Beginners guide to clear the ACCA exams

Meta Title: Comprehensive Guide to Clear the ACCA Exams

Meta Description: To give the ACCA exams, the students need to prepare well and cover the syllabus with a holistic approach. Follow a comprehensive guide to prepare ACCA easily. 

Social Media Post: Due to its global representation and acceptance, passing the ACCA exams has become essential for aspiring CAs and gaining jobs in international organizations. Clearing the exam begins with understanding its structure and pattern. Here’s a detailed guide on ACCA. 

Before today, did you know that ACCA has more than 230,000 members across the globe? Not only this, but more than 500,000 students are also aspiring to gain ACCA accreditation as we speak. 

Your decision to pursue the ACCA exams and achieve accreditation is excellent, but do you have what it takes to pass all the 13 exams? Plus, are you ready to spend at least three years preparing and attempting these papers? 

Every student aiming to become a qualified Chartered Accountant is keen to understand the role of ACCA in their professional career. As ACCA has global recognition, aspiring accounting professionals must cover the syllabus of 13 exams and their associated components. 

This guide is dedicated to helping beginner students understand everything about the ACCA exams. You will also get a bonus section on tips and tricks to achieve a good score in these papers. 

What is ACCA?

ACCA, or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, is a global organization established in 1908 headquartered in London. The purpose of ACCA is to provide certification to Chartered Accountants (CA), covering the major components of accounting and business management. 

Within this, the ACCA qualification covers financial accounting, management accounting, tax, financial management, audit, and business management. Students appearing for this exam find themselves cornered with a mountain of the syllabus. 

But worry not; after reading this guide, you will find yourselves at ease because of the understanding you will gain about the exam and its structure. 

Some of the reasons why accounting professionals choose to give the ACCA exam includes;

  • Better career opportunities
  • Global recognition
  • Comprehensive syllabus and course material
  • Cost-effective course
  • Build Professional Skills
  • Complete Understanding

All these elements relate to the fact that after receiving the accreditation, you will better understand the concepts and access more opportunities in over 170 countries. 

The entire ACCA program is supported and facilitated by professionals in the field. ACCA has ties with over 7400 employers across the globe, giving you a direct path to get a job with the world’s leading organizations. 

Plus, it’s a flexible system whereby you can pursue other career paths and degrees while preparing for the ACCA exam. This is especially helpful when you want to pursue the ACCA qualification at the earliest stage. 

Structure of the ACCA Exam

To begin with, let’s understand the structure of the ACCA exam first. There are three levels here;

  1. The Exams Module

The ACCA exams are conducted in three components;

  • Applied Knowledge: The Applied Knowledge section covers the part where students learn about the basics of the finance world. The syllabus and subjects covered here will help build the primary understanding of management, accounting, business, and the role of technology in the business. 

As a result, the three papers you must attempt in this section are;

  1. Business and Technology (BT)
  2. Financial Accounting (FA)
  3. Management Accounting (MA)

As these are the building blocks of the rest of the subjects and sections, it is essential to start preparing for the ACCA exams with them. 

One of the best ways to acquire the ACCA qualification is structure preparation. Hence, it is important to know the basics and take it from there. 

It’s a good thing that the ACCA does not recommend any sequence for these exams. So, you can take any exam at any stage, and for this level, it is advisable to take the FA first, followed by MA and then BT

To cover the syllabus and give these three exams, you will need at least 7 to 8 months. 

  • Applied Skills: This is akin to taking the next step and building more on your existing understanding of the accounting processes. Here you will learn more about the practical financing components followed by the skills to build a strong career in this domain. With this section covered, you will feel confident about catering to the accounting needs of any sector and industry. 

The papers included in this level are;

  1. Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  2. Taxation (TX)
  3. Financial Reporting (FR)
  4. Performance Management (PM)
  5. Financial Management (FM)
  6. Audit and Assurance (AA)

These are the papers where you will need to devote more time and resources. Giving these exams is like progressing into the second level of the ACCA qualification. And here, things will get more difficult. The subjects will take more time and warrant your attention. 

