ACCA Exams: Your Blueprint for Global Finance Success

by Sianna Shah

Understanding the ACCA Exams

The ACCA Exams framework is meticulously designed to equip students with the technical know-how, ethical grounding, and practical experience needed to thrive in the finance industry. The journey encompasses three fundamental elements:

  1. ACCA Exams: Split into Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional levels, these exams progressively build your expertise from the basics of financial and management accounting to strategic business leadership and advanced financial management.
  2. Ethics and Professional Skills Module: This module is vital for honing the full spectrum of critical professional and ethical skills in the workplace. It prepares you to tackle real-world business challenges with integrity and professionalism.
  3. Practical Experience Requirement: ACCA mandates a minimum of 36 months relevant work experience to ensure you are thoroughly prepared for the professional world. This hands-on experience, verified by a supervisor, bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

Check the list of ACCA subjects in detail with syllabus

List of ACCA Exams

List of ACCA Exams

The ACCA exams are your stepping stones to becoming a proficient finance professional. They are divided into three categories:

Here's a table summarizing the categories and exams within the ACCA qualification pathway:
Category Exam Name Description
Applied Knowledge Business and Technology (BT) Introduces a broad understanding of the world of finance and develops essential accounting techniques.
Financial Accounting (FA) Develops knowledge and understanding of the underlying principles and concepts relating to financial accounting and technical proficiency in the use of double-entry accounting techniques.
Management Accounting (MA) Covers basic techniques for the identification and management of costs and decision-making.
Applied Skills Corporate and Business Law (LW) Provides knowledge and skills in understanding the general legal framework, and of specific legal areas relating to business, recognizing the need for legal advice when necessary.
Taxation (TX) Introduces tax systems and teaches how to compute tax liabilities, discuss the implications of taxation on financial decisions and how to comply with tax laws.
Financial Reporting (FR) Teaches the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare, present, and interpret financial statements within a range of business contexts.
Performance Management (PM) Develops knowledge and skills in the application of management accounting techniques to quantitative and qualitative information for planning, decision-making, performance evaluation, and control.
Financial Management (FM) Provides the skills and knowledge needed to manage the finance function of an organisation.
Audit and Assurance (AA) Covers the process of carrying out an assurance engagement and its application in the context of the professional regulatory framework.
Strategic Professional Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) Requires demonstration of the ability to make strategic business and financing decisions.
Strategic Business Leader (SBL) Combines technical, ethical and professional skills in the evaluation and presentation of business reports.
Options (Choose Two)
Advanced Financial Management (AFM) Teaches advanced financial management techniques needed in strategic business planning.
Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA) Provides a deeper understanding of the principles and processes involved in carrying out an advanced audit assurance engagement.
Advanced Taxation (ATX) Covers the application of taxation theory, the taxation system, and the critical evaluation of taxation issues.
Advanced Performance Management (APM) Enhances skills in applying strategic management accounting techniques in different business contexts.


When are ACCA Exams Held?

ACCA exams are conducted in four sessions each year, providing candidates with multiple opportunities to sit for them. These sessions are held in March, June, September, and December. The specific dates within these months may vary each year and by location, so it's crucial for candidates to check our ACCA exam dates timetable for the exact schedule.

ACCA Exams Passing Rates

Passing rates for ACCA exams vary by paper and session. They reflect the proportion of candidates who achieve a passing score, which is 50% or above for most exams. Here's a general overview:

  • Applied Knowledge exams have higher passing rates, often ranging from 70% to 85%. The introductory nature of these papers and the availability of on-demand CBEs contribute to the higher success rates.
  • Applied Skills exams: The passing rates for Applied Skills exams usually range between 40% and 60%. These exams require a deeper understanding of accounting principles and practices, making them more challenging.
  • Strategic Professional Exams are among the most challenging ACCA exams, with passing rates generally ranging from 30% to 50%. The complexity of the material and the high level of application and analysis required can impact pass rates.

Check out our year wise ACCA pass rates by subject

What are the ACCA Exams variants?

One of the unique aspects of the ACCA qualification is the flexibility it offers through tax, law, and auditing standards variants. This flexibility ensures that your ACCA qualification is as relevant and applicable as possible to your geographical location and career aspirations. Here’s a closer look at how to tailor your ACCA journey with these variants.

