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What is a CPA? And when might you need one? Although these accounting pros usually come to mind when it comes to filing income taxes, they can help with quite a few other things.
CPA stands for certified public accountant. It’s a credential an accounting professional can earn to demonstrate expertise in their field. Becoming a CPA requires passing an exam and fulfilling several education and experience requirements.
Internationally, accounting professionals with similar education and credentials are called CAs, or charted accountants.
To earn a CPA title, candidates must pass a 16-hour test called the Uniform CPA Examination. Before taking the exam, they must also meet an education requirement. Typically, that means completing 120 to 150 hours of credited coursework, with a minimum of 24 hours focused on accounting and 24 hours focused on business courses .
Becoming a CPA means meeting specific experience and ethics requirements, too. The state usually sets those parameters, but generally, you can’t officially be called a CPA until you’ve apprenticed under one for at least a year
Once an accountant has earned a CPA license, some work is required to maintain it. Many state boards ask certified public accountants to take additional courses throughout their careers to keep their skills sharp and up to date.
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The certified public accountant exam, formally called the Uniform CPA Examination, is a nationally administered test that sets the standards for the skills and knowledge CPAs must possess.
The exam has four sections: auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation. To pass, candidates must earn a score of at least 75 on each section.
People often think of CPAs when they think about tax preparation and filing, but these professionals can work in several industries, depending on their focus. This can include tax planning, financial reporting or working as an accountant for a private or public company.
CPAs are often the people who are called in to conduct audits — assessments of a business’s paperwork and financial statement. They can also hold chief controller or chief financial officer (CFO) positions, depending on their skill level and education.
Typically, an accountant is a person who has a degree in accounting from a higher education institution. However, this is not an official requirement because the general term “accountant” is largely unregulated in the U.S.
Accountants can provide similar services to a CPA, but CPAs are distinct from accountants in a few ways:
If you’re wondering how a CPA can assist you with taxes and whether you need one’s help in the first place, you can start by asking: Why do I need help, and what kind of help do I need?
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to filing, many resources can walk you through how to file your taxes. Once you’ve got the basics down, you might find that quality tax software is often helpful enough to get your annual tax forms in — some taxpayers may even be able to do their taxes for free.
Calling in a tax-focused CPA could make sense if you’re struggling to figure something out about your tax life, have complex needs or have questions you could use extra guidance with. If you need to file for a tax extension, for example, because you need extra help with your paperwork, a tax pro can help you to get back on track.
Certain people, such as business owners and those who are self-employed, might find working with a CPA beneficial because CPAs can also provide small-business tax advisory services, aka big-picture tax and financial planning, that might be particularly helpful to these taxpayers.
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A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional designation for the financial planning profession. Financial planners can earn the CFP designation after completing the CFP Board's education, exam, experience, and ethics requirements.
One of the more challenging steps in the process, the CFP exam, is a pass-or-fail test. You may register for the CFP exam after meeting the CFP Board's education requirements. Once you pass the exam, you will be one step closer to becoming a CFP professional, one of the most elite financial planning designations.
To create our list of the best CFP exam prep courses, we compared each program's features, including reputation, cost, guarantees, course materials, in-person classes, special features, and more. These are the best CFP exam prep courses for aspiring CFP professionals.
Staying on top of your finances is a key part of being a successful small business owner. Your financial data must be current and accurate so that you have the tools you need to make sound business decisions and implement healthy cash flow strategies.
As your business grows to include more customers, vendors and employees, keeping track of your finances on your own becomes more challenging. When your small business’s bookkeeping and accounting tasks are too much to handle by yourself, it’s time to hire help. But do you need a bookkeeper or an accountant? The terms sometimes are used interchangeably, and there can be some overlap in what they do but there are distinct differences.
Bookkeeping is a transactional and administrative role that handles the day-to-day tasks of recording financial transactions, including purchases, receipts, sales and payments. Accounting is more subjective, providing business owners with financial insights based on information gleaned from their bookkeeping data.
“Bookkeeping is designed to generate data about the activities of an organization,” said D’Arcy Becker, chair and professor in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Department of Accounting. “Accounting is designed to turn data into information.”
