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Preparation is the key to success for CBEs

Andrew Mower offers five top tips on how you can get through the CBEs

May 2018

March 2018 was the first ACCA exam sitting where all ACCA F5-F9 papers sat in the UK were via computer-based exams (CBE). Those who had sat F1-F4 in the CBE format were familiar with the shorter ‘objective test’ (OT) question styles.
However, the F5-F9 papers also included the longer ‘constructed response’ questions, with a word-processing box and a spreadsheet to answer in. While the syllabus remained broadly unchanged for each paper, some students in March struggled with the adjustment to the new exam format as they didn’t invest enough time practising using the software well ahead of the exam. My tips should help you to get ready for your CBEs in June.
The format of the exam may have changed, but the same basic exam techniques always apply.
Just keep going
If you can’t find a number early on in a calculation, don’t stop the whole question – just make a number up and carry on. You will still get plenty of method marks.
Manage your time carefully
Don’t allow yourself to spend too long on one question. It is a good idea to write down the timings for each question or section if this helps.
Make it easy for the marker
Clearly label which question you are attempting, and leave spaces between paragraphs in your long written answers.
As well as good general exam technique, it is important that you are prepared for the new format of exam questions. Here are five top tutor tips relating to the ACCA CBEs:
1. Get familiar with the software: Within the longer ‘constructed response’ questions in section C, calculations must be entered into a spreadsheet. Theory questions require answers to be entered into a text box. The functionality of the spreadsheet is slightly different from traditional spreadsheet software programs such as Microsoft Excel. Ensure you have practiced using the constructed response software, and complete the specimen exams, which are available at www.accaglobal.com.
2. Keep your workings clear: Markers can see formulae that you’ve entered into a cell, but you should still label the calculation you’re doing and clearly display workings.
3. ‘Actively read’ the questions: In the constructed response questions in the actual exam (but not the specimen papers), you will have the ability to highlight parts of the requirement, and also strike through any parts that you’ve dealt with. Use this functionality to your advantage.
4) Attempt the easy questions first: As you work through the OT questions, you will notice that some will take longer than others. Attempt the easy questions first. If you see a question that is difficult or time consuming, leave it or flag it for review and then come back to it later. Also apply the same technique to the constructed response questions – attempt the easiest parts of the questions first, and leave the harder sections for later.
5. Be aware of the 10 ‘seeded marks’: The F5-F9 exams will be three hours 20 minutes long, during which time you will have to complete 110 marks. For quality assurance purposes, 10 marks of these will not contribute towards your result. These extra questions will be in section A or B, but you won’t know which marks will be taken out.
Overall, these changes should make it easier for you to score well. It is, however, still important to do the ACCA specimen exams and get used to the style before you sit your first CBE.
• Andrew Mower is a tutor at Kaplan. He is PQ’s current Lecturer of the Year

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