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ACCA where to begin

We have summarised our tutor experience and identified three of the most popular issues where new students may experience struggle. And would like to share with you.
This article is for those who already made the decision to gain an ACCA qualification and became an ACCA member. My name is Ruslan Golovanov, I prepare students for ACCA exams since 2015 and since 2016 launched online courses to prepare for ACCA exams which are called Learn It Online. We have seen a lot of students who struggle with the first step. Of course, they register as ACCA students and consider exam preparation strategies, but not sure how to approach it effectively.

I will talk to you about three ideas which new students often do not aware of during the start of their ACCA journey:

1. The uselessness of exemptions received
2. Nature of ACCA exam questions and answer requirements
3. Time and money invested

The first idea is that the impressive number of exemptions received will not help a student. Or at least has a limited effect. One of the ACCA advantages is providing systematic knowledge and professional skills. So papers start from the very beginning and then papers follow like string beads. Each following paper is a logical continuation of a previous one, moreover, it may include part of the previous paper's syllabus. On the one hand, logically, you may say. But on the other hand, there is no learning support in subsequent preparation if this syllabus topic was included in the previous paper. Both the examiner and textbook author considered them as already learnt. There are a lot of examples. One of them is the skill to write a report: it is considered in the first paper, but you may be asked to write a report in all professional papers, especially AFM. So students who are not aware of report structure best practices may experience struggle. In our courses, we pay attention to such gaps and reconsider such topics. To present the scale let me provide another example: ratio and trend analysis. This topic is introduced in the PM paper and then develops in FM. But other papers also include it in the syllabus. At the AFM exam, you may be asked to provide ratio and trend analysis in 25 marks question, but I have not seen the AFM student book where it was considered. Just think about it: a quarter of marks on a topic which is not covered in a study book.

We recommend consistently passing papers in ACCA recommended sequence. If you have exemptions, please, look through the syllabus of such paper and make sure you are really aware of it.

The next idea I would like to share with you is about new students' expectations. Maybe the most ACCA weakness is a lack of feedback. It is vitally important when students fail. In such a case we recommend students ask a tutor to gain an external view.

Maybe the most advantage of ACCA is a strong demand in the labour market. Why do employers appreciate ACCA members? For their readiness to solve real-life tasks: they hear the question and immediately start to write structured, built-in logical assertions, and professional answers. Excellent! But how have they learned it? Via ACCA exams, students learn by heart reports, memorandums, presentations and other professional documents best price structure, tone and content requirements. At the skill level, students were asked to apply theory to solve real-life questions while at a professional level students were asked to establish professional judgement and formulate recommendations based on the results of the analysis which they prepared based on the appropriate theoretical approach.

What do we recommend paying attention to when preparing for the ACCA exams? The nature of the question and answer requirements. At the skill level, it is important to accurately apply theory to solve the business case task and comment on what the answer means. Narrative responses have the same value as the calculation part. At the professional level apply skills to calculate is not enough for success (we mean to gain 50+ marks). At the professional level, vitally important to provide a professional judgement, provide a recommendation. No recommendation - no answer. Where to start? Ensure that you are aware of question verbs meanings, ACCA often update article on this topic, one of them you may read here.

How should a student prepare for it? In our opinion, students should learn, and we assist them in our courses, typical schemes for the answer to typical questions. It works even in a real-life case! We teach how to deal with them, establish a benchmark, apply the practice, and pass tests and other activities.

The last idea I would like to talk to you about in this article is the students' expectations about time and money investment. The money investment is quite easy to evaluate, but most students do not account pass rate here, most of them believe that they will succeed from the first attempt. But big numbers confirm statistics, where most of the papers have a pass rate of about 50% or below. When a student fails, she (or he) has not just to pay one more time for the exam, but to invest roughly the same time for preparation. The student is aware of most theoretical approaches but she (or he) is unable to apply them effectively. Here is the main reason why you should or should not enrol on courses or receive other external tutor support. The answer is your time spent. No doubt, any student can prepare for any exam by her (or him) self, but time and money investment may be sufficient. Courses and tutor support provide you with an assurance that you will effectively spend your time.

That's all I would like to talk to you about in this article. The title of article is ACCA where to begin. Our answer is:

  1. Don't focus on exemptions. Not so long ago "big four" companies asked their employees to forfeit exemptions because they may miss important materials from previous papers. So, carefully read the syllabus, while developing your strategy to pass
  2. Doesn't matter what way you will choose: self-preparation, courses or tutor support. You should figure out what does the question require and what does an examiner expect to see in the answer script? No doubt it may take a lot of time in the self-preparation mode and significantly less if you ask a good learning provider
  3. Investment of your time and money may be sufficient. Evaluate your work-life balance to ensure that you have enough time. Examiner provides feedback that the most popular reasons to fail are: poor time management and writing less than needed. I mean students who fail, usually write correct answers, but significantly less or too general to gain more than 50% marks. ACCA journey may be long and circumstances may change: marriage, the birth of a child, relocation to another country. All of these may change over time available for learning. Courses and learning providers will help you to invest time effectively.

That's all. We have not included general issues which are published at the website, so if you have further questions address, please primary source, rules may change quickly and up-to-date information is always published at the ACCA website. Write us the answers to what questions you would like to hear; we will answer or write another article!

Thank you for reading and see you in Learn It Online courses, we are available from all around the world and provide different learning modes which fit everybody.

Ruslan Golovanov, 26.07.2022