Bookkeepers handle the day-to-day tasks of recording financial transactions while accountants provide insight and analysis of that data and generate accounting reports.
Bookkeeping, in the traditional sense, has been around as long as there has been commerce ― since around 2600 B.C. A bookkeeper’s job is to maintain complete records of all money that has come into and gone out of the business. Bookkeepers record daily transactions in a consistent, easy-to-read way. Their records enable accountants to do their jobs.
Editor’s note: Looking for the right accounting software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
These are some typical bookkeeping tasks:
One of a bookkeeper’s primary duties is maintaining a general ledger, which is a document that records the amounts from sales and expense receipts. Ledgers can vary in complexity from a sheet of paper to specialized bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks and Xero, to track their entries, debits and credits. [Read our review of QuickBooks and our Xero review to learn more about these tools.]
Each sale and purchase your business conducts must be recorded in the ledger and some items will need documentation. You can find more information on which transactions require supporting documents on the IRS website.
There are no formal educational requirements to become a bookkeeper, but they must be knowledgeable about financial syllabus and accounting terms and strive for accuracy. Generally, an accountant or owner oversees a bookkeeper’s work. A bookkeeper is not an accountant, nor should they be considered an accountant.
Bookkeepers record financial transactions, post debits and credits, create invoices, manage payroll and maintain and balance the books.
Bookkeepers aren’t required to be certified to handle the books for their customers or employer but licensing is available. Both the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offer accreditation and licensing to bookkeepers.
AIPB certification requires bookkeepers to have at least two years of full-time work experience and pass a national exam. To maintain the credential, bookkeepers are required to engage in continuing education.
The NACPB offers credentials to bookkeepers who pass tests for small business accounting, small business financial management, bookkeeping and payroll. It also offers a payroll certification, which requires additional education.
To earn the certified public bookkeeper license, bookkeepers must have 2,000 hours of work experience, pass an exam and sign a code of conduct. They must take 24 hours of continuing education each year to maintain their license.
A bookkeeper with professional certification shows they are committed to the trade, possess the skills and expertise required and are willing to continue learning new methods and techniques.
The salary or rates you’ll pay a bookkeeper depend on your business and its bookkeeping needs. Three main factors affect your costs: the services you want, the expertise you need and your local market.
There are several advantages to hiring a bookkeeper to file and document your business’s financial records. Here are a few to consider:
“Accountants look at the big picture,” said John A. Tracy in his book Accounting for Dummies. “[They] step back and say, ‘We handle a lot of rebates, we handle a lot of coupons. How should we record these transactions? Do I record just the net amount of the sale or do I record the gross sale amount, too?’ Once the accountant decides how to handle these transactions, the bookkeeper carries them out.”
The accounting process produces reports that bring key aspects of your business’s finances together to supply you a complete picture of where your finances stand, what they mean, what you can and should do about them and where you can expect to take your business in the near future.
There is a difference between an accountant and a certified public accountant (CPA). Although both can prepare your tax returns, a CPA is more knowledgeable about tax codes and can represent you if you get audited by the IRS.
CPAs have passed the Uniform CPA exam ― a challenging exam that tests knowledge of tax laws and standard accounting practices.
Generally, accountants must have a degree in accounting or finance to earn the title. Then, they may pursue additional certifications, such as the CPA. Accountants may also hold the position of bookkeeper.
However, if your accountant does your bookkeeping, you may be paying more than you should for this service as you would generally pay more per hour for an accountant than a bookkeeper.
Accountants’ qualifications depend on their experience, licenses and certifications. To become an accountant, they must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
There are several types of accounting certifications that accountants obtain to expand their skill sets and gain positions within larger organizations. In addition to CPA credentials, other common accounting designations are chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certified internal auditor (CIA).
A CPA is an accountant who has met their state’s requirements and passed the Uniform CPA Exam. They must also meet ongoing education requirements to maintain their accreditation.
When interviewing for a CPA, look for an accountant who understands tax law and accounting software and has good communication skills. They should understand your industry and the unique needs and requirements of small businesses.
