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A guide to using model answers for accountancy exams

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In accountancy exams there are two major ways you are examined.

  • By Objective Test Questions, which have a definitive right answer to select or fill in, and
  • By written and/or calculation questions where more detail is needed.

This article focuses on the second of these two as it is harder for you to know if you’ve answered these style of questions correctly.

What is a model answer?

A model answer is usually provided for each question and can be used as part of your revision when studying for an accountancy exam. The model answer will often show you a way to answer the question, but not necessarily show you all ways to answer the question. It will often include a marking guide to help you see how marks are allocated and where.

How not to use a model answer

It’s very important that you attempt a question for yourself before looking at the model answer. In the exam you are not going to have access to answers while attempting questions so you need to simulate this environment to learn the necessary skills.

If you are really struggling to answer a question then it is much better to have a look at your study materials to refresh your knowledge of the topic. Just reading through questions and then the model answers will not give you the required application and exam techniques skills that you need for most accountancy exams.

Potential pitfalls of a model answer

The model answer can be off putting if it contains a lot of detail. However rather than being daunted by this it is best to view this as a positive since there are lots of different ways you could pick up marks and get enough to pass. The key is to focus on what you got right rather than looking at all the things you missed out.

It can be hard for narrative style answers since the model answer will never be identical to what you have written. Therefore you need to look to see if your answer includes the key points included in the model answer even if you have worded it differently.

Another potential pitfall of model answers is that for calculation style questions there may be more than one way to answer the question. If the answer is shown in a different way to what you have learnt, it can be tricky to see where you went wrong if you didn’t get the answer completely correct. If this is the case, you can reach out to your learning provider for support.

What you must not forget is that in most exams you will be awarded follow through marks for your calculations. What this means is that you can still be awarded marks for applying the right method to the wrong number.

All your numbers could look different to the model answer, but you have actually only lost half a mark as you got something wrong at the very beginning of the calculation and then followed the correct methods for the rest of the answer.

Self-marking vs tutor-marking

It’s useful to have an expert mark your work as they know how to do this properly and they can provide valuable comments to suggest how you can improve your answers.

However, there are many benefits of self-marking. These include helping you to understand:

  • What the examining team is looking for in answers, and
  • Where marks are awarded.

This will enable you to improve your answers in future so that you can increase the marks you will be awarded.

Recommendations when using model answers:

  1. Attempt the question in full as you would in the exam e.g. to time and without notes where possible and set the answer out exactly as you would in the exam (e.g. in a spreadsheet if applicable)

  2. Read through the model answer in full, looking at the content of the answer but also how the answer has been presented

  3. Spend time comparing your answer with the model answer and awarding marks where appropriate (including follow through marks)

  4. Particularly focus on whether you have provided a technically accurate answer to the right level of depth. Also whether you’ve answered all parts of the requirement (looking for ‘ands’, full stops and commas can help indicate more than one part to a requirement)

  5. Create yourself a list of areas you need to study further, knowledge and methods that you still need to learn, and a list of ways that you can improve your answer in future, for example:

    • How you can make your calculations workings easier for the marker to understand
    • How you could improve the structure of your answer with headings and short paragraphs
    • How you can answer the question more efficiently with concise sentences starting with key words.

In summary, using model answers, in the right way, is essential in properly preparing yourself for an accountancy examination.

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This piece was written by Academic Support Tutor, Jen Woodhams.