, with nothing on gearing. The big debate was about which was the harder, Q31 or Q32. Our feedback is definitely Q31.
The examiner said: The examiner was happy with the performance in sections A and B, but section C was “a little disappointing”. The exam team believes this might be two-fold. Firstly, students are not giving sufficient time to section C. Secondly, they also believe students could have been thrown by the combination of interpretation and consolidation issues into one question (Q32). This is the first time this has happened, although the exam team believes the information given and the structure of the question should have allowed candidates to work a reasonable answer.

F8 Audit & Assurance
Students said: The ACCA has been accused by September’s F8 sitters of getting its question numbers wrong! There appears to have been a bit of confusion over what students needed to write down in their exam booklets. Q16, Q17 and Q18 becoming Q1, Q2 and Q3 respectively. Some students felt that invigilators wasted valuable time explaining the changes and it was all very unprofessional. However, on one noticeboard a PQ felt if students were distracted by such a minor problem they were just using it as an excuse. He said: “If I got distracted that easy I would be distracted every time someone asked for extra paper or went to the bathroom.” He felt students need to learn to ‘zone out’.
The examiner said: Candidates’ performance was mixed for Q16, which covered the areas of internal controls, documenting systems, fraud and audit procedures for revenue.
Q17 looked at the area of audit evidence and going concern. Again, performance across this question was disappointing in September.
Q18 covered audit planning, audit risks and responses and quality control.

F9 Financial Management
Students said: MCQs were generally OK, but some found them confusing and ambiguous. But that is the point! Students didn’t like the nominal interest rates and inflation rates questions.
The examiner said: Candidates need to be more precise in presenting answers particularly to numerical questions in section C, says the examiner. All workings should be shown in this section and should be presented with the same neatness of presentation as the main schedule of figures.
Some candidates are still trying to answer the question they think is there, rather than the one that actually is there! For example, when asked to critically discuss an issue it is important to do more than simply list the methods relevant to that issue. A discussion, which may include examining the positive and negative aspects of the method, is what is needed here.

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