Awarded by the CFA Institute, the CFA certification is one of the most respected designations in accounting. In this program, accountants learn about portfolio management, ethical financial practices, investment analysis and global markets. To complete the program, accountants must have four years of relevant work experience.
CFAs must also pass a challenging three-part exam that had a pass rate of only 39 percent in September 2021. The point here is that hiring a CFA means bringing highly advanced accounting knowledge to your business.
A CIA is an accountant who has been certified in conducting internal audits. To receive this certification, an accountant must pass the required exams and have two years of professional experience.
CPAs can perform some of the same services as CIAs. However, you might hire a CIA if you want a more specialized focus on financial risk assessment and security monitoring processes.
According to the BLS, the median salary for an accountant in 2021 was $77,250 per year or $37.14 per hour. However, their years of experience, your state and the complexity of your accounting needs affect the price.
Accountants will either quote a client a fixed price for a specific service or charge a general hourly rate. Basic services could cost as little as $20 an hour while advanced services could be $100 or more an hour.
Hiring a small business accountant yields significant benefits. Here are some advantages to hiring an accountant over a bookkeeper:
Your business’s accounting needs might not require the in-depth expertise of a hired professional. You might also be watching your company’s list of expenses and wondering where to reduce spending. In either case, consider handling the accounting yourself or delegating this responsibility to one or a few of your current employees.
Accounting software allows you and your team to track and manage your business’s expense reports, invoices, inventory and payroll accurately and efficiently. To choose accounting software, start by considering your budget and the extent of your business’s accounting needs.
Many accounting programs have free versions that cover basics such as tracking income or generating financial reports. Wave Financial, for example, offers most of its services for free and allows an unlimited number of users to collaborate on financial projects. [Read our Wave Financial review for more information.]
Other programs charge annual or monthly fees and offer advanced features such as recurring invoices or purchase orders. While these services come at a cost, they can maximize the accuracy and efficiency of vital financial management processes.
It can be difficult to gauge the appropriate time to hire an accounting professional or bookkeeper ― or to determine if you need one at all. While many small businesses hire an accountant as a consultant, you have several options for handling financial tasks.
For example, some small business owners do their own bookkeeping on software their accountant recommends or uses, providing it to the accountant on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis for action. Other small businesses hire a bookkeeper or employ a small accounting department with data entry clerks reporting to the bookkeeper.
When looking for a certified bookkeeper, first decide if you want to hire an independent consultant, a firm or a full-time employee if your business is large enough. Ask for referrals from friends, colleagues or your local chamber of commerce or search online social networks like LinkedIn for bookkeepers.
You can also look at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to find CPAs with skills in certain areas, such as employee benefits or personal finance.
It may take some background research to find a suitable bookkeeper because, unlike accountants, they are not required to hold a professional certification. A strong endorsement from a trusted colleague or years of experience are important factors when hiring a bookkeeper.
Are you still not sure if you need to hire someone to help with your books? Here are three instances that indicate it’s time to hire a financial professional:
Whether you hire an accountant, a bookkeeper or both, ensure they’re qualified by asking for client references, checking for certifications or performing screening tests.
Accountants and bookkeepers both can offer valuable insight into your business’s financial situation, helping you make better decisions around cash flow and stay prepared when it comes to tax liabilities. For small businesses, adept cash management is a critical aspect of survival and growth, so it’s wise to work with a financial professional from the start. If you prefer to go it alone, consider starting out with accounting software and keeping your books meticulously up to date. That way, should you need to hire a professional down the line, they will have visibility into the complete financial history of your business.
Tejas Vemparala and Shayna Waltower also contributed to this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
The titles “accountant” and “bookkeeper” are often used interchangeably in business, so many confuse the roles or assume they are the same thing. You may be surprised to learn of the significant differences between an accountant and a bookkeeper, and the roles they perform.
The distinction is important because of one glaring difference between bookkeepers and accountants: cost. Accountants typically charge a much higher hourly rate than bookkeepers.
Consequently, relegating basic bookkeeping tasks to an accountant will leave you overpaying for financial services.
