ACCA business and technology is one of three applied knowledge level papers. We will start by having a look into the context of the subject. At this level there are three papers and the first two relate to different types of accounting: financial accounting and management accounting.
Financial accounting covers financial reporting and record keeping and management accounting covers internal decision making. Management accounting tends to focus on forward-thinking and predicting how value can be made for shareholders whilst reporting and record keeping remains to be the focus of financial accounting.
Overall, the ACCA qualification is not just about being an accountant, it's about being a business leader too! You will soon find out that a good accountant not only needs to understand what makes a business run successfully, but ultimately understand what decisions are being made about the business in the boardroom.
This paper introduces you to businesses, how they work, why they are set up and what they are trying to achieve. It provides context for accounting and financial departments, detailing the roles the departments play in order to help the business meet its overall objectives.
Business Structure in ACCA BT Exam
A big part of the syllabus is how organizations are structured. For example, what departments do they decide to have and how do they structure those departments? Who will report to who throughout the organization? Each department has its own purpose in a business and there are different ways in which they each interact.
Organizations each have their own objectives and each department has a vital part to play in meeting these objectives in order to make a business successful. For now, we are looking at the financial department. What is its role and how does it interact with other departments? This paper looks at its role in financial reporting and recording overall business performance, and how it provides assurance to managers (when properly prepared). Also, how control and compliance works within the finance department by ensuring that the organization - most particularly its finances, are executed in a controlled manner to make sure transactions are appropriately authorized, e.g.: by making sure that applicable laws and regulations are met.
This is a theme that will run through the whole qualification and ultimately, when you succeed at this level, you will find that you are also a well-rounded business leader and advisor.
The ACCA BT Exam
The exam is computer-based, with a duration of two hours and a pass mark of 50%. Overall, it’s an objective test and if you are not too sure what that means, we will cover that shortly in this article.
Firstly, there are two sections of the exam.
Section A, which is three quarters of the exam and holds around 76 marks out of the 100. They are all independent, standalone questions. 16 questions in this section are worth 1 mark each and 30 of them are worth 2 marks each. Within this section, all questions are varied. Sometimes, you'll be given a small scenario. It might just be a sentence or a small paragraph at most.
Now, let's have a look at what we mean by objective tests as opposed to multiple choice. This doesn’t mean objective tests can’t include multiple choice, because they can!
The objective test includes: selecting a correct answer out of a few (eg. between A, B, C or D), classifying items in a list, selecting two or more answers in a multiple-choice question and also confirming whether statements are true or false.
Section B contains multi-task questions and it is for the remaining 24 marks.
In this section there are six small scenarios followed by two by two-mark questions; 4 marks for each scenario, broken down into two questions with a similar style to the objective test in section A. There is another type of question that could come up in section B; picking items from a drop-down list; for example, filling in a gap by selecting a correct answer.
The Importance of Time Management
Time management is so important when sitting these exams. Although you have two hours to get through it, the clock can feel like its ticking very quickly!
A good thing to consider is to think about spending 1.2 minutes per mark in the exam (120 minutes for a 100-mark exam - so 1.2 minutes per mark). That's allowing an hour and a half for section A and the final half hour for section B.
For section A, keep an eye on the clock and perhaps aim to get 15 questions done roughly every 30 minutes, to ensure effective time allocation.
For section B, try to aim for five minutes per multi-task question.
Things to Look Out For in an ACCA BT Exam
Now, things to look out for can be known as common traps in an exam, for example; negatively worded questions that may say ‘which of the following are NOT applicable’. Sometimes you can read through a list and be tempted to select the ones that are applicable. So, always keep an eye out for negatively worded questions and make a note of the number of options to choose from.
f it says ‘which two of the following four are true’, whatever you do, make sure you pick two - no more or no less, because if you pick one or three (for example), you will get the whole question wrong!
Always pay careful attention to wording.
