ISP Excellence Award
Hotel Concession Rate
ISP examinations will be held every twice a year. It is in March and October. You can download the Registration Form and Examination Time Table (scroll down for download)
Comments by examiners on performances of LISP/AISP October 2011 examination.
A. English Language Examination (Module I)
B. Agricultural Science Soils I Examination (Module I)
C. Agricultural Science Soils II Examination (Module II)
D. Agricultural Science Soils III Examination (Module III)
E. Agricultural Science Botany I Examination (Module I)
As usual among the three modules, the highest number of failures is in Module I as expected being new in this subject. The main reason for their failure was not answering all the four questions. Before the start of the exam the invigilator should remind them that they must answer four questions and they must answer to the question asked.
F. Agricultural Science Botany II Examination (Module II)
On the whole, the candidates have done fairly well, ranging from one failure to one distinction. They answered accordingly all the questions and to the point except for one or two of the answers which were inadequate and not to the point. More than half of the candidates scored above the credit marks. They should have no problem when they take their Module III.
G. Agricultural Science Botany III Examination (Module III)
The failure of one candidate is due to not answering one question, if not for this he/she can easily get a credit. The other two candidates did well to score high credit ratings. They answered all the questions well, evenly distributed. They understand their subjects and answered to the point and have done well.
H. Principles of Management (Module I)
Question: Specific Comments
I. Estate Safety, Health & Welfare examination (Module I)
J. Land Surveying (Theory) Examination (Module II)
K. General Estate Practice Examination (Module II)
L. Bahasa Melayu (Module II)
Tiga calon mencapai keputusan yang cemerlang kecuali satu yang mendapat hanya kepujian, mungkin kerana calon tidak dapat menjawab satu soalan.
Pada keseluruhannya, keputusan mereka sungguh memuaskan.
M. Book Keeping & Accounting (Module II)
This is the sixth time that I am giving a feedback on the performance on this subject.
The examination consisted of two sections. Section A has 10 multiple-choice questions (MCQ) of 2 marks each, while Section B has four questions. Every question carries equal weight of 20 marks each. All questions are compulsory.
1 candidate scored a credit (Grade B) and another 2 candidates managed to pass with Grade C. 3 candidates score E grade.
(MCQ): The questions in this section were rather broad based and required the candidates to read and understand more widely on the fundamentals of book-keeping and accounting. On the whole the candidates’ performance in this section was satisfactory with a scoring range of 8 to 14 marks. 2 out of 6 candidates scored above the average of 10 marks.
Q1: This question required the recording of transactions in three-column accounts. The accounts involved were given in the question. In fact this question was a repeat of one of the past questions. The Examiner intended it as a gift for the adequately prepared candidates. 3 out of 6 candidates managed to score between 11 and 17 marks. The purpose of this question is to gauge candidates’ capability to record business transactions according to instruction required. 3 candidates appeared to have no knowledge of three-column accounts. They are advised to refer to suggested solutions posted on the ISP website. The scoring ranges from 0 to 17 marks.
Q2: This question required candidates to prepare (a) Trading, Profit and Loss Accounts, and (b) Balance Sheet. This is the simplest question set thus far. 2 out of 6 candidates managed to score between 10 and 14 marks while 2 candidates failed marginally with 9 marks. The other 2 candidates scored zero (0).
Q4: This is another gift question which required candidates to briefly list 10 users of financial statements and again briefly elaborate their interest for timeliness and accuracy of business records. On the whole the candidates’ performance in this question was satisfactory with a scoring range of 8 to 12 marks. 3 out of 6 candidates managed to score between 10 and 12 marks.
N. Industrial Relations (Module III))
O. Agricultural Processing- Oil Palm Examination (Module IV)
Both students showed that they have a basic understanding of oil palm processing, but the answers for some of the questions, lack depth, are out of point or does not sound technical at all.
Book Keeping & Accounting (Module II) – October 2010
The examination consisted of two sections. Section A has 20 multiple-choice questions (MCQ) while Section B has four questions. Every question carry equal weight of 25 marks each. Candidates were required to attempt both sections.
