So, you have decided to pursue ACCA? 

Congratulations! 

You are on the right track to a glorious career. 

You would have heard that the pass rate of some of the subjects in ACCA is not very encouraging. That’s true! But we urge you not to put yourself out of the market for ACCA solely because of the low pass rates. 

The benefits of having ACCA certification are immense, and career-establishing that a few hiccups along the way shouldn’t let you lose confidence. We are here to give a few confidence boosting tips and tricks from successful candidates who managed to ace the exams with a flourish. 

ACCA exams are one of the most respected and globally recognized certifications in the accounting world. It is a highly sought-after certification that offers students several job opportunities to excel in their chosen financial career. 

However, acing this professional certification is not an easy task. It is rather understandable that passing the certification course should be a challenge, especially since it shows candidates’ expertise, skill, and subject proficiency. 

Is it, then, possible to clear the ACCA exam? 

Yes, of course.

We will give you extensive information on clearing the ACCA exams – in the first attempt – in all the modules. Ready for the challenge? It can get tough and tiring, but who doesn’t like a challenge? 

How to Crack ACCA in the First Attempt?

Cracking the ACCA exams in the first attempt might be challenging but certainly not impossible. Before venturing into the nitty-gritty details about sitting for the exams, let’s look at some basic information about the exam format. 

Think of the ACCA Exam Format

The ACCA syllabus is divided into four parts or levels. Each of these levels – Fundamental and Professional Level – contains several numbers of papers, totalling 13 in all. 

The Fundamental level exams are designed for students without relevant qualifications or experience. To qualify for ACCA, such students should pass all the papers in the Fundamental Level. 

The three levels in ACCA include:

Applied Knowledge Level

Business and Technology – BT

Management Accounting – MA

Financial Accounting – FA

Applied Skill Level

Corporate Business law – LW

Taxation – TX 

Performance Management – PM

Financial Reporting – FR

Financial Management – FM

Audit and Assurance – AA

Strategic professional level

Strategic Business Leader – SBL

Strategic Business Reporting – SBR

Optional papers – two of which should be selected 

Advanced Financial Management – AFM

Advanced Taxation – ATX

Advanced Performance Management – APM

Advanced Audit and Assurance – AAA

You might be eligible for exam exemption for several papers depending on your qualification and experience. 

Factors to Consider when Planning your Studies 

Before designing the best exam order, you should consider these critical factors that can impact your success. 

  • Consider your workload:

Are you working? Or a student? 

Consider your busy schedule or other appointments before deciding on the exam dates. Since you have an option of choosing the exam dates, make sure you have a lot of free time leading up to the exam. 

  • Consider your personal life:

Do you have any important personal events coming up during or just before the exams?

Make time for your personal life and make sure you have enough free and uninterrupted time to concentrate on your studies. 

  • Consider YOUR method of learning:

Do you do well when studying in workgroups? Or are you better off studying alone? 

Decide on the best learning approach or methodology that suits you.

  • Design the best exam order

The best exam order is what works for you. No exam strategy works across the board for all students and at all times. We will give you some critical tips that will guide you in acing the ACCA exams. 

What are the Exam Cycles in ACCA?

ACCA offers four exam cycles every year – taking place over a period of 5 days in March, June, September and December. 

ACCA allows you to take up to 4 exams per session and a maximum of 8 different exams during one calendar year. 

The ACCA exams follow computer-based and paper-based formats. Both these formats include Scenario-based questions and Multiple-choice questions. 

On-Demand Computer-Based Exams are also available for students taking up the first seven papers among the Foundation Level and Applied Knowledge Level exams. Make sure you are already a registered member of the ACCA before applying for the On-Demand CBE. 

What is the order for taking ACCA Exams?

Since you have four exam cycles every year, you have the flexibility to choose how many exams you want to sit per cycle. There are three basic ways to choose to sit for the exams. 

  • Twice a year – Two Exams in Each Cycle

You can choose to sit for two exams twice a year – either in March/September or June/December. Now, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for the following exams. Moreover, you’ll also get to know the previous exam results, giving you enough time to reprepare. 

  • Four Times a year – One Exam in Each Cycle

You can take up one exam in each exam cycle, giving you enough time to prepare and ace that particular paper. Studying just one subject every three months will give you time to prepare well. This method is quite useful, especially when you are preparing for higher level exams – some of which are harder as you progress. 

  • Give the exams a Flexible Approach

In case you have important events coming up or peak times in office work, this flexible approach will work in your favour. You can sit for two exams in March, choose one each in June and September, and again one exam in December. Or you can skip one exam cycle altogether. However, make sure you attempt to sit for four exams every year. 

What should you consider when choosing Exam Order?

Before you decide on the order, let’s state the facts:

According to ACCA, you have to follow the modular order when taking the exams, but within each module, you can attempt the papers in any order. 

ACCA has three modules, and you don’t have to attempt the papers in the given order as long as you undertake the exams in the modular order. In simpler terms, you have to progress from the Applied Knowledge Level to the Applied Skills Level but can attempt each exam in these modules in any order. It would help if you first cleared all the exams in the first module before you proceeded to the next module. 

You can try taking papers that are similar or flow seamlessly together. For example, before you take up the Audit and Assurance paper, you need to understand Financial Reporting. 

