Understanding changes in ACCA/FIA exam format by December 2011

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After the introduction of Foundations in Accountancy (FIA) – suits of qualifications, many important things have gone under the change phase and the most affected under ACCA qualification are the knowledge module exams i.e. ACCA F1, ACCA F2 and ACCA F3. This ASK TUTOR SPECIAL episode will be about understanding the changes in exam formats of ACCA F1, F2 and F3 papers or FIA FAB, FMA and FFA papers that will be applicable by December 2011.

I will be using two terms with the following meanings:

  • Exam style; with which I will refer to paper based or computer based examination style
  • Exam format; which means paper pattern, number of questions in the exam and the type of questions.
It is only ACCA F1, F2 and F3 papers that will experience change in examination format by December 2011 and all the rest of the papers under ACCA course will have the same exam format and style as currently applicable
Beside the changes in the syllabi of the three mentioned subjects, the exam paper format is also going to change by December 2011 exam sitting. So lets clear out the confusions about the changing paper style for F1, F2 and F3.

But before we move on to discuss the exam format lets clear one thing i.e. IN TERMS OF SYLLABUS F1 = FAB, F2 = FMA and F3 = FFA. Where F1, F2 and F3 are papers under ACCA course and FAB, FMA and FFA are the papers under FIA course.

That means same syllabus applies to the subjects of Knowledge Module of ACCA and the subjects of Diploma in Accounting and Business of FIA by December 2011 onwards

Current exam format

Current situation is that FIA is under transitional phase and it will remain under this state until November 30, 2011. Therefore, the students who are registered under FIA had two options:

  • EITHER to wait until December 2011 to appear under the true FIA syllabus and exam format
  • OR to appear under current CAT scheme and sit according to transitional arrangements.

Those who didn’t liked to wait had to sit under current CAT scheme for which every paper passed under transitional stage the credit will be given under FIA scheme. Transitional arrangements in simple words for the three papers we are discussing is: T5 is TT5, T6 is TT6 and T7 is TT7.

Important!
But remember TT5 may or may not be equal to T5 (depending on the choice made by the student which is explained below). Same applies for TT6 and TT7. Under transitional arrangements students were given two options in respect of TT5, TT6 and TT7:

Until November 2011

As until November 30, 2011 FIA is in transitional state therefore the students who do not wish to wait and want to sit the exams then the applicable syllabus is as follows:

  • EITHER sit under paper based style; in which case students will have to prepare CAT T5 for TT5, T6 for TT6 and T7 for TT7 syllabus and will have to sit through 3 hours of paper based examination. (This option is no longer available as for paper based exams under old CAT scheme June 2011 was the last attempt)
  • OR sit under computer based style; in which case students will have to prepare ACCA F1 for TT5, ACCA F2 for TT7 and ACCA F3 for TT6. (These “TT” papers will be there until November 30, 2011 for which old syllabus of knowledge module is to be consulted.)

From December 2011

  • From December 2011 and onwards FIA scheme will be fully in place and by that time there will be no T or TT paper and syllabus. FIA scheme will be fully functional and the exams will be held under the NEW syllabi. Those students who are preparing to sit in December 2011 exam session for ACCA F1, F2 and F3, they must prepare the exam according to new syllabus and forget about T5, T6 and T7 syllabi.

Another dimension which is important is that all three papers i.e. F1, F2 and F3 (or TT5, TT6 and TT7 if student chose to sit CBE style exams for T5, T6 and T7) have the following features:

  • Exam is 2 hours long
  • Completely objective based and NO subjective or longer style objective questions.
  • Exam is available in two styles i.e. Paper based and Computer based. Both styles will have objective type questions. That means types of questions will be the same whatever style is selected i.e. with the change in exam style exam format will NOT change.
  • Exam consists of 50 OBJECTIVEquestions in which:
    • Each question will be of shorter version objective type question
    • 40 questions are of two marks; and
    • 10 questions are of one mark
  • Passing percentage is 50%
  • Exam questions cover the whole syllabus without any weightage given to specific topics

Changes in exam format by December 2011

Now this part is a bit confusing as I myself was confused when I first wrote this article/answer so I will take sometime to explain these changes as they are not that simple as they appeared to be.

In June 2010 issue of Student Accountant it was announced that ACCA will be changing the syllabus almost all the subjects and the exam structure/style/format of the knowledge module papers including their syllabus will change. You can download that article from this link (right click + save target as / save link as).

In June 2011 issue of Student Accountant Gareth Owen wrote an article Changes to the CAT and ACCA Knowledge module exams with the launch of ACCA’s Diploma in Accounting and Businessand the changes in syllabus, exam structure and how these will affect the current CAT, MSER, ACCA students including those registered under new FIA scheme. You can download this article from this link.

However, the two articles were a little bit different in describing the new exam structure for the exams to be held in December 2011 onwards.

According to June 2010 article (page: 4) the exam structure for F1, F2 and F3 will change from December 2011 which has the following features:

  • Exams will be according to the new syllabus
  • Two sections i.e. A and B
  • A mix of shorter and longer style objective questions as opposed to current only shorter style objective questions
  • Longer style questions will be topic or area specific as opposed to current arrangement in which questions can be from any topic or area of the syllabus without any specific weightage.

According to June 2011 article (page: 5-6) the exam structure for F1/FAB, F2/FMA and F3/FFA will change from December 2011 which has the following features:

  • Exams will be according to the new syllabus
  • No division of paper in sections just like current exam
  • 50 questions with 2 marks each as opposed to current 40 2 marks and 10 1 mark questions
  • All questions are of shorter objective type just like current exam

One important thing to note in June 2011 article is that F1 is placed equal to FAB, F2 equal to FMA and F3 equal to FFA. So if I am not wrong than it is suggesting that even for subjects of FIA will be examined with 50 short objective type questions of 2 marks each.

