Comments by OpenTuition on the June 2012 Paper F5 examination

There has been a lot of criticism of ACCA June 2012 Paper F5 examination  on the OpenTuition forums.

It would certainly be difficult to get very high marks, but this is the same with all ACCA exams – they are not meant to be easy!

However, a well-prepared student who attempted the exam sensibly should have been able to get pass marks without too much difficulty.

It is clear that too many students rely on question-spotting and on tutors’ guesses. The Paper F5 syllabus is very large and there is no alternative but to study the entire syllabus.

For many students this will have been their first ACCA examination (because of exemptions). It is too easy to under-estimate the level of difficulty and the amount of studying required.

(Download June 2012 F5 examination Questions here >>)

Question 1

Part (a) was a reasonably standard question on relevant costing. There was a lot to read, but students should have been able to get pretty high marks on this part.

Part (b) was asking for a make-or-buy decision with limited labour. It needed the answer to part (a) for the calculations (but as usual marks are not lost twice if students took the right approach). It was a topic that many students will not have concentrated on in their studies, but even so they should have been able to make a decent attempt.

Part (c) asked for non-financial factors to be considered when making a decision about outsourcing. This did not require anything from the previous parts of the question and was a fairly easy 5 marks.

Overall: even those students who had not studied make-or-buy decisions should certainly have been able to score 50% from a combination of parts (a) and (c)

Question 2

This question was entirely written and was about target costing, which is certainly a core topic for Paper F5.

Part (a) – the steps involved, and part (b) – characteristics that distinguish services from manufacturing, were both very standard textbook topics and students should have been capable of scoring pretty highly from the 10 marks available.

Part (c) was not textbook and expected students to apply their understanding of target costing to the scenario in the question. This was not so easy (although the ‘clues’ were there) but was only 4 marks in total.

Part (d) asked for three difficulties in using target costing. Given the pressure in examinations it might have been hard to think of three points, but students who understood the idea of target costing should have certainly been able to think of two points.

Overall: there was a lot to read in this question. However, students who read the requirements first would have realised that there were 10 marks (parts (a) and (b)) that did not require reading the scenario at all and could have been attempted fairly quickly.

Question 3

Part (a) of this question was on time-series analysis, and was an unusual (and, for most students, unexpected) topic for Paper F5 – particularly since it is examinable in Paper F2. (However, students who were exempted from Paper F2 are less likely to have covered it previously at university.)

The question did not make it clear how the trend was to be forecast before adjusting for the average seasonal variation.

Although the arithmetic involved was not particularly difficult, it is certainly a question that will have upset many students.

Part (b) however was more straightforward in asking for the likely impact on the staff and business of the budgeting style and inaccurate sales forecasts, for 10 marks. There was enough information in the scenario to make several points reasonable easily and sensible students should have been able to score fairly high marks on this part.

Overall: students who had not spent time preparing time-series would have found part (a) difficult. However, provided that they spent time answering part (b) they should still have been able to scrape the 50% pass marks.

Question 4

Part (a) was a straightforward variance analysis question (for 12 marks), which should not have presented too much difficulty.

Part (b) mentioned TQM and has been the subject of enormous criticism on the OpenTuition forums. Certainly it is a topic that has not featured in Paper F5 before, but it did not require any real knowledge of TQM to be able to write a decent answer. The real question was the potential conflict between concentrating on quality and measuring performance using quantitative variances.

Overall: yet again, it would have been hard for many students to get very high marks on this question, but a combination of a reasonably straightforward part (a) and some sensible comments for part(b) should have meant that most students scored at least the 50% required.

Question 5

This question was made up of five small sections, all of which were testing aspects of ROI and RI.

These are core topics for Paper F5 and all students should have been familiar with them. As such it was a very straightforward question.

Overall: all students should have found this to be one of the easier questions in the paper and should certainly have been able to achieve pass-marks without too much difficulty.


  1. avatar says

    I did not question spot and went through the syllabus as thoroughly as possible.

    I agree with some of what you have written above. However I still feel the exam was slightly odd, in terms of the left-field nature of some questions.