Accountants charge much more than bookkeepers, so you risk overpaying for basic financial tasks.
A bookkeeper is an administrative professional who follows a specific set of procedures or tasks related to the day-to-day financial management of a business. While the job may require specific skills, software knowledge, and training, becoming a bookkeeper requires no formal education or certification.
However, bookkeepers typically take a bookkeeping course or certification program to stay competitive in the field. For example, the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers offers a licensing program for industry professionals who wish to expand their expertise in the field.
An accountant is a more specialized financial professional who handles higher-level financial structuring and analysis for a business. Becoming an accountant requires a four-year college degree in accounting or finance, or in business administration with additional specialized training.
Also critical is the distinction of a certified public accountant – or CPA – which is a higher standard accounting professional who has completed sufficient training to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. This certification ensures that all CPAs operate according to standardized methods and ethical requirements. CPA exams are rigorous, consisting of four different tests administered over a four-hour period. The minimum score to pass the CPA examination is 75, according to the American Institute of CPAs.
While some accounting firms – or accounting departments within large companies – may comprise both certified and non-certified accountants, it is essential that at least one CPA holds the ultimate responsibility to manage your company’s finances. [Read related article: How to Hire the Right Accountant for Your Business]
To help you match the right task with the right professional for your business, let’s break down the tasks most commonly assigned to bookkeepers and accountants, respectively.
CPAs need to pass a rigorous four-hour exam in order to be certified.
Editor’s note: Need a bookkeeping or accounting service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.
With proper standards and procedures in place, a trained bookkeeper can manage these tasks for your firm:
Depending on how often your company requires these tasks to be completed, and the size of your business, you might choose to complete them yourself, assign them to an existing employee, contract with a third-party bookkeeping service, or hire a full-time bookkeeper. Some accounting firms also offer bookkeeping services at a separate rate.
This higher-level, more specialized tasks should be handled by a CPA (or by noncertified accountants with the careful oversight of a CPA):
Because these important tasks tend to be relatively infrequent, most small and midsize businesses work with an outside CPA or accounting firm on a contract basis to meet their accounting needs.
Too often, small businesses tend to leave bookkeeping tasks undone or poorly completed, forcing the company’s CPA to complete these tasks before they can handle higher-level accounting duties. In fact, this issue is so widespread that many accounting firms maintain in-house bookkeepers to handle related projects.
Particularly if you pay your accountant on an hourly basis, this can mean spending a mint on administrative tasks that could be completed at a much lower cost.
To reduce spending while maximizing the effectiveness of your financial team, work with both a quality bookkeeper and a certified public accountant. Ensure they communicate regularly and are using the same standardized methods and best practices. Understanding and properly delegating these roles will ultimately Strengthen your bottom line.
If you’d rather not hire a bookkeeper or an accountant, you do have another option for managing your company’s finances: choosing a software provider. Let’s look at the benefits of choosing software to handle your firm’s bookkeeping and accounting tasks, rather than hiring an additional contractor or employee.
If you decide to hire a bookkeeper or accountant, you’ll likely need to purchase their preferred software and cover their individual rates. With that in mind, choosing good accounting software can eliminate the need for a bookkeeper or accountant, saving you money in the long run. A few popular bookkeeping tools are Zoho Books, FreshBooks, Xero, and Kashoo.
Here’s an overview of what each program has to offer:
|Software||Starting cost||Mobile app||Pro||Con|
|Zoho Books||$15 per month||Yes||Recurring report generation||Limited transactions|
|FreshBooks||$4.50 per month||Yes||Easy invoice customization||No inventory tracking|
|Xero||$9 per month||Yes||Easy, interactive dashboard with step-by-step guides||Difficult invoice customization|
|Kashoo||$29.95 per month||Yes||Unlimited number of users||No project time tracking|
Opting to use software rather than hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is also a good way to minimize business risks. The more external sources that have access to important data, such as your business finances, the higher the risk of a data breach. Practicing due diligence during the hiring process is always a great way to minimize risks, but sticking to software can also ease your mind when it comes to your business information’s security.