ACCA Tax and Law Variants: Localize Your Expertise

The ACCA recognizes the importance of understanding the tax and legal environment you plan to work in. As such, it offers variant exams in critical areas to cater to this need. These are

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW): This variant allows candidates to understand the foundational legal principles relevant to businesses in their country. Variants include but are not limited to:
    • Global (LW-GLO)
    • UK (LW-UK)
    • Singapore (LW-SGP)
  • Taxation (TX): This paper covers the tax system, including income tax, corporate tax, and VAT among others, applicable to the country chosen. Variants include:

    • UK (TX-UK)
    • Malaysia (TX-MYS)
    • Singapore (TX-SGP)
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX): Building on the TX paper, the ATX focuses on more complex tax planning and compliance issues. Variants include:

    • UK (ATX-UK)
    • Malaysia (ATX-MYS)
    • Singapore (ATX-SGP)

Before making a choice, candidates should consult the tax and law variants table available in the ACCA's related documents section to check the availability of these variant papers.

ACCA variants At the Foundation Level:

At the Foundation Level, the ACCA provides a framework to support early career accountants by laying the groundwork for further specialization in accountancy, finance, and management. This foundational level, also known as the ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business, introduces students to the core principles of accounting and finance while offering the flexibility to specialize through variant exams in specific areas such as taxation.

ACCA Foundation Level Tax and Law Variants:

  • FTX, Foundations in Taxation: At the Foundation Level, ACCA offers variants in the FTX exam to cater to local tax laws and practices. This allows students to gain knowledge and skills that are globally relevant and tailored to the specific tax environment they plan to work in. Variant exams are available in several countries, providing students with the opportunity to specialize in the taxation system of:
    • Lesotho
    • Malaysia
    • Singapore
    • United Kingdom

By taking a local tax variant exam, students can align their foundational knowledge with the specific tax regulations and practices of these countries, better preparing them for professional challenges and opportunities within those jurisdictions.

Importance of Variant Exams at the Foundation Level:

Choosing to specialize in a local tax variant at the Foundation Level has several benefits:

  1. Relevance: It ensures the knowledge and skills acquired are directly applicable to the local business and regulatory environment.
  2. Employability: Specializing in local tax laws and regulations can increase employability by aligning one's qualifications with the needs of local employers and clients.
  3. Foundation for Further Specialization: Understanding the taxation system of a particular country can serve as a solid foundation for further specialization in tax advisory and compliance services.

ACCA exams for SBR and AAA: International vs. UK Variants

Strategic Business Reporting (SBR): This exam focuses on financial reporting frameworks and applying International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). It tests candidates' abilities to make strategic business and financial reporting decisions.

    • International Variant: Focuses on global financial reporting standards, providing candidates with the skills to work internationally.
    • National Variant: This variant is tailored to specific countries, incorporating national financial reporting standards alongside or instead of IFRS, depending on the country's regulatory environment.

Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA): This paper examines candidates' knowledge of auditing and assurance services and tests their ability to analyze and apply complex auditing and assurance principles.

    • International Variant: This variant centres around the International Standards on Auditing (ISA), equipping candidates with a comprehensive understanding of audit practices on a global scale.
    • UK Variant: Includes specific UK national standards and regulations, making it ideal for those practising in the UK.

Which ACCA Variant Should One Choose for SBR and AAA?

Your career aspirations and geographical location should guide the decision between International and National variants and where you intend to practice your profession.

  • Choose International Variants if:
    • You aim to work with multinational companies or countries adopting IFRS and ISA widely.
    • Your career path may lead you to different countries, requiring a broad understanding of international standards.
    • You are looking for flexibility in your career, allowing you to work in various international settings.
  • Opt for UK Variant if:
    • You plan to work and stay in the UK, where specific national standards are preferred or required for financial reporting and auditing.
    • Your goal is to specialize in the UK's regulatory environment and practices.
    • You aim to provide consultancy or audit services tailored to the UK's legal and regulatory framework.