    Students, in general work hard enough and stress enough as it is, yet to be given 8 mark Q’s on TQM and 10 marks on a complicated, ambiguous Time-Series analysis Q seems, for the wanting of not sounding like sour grapes, a tad unfair. That’s 18% of the marks… almost a fifth of the paper.

    There was a fair bit of lengthy reading to do as well. Target costing is not a difficult subject, per se, but the entire Q was written and to read and spot the “clues” was tough in the time. Personally I was happy with my answer to this Q, but can sympathise with students who did not.

    I believe the last sitting of this paper also caused outrage through the OT forum…. A theme emerging here..

  2. avatar says

    And one other point. This Paper was put on the ACCA website over the w/end, and is currently been taken off.

    This happened last time as well, I believe.

    Sure nothing sinister is at work but why publish it and then take it down…?

  3. avatar says


    Can we have the same post for P5 please. There has been a lot of fustration and anger by students in terms of the way the paper was set. We are all feeling a little cheated as the questions were so difficult to inrepret even for those students (like me) who studied all the topics and did a lot of revision practice from the kit.

  4. avatar says

    I do not agree that this level of difficulty was at all ACCA papers!

    Just look at the students’ comments and you will see that “disaster” was met only at F5 paper.

    And I can believe that everybody is studying hard at all papers except for F5…

  5. Profile photo of John Moffat says

    I do agree that this time the exam was a little bit unusual – certainly with regard to the time series.
    With regard to the TQM, I think many people might have been put off by the use of the expression TQM but in fact it was more just the quality side of it than the TQM itself.

    I do agree about having a 20 mark completely written question – I do not like that at all. However it does seem to be the style of this examiner.

    With regard to the last sitting – what you say is true, but read my reply to the later post.

  6. Profile photo of avaiz says

    Fair enough, at this ACCA level, papers are meant to be tough and difficult, but students should have given chance to score in atleast 02 Question, but in this paper only one scoring Question i.e Q5, and that Q5 itself contains so much calculations with concepts along with theoritical portion, hence you can’t save your time in that Q and aportioned in subsequent Questions. Everybody knows that writing in theories too much of time consumed, the paper itself was not so much tough, but for average students it was so difficult to apportion your time from less consuming to high consuming Questions.

  7. avatar says

    Q1 relevant costing was time consuming and litle bit tricky.
    Q2 was from target costing but tell me who thought there will be all 20 mark from this and full question will be theory only.
    Q3 part b was uncommon.
    Q4 no body expect budgeting question will be like this.
    Q5 was from common topic but based on 5 part which is very difficult to answer under time presure.

    Getting 50% from question like this is very difficult!!

  8. avatar says

    yes I am exempted from F2 but this was my fourth ACCA exam and was most frustrating. As everyone says we covered the syllabus through classes, open tuition and past papers etc but still felt unprepared for the style of questioning. It seems that more obscure areas were purposefully targeted, what’s wrong with the more mainstream areas??!!

  9. avatar says

    I did not spot. The examinar questions only increase our cost, increase our time to pass as a result our confidence on ACCA will be low, because of new. The examinar should follow the similarity of previous years questions style. In his June exam he turn 90o (degree) from the past. I believe this paper pass rate will be lower from F1 to F9 Papers. Final exam should not practice exam which the examinar did.
    I recemmend this examinar should change and by this next time will pass.

  10. avatar says

    I found it not only difficult but also harder than F6 previous exam in DEC 2011 .
    unfortunately non of questions were not same as the exam kit( revision) book samples.
    I don’t know why ACCA don’t want to give the same questions as their offered practice books .

  11. avatar says

    As this was my 1st Acca paper. It was tough. But as the lecturer (whose lectures is fabulous!!) said it wasn’t realy a tough paper. I think we were just caught off gaurd. I didn’t spot at all and still struggled a lot. I winged the teorie questions and hope to earn enough marks to pass.
    My only concern if i dont pass this time round, the december exam cycle is going to be a killer with all subjects written in a week!!!

