As students prepare for their exams, questions that only assessors can answer often pop into mind. Unfortunately, most students don’t have access to assessors in most of their subjects, so we took your questions and presented them to a senior VCAA assessor who has extensive experience in marking the VCE exams that you will soon sit. Here are his/her answers.

We hope that your exam preparations are going well.


How do you know from the given lists what needs to on the statements they ask for?
e.g. inventory write down.

There are templates in the Accounting Study Design for journals, ledgers, inventory cards and the 3 reports. The templates for the 3 reports are not that helpful (especially for the Income Statement). The second attachment shows complete examples of the 3 reports. These must be strictly adhered to.

Hi, I was wondering if there is a resource which specifies which questions from past VCAA papers for Accounting are still doable for the new Study Design?

Terminology has changed in some cases. Therefore past questions can sometimes become more confusing than beneficial. You will need to refer to your teacher for advice on individual questions. I have used past questions this year, but I have modified nearly every question (and answer) I have used in order to fit the new course. Try and stick to all the exams/questions written in 2019 for this new course.

Which ledger accounts should I abbreviate?

No abbreviations are allowed, save for GST Clearing. When writing Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable, always remember to write the customer or supplier’s name as well. Abbreviations such as Acc. Dep. (Accumulated Depreciation) or Accs. Rec. or Accs. Pay. are not allowed. Every effort must be made to write the title in full. Maximum 1 mark deduction per question for abbreviations (Note: when writing Accumulated Depreciation you must also state the non-current asset type).

What are your thoughts on rote learned answers for common theory questions? e.g as the justification of certain items as particular accounting elements or reducing vs straight line depreciation.

Will at best get you 1 mark only. Must always link your answer back to the question.

Example: Explain your treatment of Prepaid Rent in the Balance Sheet. Model answer – Prepaid Rent is reported as a current asset in the Balance Sheet. (1). The benefit is controlled by the entity and represents a future economic benefit to the entity. (1). In this case, the entity will benefit from use of the building for the future XXX months. (1)

What are some common, avoidable errors that students consistently make year after year on the final exam?

Not a complete list, however;

  1. No abbreviations.
  2. Correct dates in all journals and ledgers.
  3. Make sure the right accounts go in the right reports (e.g. Rent expense is an expense in the Income Statement, whilst Prepaid Rent is a Current Asset in the Balance Sheet).
  4. Are the reports in the right format?
  5. Balance or close ledgers correctly (what is the difference?).

The list could go on. Read the past two years Chief Examiner’s Reports to get an idea

Of the sorts of common errors made by students.

The Ethical Question

The inclusion of this section in the new course has caused some confusion amongst both teachers and students about the types of questions that maybe asked. Our expert VCAA assessor shares his opinion regarding what types of questions may be asked. This report can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

How do I know the extent to which I should discuss a financial indicators question without using too much time or over-discussing?

For theory responses you need to be averaging one mark every 15-20 words. Hence a four-mark question should be answered well in 60 – 80 words. Remember, you do not need to calculate ratios but you need to be able to address the following:

  1. Clearly explain what the ratio is measuring.
  2. Clearly identify the trend (if a number of years of data are given).
  3. Provide reasons why the trend is improving/deteriorating.
  4. Identify possible strategies to improve the outcomes.

Do you know how the ‘ethical’ type questions will be marked this year?

It is not productive wasting time trying to predict questions on an exam. However, I would go so far to say that I would expect a 4 mark ethical consideration type question and a 4 mark Doubtful Debts question. Refer the appendix below for my thoughts on the ethical question.

Will I lose mark if I write ‘Dep’ and ‘Acc’ instead of depreciation and accumulated depreciation? –

See above – you cannot use abbreviations such as ‘dep’ and ‘acc’.

Will I be given some spare paper if I ask for them?

Yes. Just ask for spare paper. However, in 28 years of marking VCE Accounting, I have never seen or marked a student who has used extra paper.

How should I structure a discussion question worth 6 marks and theory questions with Accounting assumptions or qualitative characteristics?

Accounting marking has moved towards “global marking” for the 6-mark question. Markers are given a solution with perhaps 8 or 9 points made. Markers are instructed to read the response once and quickly categorise the answer into one of three categories (1-2 marks, 3-4 marks or 5-6 marks). Then they are instructed to read the response a second time to decide whether the response gets the lower or higher mark within the category. To get a 6/6 mark, the markers are looking for a good coverage of the 8 or 9 points on the marking guide. Hence, it is possible for two students to write quite dissimilar responses, yet both be awarded 6/6. Note: not all 8 or 9 points need be mentioned to get 6/6.