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                                           Ken Lee

Monday, May 25, 2009

F1 and F7 ACCA June 2009 exam tips

Straight from the horses mouth you have examiners, Bob Souster and Steve Scott on F1 and F7 respectively.

F1 Accountant in Business

Examiner Bob Souster explained his paper consisted of 50 Ot questions sat in two hours. That is broken down into 40 2 mark questions and 10 1 markers. He felt the two hours appears to be adequate for this exam. The pass rates have been high – in the top 60%. Souster revealed students are good at organisational structure, environmental analysis, stakeholders and responsibilities within the accounting function.
The questions are quite general, he said, there is nothing in there that is UK-specific. There is some management theories, communications and individual and team development.
Applying macro-economic theories to mini-scenarios is one of the areas student struggle with. Other areas are:
The legal environment
Roles of certain international bodies.
External and internal audit. Candidates get confused about these two.
More complex or detailed leadership and management theories – remember this is a broad syllabus.
Souster explained this is a shallow but broad paper. That means students need rudimentary knowledge of all areas. It also means you must not over-concentrate on any single area. UK students should steer clear of spending too much time on areas specific to UK or other laws.
With the paper set a year in advance students shouldn't expect too much if anything on the credit crunch.
A tutor asked Souster why there are 90 and not 100 marks available in this paper. He was originally concerned it was too stiff a test. 1.3 had been a three hour paper and coming down to two hours he thought there might be some issues about managing time.

WHAT TO FOCUS ON IN F1
Part A
- Types of organisational structures and functions within them.
- Culture
- Basics of corporate governance and ethics
- Committees and functions of chairman and secretary, linked to concepts such as team roles, etc.
Part B
- Impact of PEST factors on business.
- Changes in the environment.
- Analysis of competitive environment.
- Basic application of models, 5 Forces, value chain.
Part C
- Impact of legislation and codes – but don't need to know the dates.
- Roles and objectives of regulatory and other bodies.
- How the accounting function interacts with other function.
Part D
- Responsibilities of different departments within the accounting function.
- Role of internal and external audit.
Part E
- Theories of management, leadership and motivation – only those mentioned!
- Team formation and team roles
- Confine to theories explicitly named in study guide.
- Consider in the context of scenario.
Part F
- Overview of recruitment and selection.
- Education, training and development, and theories of learning process.
- Training process.
- Communication models.
- Appraisal – difficult to set question on.




F7 Financial Reporting

Examiner Steve Scott started his session with his paper pass rates to date – 40%, 33% and 42%, which don't make for great reading. He did help by breaking down students success by question:
Dec 07 June 08 Dec 08
Q1 51% 52% 60%
Q2 52% 43% 52%
Q3 48% 42% 40%
Q4 35% 38% 27%
Q5 29% 21% 40%
Scott explained that Q5 in June 08 was the financial instruments question!
There are things that students are doing well. They seem to like consolidated accounts and financial statements and published accounts. When it comes to performance appraisal they do this 'reasonably well', but not as good as the other stuff.
However there is an extensive list of what PQs don't do well and consolidated accounts is near the top. They may master the basics but they can't discount! There also appears to be some confusion over pre and post acquisition adjustment. Another question he set on downward fair value adjustment was again answered badly. Students are also ignoring the calculation of non-controlling interest. Significant numbers of sitters are not time apportioning (when required) and he was wondering why he was still seeing the use of proportionate consolidation.
Financial statements is another problem area. Scott said too many could do a revaluation and related subsequent depreciation. Financial instruments also cause problems particularly when they had to use nominal interest rates instead of the effective interest rate, or look at gains on investments at fair value through the P&L taken to reserve.
Scott was concerned that even the basic deferred tax is not understood.
The statement of changes in equity should also give students easy marks, but a third did't write anything for this question recently, he revealed.
These topics seem to be a mystery to many students, said Scott and it seems that if they can make a mistake they will do!
His 'bad at' list went on to performance appraisal. "They are so weak at interpretation of ratios". Scott was also concerned at the general lack of commercial awareness. "They don't seem to even be able to spot the clues in the question." He felt the papers showed a lot of evidence of rote learning as many answers seem to ignore the scenario.
Some candidates can't even distinguish between cash flows and non-cash flows and outflows as often shown as inflows.
Other problem topics include financial instruments, leases, EPS, and substance over form is still not well understood.
Scott then turned to the written element of his paper. In Dec 07 it was 35% in June 08 it was 33% and in Dec 08 it was 32%. That means a third of the marks are in the writing, but students seem reluctant to do this. But do the maths! You have to get 75% of your computations right to pass and that is a tough order.
Hand writing is a problem with some, and it sometimes is almost illegible. Scott's worry is that it seems to be deteriating. At the last sitting markers sent him back two papers they couldn't read at all. Neither could Scott and he admitted he wasn't sure one was even in English. He stressed what is the point of writing one and half pages if no-one can read it. You won't get any marks for it!
Fundamental Issues (box)
Can't distinguish between depreciation on cost or reducing balance – depreciation on land when shouldn't be.
Bank overdraft treated as an asset.
Cost of sales treated as purchases.
Definition of basic rations
Proceeds of share issues not split between capital and premium.
Failure to properly read a questions requirements, effectively answering a different question than was asked.

He said that candidates must remember that question spotting is fatal. Prior paper competences are also vital. Scott stressed that students can't rely on a revision course alone. If they haven't opened an F7 book a two/three week course won't turn it around.
He wants students to attempt all the questions and please, please, please answer the question set. Currently about a third of sitters don't answer all the questions.
PERCENTAGE OF QUESTION NOT ATTEMPTED
Dec 07 June 08 Dec 08
Q1 <1% <1% <1%
Q2 12% 24% 3%
Q3 2% 27% 3%
Q4 7% 5% 13%
Q5 15% 26% 15%
Oh, and don't waste time telling the marker/examiner you are running out of time!
In summary Scott said that before starting F7 students have to ensure they are competent in F3. He wanted PQs to avoid adopting a mechanical approach and focus on principles and understanding. This will help with your excam technique when the question seems unfamiliar. He warned that rote learning of facts and lists will not gain many marks.
PQs also had to plan their study over a reasonable time scale and had to read his Examiner' Report.
Some 7.5% of candidates score between 45 and 4( marks. Therefore they are looking for no more than 5 marks to turn that fail into a pass.

Scott provided the breakdown of a recent paper he had marked:
Question 1 18 marks
Question 2 15 marks
Question 3 14 marks
Question 4 not attempted
Question 5 not attempted
That is a 47 mark paper (three marks short) leaving the marker with no option but to fail the sitter. Just putting something against the other two questions might have given them a fighting chance!
Scott said that there have been developments in IAS 1 and IFRS 3. He was also worried about Question 3 and might in future target certain ratios. Perhaps fewer ratios but test them in more depth. When it comes to cash flow he might look at financing.

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