With this level as well, there are some particular things you must understand. First, since there is no definite pattern to taking the exams, you can start from anyone on the list. Plus, you can give the ACCA exams four times a year (March, June, September, and December). 

So, we recommend you to give these six exams in four attempts. In the first attempt, take FR and LW papers, and the syllabus for these two can be easily covered in the first three months by full-time ACCA students. 

In the second attempt, take the PR paper, which is a relatively more challenging exam than others. Hence, it will require at least three months to prepare. 

Followed by this, in the third attempt, it would be good to take TX and AA papers. Out of these two, the AA paper can be a bit tricky, but because it does not have a lengthy syllabus, the topics can be covered. Therefore, these two ACCA exams are possible to cover in the next three months. 

In the last attempt, take the FM exam and give it three months for preparation. 

So, here you can cover all six exams in one year, which is a remarkable thing to do. Students often face difficulties with preparation because they don’t follow the right approach. That’s why it is imperative to plan ahead and understand how to give the exam in a structured manner. 

  • Strategic Professional: This is the last level of the ACCA exams. Preparing for the subjects in this section will prepare you for becoming future leaders in this industry. Here you will learn about the technical, ethical, and professional skills to become good leaders. The ACCA students will also get the opportunity to specialize in some areas of their choice for the future. Due to this, there are two Essential subjects and four Optional subjects. 

The Essential Subjects include;

  1. Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  2. Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

        The Optional Subjects include;

  1. Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  2. Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
  3. Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  4. Advanced Performance Management (AFM)

Here, passing the two Essential papers is mandatory to receive the accreditation. But you can choose to give two papers out of four in the Optionals section. 

Here again, you can take these exams in four attempts, which means that you must give one exam in each cycle. Hence, you can cover Level 3, which is the last level, in one year’s time. 

Students have the freedom to choose from any of the four optional exams. But we would recommend choosing Advanced Financial Management (AFM) and Advanced Audit and Taxation (AAA). 

This is because, in the Level 2 exams, you attempted the Financial Management in the last, and preparing for the AFM becomes easier here. Secondly, take AAA due to the similarity in SBR

For the order of giving these exams, start with AFM in the first attempt, followed by SBR, AAA, and then SBL. Give three months to each exam for preparation. 

  1. Ethics and Professional Skills Module

In the Ethics and Professional skills module, the ACCA aspirants are taught the skills to perform better in their Strategic Professional exam. Rest assured that there is no extra exam that you must attempt for this module. 

Rather it is added to help the students learn better and access additional resources for the same. While it has become an essential part of the ACCA membership, following the guidelines here will certainly help the passed-out students improve their chances of employability. 

Within the module, you will learn professional skills like leadership, communication, and commercial awareness. As a result, you must complete this module before giving the Strategic Professional level exams. 

According to ACCA, the students who have completed this module before their exams have a 19% better chance of passing the exam than those who did not. 

  1. Practical Experiment Module

The third module in the ACCA membership – this is not a mandatory module for the ACCA exams – is Practical Experiment (PER). It is recommended to go for this module after giving and passing all the exams. Here you must gain 36 months of supervised experience in a relevant accounting or finance role. 

Syllabus of the ACCA Exams

ACCA conducts comprehensive exams to assess the students and ascertain their credibility to become professional CAs. Because of the nature of the profession and its effectiveness in the professional world, having a wide enough syllabus to cover every aspect becomes crucial. 

Here’s a glimpse of the subject areas covered in each of the ACCA exams;

