HKDSE 2019: Ace the BAFS exam by consolidating accounting principles and going over past papers carefully

Tutors from King’s Glory Education and iCon Education give us the best tips to get through the business, accounting and financial studies paper

Doris Wai |

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The business, accounting and financial studies (BAFS) HKDSE exam is just five days away. Young Post asked top tutors Leo Lau from iCon Education and Hayson Liu from King’s Glory Education for some practical study tips for these crucial days leading up to the exam.

Paper 1

When it comes to BAFS, many schools only cover two of the three subjects in their curriculum, often choosing to drop business in favour of accounting. However, Paper 1 covers all three areas.

There are two sections; Section A, worth 60 marks, contains multiple choice questions, while Section B, worth 30 marks, contains short-answer questions.

You are required to answer the compulsory questions in Section A, and choose between two questions in Section B.

“Paper 1 can be daunting to management module candidates who are not familiar with accounting,” says Lau. “The key to doing well is to revise overall concepts, and decide which one most applies to the question.”

Similarly, if you’ve only covered accounting, you may struggle with the business management questions.

“Students may also be less familiar with short answer questions, as these don’t appear as frequently in the accounting module,” says Lau.

Liu adds that it’s important to pay attention to the following topics: advantages and disadvantages; uses and comparison; pros and cons of personal loans; and different management skills.

Finally, make sure to be very clear about what you mean in your answers, as some terms can be misleading, says Lau. For example, the word “may” suggests there is a possibility of something not happening; “must” indicates that something is absolute; while “should” refers to something that is the norm, or an idea that may not be fact, but is the best practice of the industry.

Paper 2

Here, you’ll have a choice between Paper A (accounting) and Paper B (business management).

“The key topics in Paper 2A are period-end adjustment and partnership accounting,” says Lau, adding that “candidates are expected to show in-depth knowledge of the module”.

The general rule of thumb is to try to understand key concepts rather than memorising them, so Lau suggests spending most of your revision time getting to grips with these. Rather than giving standard textbook answers to short-answer questions, you’ll need to elaborate and apply your knowledge to real-life scenarios.

“Candidates should be aware of concept-based questions, instead of traditional reporting and calculations in this paper,” he says.

The accounting syllabus has around 10 major topics and, according to Liu, the questions on Paper 2 will cover most of them. Both Lau and Liu agree it is likely that questions related to depreciation and break-even point analysis will appear on the paper, as these two topics were not tested last year.

“Students need to focus on elaboration rather than calculation, and explain the use of accounting concepts in terms of financial statement,” says Liu. “Most stumble over the purpose and use of bank reconciliation statements.”

However, he adds that there’s no need to panic if you’ve never come across these questions before, as they usually aren’t worth many marks. If you’re unsure, skip them, and go back to them at the end.

For those who choose to answer Paper 2B, Liu says “a lot of calculation and elaboration is required; and a solid answer draws real-world examples from Hong Kong and the business world”.

Study tips

It’s impossible to cover every topic when revising, so Lau says the best way to prepare is by spending time going through the areas where you make most mistakes.

“Once you have gone through the major concepts, spend time finding all your mistakes, and sort them into different topics. That way, you’ll know which topic you are weakest in,” he says.

Lau warns that it’s important to get calculations right at the beginning, otherwise errors will be carried on to the next step. He also reminds students to look out for the double entry system, and make sure the two legs of a transaction are well addressed and adjusted.

Liu adds that many students lose marks simply by forgetting to write the correct units. You will also lose marks if you don’t attempt to elaborate your answers. In general, if a question is worth 18 marks, 10 will be allocated to elaboration.

Five-day countdown

To make the best use of the last few days before the exam, Liu recommends following this timetable: spend two days revising the concepts for Paper 2, and make notes as you go along; spend one day going through past papers (especially those between 2012 and 2018); and use the last two days to revise for Paper 1, as there is lot more to remember for this one.

Liu also suggests preparing flash cards with formulas and definitions and bringing them to the exam hall for a last minute refresher before you enter.

Lau agrees that preparation is key to acing both papers. “Make sure you get enough sleep the night before, as a clear mind will help you to focus,” he says.

“Avoid cramming at the last minute because it usually results in panicking and stress.”

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