You should know several concepts before you take up subsequent papers, as the knowledge of the previous paper will impact the understanding of the present paper. Similarly, passing the Strategic Business Reporting before undertaking AAA will give a better chance at passing AAA. 

We also suggest you take up the Ethics and Professional Skills module before tackling the Strategic Professional exams. The entire Ethics and Professional skills module should take about 20 study hours and should be completed after the Applied Skills and before venturing onto the Strategic Professional course. 

On a side note, take advantage of your work experience, knowledge and practical experience in deciding the exam order. We think FR, AA or TX should be quickly completed if you have considerable accounting knowledge before starting the PM subjects. 

Acing Each Level of ACCA Exam – Advice

There are different ways to ace each level of the exam, and it depends mainly on your personal choice. 

You can try taking up different subject papers in one go to remember the facts and topics efficiently. 

You can choose to take similar subjects at one time, keeping one paper as a practice for the other one. 

Or, you can also go ahead with the same pattern provided by ACCA. 

There is, undoubtedly, a uniform method that works for all. What works for some could spell disastrous for you. 

  • Applied Knowledge Level

These fundamental papers are the first set of papers every ACCA student has to pass. Besides being the first set, you can choose the order in which you are taking the exams in this module based on your knowledge and strength. 

These three papers are crucial to your success because they build your expertise and proficiency in accounting principles, management accounting, business technology, financial accounting, and more. They act as a foundation for the subsequent exams. 

We believe that if you alternate between one theoretical paper and one calculation-based paper, it might be easier for you to learn. 

Although there is no exact order to the papers, some students find it easier to complete FA before attempting MA. 

Needless to say, make sure that the first paper you attempt is the paper you are most thorough and comfortable with. 

  • Applied Skills Level

You can start your Applied Skills Level when you are on the last paper of the Applied Knowledge Level. You can vary the order of exams, but it is better to take up Audit and Assurance after mastering Financial Reporting. 

From our personal experience, we suggest you take up the Corporate Business Law exam first. It doesn’t actually fit into any of the other exams, and it is best to get it done before tackling different subjects. Moreover, it also has a high pass rate. 

While at it, you can also give a go at Financial Reporting. Since this subject has a lot in common with Financial Accounting from the Applied Knowledge level, it’ll be easier to pass this exam. 

A PRO TIP – if you are planning on sitting for the Taxation exam, make sure you are certain you can pass it on the first attempt. For example, you sit for the TX in March and unfortunately, you have failed that exam. You will have to sit it again in June, September or December, but this time with new tax laws, standards, percentages and slabs. We suggest taking the TX exam in June or after, not in March. 

  • Strategic Professional Level

You can take up the strategic professional level exams in any order of your choice, and you can start this level when on the last exam of the Applied Skills levels. 

However, we suggest you finish all your Applied level exams before starting with the Professional level. The reason for this is the strategic exams demand thorough knowledge of the concepts and require you to demonstrate and apply the skill. 

Again, suppose you have had a few exemptions along the way or had a lot of gaps between both levels. In that case, we suggest you take some time to practise using mock tests and practice resources before attempting the Strategic Professional papers. 

What to do when you have time constraints?

If you have time, we suggest you take up two exams in one sitting. This way, you can complete all the papers in the shortest possible time. Use the time at hand judiciously, and prepare well using study resources before attempting exams. 

If you have time constraints, as most of us, we recommend completing the first completing foundation level papers and then tackling one paper at one time. Look at the exemptions and determine if you are eligible for any. However, there is no time limit to pass the exams, maybe except for Taxation for the reasons we already mentioned. 

Secret Tips from Successful Students

Now that you can design a successful exam strategy let’s also give you some of the secret tips of successful students. 

  • Devise a Plan and Stick to it

Take your time to make a plan. When making a plan, consider all the factors – levels, exam difficulties, and personal time constraints. Once done, try to stick to it and be flexible when needed. 

  • Understand the syllabus 

Without completely understanding the ACCA exam format and syllabus, you won’t be able to make a plan. First, spend quality time reading through study formats and ACCA exam resources and getting the necessary clarity.

  • Study and Revise 

Prepare a timetable mentioning the subjects you are going to learn each day. Make it a point to learn every day for a few hours – preferably at the same time every day. Keep a day each week for revision. 

  • Track your progress

Track your study progress and make sure it is aligned with your weekly goals. Test your knowledge of each concept by taking as many mock tests and practice exams as possible. 

  • Talk to your Mentors

Get in touch with mentors or previously passed out students to better understand the course and the subjects. 

  • Join an experienced coaching centre

Make the best bet at winning by joining any experienced coaching institute. They will provide you with the needed training, study materials, and mock tests and help you with your doubts. Moreover, select a training centre that offers flexibility in study methodology, including online, offline, and teacher-led classes. 

Get Started with ACCA at IMS Proschool

Better still, join IMS Proschool. If you are looking for experienced industry experts to give you the necessary training on all subjects, IMS Proschool is where you should be. Their track record of producing top-notch ACCA certified professionals is one of the best in the market. We will help you invest your time and energy into studying for ACCA exams regardless of the papers you are taking. 

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