In general, registration for this examination was superior to that of recent preceding sittings. This is a very pleasing development. This time candidates performed well on the Section A MCQ and also Question 4 of Section B. As usual the performance of candidates in Section B’s other questions albeit generally not that difficult were not as superior. Unfortunately there remains a notable minority of candidates who produce performances that are way below pass standard. These weak candidates included income and revenue expenditure items in Balance Sheet and assets and liabilities items were listed on Profit and Loss Accounts. Clearly, such candidates did not have a basic understanding of the subject matter and were merely trying their luck in the examination.
All candidates should be aware of the need to undergo thorough preparation before attempting this examination. Readers of previous reports will know that I have made such comments before but they bear repetition because they are still valid.
(MCQ): The questions in this section were rather broad base and required the candidates to read and understand more widely on the fundamentals of book-keeping and accounting. On the whole the candidates’ performance in this section was satisfactory with a scoring range of 6 to 18 marks averaging about 12 marks or 58%. The majority of candidates (13 out of 16 candidates) managed to achieve at 50% or more in this section.
Q1: This question required the preparation of store cards for 5 given store items based on given records of transactions. To gauge the candidates’ capability to adapt and also to ensure consistency in answers presentation, the question incorporated a Stock Card format for candidates to complete all the given transactions of opening balances. purchases, applications to field, sales to sister company with specific pricing methods, sales to outsider also with defined pricing methods, loss of store items, etc. 13 out of 16 candidates attempted this questions. 6 of them managed at least 50% of the allocated marks. 1 scored a 100% for this question. The scoring ranges from 0 to 20 marks averaging about 8 marks or 38%. Overall this question was answered below average by the majority of students who attempted it. A few candidates modified the stock card format. This is something that should not have happened. These candidates clearly demonstrated their inability to adapt and failed to realise the intention of the examiner in providing a standard format of stock card. One candidate even completed all the transactions on one stock card. This clearly showed the particular candidate is very naïve and has not seen a record of stock card in real life, which is very unusual for people who work in an estate environment. Notwithstanding this is a gift questions, manage candidates did not balance up their stock card resulting in loss of some marks allocated.
Q2: This question was in 2 parts. Part (a) required candidates to deal with partners’ transactions in the Profit and Loss Appropriation Accounts and calculate the balance on each partner’s current account at the given cut-off date. Part (b) tested on simple Club Accounting, i.e. prepare club’s Catering Trading Account and also Income and Expenditure Account. With the exception of 3 candidates, all other candidates did very badly, thus losing a golden opportunity to gain easy marks to beef up their chances to pass. The scoring ranges from 2 to 18.5 marks averaging about 6 marks or 30%. Overall this question was very badly attempted by the majority of students who attempted it.
Q3: This question also was in 2 parts. Part (a) tested candidates on a practical scenario which involved a trade-in of an old used vehicle for a new car. Candidates are asked to (i) calculate the depreciation charge for the new car, (ii) compute the profit or loss on the disposal of the old vehicle, (iii) how to deal with the disposal profit or loss in the account at the year end, (iv) present the vehicle account in a suitable format, and (v) explain briefly the differences between reducing balance method and the straight line method of depreciation. This question was actually moderated from a secondary school SPM revision course. The only exception is more marks were allocated. Overall, this was the worst attempted in this examination. Part (b) requires candidates to prepare (i) a trading, profit & loss accounts, and (ii) balance sheet of a convenient store which is also a common scenario in an estate environment. The candidates’ performance in this part (b) was far more superior to the part (a). For the whole question, the scoring ranges from 0 to 12.5 marks averaging closed to 6.5 marks or 32%. Overall this question was slightly better attempted than Question Two.
