ACCA Pass Rates March 18 Exam: What exam tips do examiners tell you?

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

This artile is about March 2018 ACCA exam pass rates and examiners’ comments. If you would like to read the latest ACCA attempt examiners’ comments and guidance, please click HERE for details.

ACCA pass rates and results on March 18 exam are released.

My sincere congratulations to 3,430 ACCA students who pass their final exam and become ACCA affiliates. It is really a great milestone in the life!

Before telling you what are my analysis and comments on the March 18 exam pass rates, here I would like to share with you what ACCA says about it.

The headline used in ACCA announcement on March 18 exam is “Strong CBE Pass Rates in ACCA’s First Exam Session For 2018”.


My first impression is, “Wow! So great!”

In addition, ACCA executive director strategy and development said, “We’re delighted with the pass rates in the March 2018 sitting. Results were notably strong for computer-based exams (CBE) in Skills exams (F5 to F9) demonstrating how well the learning support we have in place is working.”

It pushes up my expectation to all F5-F9 papers pass rates to be much higher than historic average.

However, when I read the pass rates for each paper, I am disappointed!

I find F5-F9 papers pass rates in March 18 are all lower than in December 17.

ACCA Pass Rates March 2018

ACCA March 18 One Pager

For ACCA Pass Rates on December 17, please click here to read in details.

On professional module papers, P1 and P3 pass rates show more than half of candidates passing the exam. It remains above historic average which is encouraging.

For other professional papers, we see P4 hits 41% which has not been seen since December 2013.

But P7 drops to only 30% and P5 pass rate is still the lowest among all papers in ACCA exam, stay at 29% which is same as December 2017.

CBE is the focus in March 2018

The reason why ACCA, students and tutors focus on March 2018 F5-F9 paper exam results because it is the first session for 9 markets withdrawing fully from paper exams.

Everyone wants to know how students’ performances are. It helps all of tutors and students to prepare upcoming exam.

However, ACCA doesn’t publish paper exams and CBE pass rates separately. It is hard for students and tutors to know the root cause on falling pass rates as published.

We can only review each paper examiner’s comments to understand why.

Skills Module Pass Rates Drop

Unfortunately, March 18 pass rates across all papers between F5 and F9 drop against those in December 17.

ACCA Pass Rates F5, F6, F7, F8, F9

ACCA Skill Module Papers (F5-F9) Pass Rate Trend

F6, F7 and F9 pass rates are still at the historic average.

Pay attention to newly published accounting standards for ACCA F7

Students are generally performing well in F7 exam. However, examiner finds the following areas are weak –

  • Events after reporting period;

  • Leases;

  • Revenue from construction contracts

  • Revenue from contracts that offer both the supply of goods at a specific point in time.

It is surprise to see students are lack of knowledge on IFRS 16 Leases and IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers, given they are issued by IASB recently.

You better read through all latest published articles about accounting standards update as the chance to see them in exam is high.

Practice discursive questions and understand the answers thoroughly

F9 pass rate is 46%, slightly lower than 48% in December 2017.

As usual, students perform better in calculating NPV or WACC, but less well performed in others especially discussing knowledge and explaining terms and concepts in Section C.

It is found three common errors were done by many students in ACCA F9 March 18 exam –

  • Requiring students to discuss superiority of DCF versus non-DCF investment appraisals methods but answers are in comparing NPV and IRR or not discussing non-DCF methods;

  • Students are unable to apply joint probability table in investment appraisal;

  • Lack of understanding on capital structure theories and practical considerations.

Learning those mistakes are made by March sitters, you better avoid to have the same in next sitting.

Since we find discursive questions contribute half of total marks in Section C, you are suggested to prepare well on those topics by practicing relevant past paper questions.

F8 (Audit & Assurance) pass rate has no improvement

F8 March 2018 pass rate is 39%.

F8 pass rate is now a concern to both tutors and students.

It has been between 37% and 40% for a while.

A lot of students cannot complete their skills module because they cannot pass F8 which is the last one in this module.

F8 exam structure is different from other papers in the same module, such as F5, F7 and F9.

70% of the marks are from constructed response questions which means students are required to write the answers in their own words.

In CBE, some students’ answers were difficult to understand caused by misspelt words.

You are reminded that no spell check function provided in word processing tool.

You need to check all spellings by yourself to make sure markers can understand your answers.