Students can purchase the ACCA books from BPP and KAPLAN via Eduyush at the best prices

How to take ACCA Exams

ACCA offers Computer-Based Exams (CBEs) to enhance the flexibility and accessibility of its qualification exams. These exams leverage modern technology to simulate the real-world tools finance professionals use, aligning with the practical and theoretical demands of the finance sector. CBEs are categorized into two types: on-demand and session-based exams.

Here's a table that categorizes the ACCA exams into Session CBE and On-demand CBE, providing a clear overview of the types and availability of these exams:

Exam Type ACCA Qualification Foundations in Accountancy
On-demand CBE BT (Business and Technology) MA1, FA1, MA2, FA2
MA (Management Accounting) FBT (Foundations in Business and Technology)
FA (Financial Accounting) FMA (Foundations in Management Accounting)
LW (UK & GLO) (Corporate and Business Law) FFA (Foundations in Financial Accounting)
Session CBE LW (other versions) (Corporate and Business Law) FAU (Foundations in Audit)
TX (Taxation) FFM (Foundations in Financial Management)
FR (Financial Reporting) FTX (Foundations in Taxation)
PM (Performance Management)
FM (Financial Management)
AA (Audit and Assurance)
SBR (Strategic Business Reporting)
SBL (Strategic Business Leader)
AFM (Advanced Financial Management)
APM (Advanced Performance Management)
ATX (Advanced Taxation)
AAA (Advanced Audit and Assurance)

ACCA remote or centre based exams, which is better?

What are the ACCA Exams Rules and Regulations 

The ACCA exam regulations establish a fair, secure, ethical examination framework for candidates. Adhering to these rules tests your accountancy knowledge and showcases your commitment to professional and ethical conduct. Here's a concise overview of the critical exam rules essential for pursuing ACCA membership with integrity.

  1. Adherence to Regulations: Candidates must follow ACCA's Rulebook, Exam Regulations, and Guidelines. Violations may lead to disciplinary action and possible removal from the student register.
  2. Compliance with Instructions: Follow all instructions from ACCA staff, exam supervisors, invigilators, or proctors before, during, and after exams.
  3. No Deception: Do not provide false or misleading information to exam personnel.
  4. Unauthorized Materials: Possession or use of notes, books, or materials not explicitly allowed is prohibited.
  5. Prohibition of Electronic Devices: The use of dictionaries, calculators capable of storing text, electronic devices, communication devices, smart watches, or any recording technology is forbidden, except as permitted in remote exams under specific guidelines.
  6. Assumption of Intent: If you are found with unauthorized materials or items, it will be presumed that you intended to use them to gain an unfair advantage unless proven otherwise.
  7. Weapon-Free Environment: Weapons are strictly prohibited at the exam venue, with violators facing immediate exclusion.
  8. Reporting Misconduct: ACCA personnel will report suspected irregularities or misconduct and have the authority to discontinue your exam for such behaviours.
  9. Irregular Conduct and Communication: Any irregular conduct, unauthorized assistance, or communication with others during the exam is not allowed.
  10. Exam Content Confidentiality: Copying, photographing, or reproducing exam content in any form is strictly prohibited, as is distributing exam materials.
  11. Integrity Reporting: You must report any access to exam content before, during, or after the exam to maintain the integrity of ACCA examinations.
  12. Examination Environment: Ensure no one else is in the room for remotely invigilated exams. You must have permission to leave the exam room early for session exams. 

Choosing Your Starting Point

Your ACCA journey may vary based on prior qualifications and potential exemptions. Whether you're just beginning your career in finance or aiming to elevate your strategic leadership capabilities, ACCA provides a structured yet flexible path to achieving your goals. For those starting at the very beginning, the Foundations in Accountancy qualifications offer an entryway into the profession, eventually leading to the comprehensive ACCA Qualification.

The Value of ACCA Membership

Achieving ACCA membership opens doors to a global network of professionals and opportunities in every sector. Recognized worldwide for its rigour and relevance, the ACCA qualification endows you with the skills, knowledge, and ethical grounding to lead the future of finance. Employers around the globe respect and seek out ACCA members for their forward-thinking approach and comprehensive understanding of the financial landscape.

