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BMAN 10501 Financial Reporting

Feedback on examination and assessment

This unit is assessed through a combination of a computer based multiple choice


test in December, for 25% of the marks, and 1.5 hour unseen examination in
January, for 75%. The examination comprises one compulsory question (35
marks) and one from each of two choices of optional questions (20 marks each),
one of which is more technical and one more discursive.

Overall outcomes

A total of 422 students were listed as candidates for this subject. The average
overall mark attained by students who completed the assessment for this course
is 55.40%. This is within what might be considered an acceptable range for a first
year introductory course with many students who have not studied accounting
previously and compares well to the average result in previous years.

The grade distribution below (which includes all students) also shows a
significant number of students recording very strong overall marks 87 (approx.
20% of the group) achieved marks at first class level. However, the manner in
which these results have been achieved does give some cause for concern. The
average mark awarded for the examination was only 47.07% and it is
disappointing that on average students could only attain third class in the
examination. The presence of such a large tail of students being awarded an
overall fail mark, is a concern, especially given that the average mark attained
on the December computer based test was 80%. Based on the examination
alone around one third of students would have failed.

Grade distribution of overall marks


90-100 80-89 70-79 60-69 50-59 40-49 30-39 0-29 Total
n 2 17 68 87 89 82 39 25 409
% 0.5 4.2 16.6 21.3 21.8 20.0 9.5 6.1 100

The December test was first introduced to the assessment for this course partly
so that students would have feedback from their performance in the test and
would then have time to make adjustment before the examination. It now seems
that what might be happening is that, conversely, many students react to a good
mark in the test by not preparing properly for the examination and so the results
in that exam are worse that should be expected.

Examination performance

The first table below shows the distribution of total marks (out of 75) awarded for
the examination, and students can benchmark themselves against the rest of the
group on the basis of their own exam mark (total mark awarded for the course
less mark from the December assessment). The second table shows the question
by question averages and is followed by observations from markers about
strengths and weakness in the ways in which different questions were answered.
A separate feedback report on the Computer Based Assessment in December
has been made available previously in Blackboard

Distribution of examination total marks


Total Ave As %
Max 75 70-75 60-69 50-59 40-49 30-39 20-29 10-19 0-9 No. Mk
Total n 1 8 52 107 106 87 38 11 409 35.3 47.07

.
Question by question marks
Section Section Section
A B C
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5
Mean 18.4 10.6 9.3 8.2 4.8
n 407 354 50 288 82

Feedback comments on performance

Further to the earlier points about the disappointing level of overall performance
in the examination the main general comments are:
1. A large proportion of students simply did not seem to have come to terms
with basic accounting technique. The examination questions mirror the kind
of things covered extensively in workshops, lecture illustrations and self-
study exercises but too few students really demonstrated that they had
mastered technical matters and so tended to pick up less than full marks on
every section/question.
2. A significant number also either did not answer three questions or answered
questions in very cursory terms, perhaps demonstrating knowledge of a term
or idea but not understanding of its meaning. In these cases the volume of
material included certainly did not suggest that this incompleteness and
brevity was caused by time pressure, but rather by insufficient preparation.
3. There was a striking pattern in the choice of optional questions, with the
large majority of students picking question 2 (ratio analysis) rather than
question 3 (cash flow) in Section B and question 4 (accounting choice and
judgement) rather than question 5 (objectives and limitations of financial
reporting) in Section C. This suggests students had a clear preference for
answering on these topics and so it is even more disappointing that the
quality of answers wasnt higher.

Question 1 (Average: 18.4/35 = 53%)


Every year the examination has included a question to test basic knowledge of (i)
how to make adjustments in simple accounting records and (ii) how the main
published financial statements are structured. This year the question was made
easier by reversing and separating the requirements so that any difficulties with
(i) would not cause problems in (ii). Nonetheless, some students approached the
question as though it was stated in the previous form, suggesting rather too
much reliance on learning by past questions rather than actually studying the
subject itself.
Part (a) on the structure of financial statements was generally well-answered,
although there were some common problems such as including interest in
operating expenses.
Part (b) required records for a set of transactions/information and was less
well-answered. The last part of (b) asked for the overall effect on equity as a
means of testing understanding of how changes impact on the net ownership
interest but was ignored entirely by a large number of students, meaning
that marks were inevitably lost.
Part (c) asked for a presentation of the IASB qualitative characteristics of
financial reporting information. This was presented in lecture as well as
referenced as essential reading but many students failed to discuss
qualities of information and referred to other things, such as the financial
statements themselves, that werent directly relevant to the question asked.
A number of students did not attempt part (c), suggesting lack of knowledge
bout qualitative characteristics.

Question 2 (Average: 18.4/35 = 53%)


Answers to part (a) generally gave sensible statements about advantages and
limitations of ratio analysis, but many could have explained their points more
fully.
Parts (b) and (c) gave considerable choice over which ratios students discussed
and required good knowledge of only a small number of ratios. While students
tended to pick up some marks for the calculations the quality of explanation of
what ratios meant could have been considerably better. Also, rather a lot of
student seemed to be confused over the difference between return/profitability
and efficiency, and even offered financial risk ratios such as gearing.

Question 3 (Average: 10.6/20 = 53%)


This question was chosen by relatively few students.
Answers to part (a) tended to be quite descriptive, simply describing a cash
inflow or outflow as such but without explaining what might have happened
in the company;
The calculation of cash flow from operations in part (b) was well answered by
many.

Question 4 (Average: 9.3/20 = 46.5%)


Many answers to part (a) gave a description of the mechanics of an area of
accounting policy such as how different methods of depreciation are applied but
without really considering the issues around choice motivations, short run/long
run etc. Also answers could have been strengthened by more reference to
accounting conventions and principles.

Question 5 (Average: 4.8/20 = 24%)


This question was answered by only a small proportion of students and the main
general weakness was a failure to actually answer the question asked. A good
answer would give a clear articulation of the objective of financial statements,
demonstrate understanding of areas of controversy and development around
elements in that definition and discuss the limitations of reporting information.
Too many answers provided general points about any aspect of reporting without
addressing the question.

Stuart Turley
Course Convenor