Simply put, human error is always a possibility, even if you’ve hired an expert accountant or bookkeeper. Accounting software, however, eliminates the risk of small, costly errors that can impact your regulatory compliance. Compliance errors can cause irreparable damage to any brand, not to mention the potential IRS fines. Some accounting software providers offer to handle any issues that arise as a result of accounting errors, even offering to provide IRS representation and cover fines.
Meredith Wood contributed to the writing and research in this article.
Accounting remains a crucial part of any successful business venture in fields ranging from education to healthcare, technology to hospitality and more.
"Accounting is the language of business," said Ann McLaughlin, associate dean of accounting at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). According to McLaughlin, accountants identify, record and communicate business transactions and other relevant data — they convey important financial information.
Management accounting, she said, is a specialized type of accounting — a dialect within the language of business.
Management accountants are unique in the world of accounting because they typically hold in-house positions. That means management accountants work for an organization, agency or business directly rather than working for an accounting firm that serves various outside clients.
Financial accountants may come to mind when you think about accounting, but management accountants have different objectives. Instead of preparing reports for external stakeholders, management accountants provide relevant financial information for an organization’s internal management — its employees, managers and executives — to inform decision-making and Strengthen performance.
Unlike financial accountants, management accountants are focused on making future projections for a business or organization. They analyze and explain the "why" behind reporting the numbers.
Management accountants are strategic partners. They work to ensure future success by identifying ways to create value for their organization and its products or services. They do so by using numbers, data and research to help leadership minimize risk and maximize profit on behalf of the business.
Management accounting skills include functions of controllership or cost management, governmental and nonprofit accounting, international accounting, accounting in decision-making and analysis and business law and ethics. McLaughlin said some common roles for management accountants include:
“Management accounting is an essential function of any business or organization,” said McLaughlin. “It is the area of accounting that helps management make better decisions related to business performance using accounting data.”
Even accounting firms hire management accountants for their internal needs, but that’s far from your only option when looking for a position as a management accountant. As a management accountant, you could work in the private or public sector — and in almost any industry.
Management accountants can be found in:
Management accounting is everywhere. It might even be hard to think of a place of work that wouldn’t benefit from a management accountant’s expertise and skills.
Still, certain industries have more opportunities than others. “Most of the job opportunities are in the private sector, which promotes entry-level accounting staff,” McLaughlin said. These positions can be a great start to your career in management accounting.
Although financial accounting can be a springboard to management accounting, education can also supplement a financial accounting background. A majority of employers require candidates for accountant or auditor positions to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, according to BLS.
With the right combination of credentials and experience, you’ll be in a position to contribute positively to the strategic, tactical and operating decisions of your organization, whether you work in the for-profit, nonprofit or government sectors.
Job candidates with professional designations, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA), have specialized employment prospects, according to the BLS, and those with a master’s degree in accounting may also have an advantage.
The CMA professional certification can supply you a competitive edge because it signals your mastery of the critical accounting and finance management skills needed in today’s global business landscape. These skills include financial planning, analysis and professional ethics.
With the rising demand for accounting professionals, special credentials such as a management accounting certificate and CMA certification can help your resume stand out to supervisors and hiring managers.
According to the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), there are a few requirements you'll need to meet if you want to qualify for the certification (IMA PDF source). They include:
If you're interested in pursuing CMA certification, McLaughlin recommends visiting IMA online to learn more.
If you have some business acumen coupled with a head for numbers, a graduate certificate in management accounting is a great option for expanding your career potential. While a specialized graduate certificate surpasses the academic qualifications needed to become a CMA, earning one can supply you a unique advantage when it comes time to sit for the exam.
Whether you want to become certified or not, an advanced certificate can build on your expertise, strengthen and expand your skills and help you define and advance toward your personal and professional goals. In addition to mastering the latest accounting strategies, tactics and rules, those earning a graduate certificate in management accounting can develop and apply accounting practices based on broader business competencies in order to drive their organizations forward.
Asynchronous online options also help you simultaneously work toward the CMA certification's professional experience qualification. Plus, it means you don't have to interrupt your career in order to advance it.
