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QE2 RESULTS

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Top three candidates:

1st               Laura Sassoon – Stanlib Wealth Management *

2nd             Richard Tunstall – Investec *

3rd              Nicolas van der Meer – Standard Bank *

* All three candidates passed with Honours (75% and above)

The Financial Management route is one of two streams (the other being auditing) that prospective students can follow to obtain the prestigious CA(SA) designation.

 

PART II OF THE QUALIFYING EXAMINATION (FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT) (NOV 2007)

SAICA is pleased with the increase in pass rates achieved in the Part II Financial Management examination.  An overall pass rate of 53% was achieved in the Financial Management Part II of the Qualifying Examination (QE II), up from the prior years 41% pass rate.

Pass rates for first time candidates was 63% compared to 51% in the prior year.  Repeat candidates pass rates also improved from a 25% pass rate last year to a 41 % pass rate this year.  The number of repeat candidates as a percentage of the overall population continues to increase as a percentage of the overall population with 70 out of 146 candidates being repeat candidates.  This continues to have a negative effect on the overall pass rates achieved in the QE II this year.

It is pleasing to note that just over half the overall number of passes in this exam were Black (African, Coloured and Indian) comprising 39 of the 77 passes. Pass rates among African candidates also improved from the prior year.

The following TOPP organisations produced the most passes;

Investec (12),

FirstRand (9),

Nedbank (7), and

Shoprite Checkers (7).

The QE II written in November 2007 saw the format of the exam being changed to accommodate the more case study format of the exam.  The exam was formally split into two questions which were written in two separate sessions with a lunch break between sessions.  In addition, 20 minutes reading time was given prior to the commencement of the writing of each question.  This time is to assist candidates by giving them time to read and absorb the facts of the question before commencing with their written answers, thereby giving them sufficient time to absorb the salient facts being presented to them. In addition it would have prevented candidates in overrunning their time between the two questions.

The poor pass rates can be attributed to the following:

Specific comments:

The paper was challenging overall and dealt with practical issues.  It is clear from the analysis of the results that candidates found question 1 to be more difficult than question 2. This is not surprising as question 1 included financial analysis (a topic that has been poorly answered historically) and required significant application of knowledge by candidates.

Generally the exam technique displayed by most candidates was disappointing.  This would include:

  • not reading the required carefully (despite the fact that this was provided as part of the reading during the additional 20 minutes reading time);
  • dumping information in the hope that the examiner will award marks for something (this only irritates markers and the candidate wastes valuable time);
  • time management;
  • a legible handwriting and setting out answers in a manner that is easy to read; and
  • clarity of expression.

In addition candidates did not apply themselves properly in this exam.

It is a concern that candidates did not do better in this exam both with regard to application as well as exam technique.  A number of available marks were for presentation and candidates should easily have scored full marks for this, but few made use of the opportunity.

Overall, the standard of the examination was in line with that of prior years.

Detailed analyses of the questions are set out for each question later in the examiners  comments document which can be found on the SAICA website. But in general it is clear that candidates struggled with sections that required application of knowledge and/or original thought.

  • The paper covered a broad range of issues and was a fair test of candidates’ ability to apply knowledge to specific scenarios. However the poor results achieved by many candidates indicate that candidates are not comfortable attempting “case study” type questions.
  • The majority of the questions required discussion rather than detailed calculations. Candidates are also not comfortable with this type of question, performing relatively better in the calculation type sections.  Discussion type questions are appropriate for a test of professional competence as this is an assessment of one of the key skills that is required of them in the work place.
  • Financial analysis is an area that candidates have struggled with in the Part I and Part II (Financial Management) examinations over the past couple of years. Candidates again failed to do well in the financial analysis requirements of the question.
  • Candidates displayed a general inability to absorb and apply information provided in the question, and poor planning (many candidates wrote comments in illogical order indicating limited or no planning of attempts to question). Common mistakes or issues included:
  • Repeating information provided without offering any interpretation of such information;
  • Few candidates considered the implications of certain issues despite the required section expressly asking for such commentary;
  • Candidates often referred to the “tax implications” of the proposed transaction without being specific as to which category of taxation (CGT, income tax, STC).
  • Many candidates made generic comments without applying their minds to the specific facts and circumstances

General comments:

From a review of candidates’ answers to the two examination questions for the November 2007 examination the following basic deficiencies were identified. These problems affected the overall performance of candidates, and it is a matter of concern that candidates annually make the same mistakes year in and year out.

  • Basic numeracy skills
  • Application of knowledge
  • Layout and presentation
  • Irrelevancy
  • Recommendations / interpretations
  • Examination technique

Key statistics:

QE Part II – Financial management

First timers vs repeat candidates

2007 vs 2006

Fail

 

Pass

 

TOTAL

 

% Pass

 

First timers

 

28

 

48

 

76

 

63%

 

Repeats

 

41

 

29

 

70

 

41%

 

TOTAL 2007

 

69

 

77

 

146

 

53%

 

First timers

 

38

 

39

 

77

 

51%

 

Repeats

 

35

 

12

 

47

 

25%

 

TOTAL 2006

 

73

 

51

 

124

 

41%