Learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference

May 01, 2020

What we do now and how we react is what will determine your summer success, writes John Munnelly. 

Traditionally, this edition of Accountancy Ireland Extra acknowledges the recently held elective interim assessments and the move on to imploring candidates to refocus and redouble their efforts for summer.

Except, this year, the elective interim assessments did not take place – and rightly so. The FAE executive discussed the suspension of the interim assessments as a real possibility back in mid-February, and we made the announcement as soon as it became apparent they couldn’t take place, in conjunction with wider public health guidelines and stakeholder consultations.

Suspending the elective interim assessment – what does that mean for you?

The elective interim assessment was introduced for the first time in April 2016. The logic behind its introduction was to act as an incentive for candidates to begin their studies earlier, encourage early student engagement and to add some early points toward their final summer grade. The elective interim assessments are worth a maximum of 15% towards a final grade, with the remaining 85% being represented by the main elective paper in the August exams. 

Looked through another lens – whether you sit an elective interim assessment or not is mathematically irrelevant because the pass mark is set at 50% overall. Prior year candidates had to achieve this by passing two exams, their interim and their August main elective paper. This year’s candidates just have to pass the main elective paper. 

The average mark achieved over the elective interim assessment history is approximately 8%. However, as this is an average, it implies that a little over half the candidate population did slightly better than the pass rate of 7.5% and a little less than half did worse than the pass rate.  

Some candidates may point out that they are missing out on an opportunity to demonstrate the preparation they have made thus far. Equally, there will be candidates who are slightly relieved they have not had to sit this interim assessment. Whatever camp you fall into dictates what you do next. 

A great equaliser

The lack of elective interim assessment has been a great leveller – all candidates are going into the main electives on an equal footing. All candidates need to focus on their exam preparations and remember that Chartered Accountants are expected to cope with the unexpected – like the cancellation of their interim assessments. It is why you are examined through a case-study style approach, so you can apply your knowledge critically and laterally. 

To finish with the opening quotation of the article from the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius: ‘Learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.’ The elective interim assessments are gone. They will not make an ounce of difference to your success this summer, so let's not dwell on them. If candidates focus on the variables that they can control – covering the syllabus, engaging with any future lectures, practising indicators under exam time conditions, reading widely – this will result in success in August. Best of luck in your preparations!

The FAE executive will publish a range of articles and materials across the syllabus to assist candidates in their study preparations this year.