Before I started to teach ACCA, I was surprised to know that the average pass rate for ACCA papers is around 40% for Professional level papers and even higher for Fundamental level papers. That means that every 4th person of 10 writing the ACCA examination is likely to clear the examination.
As a Chartered Accountant from India, it was a huge surprise for me and a tough thing to absorb. After all, how shall an Institution be able to sustain the demand-supply and value for the profession in the industry if the examination was too easy to clear. The ICAI (India) would give a result of around 8% or less on an average.
However, I sensed that there are a couple of logical reasons around the pass results which ACCA may take into consideration, and these have nothing to do with the examination being easier, but to do with the examiner's approach.
Firstly, the average cost of an examination is Sterling 100 or above, therefore a person is only likely to book or plan an examination only after he or she is fully prepared to do the examination that is relatively costlier.
This nowhere means that a student writing the examination like the CA from India is not prepared for the examination at all. It is just that the Institution restricts the results and there is a likelihood that a student, despite doing very well in an examination, is likely to fail the examination. However, there may be many students who attempt the CA examination due to less costs of exams, despite not being fully prepared. This is certain to bring the pass results down.
ACCA, as an Institution, highly focuses on student progression, and therefore, carries a view that if a student is able to express his thoughts well, in a logical manner, he or she should be rewarded marks for every step done correctly by him. Although, with online examinations, a significant proportion of MCQs being introduced at the fundamental level, the results may decline a bit in near future since if one step goes incorrect, the entire question is considered incorrect, and therefore, no marks are rewarded. In either case, ACCA may revisit the types of questions after it analysis the pass rates with the MCQs options. This again does not mean that ACCA is likely to reduce the standard of the examination.
In case of a CA qualification, for example, an examiner in general may not be willing to award the marks, if the approach followed by a student differs from suggested answers, and therefore, is penalized.
Additionally, ACCA as a global Institution, has a significant larger reach worldwide, and therefore sees that its members' concentration in several markets is limited, and therefore, is pleased to carry a flexibility in rewarding marks for subjective questions - if attempted in a logical and structured manner. In near future at least, this trend is likely to remain, and therefore, a person who is pursuing the qualification, should aim at completion thereof at the earliest possible time to take advantage of the ACCA's approach.
Disclaimer: The views on the above topic, solely present the opinion of the author.