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The examiners’ workshops: F8

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

August 2017

Exam structure
Section A – three objective test (OT) case scenarios, each 5 x 2 mark OTs.
Section B – one x 30 marks and two x 20-mark questions. This section will mainly feature syllabus areas B, C and D. Sections A & E will appear though, said the examiner.

Pass rates
March 2017 – 38%; December 2016 – 40%; September 2016 – 44%. These are for both the CBE and PBE exams. Some 70% of the exam is expert marked.
Section A
The examiner explained that most students are attempting all the OTs. Performance is variable, however, depending on the subject area. The real worry is the lack of syllabus knowledge seen in many scripts. As a general rule there will be two knowledge and three application OTs. The examiner admitted that some of the OTs are challenging, so PQs must spend time practising these types of questions. Students perform better on ethics and corporate governance. But audit evidence and reporting results questions are ‘more disappointing’. The problem is students seem to learn the list but don’t know how to apply them. The examiner stressed that PQs should not rush their answers. She also wants you to be up-to-date with the IASs.
Section B
Ethics is a popular area with students. Although many can pick out the facts from the scenario, the examiner feels candidates don’t seem to be able to flag up the threats.
Audit risk & responses is a core area and PQs need to be practising this one extensively. A key here is to remember the examiner wants the auditor’s response, not the management’s response.
Internal controls can also be an area where students struggle, particularly when it comes to coming up with objectives. It seems students can name deficiencies but aren’t good with the strengths. Applied substantive procedures has been around in F8 since 2012.
The examiner revealed that there have been complaints from markers about the amount of spelling mistakes in CBE scripts, but at least they can read them. She also admitted that the March paper results did seem poorer at 38%, but was hoping this was just a glitch. Her worry is that with four sittings a year students are rushing to sit the next sitting without doing enough work or understanding where they went wrong the previous time.

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