  12. avatar says

    To say the truth this paper was so difficulty as compared to the previous one,last sitting as least i managed to score 48% thinking that this time will clear the paper,but the way i see it won’t be possible its time consuming and frustrating at the same time,i covered the whole syllabus & did alot of revision,this is my third time writing this paper and its so,so,so discouraging to say the truth and time wasting.

  13. avatar says

    This was very disgusting even Opentution failed to recognize the topic of final revision. This is not a credit make such type of question. Atlist there should be a minimum standard of a question. I think as a participant the examiner could not manage his time for answering full question.

  14. avatar says

    “It is clear that too many students rely on question-spotting and on tutors’ guesses. The Paper F5 syllabus is very large and there is no alternative but to study the entire syllabus.”

    The biggest problem for me was not “question-spotting” – it was the fact that I was unable to “study the entire syllabus” because I used the Kaplan textbook – which does not actually appear to cover the full syllabus.

    Someone at the ACCA or at Kaplan owes a big apology to students who relied on the Kaplan study text.

  15. Profile photo of domittila says

    If this is how this paper is going to be set then quit producing revision kits and stop encouraging us to be going through past papers as practice and preps for exams because it was a waste of time and resources for me personally. Why should articles on certain topics even be released months before the exam if they are not going to be examined? i mean it has always been the trend with other ACCA examiners why should it be different with paper f5? I think it’s very unfair to make people fail like this because we spend a lot of resources just to sit for those papers especially us students from Africa. The f5 examiner should really go back to the drawing board.

  16. avatar says

    All i can hope is that the ACCA F5 Examiner goes through these comments n tries to help the students by either not being too strict on corrections or by lowering the passs mark…probably by doing an average or something…. (Hope he takes into consideration the complaints of the students)

  17. Profile photo of hope2k42000 says

    @jossy123, yes! I agree that the paper was difficult.. Examiner mindset was on area dat are not the core area of f5.. Even me am not sure of passing f5 except by mistakes or errors despite my coverage.. I hv analysed various reasons why this particular stream looked so difficult 4 f5 students.. 1st: students that make use KAPLAN f5 txtbk.. i believe dat those that make use of BPP shouldn’t complain abt this particular exam. Differences btw manufacturing & servicg coy is there in bpp but not in kaplan 6mks gone. FORECASTING Well detailed in BPP infact the same the examiner brought is exactly the one in bpp but the forecast in kaplan nothing like moving average jst a mere example which can nt b used 2 solve q3 now 14mrks gone.. TQM Is well detailed in BPP also link to standard variance.. 2rd reasons why students found dis particular f5 stream difficult is because of NON-CORE AREA WAS TESTED.. I notices that those questions that was examined has either one or few examples in the textbook which are not up to exam standard questions even some are not in revision kids.. So whn such questns are set studnts struggle with it and also to apply the concept because there is no enough questns to practices on that particular qustns.. 3rd is time pressure! ACCA continue to increase the level of complexity of questions and the volume of questions why 3hrs remain the same from year to years.. I will like you to pick up 1990 past questns it was stil 3hrs direct qustn, simply and no complexity And compare to 2day’s questions stil 3hrs. We students ned 2 undstd the scenerio 1st of all which 15mins reading time was given, meaning dat per questn is 3mins nt enough..

  18. avatar says

    For me i think it was so unusual for the paper to have been set this way, the examiner never gave any heads up on what to expect, am not so sure if i will pass this paper,more so what will ACCA do when the get the overall pass rate for this paper to be low?

  19. Profile photo of Vipin says

    the examiner has asked one question from each module, so the question paper is fair. But, unfortunaetely study text and revision kit was not for ACCA f5. it is BPP, KAPLAN who has cheated the students.

    all questions i have attempted i am not sure whether it is correct method.

    qno. 1, i thought it is relevant cost but i suspect we have to filter avoidable fixed cost and unavoidable fixed cost. in kaplan text book, they take fixed cost when considering whether to make or buy, unfortunately, that qn is so small like 3 mark qn. so i didnt remeber it while exam. is a fair qn. part b is confusing. is unfair,,b is not there in kaplan., extremely confusing.
    we usually add depcn charge in cost of sales, not as controllable fixed, for that reason, i didnt add dep’n. but i should have written my reason.

    really nervous about result. what if i get 49? my goodness, that will be sad most thing to happen. i am praying to get 50 marks.

