As most ACCA students will already know, there are significant changes ahead for ACCA exams – in terms of content and format. This autumn we will be seeing the introduction of the new Ethics & professional skills module. This time next year we will see the merger/replacement/withdrawal of ACCA P1 and P3 and the renaming/ rewriting of paper ACCA P2 – all in favour of ACCA's new strategic professional level qualification which better embodies ACCA’s vision of the future of accountancy.
Before then– it is going to be farewell to the traditional, fundamental level written exams. December 2017 is going to be the last paper based sitting and ACCA are gearing up for record numbers of sitters this final time around.
None of us like change, especially when we're overloaded with technical content and a massive syllabus already. Most fundamental level students are reluctant to welcome the new style exams. Part of the concern is fear of the unknown, despite the fact that computerised F5 – F9 exams have been available for some time – the uptake for these has been low. Their reluctance is not helped by the lack of computerised exam practice papers, however, ACCA are working with publishers and learning providers to rectify this and soon we will see more objective style resources available.
CIMA examinations became 100% computerised in 2015. This was a sudden change over which was met with a variety of responses (ahem!) . Eventually resources and more information became available. CIMA students began to accept the new regime and the computerised question bank was refined and adjusted using scaled scores to enhance fairness and difficulty levels.
Unlike CIMA though, ACCA sitters will not receive their results immediately following completion of the exam. This may be a model that ACCA move to in future but not yet. With the exception of papers F1 to F4, the computerised exams for papers F5- F9 will still contain a long question element to be marked by humans (as opposed to computers).
This means that although instantaneous pass/fail result cannot be provided to ACCA candidates– there is still some room for common sense and marker’s judgement when your longer answers are being assessed.
Presentation Woes Vs Typing Speed
Students can forget their woes regarding handwriting and instead focus on improving their typing speed and general spreadsheet / word processing skills. Presentation will always be important for professional accountants – yet now they need to considering report layout, formulae workings, tables and headers – as opposed to neat handwriting.
Unlike CIMA, ACCA will not be using Pearson Vue centres which have sometimes be met with a mixed reception by CIMA students who sit their exams beside other doing driving theory or other vocational type assessments. ACCA will be using Pearson software but not their centres. Instead it will be holding the exams at a selection of carefully picked tuition providers or conference centres which can offer sufficient computer facilities to be able to guarantee the security and technological support necessary to hold and invigilate these high level exams.
In a few years – new ACCA students will have never known another system. Eventually the ‘P’ level papers will move to computerised format (although they will never be objective format) and the days of a 3 hour 20 minute handwritten exam are going to be over. No more leaky pens and hand cramps or concerns about handwriting.
We just need to think about our words-per-minute :-)