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Students and examination success

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  © Pearson Education Limited 2016 5 Students and examination success Experienced teachers and lecturers know just as much as I do about this topic. There will, however, bequite a lot of people reading this who are new to teaching, and who have little experience in understand-ing how the examiner views things. If I have anything to offer, it is simply that I have been involved inaccounting education for over 30 years and have been an examiner for several examining bodies.The Notes for Students at the start of both Frank Wood’sBusiness Accounting 1 and Frank Wood’sBusiness Accounting 2 deal with examination techniques. Make sure your students read these. Gothrough these with them. If we all tell students that what these say is true, then they are more likely tobelieve us. How students lose marks 1Lack of knowledge (obviously) but they throw away marks unnecessarily for all of the following reasons:( a )Untidy work, including columns of figures not lined up.( b )Bad handwriting. Do not make it difficult for the examiner to read and mark.( c )Lack of headings, dates, sub-totals, etc. in accounting statements.( d  )Not submitting proper workings.You can only get them to rectify everything under this heading by insisting on them correcting ( a ), ( b ),( c ) and ( d  ) from early on in the course. Do not wait until a few weeks before the examination to insistupon properly laid out and neatly constructed work.2Students very often do not follow the rubric on the examination paper. If it asks for two questionsonly from Section A, then it means just that. A remarkably high percentage do not follow the instruc-tions per the rubric.3Students fail to answer the questions as set. If, for example, an examiner wants a list  , students will losemarks by giving explanations instead. Students must tackle the question in the prescribed way and notdo it differently. The percentage of students passing examinations would rise dramatically if only wecould correct this failing. A good plan is to get them to highlight the instruction that shows how theexaminer wants the question to be answered, e.g. List  the ways by which . . . Describe the ways by which . . .Write a report  to the managing director about the ways by which . . . Discuss how the ways by which . . . Explain how the ways by which . . .Then, get them to underline the key words in the rest of the question.They need as much practice as possible in doing this, especially for essay-type questions.Practice is even more essential for students for whom English is not their first language.At the end of this section are 20 essay questions in which we have already highlighted the instructionand underlined the key words. See if your students can do the same.4Poor technique with essay questions. Business Accounting 2 , Notes for students, the section headed‘Answering essay questions’ covers this point. Discuss this with your students who have to tackle essayquestions.5Not tackling the required number of questions. I have always found it very difficult to convince stu-dents to get hold of the idea that they will get more marks for five uncompleted questions than they willfor fourcompleted questions, when the examiner has asked for five to be attempted. Time planning isessential.6By not tackling the easiest questions first. Years ago, a lot of research was undertaken into the resultsof students who had followed this advice, compared with those who ignored it. Following the adviceproduced better results.7By simply regurgitating the contents of a textbook in essay answers. For instance, when an examinerset a question on, say, materiality. Most of the answers simply gave exactly the same examples, wordfor word sometimes, that we have given in Business Accounting 1 .Examiners are looking for srcinality and imagination. Students will get excellent marks if they givetheir own examples. A good idea is that, for each of the concepts and conventions, they think up theirown examples before the examination. There are going to be more and more questions on these thingsin the years ahead.  © Pearson Education Limited 2016 6 8Examiners like to see answers where students realise that all accounting is not found in textbooks, butexists for the use of businesses. Get them to use examples in essay questions based on what they haveobserved in the businesses around them.For example, a question on ratios and interpretation will often be answered by students just usingfigures. They should also say why the figures have changed; what possible causes there might havebeen.In their life outside their studies, they should observe how accounting is carried out. They all go atone time or another to refectories, restaurants, shops, department stores, clothes shops, travel on busesand trains, etc. They should observe how the money is calculated and collected, what sort of bills ortickets are given out, how fraud or errors could occur and so on. They can give this flavour of the realworld in their answers. Believe me, they will get better marks. Essay questions – how not to misunderstand them 1 List  the various pieces of informationwhich should be shown ona sales invoice.2 Describe what is meant by an imprest system.3Accounting based on historical costscan be misleading. Discuss .4The bookkeeper has said that if an errordoes not affect trial balance agreementthen it cannot affectanything else very much. You are to write a report  to the managing director stating whether or notyou agreewith the bookkeeper.5 Give five examplesof different compensating errors and explain whythey canceleach other out.6 Explain the differencesbetween the straight lineand reducing balancemethods of depreciation.7 Briefly describe the benefitsto be gained from maintaining control accounts.8 List  sixinstances of errorswhich could cause the trial balancetotals to disagree.9 Name three methodsof inventory valuation, and briefly describe any oneof them.10‘Withoutthe use of accounting ratios, much of the accounting workalready performedwould bewasted’. Discuss the amount of truthin this statement.11 How can retail storesuse accounting ratiosto help them to planfuture inventory levels?12 Assess the benefitsof double entryas comparedwith single entrymethods of bookkeeping.13 Define depreciationand describe how the annual chargeis worked out using the straight linemethod.14For a firm buying goods on credit, how can it calculatethe figure of purchaseseven though aPurchases Journalhas notbeen kept?15 List  the differencesbetween the income and expenditure accountof a cluband the income statementof a trading concern.16‘It is unsatisfactory for the treasurerof a clubto prepareand present to the members onlythe receiptsand payments accountas a summary of the records of the club’s activities for the year.’ Why is thistrue? What  is the betterthing to do?17You are to give your advice to the managing director of a company on the bestmanner of construct-ing departmental income statements.18 How do the financial statementsof a partnershipvaryfrom those of a sole trader, and why ?19 Consider the view that if profitwas not calculatedat all untilthe businesswas closeddown, thensuch a calculationwould be a simpleand straightforward affair.20You are to write a letter to a friendexplaining in simple termswhy profitdoes not necessarilymeanthat you have cash in the bank. Practice on past full examination papers If students have not tackled past papers, under as near examination conditions as possible, they will oftenget quite a shock when they first sit an accounting examination.This very often is due to two main reasons:( a )There is such a lot to do in such a short time.( b )Even though there is so much to do, in professional examinations in particular, many of the questionsare quite difficult with some complicated calculations or adjustments.If students can attempt, say, at least two such papers and then have their attempts marked and criticised,they will normally learn a lot from the experience. Examination questions and marking schemes It can be said that:( a )By and large, marking is ‘positive’, i.e. marks are awarded for what a student gets right, rather thanbeing deducted for what a student gets wrong. Sangster, Frank Wood’s Business Accounting 1 , 13 th Edition, Solutions Manual  © Pearson Education Limited 2016 7 ( b )Marks are deducted for untidy work, lack of headings, dates, sub-totals, etc.( c  )An incorrect part of an answer, with no workings attached to it, will get nil  marks.( d  )Extra, unnecessary answers, resulting from students failing to follow the rubric, will not be marked.( e )Not following the examiner’s instructions will lose marks. For example, marks will be lost if, whenasked for a ‘report’, a student gives a ‘list’; or if asked to ‘discuss’, a student gives only one side of theargument;or if asked to ‘define’, a student gives an ‘explanation’. Some examiners will award zeromarks, even though the answers given by the student show good knowledge of the topic. Others(including myself) would be kinder than that, but students cannot rely on this being the case. ( f  )An error that repeats itself through an answer should  lose only one set of marks. For instance, anerror in the trading account will also affect balances in the profit and loss account, appropriationaccount and balance sheet. In cases of this type, only one set of marks should be lost.(  g  )Guessing by students is not normally penalised. The one exception that may arise concerns multiplechoice questions where wrong answers may be penalised as an incentive to prevent students guessing.In this case, the examining body would make this information known well in advance of the exami-nation date.( h )The easiest marks to get, especially in an essay question, are the first few marks.( i )Good handwriting and well displayed answers will often (although theoretically they should not) gethigher marks than they deserve. This is simply because examiners are human beings with human fail-ings, and work that can be easily marked makes them feel generous.Alan Sangster Sangster, Frank Wood’s Business Accounting 1 , 13 th Edition, Solutions Manual  © Pearson Education Limited 2016 8 Sangster, Frank Wood’s Business Accounting 1 , 13 th Edition, Solutions Manual Answers Note: To save time and space,the months are omitted in the Ledger accounts which follow. The day of the month is shown in brackets. Answer to Question 1.2A BA 1 ( a )76,200( b )25,800( c )15,200( d  )52,050( e )52,000( f  )79,500 Answer to Question 1.4A BA 1 ( a )Asset( f  )Asset( b )Asset(  g  )Liability( c )Liability( h )Liability( d  )Asset( i )Asset( e )Asset Answer to Question 1.6A BA 1 Assets List Wrong: Accounts payable,Capital.Liabilities List Wrong: Loan to J Wilson, Equipment, Computers. Answer to Question 1.8A BA 1 Fixtures 1,200 + Van 6,000 + Inventory 2,800 + Bank 200 + Cash 175 = Total Assets 10,375.Loan 2,500 + Accounts payable 1,600 + Capital (difference) 6,275. Answer to Question 1.10A BA 1 M Kelly Statement of Financial Position as at 30 June 2016Non-current assets Equipment6,800 Current assets Inventory7,200Accounts receivable6,300Cash at bank4,20017,700 Less Current liabilities Accounts payable8,2009,50016,300Capital16,300  © Pearson Education Limited 2016 9 Answer to Question 1.12A BA 1 AssetsLiabilitiesCapital  ( a ) + Van + Accounts payable( b ) − Cash − Loan from F Duff ( c ) + Inventory − Bank( d  ) + Cash + Capital( e ) + Inventory − Accounts receivable( f  ) + Inventory + Accounts payable(  g  ) − Cash − Capital( h ) − Bank − Accounts payable Answer to Question 1.14A BA 1  J Hill Statement of Financial Position as at 7 December 2016Non-current assets Equipment6,310Car7,30013,610 Current assets Inventory8,480Accounts receivable3,320Bank9,510Cash48521,79535,405 Current liabilities Accounts payable1,76033,645Capital33,645 Answer to Question 2.11A BA 1 DebitedCreditedDebitedCredited  ( a )TrailorCash( b )J ToughBank( c )Loan from W SmallCash( d  )CashTrailor( e )Office equipmentDexter Ltd( f  )CashT Walls(  g  )BankL Tait( h )BankCapital( i )CashLoan from F Burns(  j )J FifeCash Sangster, Frank Wood’s Business Accounting 1 , 13 th Edition, Solutions Manual
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