  20. avatar says

    I was the candidates for F5 December 2011 sitting and after I have compared the question for June 2012 sitting, I am trying to say that the examiner seems to go a little bit extreme in setting the questions.

    Firstly, she did publish a few articles in the ACCA website. But then, NONE of the topics have been come out in the exam. Environmental management accounting, cost volume profit analysis, and etc has been published by her, and we expect to see this in the exam, but then I did not see these 2 topics in December 2011 exam, neither also in June 2012.

    I realise she tends to set questions that benefits students who study BPP Textbook. This is evident in both December 2011 sitting and June 2012 sitting.

    In december 2011 sitting, those who study BPP textbook will benefit from knowing to calculate the challenging activity based variance which other textbook tend to omit it. Also, in this June 2012 sitting, those who study BPP textbook will get significant advantage in the TQM question and the service industry target costing questions as the BPP has a comprehensive coverage of this 2 topics. Beside BPP, GTG is the another textbook which has covered some parts of the topic. I am not trying to promote any of the textbook, but I just feel that BPP seems to be the solution to tackle her exam questions.

    Why setting exam questions to make student fail? in my opinion, I will only agree that examiner should set the question to fail those student who DID NOT STUDY. Those who study the main part of the syllabus should deserve at least a pass.

    Based on the trend that she sets the question, she is trying to make the question longer and longer, complicated as before. It is evident in the two sitting before december 2011 that the questions length are short, and the requirement were clear. However, from december 2011 onwards, the style of questions change dramatically. The questions are lengthy, unclear and impossible for students to ‘digest’ the information available based on the time given.

    Although I manage to pass F5 in my first attempt, I do not agree with the way the question is set. So far I am very satisfied with other papers examiner such as F7 and F9. These papers have been set in a manner which is FAIR (Students who study well the core area should have no problem passing the exam). However, in F5, this is not the case. Students who study all MINOR areas (Which is not the main focus of F5) will score well. Ironically, F5 now is no longer emphasises on performance management, but focusing on small topics which student are pretty weak. As what we have learnt in F5, ideal standard is only applicable in TQM environment. As ideal standard is not practicable in real life situations, what for setting exam questions that is akin to ‘ideal standard’?

    I do agree with the examiner that student should not question spot. However, the questions should be fair and should not discriminate against or for students who study a particular publisher.

    Hope that the December 2012 exams can be adjusted to ensure that the exam is fair for students who put in substantial effort in F5.

  21. avatar says

    This exam was too difficult. I went through the whole syllabus but there are areas of the syllabus that have not been tested for a long time. So if these are not an important part of the F5 syllabus why then include them in the syllabus?? To make students waste time on those areas instead of concerntrating more on the important topics???? e.g. Decision trees!! Also i did a lot of past exam papers and as i was assessing myself, i could see that i was getting pass marks on all questions that i was attempting, but with the June 2012 paper, i could not be too sure about getting pass marks, it was too difficult. Yes the topics that came are in the syllabus but there is just somthing about the way they were set in June. Also the multiplicative model that was examined is not well explained in the study guide .maybe the question is is the study guide and revision kit not suffiecient for the exam. If so i guess this has to be well communicated to students especially considering that this exam is the first sitting for most studentsbe it through exemptions or through sitting tmultiple choice papers!!

  22. Profile photo of Gabriel Jusu says

    As it is my first exam, I got scared more that what I actually met. If only this is the standard,ACCA is quite achievable. The questions were fair enough, my probem was time management and not having much time to prepare for my papers. I hope to pass this script eventhough my marks may not be high. I hope to do better next time.

  23. Profile photo of Govina says

    The paper was a total trend change..something very unexpected.. Time and money wasted unnecessarily practicing past exams questions which is normally considered to be of high importance.. Its quite discouraging even for those who have well prepared for the exam without negligence..

  24. Profile photo of drishti0123 says

    F5 its my first time exam in this year.i was really nervous,when question is my hand i was shocked,question was really harder & also not fair enough.its extremely unexpected deference between in previous question also blaming in BPP & KAPLAN kit.Because Kit is one type but Exam question is other type.whats this? really not desvering for F5 qustion.

