ACCA Pass Rates December 2018 Exam: Part 1 Tips (Focus on PM, FR, AA & FM)

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

ACCA published December 2018 pass rates for each paper.

First of all, congratulate to 5,470 ACCA students passed their final exam and become ACCA affiliates.

Two observations I would like to highlight before sharing each individual paper –

  • Number of students taken SBL and SBR exams are more than double those of the September session;

  • An increase in the uptake of on demand ACCA and Foundations exams shows the demand for ACCA qualification increase

These two news are really appreciating as it shows the professional qualification are more recognized and welcome by more new joiners.

Link to announcement:

In addition to more people joining the professional exams, it is also encouraging to see the overall pass rates are similar to or better than September session.

ACCA Pass Rates December 2018 Exam

It is always important to review examiner comments as they are highly regarded as the exam tips directly from the authority. No matter you will attempt March 2019 or any future exam, they are the ‘tips’ to you.

Let’s start the sharing of what examiners tell you need to pay attention in next exam!

Applied Skills Module Pass Rates

ACCA Pass Rates December 2018 - PM(F5), TX(F6), FR(F7), AA(F8) and FM(F9)

Overall pass rates on Applied Skills Module paper are more or less the same as prior session. Higher pass rates papers, such as FR and TX, show their stable performance by more than half of students passed December exam.

Lower pass rates papers, such as PM and AA, still maintain at the end of the queue by less than 40% of students passing them in this attempt.

I am a bit surprised that FM pass rate drops to 43% while I will try to find out why it happens in December 2018 session in the discussion below.

ACCA AA – Most challenging paper in Applied Skills Module

38% of students pass ACCA AA in December 2018 attempt which is still the lowest among all same level papers.

The paper is different from other Applied Skills Module paper while 70% of the total marks are from written questions.

It is the key to explain why its pass rates are usually at the bottom among all papers in the same module.

In Section A, the following areas are highlighted by examiner –

  • Professional ethics and application of ACCA’s Code of Ethics and Conduct *

  • Corporate governance *

  • Substantive testing including analytical procedures, revenue, bank and cash and trade

  • payables

  • Subsequent events *

  • Audit finalization and the final review *; and

  • Auditor’s reports *

*Areas are seen in September 2018 examiner report.

Examiner usually highlights two questions in his report to show what kind of questions or areas are challenging to students.

In this attempt, importance of disclosure and auditor’s reports are highlighted.

In Section B, five areas are seen which are –

  • Audit framework and regulation

  • Planning and risk assessment

  • Internal control (Mix)

  • Audit evidence (Disappointing)

  • Review and reporting (Disappointing)

In Audit framework and regulation, you are expected to have a scenario-based ethics or corporate governance questions. ‘Hurling Co’ from March/June 2017 is recommended to you.

The most common question in Planning and risk assessment is to identify and explain an entity’s audit risk as well as auditor’s response to each risk identified.

Audit risks and response questions can also be linked with a factual knowledge question.

Two samples are suggested to you to prepare for next exam, “Blackberry Co” from March / June 2018 and “Cupid & Co” from September / December 2017.

Internal control question performance in December 2018 was mixed. The following areas are poorly performed:

  • Were not able to identify key controls, often identifying the existence of a control where in fact there was a deficiency.

  • Did not clearly explain the implication of deficiencies identified.

Past paper examples are Comet Publishing Co from September/December 2017 and Raspberry Co from March/June 2018.

Audit evidence requires you to describe relevant audit procedures for a particular class of transactions or event. Key issues are:

  • Many students are unable to tailor their knowledge of substantive testing to any area of the financial statements; examples can be referred to ‘Dashing & Co’ from September/December 2017;

  • Well understand substantive procedures while you can read ‘Gooseberry Co’ from March/June 2018 questions to know what are expected.

Review and reporting requires an understanding of subsequent events and going concern can inform the conclusion from audit work.

The performance is disappointing while you are expected to:

  • State clearly your answers with the opinion to be issued and if the opinion is to be modified, the type of modified opinion which is appropriate;

  • Explain the effect of the item being incorrectly recorded, for example, if this results in assets/liabilities/profit being over/understated

To understand more on auditor report and ISAs, “Airsoft Co” from March / June 2017 and “Jasmine Co” from September / December 2018 are good examples.

Detailed examiner’s report can be found:

ACCA PM – Improvement in overall performance

ACCA PM pass rate in December is 39%, lower than September session but within the range of past 10 attempts!

Similar to other Skills Module papers, ACCA PM has 3 sections while Section A is objective test questions, Section B is case based objective test questions and Section C is constructed response questions.

We find some areas seen in Section C pulled down its pass rates in December session.

In December 2018, 2 areas in Section A are found difficult to a lot of students, they are –

  • The calculation of financial performance indicators (FPI) for liquidity.

  • The identification of direct data capture costs of management accounting information.

In Section B, it tests your knowledge on a number of topics in more detail than Section A.

It covers the whole syllabus and you need to read the case scenario and requirements very careful.

In December 2018 exam, the following topics are seen in Section B –

  • Cost volume profit analysis

  • Activity based costing *

  • Life-cycle costing

  • Variances

  • Decision making under risk and uncertainty *

*Topics were found in ACCA PM September 2018 exam.

For Section C, five areas are presented in the questions –

  • Pricing: Many cannot calculate marginal cost and only know basic pricing strategies. Past paper TR Co from September/December 2017 is a good example;

  • Transfer pricing: Weak performed and not a very popular topic to students. You can refer to PG Co in March/June 2018.