ACCA Optional Papers – How do I choose?

Within the ACCA Strategic Professional level, all students must complete the two-essential papers; Strategic Business Leader (SBL) and Strategic Business Reporting (SBR). However, when it comes to the rest of this level, you do have an element of choice in how you shape the contents of your final qualification. We know that some students are tempted to base their decision on the papers that achieve the highest pass-rates. Whilst this is one possible strategy, it doesn’t guarantee it will work or be suitable for you.  In this article, we look at each of the optional papers and then give our top tips to choosing the right ones for you.

ACCA optional papers

ACCA Optional Papers – How do I choose?

Within the ACCA Strategic Professional level, all students must complete the two-essential papers; Strategic Business Leader (SBL) and Strategic Business Reporting (SBR). However, when it comes to the rest of this level, you do have an element of choice in how you shape the contents of your final qualification. We know that some students are tempted to base their decision on the papers that achieve the highest pass-rates. Whilst this is one possible strategy, it doesn’t guarantee it will work or be suitable for you.  In this article, we look at each of the optional papers and then give our top tips to choosing the right ones for you.

The Papers

Here’s a look at the ACCA optional papers in a little more detail:

Advanced Performance Management

In this paper, you’ll build on the topics covered in Performance Management but will also need to draw on what you’ve learned as part of your F2 (Management Accounting) and Business Analysis (formerly P3 but now part of SBL). You’ll cover the following as part of this paper:

  • Management Accounting
  • Business Analysis
  • Performance Management

The exam requires a mix of written analysis and calculations and is a good choice for those wishing to work in management accounting.

Advanced Taxation

This paper follows on from Tax (F6) and students wishing to sit this exam should be comfortable with the technical elements of the following:

  • VAT
  • Corporation Tax
  • Current Income Tax
  • National Insurance
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Capital Gains Tax

The exam poses real-life scenarios and students will need to solve questions related to professional tax advice. This is a good option for those with technical tax knowledge and analytical skills.

Advanced Audit and Assurance

If you’re considering taking on this paper, then you’ll need to have built a solid knowledge from both the Audit and Assurance and the SBR (formerly Corporate Reporting- P2) papers.  The exam is based on written analysis and discussion and develops practical skills to deal with real-life challenges. This is a great option for those working or wishing to work in an auditing role and who enjoyed F8. It’s also important to have sat your SBR paper first.

Advanced Financial Management

This paper builds on the knowledge previously gained within Financial Management and focuses on:

  • Risk Management
  • Corporate Finance
  • Investment Appraisal

In this paper, you’ll go into greater depth than before and when it comes to the exam. you’ll be presented with questions that may have more than one way of answering them.  This is a good paper if you like a mix of calculations and written analysis. Our Tutors advise that this is often considered to be one of the most specialised and challenging papers to sit, so it may be worth taking a good look at the other papers first. We offer Advanced Financial Management at our London centre and as an online option.

 

Our top tips on choosing the right optional ACCA paper for you.

 

Your Experience

Reflect on the papers you’ve already sat. Did you enjoy studying a particular paper at the Applied Knowledge or Skills level? Which ones were you most successful at? The chances are, if you connected with a topic at these levels, then you’ll continue to progress in the same way at the Professional level. Studying for ACCA is a big commitment, so choosing the subjects you most enjoyed for the optional papers is one way to make your life a little easier.

Your Current and Future Career

Which of the optional papers most suits the work you do currently. This not only means that you’ll have ‘on the job’ experience of the subject area but studying this paper should also complement your career. It’s also worth thinking about where you’d like to go in the future. If you know there is an area of accountancy that you’d like to work in, it’s worth factoring this in for your plans for the ACCA optional papers. For example, if you’ve got aspirations of becoming an Audit Partner, then studying Advanced Audit is a must.

Your Skills and Learning Style

Think about how you learn and how you like to study. Do you find it easy to remember details or are you better at using your knowledge to analyse and discuss? Look at the summaries above, some exams will require calculations and detailed technical knowledge, others will ask you for written analysis and discussion. Work out which style suits you best.

Your ideal combination of papers

As we said at the beginning, you need to sit two of the four papers. Use the advice above to help you select the two papers that offer the best combination of suiting your skills, helping your future or current career and containing subjects that you’ve been comfortable and successful with at the other levels.

 

Find out more about the ACCA papers we offer, click here

You can get an overview of the whole ACCA programme here

 

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