What did your fellow ACCA sitters think of the March exams? Here’s some of what was discussed.
Performance Management (PM)
Students came out of the PM in shock: “I don’t know what happened, the mocks and practice questions did not reflect the true nature of the exam.”
Sitters said this was a hard, challenging exam, with many admitting they ran out of time. As one said: “I completely ran out of time and then panicked!”
Where were the questions on budgets, asked one sitter. It also seemed that some people had an all-numbers exam and others pretty much none.
PQs can be their own worst enemy though. A trainee admitted: “I read every ACCA technical article on the website, except the balance scorecard article… which now I regret.” Why would you not read all of them?
Some PQs were also forced to sit the exam at 6pm because there was a power cut at their centre, and they had to be redirected to a new venue. Due to personal reasons we know of at least one PQ who couldn’t stay.
Among the questions were: limiting factor, ABC, life cycle, value for money, and mix and yield. There was also learning curve, performance assessment, and rate variations.
Not surprisingly, 43% of sitters in the Open Tuition instant poll said this was a hard exam.
Some 17% said it was a ‘disaster’ and just 38% said it was OK.
Financial Reporting (FR)
Section A and B were described as ‘quite tricky’ and ‘difficult’. As one sitter explained: “In section A quite a few questions needed two-part answers, which made it hard.”
Section C was much more familiar, and PQs liked the pre-format as this saved them time.
There were more complaints about the small computer screens: “The computer screen was extremely small, and I struggled with the display view in section C questions especially – it was a big joke!”
In the Open Tuition instant poll just 11% said the exam was a disaster – that’s low! Some 47% said it was OK and 8% felt it was easy.
Financial Management (FM)
Sitters struggled with section A and B, and felt section C was ‘doable’.
There also seemed a lot of repetitive questions for some – with quite a few on factoring.
Another sitter felt like giving up after an hour in, but now knows they need to do more theory next time if they fail!
Sitters said they found this exam a bit tricky. One poor student tested positive on the day of the exam and was very poorly so couldn’t attend the exam: “Gutted after all that work”.
Several PQs are convinced things came up in section A that weren’t in the textbook.
Interestingly, many also felt the actual exam was ‘better than the mocks’.
One sitter said: “That’s possible the most relaxed I’ve ever been in an applied skills exam and I finished with 15 minutes to go, instead of my normal hurried typing in the last 5 minutes.”
In the Open Tuition instant poll some 58% of sitters said the exam was OK, with 25% finding it hard and 12% having a disaster.
Audit & Assurance (AA)
Sitters said the MCQs were ‘rather difficult’ and ‘very tough’. The words ‘horrible’ and ‘weird’ were also used to describe section A. What upset one sitter was the fact that it was “impossible to even take a good guess”. Others admitted spending too long on the MCQs. They were harder than the mocks.
Section B was felt to be more ‘standard’, and not too bad at all! “I found section B questions didn’t come way too much from the previous papers set by ACCA. Made it all much easier.”
Some PQs are also not liking the keyboard and mouse they are saddled with. “It’s genuinely the worst equipment I’ve ever used,” said one.
Another explained they had to spend so much time correcting typos.
In the Open Tuition instant poll nearly half (47.6%) felt the March exam was OK, some 30% said it was hard and 13.5% said it was a disaster.
Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
A whopping 63% of SBL March sitters thought the exam was OK, according to the Open tuition instant poll. One in four (26%) said the paper was hard, but just 5% said it was a disaster for them.
One sitter actually called it ‘a nice paper’ and others said it was ‘fine’.
Sitters found Q3 on investment tough, and some admitted they were overwhelmed by the information provided. More straightforward were the questions on risk and e-marketing.
A few students also have issues with screens freezing. One PQ explained: “My exam froze when there was 15 min left and I couldn’t do anything other than click on the chat button.
Someone called me via phone in the end, but it was frustrating not to know if everything got submitted and saved accordingly.” Another said: “Same here. Answering in last question, the system froze and no responses from anyone on chat.”
Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
The Open Tuition instant poll shows this was a disaster for a whopping 42% of sitters! Another 34% found it hard, and just 21% found the sitting OK.
As on sitter said: “That was terrible”. Another explained: “Well that was interesting! I found I had sooo much to type it became actually painful to my wrists.”
The comments kept coming. “That was horrendous, I don’t even know what to say,” said a sitter. Yet another just said their brain was fried.
Some felt it was just unfair and not comparable to any previous past paper. “Hardest exam I have ever sat I think.”
Advanced Performance Management (APM)
March sitters found APM difficult overall. PQs seemed to particularly struggle with the question on the building block model. Students just felt the question was strangely worded and it took them an age to work out what the examiner wanted.
As one sitter said: “Wasn’t quite what I expected”. Another said it was “a very tough exam”.
Among the questions were ones on big data, the political environment, balanced scorecard, transfer pricing, BCG matrix, and building block model.
The Open Tuition instant poll revealed 21% of sitters felt this paper was a disaster for them.
Another 33% found it hard.
Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
Not many sitters liked this one! Why, asked one PQ, does ACCA seem hellbent on throwing so many unnecessary curve balls into the exam?
They said just look at the pass mark for the exam – it hasn’t changed for years.
Another sitter felt it was too time-pressured and was just hoping the markers will take this into consideration. They said: “I thought I was sitting the wrong exam at one point!”
Yet another sitter said: “Nothing prepared me for a 20-marker on basis risk – absolutely nothing!”
An awful paper for many, but one student had picked up that ACCA are making the exams easier from September by adding 20 professional marks to all the option papers.
Yet more described the paper as “an absolute joke”, and “a horrible paper”.
In the Open Tuition instant poll 28% said the paper was a disaster and 35% said it was hard.
Just 34% found it OK.
Advanced Taxation (ATX)
There were mixed reactions to the March exam. Some thought it was OK while others said it was a disaster, as one student put it: “Everything I didn’t want to come up came up!”
Another third-time sitter wanted to know why the ACCA make questions unfairly difficult? “They should test us fairly rather than trying to catch us out.”
Meanwhile, a four-time sitter felt the March sitting was “by far the nicest paper I’ve had, but somehow still not feeling confident.” One sitter said: “I was pleasantly surprised it didn’t feel as brutal as it could have been!”
A PQ explained: “As expected, there were group issues, IHT, CGT, unincorporated businesses and a little bit of VAT. I also liked that there were some classic income tax calculations (namely benefits, redundancy payments, etc).”
ATX was a disaster for nearly one in four March sitters (23%), according to the Open Tuition Poll.
Another 35% found it hard and just 37% said it was OK.
Advanced Audit & Assurance (AAA)
Another time-pressured test for sitters. Some also felt the question requirements were “a bit oddly worded”.
As one sitter put it: “Overall, it was a tough exam, mainly because the industries were niche – textiles, theme parks and smart tech, there weren’t clear signposts for bits of the answers especially in section A, and there was a lot of content to think about. Section B was OK if you know a lot about intangibles, if not I think you struggle here. Confusing financial information too.”
The Q3 on due diligence was deemed ‘weird’ and one sitter admitted they “couldn’t make head or tail of it… by the time I got to grips with the requirement it was time for me to move on to the next question”.
One in three (32.4%) of sitters in the Open Tuition instant poll found March a hard test, with another 15.6% saying the sitting was a disaster for them.