ACCA Exams, closing thoughts

Pursuing the ACCA qualification is more than an educational decision; it’s a commitment to your future in global finance. With diligent preparation, ethical insight, and practical experience, you can emerge as a strategic leader poised to influence the future of finance.

As you embark on this journey, remember that the path is flexible and designed to accommodate your unique circumstances and career aspirations. The world of finance awaits, and with ACCA, you’re well-equipped to lead the charge.

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Questions? Answers.

You have an unlimited number of attempts to pass the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) exams.

ACCA does not impose a limit on the number of times you can retake an exam.

You can keep attempting until you successfully pass each exam, which provides flexibility for candidates to learn and improve their performance over time.

Yes, ACCA offers exemptions for certain exams for candidates who have completed certain academic programs or have relevant professional qualifications.

To request exemptions, you will need to provide documentation and submit an exemption application to the ACCA. Review our comprehensive exemptions calculator to know more.

The pass rate for the ACCA exams varies from exam to exam and from year to year. In general, the pass rate for the ACCA exams is between 35% to 50%. Read our blog on subject wise pass rates to know more.

The answer to this lies on your context and individual career objectives.

Read our detailed analysis on this topic here.

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) membership provides numerous benefits, including:

- Professional development opportunities, such as access to the latest technical resources, CPD modules and e-learning tools
- A global community of like-minded professionals to collaborate and share knowledge with
- The ability to connect with employers through the ACCA Jobs service
- Eligibility for reduced rates on a range of products and services, such as insurance, stationery and more

The consequences of non-payment of the annual subscription fees are

As a member:

1) you can't call yourself an ACCA member, and you won't be able to use the ACCA name or logo. 

2) You also won't be able to use any resources, including the online resources. 

3) if you're working as an accountant, you may be unable to use the term "ACCA-qualified" or "ACCA-registered". 

4) If your membership expires and isn't renewed within three years. In that case, your name will be removed from the Register of Members.

5) If you need to apply for CPA accreditation with another accounting body like CPA Australia or Canada, you will be required to furnish a good standing certificate from ACCA for five years. If you haven't paid your membership fees, you won't be able to get your good standing letter

As a student

1) You will not be able to use the members' website or log into MyACCA. You will lose access to many resources, including past exam papers and helpful articles. 

2) You will no longer be eligible to sit the examinations or progress through the qualification.

3) You won't be able to pursue any other qualifications like the DIPIFR

If this is something that happens accidentally, then it is usually quickly resolved by simply paying the outstanding amount of 89 GBP.

If you're looking to become a chartered accountant in the United States, the value of the ACCA qualification cannot be understated.

To be accepted into one of the regional accountancy bodies that confer chartered status (such as the AICPA), you must have completed an accredited course of study from a college or university and have spent at least two years working in the accounting field.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is globally recognized as one of the leading institutions for providing such accredited courses, and their stamp of approval on your degree will go a long way in getting your foot in the door with some of the top accounting firms in America.

It is a difficult question because it depends on your specific situation and goals.

However, in general, we would say that the CA (Chartered Accountant) certification is better for those interested in pursuing a career in accounting and finance.

In comparison, the CFA (Certified Financial Analyst) certification is better for those interested in investment banking or portfolio management.

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) certification is more internationally recognized than the CA or CFA, so it may be worth considering if you're interested in working abroad.

Ultimately, though, the best way to decide which certification is proper for you is to speak with experts in each field and get their advice.

The decision of whether ACCA or a degree is better for you depends on your individual goals and circumstances.

ACCA is a professional accounting qualification that is recognized and respected globally and it is focused on accounting and finance. It is a good option for those who want to pursue a career in accounting or finance and do not want to spend the time and money required to earn a degree.

On the other hand, a degree program offers a more well-rounded education and provides a broader range of career options. It also provides more in-depth knowledge in specific field of study and it is good for those who want to pursue a career in a field outside of accounting and finance.

Both ACCA and a degree can be valuable qualifications, it depends on the person's career goals and what they want to achieve in the long term. It's also worth noting that in some countries, it is mandatory to have a degree in order to practice as an accountant.

The 15 subjects in ACCA are

  • Business & Technology (BT)
  • Management Accounting (MA)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)
  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)
  • Financial Management (FM)
  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)