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ACCA F1 Examiners' Guide


At Fundamentals level you need to demonstrate a good understanding of the main areas of financial and management accounting. To do this you must demonstrate to the examiner that you have mastered the technical skills of accountancy.


This guide summarises the key issues that examiners have highlighted in recent reports. In particular, it identifies the areas where students have performed poorly and where future students need to give more focus. We strongly recommend that you take heed of this information as it comes from the people who will decide whether you pass or fail!


Guide to the Examiners' Guide


1.   Avoid guessing when possible!


Examiners commented in recent reports that a number of students appeared to be guessing answers. Try to avoid this, as a process of logic and reasoning can often guide you to the answer even if it’s not immediately apparent. However, be aware of ‘distractors’ in Objective Test exams! These are answers that are incorrect but can often fool students as they are in some way related to the question.

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Here are some quotes from the examiners:


“A minority of submissions suggested that some answers were pure guesswork, and this is supported by the fact that some candidates chose option D for questions where there was no such option. For example, single mark questions can only have A, B or C as a correct answer.” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - December 2015


“It is better to attempt questions on the basis of logic and reasoning than to rely on guesses or even sequences. For example, it is clear that some candidates used the latter based on repeated use of consecutive ‘A. B. C, D’ choices. In a minority of cases, some chose distractor D when there were only three choices available (A, B and C).” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report – June 2015


“Even if the candidate is not certain of the correct answer, by reading and considering the choices carefully it is often possible to eliminate some of them, enabling an informed decision to be made. Questions should not be left unanswered." - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report – June 2015


A tip for students is to try to generate your own answer before looking at the alternatives available. This will help you not to rely on guesswork, and is the best way to avoid the dangers of distractors! If you are unsure, then a process of elimination should help you to narrow down the choice to the most likely answers. Sometimes you may wish to do a negative check on some of the answers in order to rule them out. This is a useful technique to confirm your initial answer is correct or otherwise. Whatever you do though, never rely on guessing or sequences – it just doesn’t work!


Remember, there are no trick questions in the exam! If you know your stuff there is no reason why you shouldn’t do well.


2.   Answer all questions


Another key point raised by examiners is the issue of students not answering all the questions in the exam. It goes without saying – if you haven’t answered the question, you will not get marks, so this can have a major impact on your performance!


Why are there so many unanswered questions? Well this usually boils down to poor time management!


Here are the examiners’ comments on this subject:


“Some candidates did not answer some of the questions, and this is probably a result of poor time management, caused perhaps by spending too long on questions that posed them greatest difficulty or failing to plan time effectively." - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - December 2015


“It is notable that some candidates did not complete a full set of answers to part B questions, and a small minority did not attempt this part of the paper at all.” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - December 2015


Read more comments


The way to resolve this issue is to manage your time effectively in the exam. One strategy might be to ‘sweep’ the exam paper and quickly answer all the questions where the answer is known straight away. Candidates can then go back and focus more time on those questions requiring greater thought.


There is no substitute for practise to improve your time management skills. It’s recommended that you attempt at least three exam papers against the clock prior to the exam. Don’t leave it until the real exam to test your time management – a big mistake!

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3.   Know the syllabus


The examiners identified that many students did not have sufficient knowledge of the full syllabus. They pointed out that, at this level, it’s important for students to have a good breadth of knowledge across all areas rather than a more detailed knowledge of a small number of topics. So, think breadth not depth - the detail will come later in your studies!


Remember, you will however need to be able to apply your knowledge to the scenario based questions within Section B of your exam – be prepared for this!


Here are the examiners’ comments:


“A well-prepared candidate should be capable of acquiring sufficient knowledge to achieve a pass.” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - June 2015


“The paper demands formal study, so reliance on business experience or common sense alone is unlikely to serve as a basis for success.” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - June 2015


Read more comments


It can be very useful to look at trends in past papers. Identify areas where candidates have previously performed poorly and spend a bit of extra time on those topics.


Based on previous Examiners’ Reports some of the most troublesome areas for candidates are Governance, Ethics, Leadership, Audit and Organisational Models.


There is no substitute to having a broad knowledge of the full syllabus as lack of knowledge can lead to failing the exam. Don’t cut corners – ensure your revision plan covers all areas of the syllabus!


4.   Don't be intimidated by scenario based questions


Some candidates were intimidated by scenario based questions as at first glance they may appear long and complex. However, don’t be scared, they can be your friend! In general they are no more difficult than other questions and often the content can actually help in thinking through the answer.


This is what the examiners had to say:


“Candidates should not be intimidated by questions of this type, as they provide adequate information from which correct answers can be deduced.” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - December 2015


“Scenario-based questions posed no significantly greater level of difficulty than shorter questions, though clearly candidates would have spent longer reading through these and considering the information presented.” - ACCA F1 Examiner's Report - June 2015


A key thing to remember on these questions is to read them slowly at least twice and make sure that you understand the requirements before you launch into answering. Identifying the key information in longer questions can be a great help.


Remember, you should be spending more time on the questions in Section B, so ensure that you allocate the appropriate time in the exam based on the marks available. Also, don’t forget that you need to apply your knowledge to the scenario.



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