How long does it take to complete ACCA?

How long does it take to complete ACCA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification is a prestigious global credential in the accounting and finance domain. It demonstrates a professional’s expertise in various areas of finance, accounting, and management. But how long does it take to complete ACCA? This article explores the timeline, key factors, and offers strategies to optimise your ACCA journey.

The timeline to complete ACCA

The ACCA program encompasses 13 exams, the Ethics and Professional Skills Module (EPSM), and the Practical Experience Requirement (PER). For an average student:

Applied Knowledge: Comprising 3 exams, it usually takes 9-12 months.

Applied Skills & Applied Knowledge: Comprising 6 exams, it usually takes 12-24 months.

Strategic Professional Level: The advanced level includes 4 exams, often completed in 12-24 months.

On average, students can complete ACCA in 3 to 5 years, considering potential exam resits and breaks.

Papers within the ACCA modules:

Applied Knowledge:

BT: Business and Technology – Learn the business environment’s role and organizational functions.

MA: Management Accounting – Understand how to prepare and process basic cost and quantitative information.

FA: Financial Accounting – Grasp the basics of financial accounting and preparing financial statements.

Applied Skills:

LW: Corporate and Business Law – Understand the general legal framework and company laws.

PM: Performance Management – Learn advanced management accounting techniques.

TX: Taxation – Grasp the taxation system, including income tax and VAT.

FR: Financial Reporting – Understand the framework of professional reporting.

AA: Audit & Assurance – Learn the nature and purpose of the audit and assurance process.

FM: Financial Management – Understand advanced financial management techniques.

Strategic Professional Level:

SBL: Strategic Business Leader – Use strategic management and leadership skills.

SBR: Strategic Business Reporting – Gain a deeper understanding of financial reporting principles.

2 of the following 4 optional papers:

AFM: Advanced Financial Management (Optional) – Advanced techniques in financial decision-making.

APM: Advanced Performance Management (Optional) – Improve organizational success through strategic management.

AAA: Advanced Audit & Assurance (Optional) – Gain a deeper understanding of the professional and ethical considerations in audit and assurance.

ATX: Advanced Taxation (Optional) – Advanced knowledge in application and evaluation of taxation principles.

Factors affecting how long it takes to complete ACCA

Several factors might stretch or condense your ACCA journey:

Prior Qualifications: If you have relevant qualifications, you might receive exemptions from some of the ACCA exams, thus speeding up your journey. You can check for ACCA exemptions here.

Study Time Available: The more time you have available the quicker you will be able to sit the exams. Work and personal time pressures though can be significant so it’s best to have reasonable time expectations when it comes to the how long it takes to complete ACCA.

Exam Resits: Not clearing an exam in the first attempt will naturally extend your timeline. All of us here at ExP are proud of our exam results (92% pass rate at the time of writing) and to maximise your chances of passing it’s worth considering one of our Platinum accredited online ACCA course. More details can be found here.

The emotional and mental aspects

ACCA is rigorous, and there will be moments of doubt, stress, and anxiety. Being mentally prepared is as essential as being academically ready.

Stay Motivated: Remember why you started the ACCA journey. Keeping your end goals in mind can reignite your motivation during tough times.

Seek Support: Talk to family and friends if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, just voicing out your feelings can be therapeutic.

Time for Yourself: While studying is vital, taking time off for hobbies, relaxation, and personal growth is equally important. It provides a necessary mental break and recharges your cognitive batteries.

Career opportunities after you complete ACCA

Once you achieve the ACCA qualification, a wide array of career opportunities opens up. ACCA professionals are sought after in various industries, not limited to just accounting firms. From finance and banking to consultancy and public sectors, the avenues are numerous.

Continuous Professional Development: Even after completing ACCA, the learning never stops. Ensure you’re continually updating your skills and knowledge to stay relevant in the industry.


The ACCA qualification is a challenging yet rewarding journey. Depending on various factors, it can be completed between 3-5 years. However, more than the timeline, it’s the knowledge, skills, and networking opportunities ACCA offers that truly make the journey worth it. So, as you venture onto this path, remember to focus on the journey itself rather than just the destination. The knowledge and skills you’ll acquire along the way will shape your career in ways more profound than just a certification.

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