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FAEs jump final hurdle

Dec 03, 2018
The 2018 FAE results provide interesting insights, which will inform the ongoing evolution of the Institute’s syllabus.

The FAE 2018 summer examination results were published in late October and were well-received. This is always a milestone in the Institute’s calendar annually and this year was no exception. Following on from the results, some interesting statistics and insights have emerged.

Return to percentage-based marking

The FAE underwent noticeable changes this year. Marking and adjudication returned to a percentage-based marking methodology in the 2017/2018 academic cycle. This was a departure from the competency-based marking methodology, which was adopted in 2009. The purpose of the change was to provide more clarity on the interpretation of the examination result. One of the limitations of the competency-based marking methodology was its vagueness in terms of the extent to which a candidate had passed or failed. This was further complicated by a traffic light system of scoring at FAE Core.

Although the marking methodology change was communicated to all key stakeholders over the last number of years, there was considerable anxiety around the return to percentage-based marking. It should be noted that while the marking methodology changed, there was no change to how the FAE examination papers were structured or presented. Indeed, the syllabus and weightings have remained broadly similar year-on-year. 

Some stakeholders were concerned that the marking changes would cause confusion and impact adversely on examination results. The FAE Committee was pleased to note that there was no material change to the overall results at FAE in 2018. The overall pass rate at FAE 2018 was 80%, which was the same as the 2016 result.

Interesting statistics

Other interesting statistics have emerged from the FAE 2018 results related to individual candidate performances throughout the year:
  • The best predictor of a candidate’s final end-of-year examination result is their performance in their relevant interim assessment (AAFRP being the FAE Core interim assessment and the Elective interim assessment). There is a direct correlation between the performance level in these assessments and the FAE examination. It is therefore imperative that candidates engage as soon as possible with the education programme and approach their interim assessments very seriously as part of their overall study programme;
  • The FAE Core final examination is currently held over two days with FAE Core Comprehensive on day one and FAE Core Simulations on day two. The results recorded by candidates over the two separate days had very strong levels of correlation. Indeed, the level of correlation was much higher than expected with the overwhelming majority of candidates displaying a difference in performance of +/- 3% over the two days. While the two days of examinations related to three separate case studies and multiple diverse industries, candidates clearly displayed strong business acumen and consistent application of their skills on both days. 
Chartered Accountants Ireland is very pleased to see candidates continuing to display strong competencies in key areas. The syllabus is evolving to ensure that the next generation of Chartered Accountants will continue to excel as business leaders long into the future. This is not something that should be taken for granted and doesn’t “just happen”. It involves a huge volume of work from the committed stakeholders of the Institute, to whom the Institute is very grateful for their continued support.

Future-proofing the profession

To consolidate and future-proof the position of the Chartered Accountant, continued syllabus change is required to stay ahead of the external challenges and technological changes facing all sectors of society.

One thing is certain: Chartered Accountants Ireland is committed to rising to any future challenges, as it always has, with a dedicated executive team of professionals working in tandem with its invaluable and supportive stakeholders.

Ian Browne is Head of Assessment & Syllabus at Chartered Accountants Ireland.