  • Business and Technology (BT): Understanding business within the context of the environment, economy, legal, and regulatory aspects. It also touches on areas like governance, employment, health, data protection, privacy, and security. 
  • Management Accounting (MA): It covers data analysis, statistical techniques, budgeting, cost accounting techniques, performance measurements, and standard costing. 
  • Financial Accounting: Financial reporting, financial information, recording transactions and events, double-entry accounting, recording transactions and events, preparing financial consolidated statements, preparing financial statements, preparing trial balance, and interpretation of financial statements. 
  • Corporate and Business Law: Essential elements of the legal system, insolvency law, employment law, law of obligations, constitution and formation of business organizations, capital and financing of companies, company regulation & administration, and corporate fraud & criminal behavior. 
  • Performance Management: Technologies and information for organizational performance, performance measurement and control, employability and technological skills, cost management and accounting, decision-making techniques, and budgeting and control.
  • Taxation: The taxation syllabus differs according to the country. So the subjects herein are specific to the country. These are tax system, income tax and NIC capabilities, inheritance tax, corporate tax, chargeable gains, VAT, and corporate tax liabilities. 
  • Financial Reporting: Conceptual and Regulatory framework, preparation of financial statements, accounting for transactions in financial statements, employability and technology skills, and analyzing financial statements. 
  • Audit and Assurance: You will have to study the audit framework and regulation, review and reporting, planning and risk assessment, audit evidence, and internal control. 
  • Financial Management: The subjects include Financial management function, business valuations, financial management environment, investment capital, working capital management, risk management, and business finance.
  • Strategic Business Reporting: The SBR subject has two versions, UK and International. These topics are from the International version, including fundamental ethical and professional principles, interpreting financial statements for different stakeholders, reporting of financial performance in a range of entities, financial statements of groups of entities, the impact of changes, and potential changes in accounting regulation. 
  • Strategic Business Leader: The topics to be covered here are leadership, governance, strategy, risk, professional skills, enabling success and management, finance in planning and decision making, technology and data skills, organizational control, and audit. 

Take note that the syllabus for the ACCA exams is also subject to change according to the year. The syllabus you are reading above is set for the exams to be attempted between September 2022 to September 2023. 

Although there won’t be any drastic changes in the syllabus, there may be some conceptual differences according to the current events. 

Requirements for Giving the ACCA Exams

Similar to the differences in the topics, the entry requirements for the ACCA exams also differ with the country. At the minimum level, the students must have completed at least senior secondary school education, which is applicable for Indian students only. 

For a student belonging to the USA, Advanced Placement Examination Grades of 3 and above are sufficient to register for the ACCA. A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree can also be considered for the same. 

Similarly, for a student belonging to the UK, 2 passes at GCE or VCE A-Level (Grades A to E). Or 3 GCSE or Vocational GCSE or GCE O Level passes (Grades 9-4 /A to C) are sufficient. There are several other qualifications that can ascertain a student’s entry into the ACCA. 

For more information on country-specific qualifications, follow this link.

Tips and Tricks to Pass the ACCA Exams 

Passing the ACCA exams requires two things; dedicated study and following the right approach. These two things set the students who achieve success from others who are yet to experience the same. Here are a few tips and tricks to follow for the ACCA exams. 

  1. Start Preparing Early: This is the key requirement for the ACCA exams. Since you have the flexibility to give the exams, you can start preparing early enough and set a schedule. Break down the syllabus and create a plan for the entire year. 

Every subject can be covered between 1.5 to 3 months. So, set the schedule accordingly and follow the exam pattern. 

  1. Build Subject Associations: On the whole, the entire syllabus of the ACCA exams covers subjects related to accounting and finance. Hence, you can easily build associations between different subjects. For instance, covering Financial Management thoroughly can help you prepare well for Advanced Financial Management, which is an optional subject. Similarly, going through the syllabus of all the subjects will help you find associations between them. 
  1. Practice with Past Test Papers: Giving past exam papers is a great way to practice and cement your knowledge of the subjects. Attempting these exams will help you identify the weak spots and improve your technique. With this, try to understand the marking schemes followed by the officials in the exams. 
  1. Balance Study and Life: Preparing for the ACCA exams can be overwhelming. Experts suggest that you must devote at least 20 to 25 hours per week for the preparation. Well, this is the norm for full-time students, and it is a relatively approachable requirement. But for students who are working alongside studying, figure out the right time schedule and ensure to balance life, work, and study. 


ACCA’s global approach and the acceptance rate is the key element in attracting students and aspirants from across the globe to attempt the exam. Passing the exam means enhancing your chances of getting great-paying jobs in more than 170 countries around the world. 

With an exam that has such a high level of approach and effectiveness, it is essential to prepare for the same with a holistic approach. IMS Proschool helps students prepare and give the ACCA exams by following the right approach and clear them with flying colors.