ACCA's Advanced Audit and Assurance exams are notoriously difficult. However, there are a number of techniques that you can use to increase your chances of success. In this blog post, we will explore some of these techniques and provide you with tips for passing each exam. So, if you are planning on sitting the Advanced Audit and Assurance exams, make sure to read this blog post!
How important is it to have a sound knowledge of the fundamentals of the Audit Assurance subject?
It is very crucial to have fundamental knowledge for the AAA Examination. There are some new topics, but so much of it builds on the content of the Audit Assurance paper, such as Testing of Controls, Audit Risks, and Planning.
The content is almost similar; the difference comes from the questions. Questions are much more involved with deeper scenarios, and to apply your knowledge in those deeper scenarios, one should have a firm grasp of the fundamentals.
Are there any other exams that require prior knowledge for the Advanced Audit and Assurance exam?
Yes, one should have good financial reporting knowledge. For the advanced level, some of the financial reporting that's contained within the SBR exam.
However, you do not need to have sat SBR first. One can do AAA before doing the Strategic Business Reporting paper. Accounting and Financial Reporting knowledge should be sharp for the AAA examination. However, appearing for SBR before AAA Examination is a good stepping stone and is the right thing to do.
What is the difference between Advanced Audit and Audit and Assurance? What challenges do students face in moving up to Advanced Audit?
There are two significant differences:
1. Question on Audit Reporting is something students often find very challenging. It is different from the type of question that comes in AA. Studies show that students tend to perform poorly in this particular area. Practising past year's question paper, particularly Audit Reporting, proves very beneficial.
2. Length of the scenarios. There is a lot to read and think about. You must think carefully about the information you are given and how that drives audit risk. So, in AAA, when you are describing, for example, an audit risk, there will be something like three marks available per risk that you describe up to three marks. And there are so many marks available because there is so much depth in the scenario for you to build on.
Just picking out the risk will only get you half a mark or a mark. Describing the context of the scenario will get you those extra two marks to get you to the three marks per risk.
What study resources should I refer to pass the ACCA AAA exams
There are a few key resources that will be essential for success when studying for the ACCA AAA exams
- The first is BPP books- these are available to purchase either in physical or digital form and will provide you with all the information you need to know in order to pass the exams.
- The second key resource is BPP Training- this offers online video tutorials, practice questions and mock exams, which will help you to become familiar with the exam format and improve your chances of success
- We recommend referring to the Technical articles. These articles are written by experts in the field and provide detailed information on a range of topics relevant to the exams.
- In addition, We also recommend using revision guides and practice papers as these will help you to familiarise yourself with the format of the exams and also test your understanding of the material.
Can we expect Audit Risk and Audit Report-related questions in every paper?
The core topic area is Audit Risk, particularly within the long question. In Section A, you can expect a big audit risk question, something to do with planning, and usually some audit testing across the paper.
Can you design some audit tests for this particular area? And again, that's something that comes up at AA. Can you tell me some audit tests? But AA, it will be something straightforward, like, how do I audit receivables?
When you move up to AAA, the difference is that it will be something particular and detailed that you're auditing. And, nothing in the textbook will tell you how you audit this specific thing.
They will tell you about, for example, a sale and leaseback transaction that the company has gone through and give you loads of detail about what happened in the sale of that particular piece of equipment or property and how the leases work for them to get it back.
And it's all of the details that you have to run with when you're designing your audit tests.
So, you could say that's the same type of question. It's audit testing, but it's so different in how it's examined that it requires a much higher skill level.
Question practice will be critical here, and question practice and debriefing your answers.
How to get going into final revision and question practice?
It's the question practice that is critical to passing. You need some technical knowledge, but how well you apply that knowledge is a much more significant driver of your chances of passing. And you get that through question practice.
Practice as many questions as possible, at a minimum, doing an answer plan for each question and ideally doing a full written answer because it's through having to type up your answers in the time available that you develop that exam speed.
Advice for the students who will be preparing to resit the exam?
Assess yourself, determine what went wrong, and retry your previous examination paper. Get it checked by someone else so you can diagnose precisely what it is or where you went.
