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The examiners’ workshops: F5

Our editor reports directly from the ACCA Global Learning Providers’ Conference

August 2017

F5 Performance Management:
Exam structure
Section A – 15 objective test questions (OT) worth two marks each. There was a debate over different marks of three and one, but it was finally agreed on two marks per OT.
Section B – Three OT case questions of 10 marks comprising of five x two mark OT questions.
Section C – Two questions worth 20 marks each (expert marked).
Section A
The examiner stressed that students can’t hide from any of this ‘large’ syllabus. She explained that the paper exam will all be MCQs. The CBE will use MCQs, but also a mix of other question types: for example, point and click, multiple correct option, fill in the blank, matching and pull-down lists.
Section B
Each OT case will cover a topic from one main area of the syllabus, although it may bring in small parts from another area of the syllabus too. That said, the examiner emphasised that individual questions within the OT case will be independent.
Section C
This is the only expertly marked part of the exam. The questions will come from syllabus areas B, C or D. There will be no more than one from each syllabus area.
Answering section C questions in the CBE will require using basic spreadsheet skills. Candidates will have to copy, paste and be able to perform simple formatting. There will also be simple formulae with multiply and divide needed. The examiner stressed here that although markers can see the formulae behind the cells answers still need to be clear. She felt the CBEs encourage neater layout to answers, and said candidates can expect that some narrative might be required – namely, a conclusion at the end of the calculations.
When it comes to using word processing in the CBE for this section students were told they can use headings from their plan, and some of their bullet points, as the structure of their answer. So far marking has shown that students’ answers for CBE questions on the word processing tool are better than on paper. The examiner believes this is because students tend to be more succinct. There also seems to be less of a problem with students not answering the question set.
The examiner reminded PQs that answers to performance management questions need to be more than just ‘this target has been met’ – I need to know why, she said. “Ask yourself why you have calculated that ratio!”
Students continue to perform poorly at the variance analysis questions. The examiner understands there were several different approaches and said her markers gave credit to the two main ways it can be done.

F5 in the future
The examiner revealed that students will be expected to analyse information using spreadsheets. Candidates will need to show their understanding and give constructive advice. Finally, she stressed the exam was reflective of the real world in which systems calculate a lot of the numbers and the accountant acts in more an advisory capacity.
Going forward, students will not be asked to draw graphs. They might, however, be asked to solve one, or read from a graph.
During the Q&A session with tutors the examiner said students should not underestimate the rigours of the CBE.

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