Q4: This is a regular agriculture-centered question which appeared repeatedly in every sitting since a long time ago. A comprehensive suggested answer was provided in one of my earlier reports. The answering techniques remain valid. I would wish future candidates make reference to the model answer given there. Candidates are advised to adopt the format of answering which will ensure all allocated marks are gain accordingly. Failure to use similar format could result in losing some of the vital marks. It will be pointless if I continue to provide model answer if candidates do not care to read and understand how to answer the question. While marking this question, I noticed the areas of common errors were carelessness in adding up common figures that appear in both Estate and Head Office, summation of the adjustment figures with figures originally given in the question. The adjustments that were particularly not well understood were f. g, and h. However, errors were also commonly noted for c. d. and e.
Comments on the Performances of ISP Book-keeping and Accounting Examination
The format of the Book-keeping and Accounting paper remains almost the same as with the previous examiners. All questions are compulsory. Section A comprises of 10 multiple-choice questions (MCQ’s), while Section B has four questions worth 20 marks each.
The MCQ’s allow for broad syllabus coverage in each sitting. Candidates preparing for future sittings should take note of this. The MCQ’s are relatively easy to score. I increased the marks of Section A from 10 marks previously to a more generous 20 marks to assist candidates to pass their examinations. In the past sittings, those candidates who had developed their knowledge across the syllabus were able to obtain high marks, but those who had restricted their preparation to selected topics were less successful. It is discouraging to note that candidates of the recent 2 sittings did not have a broad knowledge of the syllabus.
In Section B, Questions 1 to 3 tested on a number of topics, inter alia, Bank Reconciliation, Club and Incomplete Records, Correction of Errors, Preparation of Trading, Profit & Loss Accounts and Balance Sheet for a sole proprietorship, and partnership, and will cover all other topics within the syllabus.
A particular format of question on plantation operations had been consistently set in Section B and on most occasions appeared as Question 4. This was intended to assist candidates to gain easy marks as the levels of knowledge required are rather basic. Candidates are expected to identify and allocate the type of expenses relevant to productions of oil palm, kernel, and common expenses. Simple calculations are required for depreciation charge, taxation, and transfer to reserves. It is disheartening to note a large number of candidates were unable to answer this question correctly despite regular setting in the recent examinations. The required knowledge is rather basic, technically competent accounting staff in the estate should possess adequate skills to handle such a question. Perhaps, candidates (whose core function is not in book-keeping/accounting) might want to interact more with their accounting counterparts in their estates.
The following tips on examination techniques may be helpful for candidates preparing for the Book-keeping and Accounting paper:-
Notwithstanding the understanding of examination techniques, it will not take you very far unless you have prepared adequately and used the correct preparation techniques:-
There is no better way to learn how to answer an examination question than to look at past examination with illustrated answer. For this purpose, I append below 2 questions (with some modifications) which appeared in past ISP Book-keeping and Accounting paper.
There isn’t any technicality in this straight forward question. Over the past few sittings, I noted there were a number of candidates who demonstrated they have no clue of how to answer such a simple question notwithstanding such question had appeared repeatedly in every sitting in the last few years. It appears that no effort to at least discuss with lecturers, course leaders, course mates, or colleagues. This gives an impression that candidates might not be serious enough in preparing for their LISP or AISP examinations, especially for the book-keeping and accounting paper.
It is common practices for candidates of other professional examinations to attempt past year questions in their preparations, revisions, or even mock examinations before the “real” examinations. This appears lacking in the case of ISP candidates. Although I do understand there is generally inadequate availability of lectures or revision courses or workshop specifically directed at preparing limited number of candidates for the ISP Book-keeping and Accounting examination, if candidates were to attend lectures or revisions for other examinations such as the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) level 2, Pitman Advanced Accounting, or foundation courses of other professional bodies, ISP candidates would have no difficulty in passing this paper, because ISP syllabus are generally narrower in scope and lower in terms of required knowledge.
I have the opportunity to interact with a number of candidates not too long ago, their responses were generally negative. From their feedback which appeared unanimous, they hoped one day the paper could become easier. They seemed to share the same view that as planters their knowledge in book-keeping and accounting are less important than their knowledge in planting.
