A comprehensive ACCA guide for new students
To help you get started on the right foot, this guide will provide you with valuable information on
- How and when to register with ACCA
- How to apply for exemptions
- When and how to sit exams
- Insights into the qualification itself
- Tips on balancing work and study
Registering with ACCA
Once you’ve decided to start the ACCA qualification, you need to register as a student. You can register before or after you start your first ACCA course, but we recommend you do this as soon as possible so that your registration is processed well before you book your first exam.
Follow these steps:
- Visit the ACCA website and create an account.
- Choose your qualification: If you have two A Levels and three GCSEs in five separate subjects including English and Maths (or equivalent qualifications), you can start the ACCA qualification. If you don’t have these qualifications, you can start the Foundations in Accountancy qualification and progress onto the ACCA qualification.
- Once registered, you will receive your student registration number, and gain access to a student resources at MyACCA.
- Share your registration number with your training provider so that they can update your records as soon as possible.
Understanding the ACCA qualification:
ACCA is a globally recognised qualification that equips you with the skills and knowledge required for a successful career in accounting and finance. ACCA exams are held four times a year, giving you the flexibility to choose when to sit them.
Here’s what you need to know:
- ACCA fees: As an ACCA student you will pay a one-time registration fee, an annual subscription fee and exam fees. For detailed information about ACCA fees, please visit the ACCA website.
- Exam sessions: The main exam sessions take place in March, June, September, and December. At Applied Knowledge Level and for the Corporate Law module, the exams are on demand, meaning you can sit at a time that suits you.
- Exam format: ACCA exams are computer-based and comprise a combination of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and/or constructed response questions (CRQs).
- Exam entry: There are early entry deadlines for each exam session, offering you a discounted exam fee. If you miss this early deadline there is a ‘late exam entry deadline’, which you’ll want to try and avoid since the cost is twice as much! First Intuition can support you send you reminders when it’s time to book an exam if you choose to study with us. Learn more about ACCA exam deadlines.
- Exam results: Results are typically released within eight weeks of the exam date at Applied Skills and Strategic Professional level. Results for on-demand exams at the lower levels are released on the same day as the exam. Find out about key ACCA dates.
Insight into the ACCA qualification:
Understanding the ACCA qualification will give you a clear perspective on the journey ahead. Here are key points to consider:
- Structure: The qualification cosists of three levels – Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional level. Each level has a set of exams and an ethics module to complete.
- Practical experience: To become an ACCA member, you must fulfil the practical experience requirement, which involves gaining relevant work experience alongside your studies. Find out more about ACCA PER.
- Ethics and professional skills (EPSM) module: The ACCA EPSM module is a compulsory module that emphasises ethical behaviour and professional skills development. The EPSM module takes around 20 hours to complete and involves an assessment, which you must pass before applying for ACCA membership. Based on recent ACCA data, completing EPSM before Strategic Professional exams increases pass rates by up to 25%.
- Exemptions: If you have a relevant degree or qualifications, you may be eligible for exemptions from certain ACCA exams, reducing how long it takes to qualify. Find out more about ACCA exemptions and whether you’re eligible with ACCA’s Exemption Calculator.
What ACCA exemptions are available?
Exam exemptions are available if you have a relevant prior qualification or degree. If you think you’re eligible, you can use the ACCA exemption calculator to find out whether you qualify for exemptions. This tool asks for information on your study history including your institution, graduation year and course name, to ensure you start studying at the level that’s right for you.
Should I accept my ACCA exemptions?
When deciding whether to claim exemptions, consider the following factors:
- ACCA has a rigorous process for awarding exemptions to ensure that your prior learning aligns with the necessary skills and knowledge for the ACCA qualification.
- Exemptions save you from studying topics you’ve already learned, which is good if you recently obtained a qualification such as AAT, and the knowledge is still fresh in your mind.
- However, if you’re contemplating claiming exemptions based on qualifications you completed many years ago, or if you have been working in a non-accounting field for a while, it might be more beneficial to take the exams. Avoiding exemptions and completing exams instead will allow you to refresh your knowledge so that you’re in a better position to pass higher-level exams, which delve deeper into the subject matter.
FI Insight: Our tutors occasionally meet students at advanced ACCA classes with inadequate knowledge after they applied for exemptions based on studies they completed a long time ago. These students struggle to get through the Strategic Professional exams and could have benefitted from working through the earlier ACCA exams, without exemptions. Therefore, we’d recommend carefully considering whether applying for exemptions is worth it – there’s no harm in refreshing your knowledge!
Balancing work and study
Many ACCA students will need to study whilst working full or part time, which requires effective time management and commitment. Follow these tips to help you balance work and study effectively:
- Create a study plan: Schedule your study hours wisely, considering your work commitments and personal life. Allocate specific time slots for studying and stick to your schedule.
- Use available resources: Take advantage of the study materials and resources provided by ACCA, and consider enrolling onto an ACCA course to support your learning. By studying with an ACCA approved training provider, like First Intuition, you’ll benefit from structured courses and expert tutor guidance. Find out more about First Intuition ACCA courses.
- Break your studies down: Divide your course material into manageable chunks and set specific goals for each section of the syllabus. Tackling smaller portions of the course one bit at a time will help you stay focused towards your exam.
- Get organised: Make a study planner either on paper or using digital tools, depending on your personal preference. Use to do lists to prioritise your tasks, and set goals against your calendar, with dates to work towards for your mock assessments and real exams. This will keep you accountable and give you the focus you need to succeed.
- Find support: Look for a study companion online, using social media study groups. Find like-minded ACCA students studying at the same level as you, so that you can work through course material at the same pace and offer tips and advice to each other. Reach out to a student on the same course as you to find out if they’re looking for someone to study with. Working with others can enhance your chance of passing, as you aren’t tackling the course content alone.
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance: Studying for a professional qualification can be challenging! Book time in each week for exercise, relaxing and spending time with friends. Taking breaks from studying will recharge you and bring more focus to your next study session.
Find more tips on how to plan your ACCA studies here.
Starting your ACCA journey can be an exciting experience that leads to a successful career in accounting and finance.
By following the tips and advice above, you’ll be on the right track. First Intuition are here to support you from the beginning of your ACCA qualification. Contact our friendly team now for advice on how to get started, your exemptions and which study method is right for you.