A large number of comments in the ACCA F5 examiners’ reports refer to the tendency of some candidates to misinterpret, misread or misunderstand what a question asks. This is the case in both written questions and multiple choice.
Many ACCA F5 students dive into an answer before they have read the question carefully. If you attempt to answer a question which is just slightly different from the one on which the marking guide is based, you can end up scoring no marks at all. Doing that just once in your exam could easily be the difference between passing and failing!
Here’s what the examiners had to say:
“The biggest oversight was that the requirement asked for ROI, based on average capital employed. Many candidates missed this and calculated the ROI based on the closing capital employed. Whilst they would still pick up marks for their workings, this does highlight the need to read each requirement carefully, and keep checking back to ensure that you are answering the question that has been asked.” - ACCA F5 Examiner's Report – March 2016
“A significant minority of candidates misinterpreted the requirement, and discussed the performance of the company, and how it might improve.” - ACCA F5 Examiner's Report – March 2016
“The first problem with answers came from a lack of reading of the requirement. Many candidates said that Division M must supply Division S first because that was the group policy. Consequently, they made it impossible to earn any of the marks available for discussing what the optimum internal/external supply combination would be. It is essential to read requirements carefully; the words ‘assuming the group’s policy could be changed’ were right at the beginning of the requirement to draw candidates’ attention to them.” - ACCA F5 Examiner's Report – June 2015
“If a requirement says ‘explain’ then an explanation must be given in order to earn marks. A calculation cannot replace an explanation.” - ACCA F5 Examiner's Report – December 2014
Get into the habit of highlighting the key words within a question. By doing this it will make it apparent what the questions is asking you to do. A good tip for answering questions in written exams is to closely look at the verb (E.g. “Explain”, “Discuss” or “Comment”) as this will give you a great indication of what the marker really wants from you.
In addition, make sure that you read the question slowly and read it through at least twice before answering the question so you don’t miss a key requirement.