According to Dr. Jennifer Teague, a senior associate dean of business programs at SNHU, a graduate certificate can also keep you relevant.
"Employees are looking for more flexible educational pathways in the form of skill-based certificates that demonstrate current knowledge in the field and a clear connection to an industry certification," she said.
And you can always put applicable credits toward a full-fledged master's in accounting program if you decide you want to earn a graduate degree, too. Or, you can work toward both credentials at the same time. Pairing a graduate certificate with a master's in accounting allows you to advance both your specialized and broad accounting knowledge and the technical skills and regulations that can make you a competent accountant.
A master’s in accounting with a graduate certificate in management accounting prepares you to pursue advanced positions within many kinds of organizations. This is true whether you’re working for a company, the government or a nonprofit, locally, nationally or internationally.
Stricter laws and regulations (notably in the financial sector) are expected to increase the demand for accounting services as organizations work to comply with applicable governing rules.
To navigate what BLS calls "a complex tax and regulatory environment," accounting roles and similar positions will grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031. And according to IMA, almost 75% of financial professionals today are management accountants, working in roles such as:
Some management accounting programs, including SNHU's graduate certificate, align with the syllabus explored in the CMA exam, meaning you can feel better prepared to take the two-part CMA exam once you've met all the requirements.
And if studying or working in the accounting field appeals to you, you probably know about the importance of a good return on investment. IMA reported CMA professionals earn 58% more than their non-certified peers.
In general, the median salary for all accountants and auditors was $77,250 in 2021, according to BLS, which was already far more than the $45,760 median salary for all occupations.
Whether you’re a new or seasoned accounting professional, specialized education in management accounting can help you make the most of growing employment opportunities.
"Management accounting may be a good specialization for students because it requires general accounting and knowledge of financial management," said McLaughlin. Advanced education in accounting can help you build your knowledge and become a competitive candidate in the field of management accounting.
Discover more about SNHU's graduate certificate in management accounting. Find out what courses you'll take, skills you'll learn and how to request information about the program.
Sofia Tokar is a freelance copywriter and editor in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @stokar or connect on LinkedIn.
This course is taught outside standard semester dates. Enrolment in this course is restricted to students admitted to the Master of Professional Accountancy (CA) or Postgraduate Professional Accountancy (CA) specialisation. Reliable broadband internet connection is required to watch educational videos, access research and practicing materials, complete online assessments, participate in discussion forums, chat groups, and virtual classes with other students, and complete learning activities.
To pass the subject a student must: • complete all assessments parts
It is assumed that students understand financial accounting and reporting principles and their application to the preparation and analysis of financial statements and the ethical principles which apply to professional accountants.
You need to complete the corequisite course or courses listed above at the same time as doing this one.
Learning outcomes can change before the start of the semester you are studying the course in.
Assessment weightings can change up to the start of the semester the course is delivered in.
You may need to take more assessments depending on where, how, and when you choose to take this course.
Chartered Accountants Foundation exam results are anticipated to be released soon by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Students can see their June CA foundation exam results on the ICAI‘s official website at icai.org. The date and time of the CA foundation findings will probably be announced today, according to certain media reports, however there hasn’t been any official confirmation from the institution as of yet.
In 290 locations across India, the ICAI June session tests were administered on June 24, 26, 28, and 30.
A printout of the final scorecard can also be used for future reference.
Results can also be checked via SMS for which the candidates have to type “CAFND” followed by space and 6-digit-roll number and send it to 57575.
Candidates can apply for the CA Intermediate exam after passing the CA Foundation exam. On August 10, 2022, the CA Foundation test results for the June session were released. The results of the intermediate and final exams for chartered accountants, which were held in May 2023, were released by the ICAI earlier this month. Speaking of Topper, Prakhar Varshney from Delhi and Kalpesh Jain G from Chennai came in second and third place in the CA Final exams, respectively, according to careers360. Jain Akshay Ramesh from Ahmedabad secured first place. According to TOI, Y Gokul Sai Sreekar from Hyderabad, Noor Singla from Patiala, and Kavya Sandeep from Mumbai earned the top three rankings in the Inter exams, respectively.
