Structure of ACCA exams: what you need to know

Structure of ACCA exams: what you need to know

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the world’s most prominent accounting bodies, offering a globally recognised qualification that opens doors to a myriad of opportunities in the finance and accounting sectors. A critical component of the ACCA qualification journey is the structure of ACCA exams and the examination process. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the structure of the ACCA exams, providing an overview that should be invaluable to current and prospective students alike.

1. An overview of the structure of ACCA exams:

The ACCA qualification consists of three primary levels:

  • Applied Knowledge
  • Applied Skills
  • Strategic Professional

Each level builds upon the previous one, ensuring a progressive learning experience that caters to both foundational and advanced knowledge in the field of accounting.

2. Applied Knowledge level:

This is the introductory level of the ACCA exams and serves as a foundation for the subsequent levels. It consists of three computer-based exams:

  • BT (Business and Technology) – Offers an introduction to the business world, covering essential management principles and techniques.
  • MA (Management Accounting) – Focuses on the basics of cost accounting and budgeting.
  • FA (Financial Accounting) – Provides an introduction to the preparation of financial statements.

3. Applied Skills level:

This is the intermediate level and includes six exams that provide practical knowledge in various accounting and finance areas:

  • LW (Corporate and Business Law) – Focuses on the basic principles of business law.
  • PM (Performance Management) – Covers advanced management accounting techniques.
  • TX (Taxation) – Explores the principles of taxation, including income tax, corporate tax, and value-added tax.
  • FR (Financial Reporting) – Delves deep into financial accounting and the preparation of complex financial statements.
  • AA (Audit and Assurance) – Provides insights into the principles and processes of auditing.
  • FM (Financial Management) – Focuses on financial decision-making and risk management.

4. Strategic Professional level:

This is the final level of the ACCA qualification and has two core exams and two options from a set of four. This level is designed to ensure students have the strategic vision to lead in the accounting and finance sectors.

  • Essentials:
    • SBL (Strategic Business Leader) – Integrates multiple disciplines to simulate real-world business scenarios.
    • SBR (Strategic Business Reporting) – Involves critical evaluation and application of financial reporting principles.
  • Options (Choose 2 out of 4):
    • AFM (Advanced Financial Management) – Advanced concepts in financial decision-making.
    • APM (Advanced Performance Management) – Advanced skills in organizational performance measurement and control.
    • ATX (Advanced Taxation) – Detailed insights into taxation for various entities and jurisdictions.
    • AAA (Advanced Audit and Assurance) – Comprehensive view of the professional and regulatory challenges faced in the audit and assurance function.

5. The exam format:

  • Computer-Based Exams (CBEs): Applied Knowledge and the Law (LW) Applied Skills exam are CBEs. They are available year-round and offer flexibility for students.
  • Session-Based Exams: Other exams are session-based, held each quarter in March, June, September and December.

6. Practical Experience Requirement (PER):

Beyond the exams, ACCA students must also complete the PER, which requires accumulating relevant work experience. This ensures that ACCA qualifiers are not just theoretically sound but also practically adept.

7. Ethics and Professional Skills Module:

To ensure ACCA professionals are ethically grounded and have the necessary soft skills, students are also required to complete this module. It offers a blend of ethics, communication, commercial acumen, and other vital skills.

In Conclusion:

The ACCA qualification is rigorous, comprehensive, and designed to produce world-class accountants. The structure of the exams ensures that students acquire both depth and breadth of knowledge, ranging from foundational principles to strategic insights. For those aspiring to build a robust career in accounting and finance, understanding the ACCA exam structure is the first step towards a successful journey.

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