Let us look at a situation whereby an Estate Manager does not understand the activities and role of book-keeping and accounting. He leaves such a task entirely to the estate Chief Clerk who happens to be in need of money due to his personal difficulties. Knowing the Estate Manager has no clue what book-keeping and accounting is all about, he starts to embezzle the estate’s cash to settle his personal liabilities. In such a situation, would the Estate Manager be able to give excuse that he is not accountable for the embezzlement in the estate under his control?
I hope the examples and suggested answers provide candidates with insight of what are expected of them in answering questions set in the ISP Book-keeping and Accounting paper. My remarks could throw some lights on how a candidate could prepare for the ISP Book-keeping and Accounting paper. A golden rule, there is no easy way for passing the paper unless it is supported by continuous preparation, revision and attempting the past years questions. Attend workshop if there is such an opportunity. Perhaps, the TEC or ISP Secretariat might want to look into more avenues to assist candidates of ISP Book-keeping and Accounting examinations.
Comments on the Performances of October 2009 Book-keeping and Accounting Examination
I did not comment on the March 2009 examination because that examination was attempted by just a handful of candidates. All of them did very badly. It was disappointing to note that they repeated all the bad factors highlighted in my earlier 3 articles. I shall not elaborate them further but would suggest serious candidates to visit the ISP website to familiarize themselves to avoid repeating the mistakes of the unsuccessful candidates.
This is my fourth article on the above subject matter.
The objective of providing this feedback is to share my observations with future candidates on the level of knowledge expected and also the levels of substances and quality of answers. I hope all candidates attempting future Book-keeping and Accounting examinations are taking their preparations seriously and will make reference to these materials as part of their examinations preparation processes.
The format of the October 2009 examination was very similar to the earlier papers. The paper has two sections: Section A comprised of 10 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) worth 2 marks each, while Section B focuses on computation and narrations, each questions worth 20 marks.
Twenty-two candidates signed up for the October 2009 Book-Keeping and Accounting paper. Thirteen of them attempted. Two postponed and seven did not turn up on the day of examination. The “No Show” rate at 41% was marginally higher than the corresponding period in 2008.
Five out of thirteen candidates passed. This is the first time a candidate scored a Distinction (Grade A) followed by two candidates who scored a Credit (Grade B). One of the Grade B candidates could have achieved Grade A had he/she performed a little better in Section B – Questions 3 and 4.The table below summarized their performances:-
As illustrated above, the relatively badly attempted questions are the MCQ of Section A and Questions 3 of Section B. The technique of answering MCQ has been dealt with in my SECOND article. Candidates are strongly urged to familiarize themselves with those techniques.
MCQ requires a broader base of knowledge. Candidates who did not study broadly will not do well in MCQ because they will not know which is the most appropriate answer even if they have learned the skill of elimination. The poorly prepared candidates are likely to eliminate the wrong choices.
Section B Question 1 was actually a gift question testing the basic double entries. The question asked for three-column ledger accounts and specifically highlighted in bold that T-Account format will not gain any mark.
I noted there are a number of candidates used T-Account to answer this question. For the benefit of those candidates who do not follow a proper course of study, here is a skeletal extract of the three-column ledger:-
1(a) BENNY PLANTATION ADVISORY SERVICES COMPANY – GENERAL LEDGER
Please note the above are not the complete answer but merely an illustration of the three-column ledger format.
Section B Question 2 dealt with Club Accounting. A popular question which was tested quite regularly. If candidates have used the past year questions for their revision, they would have no problem in getting the correct answers.
Section B Question 3 is another gift question. Section (a) tested on the Bank Reconciliation and Section (b) listed the ratios to be calculated. It is disappointing to note that a large number of candidates not even know the equations for the required ratios. The poor knowledge in this area clearly demonstrated candidates do not prepare themselves well before attempting examination. Future candidates are urged to ensure they learn the necessary basic principles of bookkeeping and accounting. In the Oct 2008 comments, I have actually hinted that candidates may be asked to interpret financial information instead of being tested on number crunching.
Section B Question 4 is a regular question which has appeared repeatedly in every examination. I have also provided a suggested answer in my earlier report. It will be pointless if I continue to provide model answer if candidates do not care to read and understand how to answer the question.
