Get marks for format questions

One of the topics I spend time on with my study coaching students, is how to get marks in exams, with limited knowledge. In this case, I’m referring to your ability to get marks in format questions.

Format questions are popular. Financial Statements; Notes to the AFS; Deferred Tax tables; calculations with specific formats (eg: Gross income). All of these require a specific ‘format’ for the answer.

This seems simple, but students lose a lot of marks because they’re not used to structuring their information for the marker, with the goal of getting marks. When I watch students write exams, and when I mark, I can see that they get lost in the detail, and forget that someone else has to make sense of it!

How to get marks in format questions

This is the first video in a series on how to get marks for format-type questions.

  • How to START your answer
  • What the marker is looking for
  • How to structure / lay out your answer

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Should you finish the syllabus before you do this?


If you know 10% of the work, then I want you to get 10% of the marks. Exam technique is a skill. Skills take some practice.

NOTE: SAICA wrote a report stating the biggest weaknesses they found in students’ ITC attempts. Take a look at page 10 – 13. You’ll see exam technique, presentation and calculations show up there. They don’t complain about students’ knowledge, as much as they complain that students don’t know how to WRITE their answers. They can see you know ‘stuff’, but you’re not getting marks for format questions.

Now, go nail those questions!

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Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

I coach accounting students who are struggling with their study habits and mindset, and want their studies to be as effective as they used to be. See more on my about page

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