Currently, most accountancy exams – apart from computer-based ones – have to be answered in booklets which are then scanned and marked by humans on a computer. Examiners and markers alike constantly criticise the layout and quality of students’ scripts.
Accountancy exams are professional and therefore answers need to look professional, but with time pressure in exam conditions this key requirement is often lost.
It is essential to follow a few easy rules which will help the marker when marking your script:
Always use a black ballpoint pen. This is because all scripts are scanned and the best colour to show up is black. A number of students insist on using gel pens but once scanned the marks made by them can smudge and even go through pages, affecting what’s underneath.
Never write in the margins. One side is cut off by the scanning machine and the other side is where the marker annotates the allocation of marks awarded.
Abbreviations are totally acceptable in workings, but workings themselves need to be followed, so a little narrative is required to make them logical. Ensure you space them out sufficiently, and all workings should be numbered and answers crossed referenced to them.
If for some reason you have not left enough space for something, then help the marker by cross referencing to the page where you have completed the rest of the answer
All questions should start on a new page and you should aim to start each part of a question or each issue (if applicable to the question) on a new page.
Make use of subheadings. This makes your answers automatically more logical and much easier to mark. If the requirement or the question numbers different parts, eg a), b) or (i), (ii) then use the same numbering in your answer
If your handwriting is small you need to aim to write as large as you can. When your script is scanned it is reduced in size to accommodate the marking package which takes up a third of the marking screen. Yes, the marker can zoom in, but then they are unable to view a complete line of text.
If you know you have untidy handwriting then write using double spacing (that is write on alternative lines).
The key to success in exams is to have answers that look professional – that is include structure, space and subheadings.