ACCA Pass Rates December 2019 Exam: Part 1 Tips (Focus on PM, FR, AA & FM)

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

ACCA December 2019 results and pass rates for all papers are published!

The focus in this attempt is on computer based exam and strategic CBE. Strong word processing and spreadsheet skills are proved critical in passing the exams.

ACCA executive director strategy and development said: ‘Examiners note that pass rates are very strong where students have developed the word processing and spreadsheet skills they already or will use in the workplace and apply these to their exams, thus integrating the world of work and exams.’

Starting from March 2020, ACCA will be offering its Strategic Professional as CBEs at specific centres in the UK, Ireland and Czech Republic and then wholly in those countries from June 2020.

Link to announcement:

In addition, ACCA will launch Strategic Professional CBE in 2020. Just check our analysis of the new Strategic Professional CBE for your benefits.

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 2020 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

Overall pass rates on Applied Skills Module paper are more or less the same as prior session. Higher pass rates paper, FM, is a bit disappointed in December session while both TX and FR show strong pass rate in December exam session!

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

ACCA AA – Most challenging paper in Applied Skills Module

38% of students pass ACCA AA in December 2019 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 –

· Principles of assurance;

· Corporate Governance;

· Substantive procedures * including non-current assets; and

· Audit finalization and review*

*Areas are seen in September 2019 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, knowledge of corporate governance guidelines and knowledge of ISA 570 Going Concern are highlighted.

In Section B, five areas are seen which are –

· Audit framework and regulation

· Planning and risk assessment

· Internal control (Mixed)

· Audit evidence (Disappointing)

· Review and reporting (Mixed)

In Audit framework and regulation, you are expected to have a scenario-based ethics or corporate governance questions. ‘Hurling Co’ from March/June 2017 and ‘Freesia Co’ from Sample March/June 2019 questions are recommended to you.

The most common question in Planning and risk assessment is to identify and explain the risks from a scenario and give an auditor’s response to address the risks.

A fundamental factor in planning and assessing the risks of an audit of an entity is an assessment of audit risk, and this remains a highly examinable area.

Four samples are suggested to you to prepare for next exam. If you are looking for scenario-based examples, “Peony Co” from March/June 2019 and “Harlem Co” from September/December 2019 are good on audit risks and responses to practice.

If you are looking for knowledge question on this topic, check “Blackberry Co” from March / June 2018 and “Cupid & Co” from September / December 2017.

Internal control question performance in December 2019 was mixed. However, it’s disappointing a lot of candidates failed to score many marks in knowledge-based questions, for example when asked to describe components of an entity’s internal control system.

The following areas are poorly performed:

· Not able to identify key controls

· Irrelevant controls/deficiencies being given or not clearly explain the implication of the deficiencies

· Able to provide recommendations to address deficiencies but poorly described

Good example questions to practice on knowledge requirement are Comet Publishing Co from September/December 2017 and Raspberry Co from March/June 2018.

In addition, if you are looking for good internal control deficiencies and recommendations questions to practice, check out Equestrian Co from March/June 2017, Camomile Co from September/December 2018 and Amberjack Co from September/December 2019.

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

· Many candidates are unable to tailor their knowledge of general substantive procedures to the specific issues in the question requirement;

· Unable to audit differences arising in supplier statement reconciliations.

Good examples for reference in this topic are ‘Gooseberry Co’ from March/June 2018, ‘Jasmine Co’ from September/December 2018 and ‘Hyacinth Co’ from March/June 2019 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.

Generally, the overall performance in this session is mixed. Key areas to note are:

· Few candidates provided an adequate discussion in auditor’s reports questions;

· Some struggled to calculate the materiality of the error.

Questions in this area tend to be scenario based and a good example is ‘Spadefish & Co’ from September/December 2019.

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 – Pass rate drops below 40%

ACCA PM pass rate in December 2019 is 38%, 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.

In December 2019, 2 areas in Section A are found difficult to a lot of students, they are –

· The calculation of the material yield variance;

· Understanding of information systems.

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 2019 exam, the following topics are seen in Section B –