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The Myth of CBE: Students Perspective

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

In our article “4 differences between paper exam and CBE you can't miss”, we discussed what CBE is and what the differences between CBE and paper exam are. Start from March 2018, different countries are selected to provide session CBE only ACCA F9 exam –

Key countries in 100% CBE schedule

Okay, as a student, I am clear that I have to take session CBE very soon. So, is it easier to pass exam by CBE?

Time Savings

One advantage stressed by ACCA on session CBEs over paper exam is time savings. It can be achieved in the following 3 areas –

i) Section A & B: Less reading required in some OT questions types;

ii) Section C: Spreadsheet functions can be used and easier to edit;

iii) General Time Savings: you can see both the question and your answer on the same screen.

Occupational therapy practitioners studies show average typing speed for an adult person with office work experience is about 35 wpm. Handwriting speed for the same person is about 13 wpm. Time savings is reasonable, but, it only applies in Section C with detailed calculations and writings. But how about Section A & B (i.e. OT Questions) which contribute 60% of total marks?

The Myth of OT Questions

ACCA says students should study whole F9 syllabus to answer Section A & B. In paper exam, it only offers Multiple Choice questions in these sections. In session CBE, according to “Your Guide to ACCA CBEs” published by the association, there are 7 types of OT question to be offered. Based on ACCA F9 Specimen CBE and published CBE on September and December 2016 sessions, we analyze what’re the probabilities of getting a correct answer by wild guessing for each question type.

The analysis shows a chance to get a correct answer by wild guessing other than Multiple Choice Question varied from almost zero (i.e. Fill In The Blanks) to 25% (Drop Down List). Multiple Response is 16.7%, Drag and Drop and Hot Area is only 6.3%.

In other words, students are having less “luck” in guessing correct answers in Section A & B in the new question types. We think this can help the Association to differentiate some students are not well prepared for the whole syllabus but only focus on Section C (mainly on Investment Appraisal, Working Capital Management and Business Valuation). In paper exam, they do Section C extremely well but get relatively low marks in Section A & B (wild guessing is possible as 25% chance correct). As a result, they may get a marginal pass (i.e. 50 or 51 marks).

Advice to students

From our analysis, we believe the exam techniques required for session CBEs are very different from paper exam. If you are familiar with exam techniques on paper exam, we strongly suggest you to take ACCA F9 paper exam at your earliest convenience. For session CBE exam techniques, we will share our view to you in future.

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