  25. avatar says

    honestly the exam was very difficult.the syllabus was not even inside kaplan book.that is why we want to know really the appropriate book to use in order to give the ability for all students to succeed.i attempted all my kit exams but the was not question difficult like the one in june 2012.the problem also is time

  26. avatar says

    Guys LISTEN !!! Some have unnecessarily over reacted in here.
    Exam was too damn IDIOTIC, I don’t know why on this forum Opentuition has changed the percentages for HARD and Disaster. Could you please check thoroughly before commenting. Correct all percentages as before. Which is about 50% disaster and 30% Hard. ACCA has become very unethical and I can see now that there is COllusion . Is it really ? Please come Clean.

  27. avatar says

    oh my gosh!!!! all these comments making me nervous in sitting f5 @dec 2012 exams. What do you think is a easier paper to do based on syllabus, text, resources and of course the exam question themselves?

  28. avatar says

    In think this exam was very unfair to students. This was my second time to sit this exam and i was well prepared did every past exam paper in which the examiner Ann Irons asks you to do and i felt it was quite difficult. I do agree with previous comments that the examiner does what she likes and doesnt look at it from the students point of view. I feel that she trys to trick you out and makes her every effort to make you Fail. Sorry for being so negative but this paper is really getting me down and is making me quit the ACCA qual altogether.

  29. Profile photo of tele says

    The paper was well prepared but i doubt if they timed it! F5 is a time pressured paper and requires a demonstration of skills from a student, there was just too much reading for such a paper

  30. avatar says

    I don’t blame students at all usual ACCA questions are not easy if you make comparison with the undergraduate examinations in fact ACCA is about logic and knowledge application is not something to play about so it requires a lot of practices and students tend to be rushy with their students as such they don’t make thorought analysis at the end of revisions otherwise ACCA is usual course.

  31. avatar says

    Once again I would like to advise ACCA students that if you realised that the syllabus for particular subject is bulky like F5,you should not be attempted to register many papers though maximum you can offer four these one will not afford you enough time to revise them,please think twice before you enrol for more papers.

  32. Profile photo of suthan says

    Do not say again that well prepared students will find it easy, the exam seems like been prepared to fall students. I found it difficult even thought I spent more than 250hours to prepare for the exam

  33. Profile photo of John Moffat says

    @dianaa, Obviously some papers at every sitting are harder/easier than others.
    However there are two specific points about paper F5.
    One is that for most people it is the first ‘real’ ACCA exam that they take (either because they were exempt, or they have taken some or all of the first three papers which are multiple choice. As a result, many people under-estimate the difficulty.
    Secondly, unlike certainly papers F6 and F7 the syllabus is very big and there is no way of knowing what topics will be asked. (F6 has a lot to learn, but the examiner makes it clear what topics will be asked each time – similarly with F7).

  34. avatar says

    @maidul, I am fully agree with you. The examinar questions only increase our cost, increase our time to pass as a result make our confidence on ACCA. The examinar should follow the similarity of previous years questions style. In his June exam he turn 90o (degree) from the past.

  35. Profile photo of Govina says

    @Vipin, I agree with most of the points you’ve raised about the papers.. However, I think its unfair to blame BPP, Kaplan, etc.. as the paper itself was set in an unusual way with many confusing aspects.. The Past Exam Papers were relatively easier and the knowledge from these book were sufficient to tackle them.. :)

  36. avatar says

    @jm84, on my point of view the question paper was ok but yeah i completely agreed that they should set the question papers by focusing on da major parts of f5 dnt know what i gave on my exam and i need 2 say that i did not touched question number 3 and the tqm btw my question to jm84 u said bpp has also include 2 pages of explanation based on additive and multiplicative model which is abt 2 pages…. my question is,is it really possible to some1 those who r doing other papers of ACCA and those who r dealing wid other things on day to day basis life, can they read that 2 pages of explanation after doing all of those stuffs?

  37. avatar says


    Of all the ACCA syllabus you are going to use when qualfified F5 will be the smallest.

