- December 13, 2019 at 5:23 pm
Hi all (members, mods, tutors etc)
With all remaining exams moving to CBE over the next 6 months ish, just looking for peoples views on pros/cons of doing CBE over paper exams. Personally, I am in a dilemma of doing APM via CBE or paper in March, or indeed the same dilemma/choice if I have to repeat AFM in March (local area moved to CBE from March, but small travel to paper exam also an option). I had initially got it in my head that the move was only a “bad thing”, but now I am not so sure.
Potential Pros that occur to me include:
1. Ability to edit and rearrange: if something more important pops into your head half-way through etc or if you notice you are wrong a “tweak” (numerically or language/word) may solve your whole answer/argument, while in paper a complete start again or messy reworking is all you can do
2. Neatness should not be an issue. We all know the pain of rushing to write in an exam and worrying as to quality of writing being readable – this wont be an issue with CBE
3. Ability to pop ideas down and expand/edit later – similar to point 1, the freedom to prepare an answer roughly or put the bones down, before perfecting the flow or wording. Seems a big advantage for written papers such as AAA or APM.. If something is wrong or rubbish, a simple delete and it was never there 🙂
4. Error reduction: Using excel for calculations should reduce simple manual errors of inputting into calculator or taking down calculators output incorrectly.
1. Navigation through the questions and within a specific question – having to click into different sections or appendices etc to read the question, instead of having a full piece in your hands.
2. Not being able to mark/highlight the question for key words or ideas i.e. “rough work” on the question as you read it.. Yes you can highlight on the CBE and use a sketch pad to write some words, but it does not seems as natural or useful as being able to jot down or highlight key words with a pen in hand as you read a long question (esp in SBL, APM or AAA). Can also not tick things off in the natural way – can put a computer line through it but this is somehwat awkward and again not as “natural” as the pen in hand (in my mind anyway)
3. Tuition. For anyone who has attended classroom tuition for subjects, not sure how this will change things as had always been paper and pen for homeworks, mocks, and Tutors had always demonstrated answers in handwrite format and not in the CBE environment.
I realise it wont matter soon what the Pros and Cons are as there’ll be no choice in the matter, but as I face a choice for March, and it could also have some bearing on subject choice (I could do ATX Irl which is paper based until 2021), I’m interested to get anyone’s thoughts (students, mods, tutors etc).
ThanksDecember 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm
Facing this dilemma also. I got exempt from all fundamentals due to exemptions. I have never sat a CBE. So I’m weary. I sat both AAA and APM this December thinking the best scenario is that I pass both and not have to worry. I’m hopping to pass one at least and repeat in Belfast
I have heard many students will sit tax just because it’s paper based for two more years. And it’s not a bad idea as ATX has a better pass rate anyway
I don’t like CBE as I have never had one . I like to make notes and highlight as I go along. I have heard horror stories of people a PCs shutting down. I personally don’t think ACCA made the right decision here originally from Nigeria and the power goes off randomly there.
Think positive and the best scenario is that you pass AFM and just sit APM in Belfast if you didn’t want CBE. Also March is also short sitting is already stressful enough as well as computer based. I would find find this hard myselfDecember 15, 2019 at 8:18 am
I started at FIA, so I took the CBE versions of all 7 FIA exams and all 6 ACCA exams F4-F9. I’m in the position where I must now take the paper versions all 4 strategic professional exams and to say that I’m nervous would be an understatement. I haven’t hand-written anything important in about 10 years hha.
Your pros list is spot on. CBEs are great for planning, revising, calculating, etc. They make it easy to organize your thoughts and make the writing process more efficient. At this point, I think I’ll be lost if I have to hand-write an essay or long-form answer.
To be honest, from someone who has only taken CBEs, the items on your cons list aren’t really an issue. Navigation is extremely simple; and highlighting, taking notes is easy for anyone who has used a computer for studying through uni (so basically everyone). I think CBEs reflect the way that we now study and learn using computers.
If you have the opportunity to take the CBE versions, you should do it. I envy you. I’m actually considering flying to the UK for the March and June sessions so that I can take the CBE versions instead of paper. But, I’m still weighing my options.December 16, 2019 at 11:36 am
I’m coming into it from the other way…I took all of the fundamental papers (F4-F9) via CBE from June 2018-September 2019. I enjoyed the CBE aspect – being able to jot notes down and then expand on them later without the examiner being any the wiser, automatic formula calculations etc.
