Alex Miller asks tutors at BPP and LSBF whether accountancy exams have fallen prey to grade inflation, or have become harder in recent years.
Institute pass rates can be quite variable at paper level, but according to top colleges, there has been no significant overall increase or decrease in long-term averages to suggest that passing professional accounting exams have become harder or easier to pass than in days gone by.
What has changed over the last 15 to 20 years is that the number of exams students need to pass on their way to qualification has generally reduced slightly.
What has also changed over this 20-year time period is the amount of flexibility that is now built in to the progression rules governing how a student can plot a path through the exam matrix.
Another key change is the move towards computer-based assessment (CBA) and the introduction of what are effectively “exams on demand”. These again offer significantly more flexibility for students, allowing them to sit an exam when they want to (and you would assume, when they are ready for it).
Arguably these are tools that many students should be very comfortable with from their day jobs (more so than pen, paper and calculator) but it doesn’t seem to make the exam itself any less daunting for them.
The most significant challenge for accountancy students studying today compared to the previous generation, is the need to balance their studies with demanding work commitments.