Sometimes the wording can be tricky and many people have said that they think, at times, it is potentially designed to catch students out. Make sure you take a little bit of time to slow down and read the questions carefully, trying to fully grasp them. Don’t immediately select an option just because it looks appealing if you don’t fully understand the question.
If you are struggling with this, there are some small tips that you can consider:
- One is that you can eliminate incorrect answers. So, with four options, you may not know the right answer, but can eliminate one, two or even three! This certainly narrows down your choices and sometimes you can work backwards from your options.
- Another is that often, you you're given two similar answers out of a choice of four, which can mean that one of those answers is correct and you have to select which one based on your understanding of the overall question.
- If you are still stuck on any of the questions, flag them. Go back to them later near the end of your exam.
- Don't spend hours and hours agonizing over a question!
- Just make sure at the very least, you have answered every question, even if you have to answer all flagged questions by guessing in the last few moments. There's no negative marking if you get it wrong so you're better off guessing an answer, rather than leaving it blank.
- If you are going to guess answers, look out for outliers. If a potential answer looks completely different to that of the rest of the potential answers, then it can often be wrong.
- Looking at the differences between answers can often provide clues as well.
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When Should You Take Your ACCA BT Exam?
What we have experienced is that accountants tend to be very deadline driven, so if you don't book your exam, then there isn't a deadline to aim for. This can be discouraging for accounting students.
Perhaps aim to sit the exam two to three weeks after completing your course.
Booking the exam at the beginning, during a time when you are practicing your questions (in a real-time exam format) with that date set in mind, can really keep you motivated and studying throughout! There are questions on Practice Tests Academy’s website that are very close to the format of the real exam and there are also some ACCA software tools that you can practice with via the ACCA website.
Make sure you practice all of your questions in a timed environment, especially towards the end of your study period!
Useful Tips For Your ACCA BT Studies
- When you are studying, don't focus on parts of the syllabus that you can do; focus on covering the whole syllabus because you won’t have that choice in the exam. The more areas in the syllabus you gain confidence in, the higher your chances are of passing - it's as simple as that.
- Don't spend hours just reading through files and documents, that's a very passive way to learn! In many ways, the most efficient way of learning is through question practice and then focusing on areas you are lacking in.
- If you are struggling with an answer, work backwards. Look in your notes and work out what led to the right answer – effectively, it will tend to stick in your mind more; working backwards from question practice is certainly one way of learning!
- Leading up to the exam, make sure to focus on the parts you can't do over the parts that you can. Confidence is important of course, but to improve overall performance, you need to focus on the bits that you can't do before your exam.
- If you are subscribed to a resourceful question bank - like Practice Tests Academy’s, make sure you keep a track of the questions that you have or haven’t done successfully, so that you can look at them again later.
- Block out time in your diary to study – this is very important!
- Give yourself study goals each day but do also give yourself breaks regularly so that you don’t over-do it. If you can’t study every day, that’s OK, but do give yourself a schedule - for example, two or three times a week, and stick to it!
- The best way to study is short sharp sessions, so if you're going to sit down and study for three hours, don't do it in one block, break it down and give yourself a 10-minute break every 45 minutes, even if you don't feel like you need one. This will certainly keep your energy levels up.
Shorter study sessions are commonly more effective. Many people who give themselves 2 or 3 hours of studying in one large block find that they have wasted much of that time, for example, by tidying their desk, checking their emails, checking their text messages and so on. Those two hours can slip by very quickly and by the time they’ve finished studying, very little has actually been achieved.
Give yourself small goals of getting a particular number of questions studied, then you have an incentive that is easily workable and may be achieved in a small amount of time!
With output-based sessions, you know how much work you're getting through each time, so you can plan out to get through the whole workload comfortably before sitting your exam.
Studying is not easy – we know that very well! It’s particularly difficult when working full-time or running a household at the same time!
Remember, the struggles that you are going through with studying, time-management and question comprehension won’t last forever… but the rewards will. They will last for the rest of your career.