Navigating and clearing the ACCA DIPIFR CBE exam tips and guidance

Aug 22, 2020by Eduyush Team

The DIPIFR exams have now moved to computer-based (“CBE”) from Dec 2020 onwards. This means that your tools are going to be a word and sheet processor rather than a paper and pen.

Informal studies show that less than one-third of today’s college graduates have taken a computer-based examination. People are often fearful of situations in which they have no experience. We outline some of the key points for the CBE exams which will help you navigate and help ease your anxieties.

Where is the DIPIFR CBE given?

The computer-based exam (CBE) is given at secure test administration sites run by Pearson Vue. Pearson VUE is a well-established exam vendor that now delivers CBE for ACCA, CIMA, and other accounting bodies. All the ACCA locations now offer the CBE. Click here for a list of some of the busy CBE centers.

Pros & cons of the CBE


  • Ability to edit and revise: it easy to simply edit or press backspace in CBE, while in paper a complete start again or messy reworking is all you can do. If something is wrong or rubbish, a simple delete and it was never there.
  • Readability and grammar: You don’t have to worry about handwriting, grammar and spellings, this actually may increase your score
  • Error reduction: Using excel for calculations should reduce simple manual errors of inputting into a calculator or taking down calculators output incorrectly.


  • Navigating the paper in one go – having to click into different sections or appendices etc to read the question, instead of having a full piece in your hands.
  • Not being able to highlight the question for keywords or ideas: on the question as you read it.. Yes you can highlight on the CBE and use a sketch pad to write some words, but it does not seem as natural or useful as being able to jot down or highlight keywords with a pen in hand as you read a long question
  • Its not MS office tools – Pearson use their own sheets and documents software, it won't be as slick as the MS office tools, expect a 10% lag or bugginess when you are writing

How can you navigate it and how can help?

If you ever taken a car driving license test, anyone would say try out the route at least 7-8 times before you present yourself in front of the authority. The same goes for the CBE exams. Practice, practice is the only key. You will need to train your mind to translate your IFRS neurons & memories into your fingers, and the keyboard. Plus the entirely new experience of training your eyes straight on a screen rather than looking down on a piece of paper will be new. Here are some tips, which can help

  • Answer the mock tests in the BPP practice & revision kit on google doc or sheet. Resist the urge for MS word or excel
  • Try connecting your laptop to a mobile hotspot, so that you can feel the bugginess in internet speeds. Don’t try answering on a fast WIFI. The software will be a bit slow, get used to it
  • Ditch the manual calculator, try using an onscreen one.
  • Try using a rough sheet online or a sticky notes software, instead of a manual one. Though you may be given one to use in a CBE center, if the exams go remote, you will be expected to have nothing on your desk.
  • Ditch the paper books, start reading from ebooks. The paper is 3 hours long, reading from ebooks will train you to be attentive and build mental stamina to work on a screen for that long.
  • Practice mock tests online over a period of 10-12 weeks (don’t attempt 10 tests over 15 days). It’s a process, respect it and your cognitive cells will respond
  • Factor in your typing speed. Don’t overwrite or give lengthy answers, read the BPP study text to use the articulate language which you can replicate. You get 1.6 minutes per mark.
  • The screen will be split, with questions on the left and answer on the right. Train yourself accordingly. Don’t split it with Netflix or youtube though
  • Practice on the ACCA site for a specimen exam

At, we do share out a mock test on our LMS on a weekly basis, where students can submit their answers online. This LMS comes complimentary if you take the ACCA DIPIFR registration with us. We believe, practicing at least 10-15 times will get your neurons connected and ready for battle.

At the CBE center

Are you worried you will experience computer problems? Stop worrying now. The procedures have been in place long enough to prove that the system works. Chances are highly unlikely that the computer will give you problems. You could, however, provoke problems if you are not well versed in the exam navigational processes. It is essential that you practice the tips we laid out above.

You must work with the system. The platforms are in place, the center’s staff is well trained, and you are not the first person to take the CBE exam. All of the computer features should work well. In the very unlikely situation that they do not, the test center staff will give you guidance about how and where you report the problems. Some of the very best technical personnel in the world have prepared this exam.

Remain focused on your job: to prepare by reviewing the technical content. The computer format is the least of your worries. Get back to the business of studying. You must be prepared to answer the technical questions. You are not required to fix computer glitches.

Candidates report that the Pearson test center personnel are very polite and efficient. To date, no major problems have been reported. The centers are quiet and the computers work as promised. Don’t expect the exam proctors to make exceptions for you. If you forget your exam docket or your required forms of identification, you will be barred from sitting the exam. Leave prohibited items, such as watches, food, beverages, plastic bags, and writing instruments, at home. You will be given everything you need to complete the exam. If noise is a problem, you can obtain a special headset at the test center. You will not be permitted to bring your own earplugs.

Examples of behavior that will not be tolerated during the exam are

  • Repeating acts of misconduct after receiving prior warning(s)
  • Tampering with computer software or hardware
  • Attempting to remove items from the testing room
  • Copying, writing, or summarizing exam questions on any material other than thescratch paper issued to you

Other things to note at a CBE

  • Leave your study materials at home. The lockers at the center are very small. Large binders do not fit.
  • Wear comfortable clothes but be prepared to wear your sweatshirt or sweater the entire time. Proctors may not allow you to remove clothing during the exam.
  • Travel to the center alone. Family and friends must cheer you on from home. The center does not allow people to wait in the reception area.
  • There is little or no time to eat and drink during a break since the clock keeps on running. Be well nourished before you land up at a CBE. Plan for a toilet or a medicine break.
  • Candidates are videotaped as they take the exam. Don’t allow the taping to increase your anxiety level. Five minutes into the exam, you will be too busy to think about the cameras.

Most candidates who have written a CBE rate their experience highly including the COVID exams in July. You will participate in one of the most professional examination processes in the world. This won’t be like the typical reality television show. There is no requirement to eat live worms or to walk on hot coals. The experience will be real, and you will survive when you plan ahead, practice the sample exams, and follow the rules listed in your exam dockets. Cheers and best of luck. has all the tools to get you started, LMS, BPP books, and ACCA registration. Start your DIPIFR journey with us, we will make it enjoyable.

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