Now you must be confused that which of the new exam structure is applicable in December 2011. Is it the one with two sections and shorter + longer type objective questions OR the one with 50 questions of 2 marks each all of which are shorter objective type?

Well let me put it in simple words. The applicable exam format for December 2011 exams in respect of F1/FAB, F2/FMA and F3/FFA is the one with 50 two marks questions i.e. the one that was mentioned in June 2011 article written by Gareth Owen. And what I understood is that ACCA has postponed the idea of having longer and shorter objective type questions, which was the initial plan, for some time in future until adequate notice of change from all shorter to the mix of shorter and longer questions will be given.

Due to the same reason the syllabi of FAB, FMA and FFA for December 2011 has been revised in which APPROACH TO EXAMINING THE SYLLABUS states that there will be 50 questions of two marks each which was not the case when the syllabi for FAB, FMA and FFA were initially released.

But no worries now as everything is now perfectly inline and without any confusion.

Summary of Changes

So if you are still confused then have a look at the following figure to completely understand the applicable change

Changes in December 2011 – with immediate effect

Following are the features of the exam structure of F1/FAB, F2/FMA and F3/FFA that will be applicable immediately in December 2011:

  • Exam is 2 hours long
  • Completely objective based and NO subjective or longer style objective questions.
  • Exam is available in two styles i.e. Paper based and Computer based. Both styles will have objective type questions. That means types of questions will be the same whatever style is selected i.e. with the change in exam style exam format will NOT change.
  • Exam consists of 50 OBJECTIVEquestions in which:
      • Each question will be of shorter version objective type question
      • All 50 questions will be of 2 marks each

     

  • Passing percentage is 50%
  • Exam questions cover the whole syllabus without any weightage given to specific topics

Changes on halt until the adequate notice is served sometime after December 2011

After the adequate notice is served, for which no specific time has been mentioned anywhere, the exam structure will undergo further change. According to Gareth Owen and the ACCA’s website notice to introduce a variety of short and long form questions will be served when the new syllabus embedded itself and the students are found well accustomed to the new syllabus.

the new exam format after the notice will have the following features which are COMMON in all three papers i.e. F1/FA, F2/FMA and F3/FFA:

  • Examination will be of 2 hours
  • Exam is available two styles i.e. Paper based and Computer based. Types of questions will be the same whatever style is selected i.e. with the change in exam style exam format will NOT change
  • Passing percentage is 50%
  • Exam will be divided into two sections i.e. A and B
    • Section A will have shorter OBJECTIVE type questions
    • Section B will have longer OBJECTIVE type questions

However the exam format, number of questions under each sections is not same after the notice will be served for all three subjects therefore a detailed analysis for each subject is provided below:

ACCA F1 or FIA FAB – Accountant in Business

Exam will be divided in to two sections i.e. A and B as follows:

  • Section A will have 46 OBJECTIVEtypes questions in which:
    • Each question will be of shorter version objective style question
    • 16 questions will be of one mark each; and
    • 30 questions will be of two marks each
  • Section B will have 6 OBJECTIVEtypes questions where:
    • Each question will of longer version objective style question
    • Each question will of four marks
    • each of the 6 questions will be taken from 6 sections of the syllabus i.e. one question from each section of the syllabus

ACCA F2 or FIA FMA – Management Accounting

Exam will be divided in to two sections i.e. A and B as follows:

  • Section A will have 35 OBJECTIVEtype questions in which:
    • Each question will be of shorter version objective style question
    • All 35 questions will be of two marks each
  • Section B will have 3 OBJECTIVEtype questions in which:
    • Each question will be of longer version of objective style question
    • Each question will be of ten marks
    • Each question will be taken from each of the budgeting, standard costing and performance measurement sections of the syllabus i.e.:
      • one question will be from standard costing;
      • one from budgeting; and
      • one from performance measurement area.

ACCA F3 or FIA FFA – Financial Accounting

Exam will be divided in to two sections i.e. A and B as follows:

  • Section A will have 35 OBJECTIVE type questions in which:
    • Each question will be of shorter version objective style question
    • All 35 questions will be of two marks each
  • Section B will have 2 OBJECTIVE type questions in which:
    • Each question will be of longer version of objective style question
    • Each question will be of fifteen marks in which:
      • one question will be about consolidation and group accounts
      • one question will be on preparation of financial statements that may include an element of interpretation of accounts
Important
Let me reemphasize one thing i.e. even after December 2011 there will be NO SUBJECTIVE type questions in the exams of ACCA F1, F2 and F3 or FIA FAB, FMA and FFA. Longer version objective questions should not be considered equal to subjective type questions. As under subjective type questions you have to write and explain things whereas under objective type questions you have to give specific responses, or pick one option etc. So students must not be confused about this

I will update this page as and when a new information is received regarding the changes. But so far I expect it to be correct to the extent I have gathered the information about the changes. If someone finds a new development then you can report by commenting in the comment box below

3 COMMENTS

  1. how is this longer version objective style qns going to be if its a multiple choice qns
    when is this new change going to start
    how is it going to be like if we do cbe

  2. I want to know whether the format of paper for f1 f2 f3 will change again for the exams in june 2012?
    will we be having shorter questions as before or will we have section A n section B .?
    thnxs for your reply..

    • With the format cngahe, I don’t think an upgrade exam makes sense. However, a discount for existing MySQL Certified folks makes a whole lot of sense. (I may be a bit biased seeing as I’m a certified DBA.)

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