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How are ACCA exams marked?

Find out how ACCA exams are marked, who’s involved, how to make fewer mistakes and how to get your papers checked.

Find out how ACCA exams are marked, who’s involved, how the ACCA safeguard against mistakes, and what to do if you think your exam result needs checking.

  • How are ACCA exams marked?
  • How many markers are involved in marking my ACCA exam paper?
  • How likely are exam marking mistakes?
  • Can I appeal my ACCA exam mark?

This is part of our ACCA FAQ series, where we answer the questions hundreds of you have asked us. 

How are ACCA exams written?

Your ACCA exam paper is written by an examining team composed of the Examiner, the Assessor, the Subject Coordinator and the Exam Sitter. The Examiner writes the first draft:

  • Covering as much of the syllabus as possible
  • Ensuring questions are accurate and well-phrased
  • Inserting red herring answers based on common student mistakes

Then the Examiner passes the exam paper to the Assessor. The Assessor checks:

  • The exam questions are relevant
  • The paper is fair and balanced
  • The suggested answers and mark scheme is suitable

Then the Assessor passes the exam paper to the Subject Coordinator, who checks:

  • The exam correlates to the standards required at that level of the exam
  • The exam is consistent with previous exam sessions
  • The exam doesn’t overlap too heavily with past papers

Then finally, the Exam Sitter sits the exam paper themselves:

  • To confirm the paper can be completed in the time available
  • To highlight any problem areas that need adapting

The examining team works alongside a full-time education advisor team that further ensures quality control and provides consistency throughout this entire process.

As you can see, an awful lot of thought goes into creating these papers from a group of educated, knowledgeable professionals. That’s what you get when you walk into that exam hall.

But what’s next when you close your paper and leave the exam hall?

How are ACCA exams marked?

The on-demand CBE exams are marked automatically by the computer, and you get your mark immediately. There is no room for error here as questions are either right or wrong, and the computer can tell immediately.

For all other papers, the examiner for each ACCA exam coordinates a team of qualified exam markers responsible for marking exam papers for that exam. The ACCA marking process follows three main stages:

i. Before marking starts: Once the final exam for that paper ends, all the markers have a meeting to discuss any potential issues on the paper and establish a clear, consistent mark scheme that all markers will follow. This makes the process objective and consistent.

ii. During marking: The examining team moderates the marking process, checking that all markers follow the marking scheme correctly and consistently. During the marking process, there are nine independent checks to ensure the exam markers are correct. After scanning your paper online, the markers use marking software to check they haven’t missed any questions, added incorrectly, or made any other administrative errors.

iii. After marking: The marking team double-check any borderline scripts from 47 to 53 to check no mistakes have been made that would make the difference between a pass and a fail. Any discrepancies are investigated thoroughly and resolved. Your exam results are added to your student record, and your entry options for the next session are created. The ACCA conducts several further checks to ensure the results are accurate before the official release.

A couple of questions students always ask us about how ACCA exams are marked are:

Do ACCA examiners know who I am?

No, the marking team only see your script. They don’t see your name or any other identifying details to avoid unconscious bias or prejudice. When they mark your ACCA exam paper, that’s all they can see.

Do ACCA examiners have a target pass mark?

No, the examining team don’t set a target percentage of successful candidates. The ACCA wants as many students as possible to pass – it’s in their best interests. Your exam paper isn’t marked on a scale next to anyone else.

How many ACCA papers does each examiner mark?

This depends on the size of the examining team and the level of the paper. However, there is a whole team of qualified exam markers, and no one exam marker gets more than 400 papers to avoid undue pressure leading to unnecessary mistakes.

What should be clear by this point is how much work the ACCA put into marking exam papers correctly. They have many checks and a strict process to ensure that marking is clear, consistent, and fair.

However… mistakes can still occasionally slip through. If you think that’s you, you can apply for administrative review, which is where you have your ACCA exam marks rechecked.

Read more: ACCA FAQs: Should I get my ACCA exams rechecked?

Conclusion

So, now you know. ACCA exam papers are marked in accordance with a strict process and series of protocols and checks, so mistakes are very unlikely.

A whole team of expert examiners are involved in marking your ACCA exams, and they take professional pride in doing a good job. And they take professional pride in you doing a good job too.

Contrary to what many students think, the ACCA want as many students as possible to pass; the examining team will be absolutely thrilled if the pass rate is high. And they approach the exam papers with that attitude, hoping students have listened to all the advice, read the examiner’s reports, and practise questions – so the examining team have the satisfaction of awarding a pass.

Conor Motyer
4 min read
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