Why first time exam passes matter

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Alex Miller takes a look at why both employers and academics place such emphasis on the ability of trainees to pass their exams at the first time of asking.

The jobs market is a tough environment in which to shine, with employers using ever-stricter criteria to filter down trainee applications to find the right candidate. As a result, from an employer point of view, it has arguably never been so crucial to try to achieve first time exam passes.

It is perhaps more important to avoid resits than achieve top marks, certainly as you progress through your career.

Employers can be put off by trainees taking a long time to complete their course and are increasingly unlikely to pay for retakes, while getting ever tighter with study leave. If they do offer study leave or fund courses they want to be confident that you’ll pass first time.

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22nd Oct 2012 12:17

Wonder if George Osbourne

passed first time, as it seems even with his academic qualifications and experience he is unable to work out the difference between standard class and first class....and perhaps given his other failings one should perhaps not put so much on his qualifications and instead concern themselves with his real life experience in the area he manages.....  

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By chatman
to Duggimon
22nd Oct 2012 22:06

Osborne's not an accountant. Is he?

justsotax wrote:

Wonder if George Osbourne passed first time

Osborne's not an accountant. Is he?

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22nd Oct 2012 15:00

Anyone could mistake the cost of a standard class ticket for a first class ticket


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22nd Oct 2012 15:16

...i guess so...

although perhaps the biggest clue was when buying it....'would you like a first class or standard class ticket....standard class please....'  

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22nd Oct 2012 17:54

I doubt Ozzy buys his own tickets.

Surely a pass is a pass is a pass

Otherwise perhaps learner drivers should be time barred?



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22nd Oct 2012 20:04

Consistency too

I used to do graduate recruitment and 'Milk Round' interviews for chartered accountants and our student statistics showed clearly that students with a consistent academic record through school and university were statistically far more likely to pass their ICAEW exams first time. There seemed to be a direct correlation between O' Level success and ACA results!

That's not to say that there aren't some excellent (probably male) candidates who were late achievers and wasted their time at school. But when smaller firms are contemplating the not insignificant investment required to train a chartered student they are always going to take the safest bet.


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By rohit
23rd Oct 2012 09:27

Net profit value???

One of my colleagues passed first time. An year passed & he was on the phone asking me the meaning of net present value....commonly referred to as NPV. According to him it meant "net profit value". Close but not close enough!

Too be fair to him he did work hard although IMO there is no substitute for common sense. I know quite a few qualified accountants who you simply wouldnt employ. If two candidates came for a job one with 1st time passes and other with a couple of fails I wouldnt simply discriminate on these grounds alone. There are other factors that contribute significantly such as background & experience, achievements in both personal and professional life.

I would offer them both a window of opportunity to prove their capabilities using numerical/verbal reasoning tests or real life situtational tests. 

Although some of the tests these days that employers use are so irrelevant & have no meaning e.g. abstract tests and they kind of shoot themselves in their own foot by employing the wrong people.

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23rd Oct 2012 11:37

Look at the cicumstances

What is missing from this is that interviewers should, although probably don't, look at the circumstances.

In my own case, I went from consistent first time passes with really good grades (sorry to blow my own trumpet - I'm normally modest, honest !), to a year where every exam was either a fail or a "just scrape through".  An interviewer would probably consign me to the useless pile for that, but if they listened to the circumstances, they'd perhaps understand that a crisis at work leading to everyone working 14-16 hour shifts for the month before the exams, coupled with the cancellation of all holidays and study leave, might just have had an impact !

It's sad that in the current economic situation, there seem to be so many applicants for each job that interviewing becomes a converyor-belt box-ticking exercise for all but the final shortlisted applicants.

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23rd Oct 2012 16:03

@chatman you are
right, he is just in charge of the country's finances....

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24th Oct 2012 17:56

Maybe the maxim should now be if at first you don't succeed keep quiet about it or try something else.

Perhaps this train ticket saga is being blown out of all proportion.Its not as if the nation's gold reserves have been sold at rock bottom.

This debate illustrates to me the importance of taking a balanced approach to ALL the relevant facts rather than focussing on just one be it first time passes or railway carriage signs.

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24th Oct 2012 18:44

The last time I took a train
it detailed on the ticket the seat/carriage.....it really isn't rocket science. Yes it may not be the kings ransom....but if did work for someone at a cost of £150 and didn't get paid would you feel the same.

Perhaps the reason for the focus is the message that GO is trying to push on everyone else....

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By Nimrod
12th Jul 2013 17:31

Absolute nonsense


Promoting a first time pass or nothing culture will inevitably end with robotic exam passers and no backbone to the profession. My hat is taken off to those who despite difficult circumstances - be they family, financial or intellectual or all three - eventually pass and become useful servants to the industry. Lovely to pass first time of course but that is no indicator of common sense or work ethic. The issue here is more to do with employers short changing and abandoning their trainees for self promotional purposes.

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