I took SBR in the December 2019 sitting, my first paper-based exam and to be honest I was dreading it. I must say though, I quite enjoyed it (to the extent that you can enjoy an exam!) I felt more empowered to plan my answers out and manage my time than I did in CBE exams, and liked having all questions set out for me in one document rather than flicking between screens.
Saying that, I think it makes complete sense for all exams to move to CBE and I wouldn’t worry about making the change. As someone said above, you get used to whatever format you’re working in, so the navigation of CBE screens will become second-nature. Also, I found it hard to go back to questions with my final 5 minutes in the SBR paper-based exam as it felt like I was diving into a pool of scribbles. I think the CBE format will make it easier to add bits here and there in order to grab those vital extra marks.
I’m taking AAA in March (paper-based), and then ATX in June which I thought would be CBE but apparently not? Either way, I think as long as you’re pragmatic and play to the strengths of the exam format you’ll be fine 🙂January 6, 2020 at 9:33 pm
Thanks for your thoughts here. Very helpful!
With one week until results, I’ll be making a decision very shortly on whether to do CBE or paper in March (APM, maybe also AFM if have to repeat)
I feel more confident about the CBE – the above advantages seem to outweigh the manageable disadvantages.
However if anyone with CBE experience could answer some or all of the following questions, would further clear things up for me (and others new to CBE :))
1. If used multiple CBE exam centres, were all screen sizes roughly the same, little variation?
2. Was the chair a good quality computer/office chair? Or just basic chairs from exam halls of written papers?
3. Did you find computer smooth and fast(no lagging), mouse worked well, etc?
4. Did all workstations have partitions giving good space & privacy between students?
5. Do you have to arrive 1 full hour before start of exam? Think I read this somewhere, sounds like a pain to be hanging around so long.
6. I believe they provide paper & pen to do rough work on – is this the case and if so is it unlimited (within reason of course – just don’t want it to be limited to a couple of pages per student etc)
Lastly, if anyone has done CBE in Dublin Ireland, any recommendations on an exam centre to pick/avoid?
Thanks all 🙂 And best of luck to all receiving results in less than a week now 🙂January 7, 2020 at 7:27 am
As you are talking about doing CBE at Strategic Professional it would be a good idea to reference ACCA’s CBE guidance available here https://www.accaglobal.com/content/dam/ACCA_Global/Students/exam/session-cbes/cbe-guide-all-others.pdf (there is a separate doc for SBL).
This will answer your Q6 – yes to paper (page 11) but YOU are expected to take your own pen(s) as for a paper-based exam.
Regarding Qs about the set-up – this will be standard according to ACCA’s specification (e.g. 17″ screen). You have to remember that “session” CBE centres are temporary facilities (unlike on-demand CBEs for the knowledge exams and LW which are available all year round).
In any case candidates are advised to arrive at least 45 mins before the start of the exam – so if that has been increased to 1 hour for the first Strategic Professional CBEs I would heed any instructions (on the back of the exam docket).January 7, 2020 at 4:27 pm
Thanks for the above – the linked pdf will prove useful no doubt.
I emailed much of the above qs to ACCA and they gave me a small vague one-liner (followed by a paragraph on how my fees are overdue!).
I understand there are standards applied to CBE exams but these are by their nature minimum standards – I’m interested in the unlikely scenario anyone has specific experiences to compare different exam centres against in Ireland.
For example I have found an exam centre here in Dublin that state they provide 19″ screens (2″ above minimum required 17″) and so I will likely go with them – even though the location is less convenient than another centre on whom I have no screen size info on.January 7, 2020 at 5:21 pm
To update on the above, for anyone in Dublin/Ireland doing CBEs:
– The venue in question is “The Exam Centre”.
– They have confirmed to me via email all their screens are a whopping 22″ with 1980×1080 resolution
– The bad news: despite initially appearing as an option for me, when checking availability they then appear to not be running March Session CBE. They do on-demand all year, so I can only guess they appeared initially as an option by default. Pity, would really have struck gold, but no cigar.
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