Examiner’s Observations and Proposal
Although 3 candidates have achieved unprecedented outstanding performances vis-à-vis the previous examinations, the passing rate of 5 out of 13 candidates accounts for only about 38%. This is definitely low and a lot need to be done to achieve better performances.
Candidates still demonstrated apparent weaknesses in answering narrative questions. Please take note of the basic concepts, definitions and computations in the explanatory notes. These are rudimentary subject matters, which future candidates are advised to be mindful of in their preparation for the Book-keeping and Accounting examinations.
ISP or plantation groups may need to consider organizing workshops directed at upgrading the basic knowledge and examination techniques of their employees. Book-keeping and accounting knowledge are vital tools for operational controls.
Workshops, if any, must be organized in good time in order to allow candidates enough time to assimilate and digest the knowledge gained from attending workshop. Most importantly, course leaders must be well qualified and experienced in imparting knowledge to non-financial attendees.
For those candidates whose marks are below 45 marks, ISP currently bars them from attempting the next examination. It is my opinion that this might break their momentum and disrupt their examination preparation. If I may suggest, I propose ISP to allow such candidates to continue attempting their examinations. If they continuously achieved poor results for three consecutive or cumulative attempts, then they should be barred and their candidatures should be reviewed and a penalty in term of higher examination fee should be imposed to ensure they are still seriously interested in the ISP examinations.
Please click on the example you need:-
Comments on the Performances of October 2008 Book-keeping and Accounting Examination
This is my third article on the above subject matter. The earlier articles were posted on the ISP website which I trust are still available for reference of the interested candidates/parties.
The objective of providing this feedback is to guide candidates on the level of knowledge expected and also the levels of substances and quality of answers. Through this avenue, I hope to contribute to improve performance of future candidates. I hope all candidates attempting future Book-keeping and Accounting examinations are taking their preparations seriously and will make reference to these materials as part of their examinations preparation processes.
In my first article, I have elaborated at length on the needs and techniques for preparations. Suffice to say that there is no alternative to preparation that can assure success! There was no change in the format of this paper from the previous sittings, with all questions being compulsory.
Section A comprised 10 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) worth 2 marks each, while Section B contained four questions worth 20 marks each.
It has been noted in reports on the previous 2 sittings that the structure of the paper means that successful candidates during their preparation would have covered if not the entire but the majority of the syllabus. While those candidates who managed to pass might have noted this message, it remains the case that a good majority of candidates have not.
Ten candidates signed up for the October 2008 Book-Keeping and Accounting paper. Six of them attempted. The “No Show” rate at 40% was still high. However, when compared to the immediate past sitting of 67%, there was an improvement!
The performances of the 6 candidates in the said paper showed marked improvement. Five out of six candidates passed. This is the first time a candidate scored a credit pass (Grade B) while the other 4 candidates’ performances were also commendable. The Grade B candidate could have achieved Grade A had he/she performed a little better in Section B – Questions 2 and 3.
As illustrated above, the relatively badly attempted questions are Questions 2 and 3 of Section B vis-à-vis the MCQ in Section A and Question 2 of Section B in the March 2008 sitting.
In this article, I append the suggested solutions for Question 2 and Question 3 of Section B. The relevant questions are not reproduced. Please refer to the question paper of October 2008 for better understanding.
Notwithstanding better performances in the October 2008 examination, candidates still demonstrated apparent weaknesses in answering narrative questions. Please take note of the basic concepts, definitions and computations in the explanatory notes. These are rudimentary subject matters, which future candidates are advised to be mindful of in their preparation for the Book-keeping and Accounting examinations.
Scopes of the recent examinations were rather narrow, focused mainly on a few topics only. The scope of future examinations will be further expanded (within the defined syllabus) to cover topics which have not yet been tested. Candidates may be asked to interpret financial information instead of being tested on number crunching.
During periods of credit crunch and financial crisis, the needs to manage operations within budgets and continuous monitoring of cash flow are vital part of plantation management. Estate Managers and candidates aspiring to become estate managers may need to equip themselves with such knowledge.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 January 2012 04:25|