Iceberg dead ahead

Mar 02, 2020
Do not let a poor performance at FAE Elective interim assessment in April 2020 sink your efforts later this year, says John Munnelly. 

At this stage, candidates should be focused on the upcoming FAE Elective interim assessments due to take place on Saturday 25 April 2020. 

At this time of year, it can be difficult for candidates to focus. While the main exam is still six months away, the FAE Elective interim assessment represents an opportunity to build a successful foundation that will give candidates a great chance at success later on in the year. 

The FAE Elective interim assessment is a 90-minute assessment. It is worth 15% of a candidate’s final subject score. Candidates will be presented with a scenario that requires them to solve three issues. In 2019, the average mark earned by candidates across all electives was 8.47%; proof positive that a focus on studies now can help candidates later in the year.  

Winning approach

In order to guarantee the best chance of success, consider the following:

The Elective interim assessment exam is structured to solve three issues. In a 90-minute exam, this naturally suggests you have 30 minutes to solve each issue. Candidates should get into the habit of practising exam questions, indicators and issues in 30-minute segments.  

One of the most frequent admissions by candidates in their FAE examinations is that they do not practice indicators under exam conditions. 

This isn’t surprising to hear: most examiner and marking teams report that candidates run out of time and that the last indicators are usually rushed or not attempted. Handwriting that begins neatly turns into illegible scrawls – all tell-tale signs of poor time technique preparation.

The approach to practising indicators under exam conditions is straight-forward. It does, however, take proper dedication to achieve. 

Although the Examinations Executive reserves the right to alter the number of indicators per paper in line with the guidance laid out in the competency statements, generally the current trend is to examine three issues in the interim assessment and eight indicators in the main exams to allow 30 minutes per issue and indicator. 

Candidates should take the first five minutes of an indicator to re-read it and ensure each of the requirements are clearly flagged. It is a predominant feature of each examiner across the whole FAE to break each issue/indicator requirements into a number of sub-asks. Identify each section of the indicator that needs answering by marking each part of the ask in a different colour highlighter. Use the next five minutes to plan out what you are going to write for the next 25 minutes. Once those five minutes are up, get going. Write and don’t stop until you reach the time limit. DO NOT go over your time. If you go over your time in the main exam by as little as a minute in each of your first seven indicators, this means you have to get your last indicator done in just 23 minutes as opposed to 30. Every minute counts.

Like most things in life, there is no substitute for hard work and preparation. We have yet to see a candidate rock up with little or no preparation and pass. The exam is designed to reward hard work and effort. Best of luck in your interims.