You might realize that in one of the questions, you went off on one and answered a different question than the one that had been answered. And now that we're away from our exam day stress, you've realized that that's your mistake. But going back and having a proper go at that previous exam, and if they're available, having a look at the examiner's comments because it may well be that the thing that went wrong for you is something that's in the examiner's comments that they're talking about those students did more widely.
Techniques or tips for approaching debriefing a narrative?
- Understand the length and depth of the examiner's answers. The examiner's answer will be for you to score a full passing mark; you must write less than half of what the examiner has written. If you count the examiner's answers and then type out a decent short answer, it's less than half the length. So, don't look at the examiner's answers as the length you are trying to prepare because you cannot finish the exam if you try to write in that depth. One or two sentences per mark; so if it's a 10-mark question, somewhere between 10 and 20 sentences that explain 10 points are sufficient for scoring a high passing mark.
- Check if facts from the scenario are used - If I'm not basing it on a fact from the scenario, then I'm unlikely to score heavily for this point because, in AAA, everything has to come from the scenario.
- Reread it and check if something is missing. Is there a so what? And when I look at the model answer, has the examiner written a so what point, an implication point that I didn't put, in which case if I haven't put that, so what, what does it mean going forward? What's the impact on a broader stakeholder than I've missed out on a mark?
- Check if you can understand the point in a single read. If I had to read it more than once, how difficult would it be for an examiner to understand? Will they read it three or four times to try and make sense of my point? Quite possibly not.
- Materiality Calculation: in Audit Risk questions, many marks are available for a relevant materiality calculation. And that works across many of the different question types in the AAA exam. Start with something from the scenario and then run with it.
- In higher strategic professional exams, solid advice is, don't just state the issues; explain them, explain a bit more, and then think of the implications. You need to write enough detail to pick up the marks, and this is an advanced exam, so writing something superficial just isn't cut it.
How to stay confident during the examination?
- Start with the question you can nail, which will keep you charged throughout the examination. Look at the exam paper questions and the one on which you think you will perform best. Start with that. If you love audit reporting and you've done a lot of questions on that, which comes up in section B, start with that question, pick up your confidence, and then run through the rest of the exam.
- Start with section A; if you are a student who will score 70, or 75% in this exam, it doesn't matter where you start; you will pass.
- If English is not your first language, then better to pick Section A later as this can be time-consuming because of the long scenarios.
Three key things to do to get ready for the examination?
- Read the examiner's comments. They are a goldmine. Spend a decent amount of time in the examiner's words; you are the best at reading those after you've attempted that exam to understand the comments.
- Add depth to your answers. There is a skill in picking out stuff in the scenario, picking out a fact from the scenario, but the real skill comes in developing your points into those implications. Always question yourself, what does this mean? What's the importance of this? And trying to squeeze out every last drop of the significance from that fact because that's where you start to score two to three marks for your point, rather than one to two marks. And that could help the chances of passing.
- Time Management: Be disciplined right from the start. Assign time to every question.
The Advanced Audit and Assurance exams are undoubtedly difficult. However, if you prepare well and use the techniques that we have discussed in this blog post, you will be able to increase your chances of success.
ACCA Exams are held four times a year for skill level and strategic level exams. These are held every quarter
March, June, September and December
The CA (Chartered Accountant) qualification is offered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). The ACCA qualification is offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
The CA qualification has been in existence for over 150 years, and is a globally recognised qualification. The ACCA qualification has been in existence for over 100 years, and is also a globally recognised qualification.
The CA qualification is available in India only, while the ACCA qualification is available in over 180 countries.
The ACCA subjects are assessed on a 100-point scale. The pass mark is 50 points. A score of 60 or more is required to achieve the grades of distinction, credit, and merit.
Yes. Passing all exams with a high percentage is an excellent accomplishment and demonstrates that you have a high level of understanding of the material. Employers will see this as evidence of your competence and be likely to consider you for a position if you are looking for work in the accounting field.
The hardest ACCA paper is the F5 performance management paper. This is because it requires a detailed knowledge of financial accounting and management accounting in order to pass.
Other papers that are difficult include the F7 financial reporting paper and the P2 advanced auditing and assurance paper. However, all of the ACCA papers are challenging, so it is important to thoroughly prepare for each one before sitting the exam.