Failed ACCA Exam? These 5 steps will get you back on track

Feb 10, 2020 by Mohsin Raza


Every year and in each attempt many candidates of ACCA fail to succeed in their exams. On average only 40% to 50% of the candidates successfully pass their examinations. The remaining 50% to 60% of the candidates have to face the shame of failure. There can be many reasons for this failure. Rather than a single factor there can be multiple factors responsible for failure. We will discuss some of the most common factors that contribute to the failure of candidates. We will also discuss how to tackle these factors and overcome them to succeed in exams.

Plan Your Studies

Majority of the students do not properly plan for their studies and exams. They do not spend time deciding how they plan to prepare for their examinations.

Before starting preparation for ACCA examinations, you should properly plan your approach to studies. When planning, you should take into consideration factors such as your work routine, availability of time, number of papers to be attempted, and other personal factors such as family commitments.

You should prepare a time table and write down your plan. Your timetable and plan should be flexible and realistic. Your timetable and plan should not be overly ambitious as realistically speaking it will hard to stick to it. This might result in depression and de-motivation. Break down your plan into small achievable targets and try your best to meet these targets on a daily or weekly basis.

Understand the syllabus and exam structure

Some students do not develop an understanding of the syllabus and structure of exams. This can result in two big problems. First problem is that you might waste your time on topics which are not examinable. The second problem is that you might skip some of the important examinable topics. As the examiners have defined depths to which topics are examinable.

Thus it is very important that you understand the syllabus and the depth to which different topics are examinable. You should carefully read the syllabus of the exam you are taking.

You should use the study material from proper sources and the material which you understand for your preparations.

Grasp the concepts

One of the biggest reasons for failure in ACCA examinations is a lack of understanding of the concepts. A lot of students spend too much time on trying to memorizing knowledge rather than understanding the underlying concepts.

Knowledge can get you a few marks but knowledge alone cannot get you passing marks. You must understand the underlying concepts. The ACCA exams, particularly the advanced level exams, test your ability to apply concepts in a given scenario. You will be able to apply your concepts only if you have a thorough understanding of the concepts.

Practice more

Many students spend all their time studying the notes, study texts, and other study material. The biggest mistake is not practicing for the exams under exam conditions. Practicing for the exams is just as important as studying and preparing for the exams. Many students fail in the ACCA Examination due to lack of practice although they feel well prepared for the examination.

Lack of practice by the students creates two major problems. The first problem is that the students fail to learn to handle exam stress. The second problem, and the most severe one, is that they fail to learn to apply their concepts in the given scenarios. The students who practice under exam conditions are well prepared to handle exam stress, manage time, and apply concepts in the given scenarios. Developing the above two skills plays a key role in success and failure in ACCA exams.

Therefore, students should extensively practice for your exams in strict exam conditions. A large number of past exam papers are available with TSB Education in its Mock Exam Portal. Solve them and practice them under exam conditions. Then compare your answers with the answers provided by the top faculty in ACCA. This should help you in identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Try to enhance your strengths and overcome your weaknesses with more study and preparation. Then again attempt another past paper and evaluate your performance and repeat the above circle.

Answer all of the questions

Another common reason for failure in ACCA examinations is that students make the mistake of not answering all of the questions. There are two common reasons for this mistake. First reason is that the students skip part of the requirements (in some cases even a whole question altogether) due to extreme carelessness or exam stress. The second reason is that students do not properly manage their time and run out of time.

You should always be very careful and alert the whole time. You should not panic and try to stay calm. If you are careful and calm, you will not be making silly mistakes such as skipping some part of the question’s requirements.

Properly plan and manage your time. You should try to allocate time to each question and requirement depending on the marks available for that particular question or requirement. Usually in most of the ACCA exams, for each mark you have 1.8 minutes. So for a question that is worth 10 marks, you should spend about 18 minutes on answering that question. Most of the ACCA exams now give you 15 minutes of reading and planning time at the start of the examination. Use this time very effectively.

If you think that you are running out of time and cannot completely answer a question, you should write down the important points in the form of bullets or short sentences. The examiner will know that you were aware of the answer but could not answer in detail due to a lack of time. You will be awarded a few marks for your efforts. And remember each mark is precious!

Written by


Sajid Kapadia - TSB Education

Yahya Khan

I am an ACCA with hands-on knowledge and well-versed experience of more than 9 years in the field of Financial Management. I have worked in A.F Ferguson for Audit of various Large Organization i.e: Pakistan Refinery Limited, Unilever Limited. I have also worked with Large Organizations such as Nishat Group of Companies as Head of Finance.
My basic studies are from the United Kingdom up till my A ‘Levels. My interest in teaching has led me to be involved in Highly esteemed Educational Institutes for teaching O/A Levels Accounting, Economics & Business Studies, Furthermore I have been teaching ACCA subjects Financial Accounting (FA) and Management Accounting (MA) for over 5 years.
I like to teach with real-life examples and scenarios to create a comfortable learning environment for my students.

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