A tutor said the Business, Accounting and Financial Studies (BAFS) exam for this year’s Diploma of Secondary Education was relatively straightforward as it had no questions about syllabus outside the syllabus, while two candidates said they were confident in achieving Level 5 or above in the subject.
On Thursday, about 9,390 students sat the exam, which was adjusted as it was last year because of the pandemic, with some questions in Paper 2A and 2B made optional to supply students more time.
Andy Yeung, a star tutor from Beacon College, said Paper 1’s multiple-choice questions were easier than they were last year, and Paper 2’s questions were predictable as they mostly dealt with syllabus that last year’s exam did not cover.
On Paper 1, candidates were required to answer 30 multiple-choice questions and four out of five short-answer questions. Yeung said this section of the exam usually asked difficult questions that even teachers might get wrong, but that was not the case this year.
“Last year, the multiple-choice questions were a bit challenging, and the average score was 16 out of 30, while this year I believe the mean could increase to 18,” he said.
The tutor singled out one question as being relatively tricky – Question 10 which asked about accounts payable. “Students might mix up the term with ‘trade payable’ and thus choose the wrong option,” he explained.
Some of Paper 1’s short-answer questions asked students to use words instead of calculations to explain their answers. Photo: Shutterstock
As for the short-answer questions in Paper 1, Yeung said some were asked in a format that candidates might not have been familiar with. For example, Question 1, which dealt with ratios, did not require students to do calculations but to use words to explain the advantages of partnership and comment on profitability.
“This type of question was last tested in 2012 or 2013. So it might be challenging to some students who might not be familiar with using words to answer a ratio question,” the tutor noted.
According to Yeung, Question 3, which covered risk management and SMART goals, was designed well: “It is a typical question in business management and is relatively easy. But it was also the first time risk management appeared in the short-answer questions.”
The tutor said it would not be easy to get full marks on Paper 1 because of the surprises in the short-answer questions.
On Paper 2, students could choose from the 2A Accounting Strand and the 2B Business Management Strand. Yeung said most students would attempt Paper 2A, which is his specialisation.
For the Accounting Strand, the tutor observed that students were better prepared for the new exam format and started with Section B to maximise their time.
“Last year, students were not familiar with the revised exam format, so they didn’t know how to answer the paper strategically which caused them to run out of time,” Yeung shared. “But this year, many students told me they had enough time to answer all the questions.”
Tutor Andy Yeung says this year’s students had enough time to answer all the required questions on Paper 2 of the BAFS exam. Photo: Shutterstock
Some of Paper 2’s questions covered basic BAFS syllabus taught in Secondary Four, such as depreciation and book of original entry, which were on Question 1, said Yeung.
“Many students told me Question 1 was very simple, but some said they didn’t study those easy syllabus as they didn’t think they would appear in the exam,” he added.
In Section B, the tutor said most students chose to answer Questions 4 and 6, which were not difficult. As for Section C, he said Question 7 dealt with correction of error, making it an easier choice than Question 8, which was about incomplete records.
Hayden Cheung, a student from Good Hope School in Wong Tai Sin, agreed with Yeung that the BAFS exam was close to what she had expected.
She said both papers were “pretty easy” as most questions covered syllabus she studied, except for Paper 1’s Question 28, which asked about the features of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).
“That question was a bit challenging as I didn’t study the subject in detail, so I just randomly guessed an answer,” said the 17-year-old who sat the exam in a school in Kwun Tong.
Overall, Hayden said she had enough time to complete the exam. After finishing both papers, she still had more than 10 minutes to check her answers. “I think I might reach Level 5 or 5*,” she said.
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) is a free trade agreement between mainland China and Hong Kong. Photo: ISD
Evanna Chung, a student from the same school, also said this year’s exam was “manageable”.
The 18-year-old said she was confident in scoring a Level 5** in the subject because the difficulty of this year’s exam was similar to previous years and all the question types had been seen before.
“The exam time was sufficient, and there was nothing unexpected,” said the candidate who took the exam in a school in Kwai Tsing.
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