How to pass ACCA SBL Exams? Overview | Tips | Resources

by Sianna Shah

Many students find the ACCA SBL exams very challenging. If you want to pass these exams, here are some tips that may help you. We will start by giving you an overview of the SBL paper,  discuss ACCA resources & exam day tips . So, if you are preparing to take the SBL exams, be sure to read this blog post carefully!

What skills are assessed in the exams?

ACCA SBL has five main skills which are assessed in the exam, namely:

  • communication,
  • commercial acumen,
  • scepticism,
  • analysis and
  • evaluation.

We recommend students to read a lot of business journals, read management discussion and analysis and listen to company results debriefs.

What foundational knowledge is required for the SBL Exams?

SBL or Strategic Business Leader covers many different areas, and for many students, it's a bit tough. Students who get exemptions start at the professional stage and struggle a bit more when they get into SBL directly. 

SBL is a holistic exam because it covers many skillsets and concepts, not just one topic. 

 Students need to have strong knowledge of the fundamentals of the following prior subjects

  • Financial management 
  • Performance management 
  • Business and technology 
  • Audit Internal controls and risks

How do students with prior exemptions study for the SBL exams?

  • Take training if you are writing ACCA Professional papers. A trainer will help you build on the ACCA mindset and brush you up with prior concepts and skills required for the exams
  • Look at all the SBL past papers and the examiner's approach. Check how the examiner approaches the question and the model answer. By doing the answers, you also remind yourselves of what you need to know 
  • Look at the curriculum and syllabus. See if you have any gaps in prior papers like computing NPV or terms from performance management. Brush up on those areas first.
  • Take the ethics and professional skills module prior to taking the SBL exams. 

How different is SBL from other ACCA Exams?

SBL is in a category of its own and is much different from other papers in the following way

  • It's a longer paper of 4 hours 
  • You need the synthesis of information. You have a lot of exhibits, so you need to go through a lot of information to answer. It's a more holistic exam which means it covers a lot of areas
  • And most important, it has one storyline. SBL is a story of one company,  there's one industry, one storyline. You have to figure out what's going on with this company. You have a lot of exhibits you have to go over then we have to crosscheck things. It's a storyline that simulates the workplace. 

How do I study for SBL 2 weeks before exams?

  •  Go through your terms
    • Start by looking at all the terms and topics in an index of your study materials or training course. So, for example, the word governance, the word agency, the topic of risk measured, benchmarking, all these topics, if you count them, is about 100. 
    • Go over all these terms and try to define them even though you don't need to define them during the exam. 
    • Take a few minutes for each topic and read some new pages. Make a file on your PC. You will have 100 terms defined by yourself.
  • Take a ACCA SBL mock exam: Take between 2 to 3 mocks. The more mocks you take, the better will be your answers and time management.
  • Look at the examiner's reports: Many students don't read very well. There are a lot of great hints in the examiner's report. The examiner's explanations are good as they had time to synthesise an excellent answer. Take some of those areas, find hints and keywords and use them for your exam revision.

    How do I tackle the 4-hour paper?

    Reason for your answers: You must have a "Why" with everything you say on the paper. For example, say that this company has no great opportunity for the future. You will get zero marks because you're not telling the examiner why this company has no opportunity for the future. Similarly, if you write that this company has a great strength, which is the brand, elaborate a little bit as to why the brand is strong.

    Read the requirements:  SBL tests you on skills like scepticism and communication evaluation. Many students don't go and read the skill required when they write the answer. For example, the requirement says we will give you four marks if you do this with scepticism. Thats your framework and your answer needs to be modelled around scepticism.

    You must have a plan: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You cannot go to SBI without a plan. The goal is basically to use the hour in terms of planning. Use the first hour to make a mental plan. We recommend using the following technique. 

      • check first all the background information
      • then scan the requirements, and
      • then look at the exhibit, review them, and 
      • look at the requirements quite well, and then 
      • go and read the exhibits 

    Don't start reading everything from scratch. You need time to look at the background, scan the exhibits, go and check all the requirements, and then go back and read the exhibits and try to correlate which requirement goes with what exhibit.

    What are the study resources available for SBL? 

    Students can use the following resources from ACCA site

    ACCA SBL Online course

    If you are looking for a more in-depth and hands-on approach, we suggest signing up for the BPP SBL Online course. BPP experts have designed this course to help students pass the SBL exams with ease.

    Over 50 hours of video tutorials, practice questions, revision summaries and a CBE mock exam, you have all the tools you need to succeed on exam day. Are you ready to pass your SBL exams in the first go? View the course demo or Speak to our team at +919643308079 to know more. Pair your BPP online course with a BPP SBL ebook or SBL paperback.