    It is ridiculous to suggest this in the modern real world, even in manufacturing that you would use throughput accounting, activity based costing, linear programming,

    These rely heavily on ideal world scenarios and are purely used in exam situations and in textbooks NOT in the real world from day to day.

    Forecasting using that seasonal multiplicative model?? Seriously I don’t think so.

    F5 is purely for the exam world and not real world this is why the examiner is making it all so impossible for us to pass.

    Look at the usable areas of the syllabus like Law, Tax, Fin reporting and Audit. All generally are passed by students who study core areas.

    If I sat there for Tax exam and looked at inheritance tax and capital allowances you’d never pass. You need to know core areas not minor points that are examined for 10 marks max.

    Currently, to pass F5 get a BPP text book and look at the chapters with the fewest pages.

    This in fact is the best way to question spot for this exam

  38. avatar says

    For your information, Question 3 multiplicative model examples and explanation is included in the BPP textbook. The BPP Text include both additive and multiplicative model.

    For target costing in service industry, BPP has also include 2 pages explanation based on that. For exam purpose, it is considered sufficient.

  39. avatar says

    @hope2k42000, u r a crap hv nt u seen this 1, 2 pages of explanation…. service and manufacturing and btw service and manfacturing,seasonal effects,tqm is not so important on f5 i meant those r nt da main topics on f5 and u know 1 thing i work in an accountancy firm and i can say that studying abt tqm is a wastage of time,u dnt need 2 understand abt tqm to work in a financial cmpany…..

  40. avatar says


    It depends on your learnign style. Some people (especially me) prefer to cover the whole syllabus, by putting more emphasis on core areas but certain degree of emphasize should be put in those ‘not so important area’. By doing so, you should be able to pass the exam no matter how the examiner twist the exam questions.

    If the syllabus have the requirements for students to learn that particular knowledge and student fails to learn, so actually candidates cannot blame examiner as it is really in the syllabus. But whether the examiner should set those minor areas (and even so many minor areas of the syllabus) in the exam is another story.

    Perhaps if this trend is going to continue in the future, candidates for F5 must have a comprehensive coverage of ALL points of syllabus in order not to get less exam shock in the exam. (When I sat the exam in Dec 2011, when I first saw the question in reading time, I really get shocked. But luckily I manage to retrieve my memory to some of the not so important topics, and i manage to score decent marks =)

    Thus, I agree with you multiplicative model is really not the main focus of F5 (I would say more relevant to Business Statistics), but nevertheless is also a point in syllabus. You can choose to not learn it if you think chances are less likely to appear in exam. By doing so, you are increasing your risk to get huge exam shock during the exam. Therefore, my advice is to study ALL part of the syllabus.

  41. avatar says

    @Gabriel Jusu,

    Time management is always a problem in ACCA Exams. If you manage your time well, even you are time pressurised, you are still able to pass. Good Luck =)

  42. avatar says


    I agree with you to pass is to read a BPP textbook. But what I concern is examiner is trying to set question from those not so popular areas of syllabus. These syllabus sometime has little or almost no coverage in BPP..

    What you suggest is it is impracticable to use throughput accounting, activity based costing, linear programming in the manufacturing industry. However, theory is always different to the practical situation in modern real world. You need to have an idea of what the theory is before you could ‘somehow’ apply to the modern real world. I admit those theory is too ‘ideal’ and thus not practicable to real life situations. However, it is included in F5. So to pass F5, candidates should aim to have an understanding of these areas rather than arguing whether they are practical to manufacturing industry =)

  43. avatar says

    @js23, Paper F8 is later in the course but a good starter. The tips given by open tuition was on target and I could have used the notes given on Open Tuition alone to pass. Of course additional reading helped. But give F8 a try. I am not checking to see what is left for me to try among F5, F6, F7 and F9.

  44. Profile photo of rujan says

    @unzima, yes there are all criteareas for logic…its well said every students pass when acca exams are provided with 5 hours of exam time….even having a sound knoweledge of what things really meant to be,we didnt have our time to thing on new issues we face at exams..if its bit puzzling then the flow of mood is broken.

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