Tips to help you pass the ACCA SBR & the ACCA Diploma in IFRS exams
The SBR/DIPIFR examination aims to test candidates' ability to apply concepts, arguments, and different perspectives of stakeholders to the scenarios provided in each exam question.
Weightage is given both on conceptual clarity as well as the communication technique. The communication, we guess, now carries almost a 50% score weightage in the exams.
We focus on three simple exam techniques we teach at Eduyush.com, which you can adopt to impress the examiner and score heavily in your exams.
Exams are wordy now.
It's fair to say that the ACCA SBR/DIPIFR papers are now wordier than ever, and they're currently playing a more significant part in exams than ever before.
Accountants aren't just number crunchers anymore. The role is expanding significantly as they wear a lot of different hats. Finance professionals are much more cross-functional business partners.
For example, finance professionals say that one minute might be advising a production manager on improving defect rates and the next minute, they're presenting a potential new strategic option to the board. So it does mean there's an increasing need to communicate effectively and efficiently at all levels of a business.
So hence, the wordy questions in the exams ask students to do precisely that.
For ACCA, the emphasis has shifted from right or wrong answers to good versus bad answers.
Here are the three simple tips you can use when answering for your SBR & DIPIFR exams.
1. Understand the hierarchy of verbs
The key to good narrative & understanding the hierarchy of verbs in the question is that an excellent narrative answer can only be done once you have read the question and identified the hierarchy of verbs being asked. Yes, theres a hierarchy of verbs in a Financial reporting paper. It will surely get you maximum marks with less effort if you get this right.
The verbs are found in the requirement part of the question. So scan the requirement first to understand the hierarchy before you read the questions in total.
The hierarchy of verbs is as under
- Low-level verbs: Like list, describe, define etc., they're mainly testing your retention and recall of specific pieces of knowledge. You usually will get ½ a mark for each point.
- Middle-level verbs: like explain, illustrate, online, detail etc. This is where your answer needs a little bit more piece and needs to be a bit more whole because you're adding in some analysis into your point, but not a massive amount because, on average, you are usually going to get sort of one mark per point you raised for that.
- High-level verbs: like discuss, evaluate, assess, and recommend. These are the big ones because they're testing judgment and reasoning skills much more complexly. So you're going to need much more of a depth of answer because you can get two marks per point.
2. Framing your answer to impress the examiner
We strongly recommend students use the PEA Approach
P - Point make your point
E - Explain your point, why and how it happened,
A - Apply to the scenario why the company should care
So in this way, you're telling the examiner not just what's happened but also why and how it happened, which is this sort of explanation. Also, crucially, you're telling the examiner why the company should care because you're applying it to them and their situation.
It's a matter of treading that fine line. It is just about giving enough detail to demonstrate insight and get enough value to get the marks
3. Things that will make your examiner lose the will to live
Keeping your answers concise and crisp is the key to keeping the examiner's interest. Here are some sure-shot pitfalls that make the examiner lose interest in you.
- The scattergun answer. When you write irrelevant topics to the question, like if I say write something long enough, some of it must stick, surely. But unfortunately, it rarely works. You end up going off on so much of a tangent that the marker completely loses the thread.
- Wall of Text - Nobody wants to see that massive wall of text. Answer in points. Especially in computer-based exams, which many of them are nowadays, where it's all typed rather than handwritten. It's so demoralizing for a marker to see that wall of text.
- The narrative answer is left entirely blank: Often, the wordy questions are a rich source of some pretty straightforward marks. And you never know, writing something might be worth a couple of half marks here. You're guaranteed to get zero if you leave a completely blank space where you don't.
Use these three simple techniques to cut through to the examiner as they only get 15-20 minutes to assess your paper on a computer—students who use this approach with Eduyush.com score in the 70s and 80s in their exams.
To conclude, Conceptual clarity isn't enough to clear your Financial reporting paper; but you need to back that with a robust exam technique.