- How many ACCA exams should I take per exam sitting?
- Should I take more than one exam in each sitting?
- What if I want to pass the ACCA as fast as possible?
This is another article in our ACCA FAQs series, where we answer questions direct from our international student community.
We recently talked about the best order to sit your ACCA exams, so this is a natural next question.
By the way, we also run webinars answering your questions live and podcasts discussing the big issues for students right now.
Submit your questions via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure we answer them for you.
But for now let’s get going, because this question comes up all the time.
How Many ACCA Exams Should I Take Per Exam Sitting?
When there were only two sittings per year, it was very common for students to take two, or even three, exams in June, and then two or three in December.
This put students under tonnes of pressure and didn’t allow much flexibility in how you studied so in 2016 the ACCA changed this to allow four sittings per year.
More exam sittings make it easier to take one exam per sitting
From your perspective, this is better because you can now flexibly fit exams around your life, without putting huge pressure on yourself in one sitting. And it allows you to take any resits earlier, while the material is still fresh in your mind.
Read more: Why do I keep failing the ACCA?
Four ACCA exam sittings per year is also preferable for employers, who can fit exam cycles around their internal processes and busy periods.
Studying for the ACCA (especially in a classroom) can feel like you’re hurting, not helping, your employer because you have loads on your plate right when they need you most. Shifting to four sittings allows you to better balance study and work.
Overall, then, four sittings allow you to spread out your exams and work at an easier pace. Which means it’s a bit counterintuitive to then take multiple papers in those four sittings.
Cramming your exams doesn’t mean you qualify faster
To pass the ACCA you have to do your three years professional experience anyway. Which means cramming your exams into less time doesn’t mean you qualify any quicker – it just means you amp up the pressure for those exams.
And that strain always makes itself felt somewhere. Maybe you start slacking in the office, because you’re exhausted and stressed. Or snapping at your partner, and struggling to make time for family.
And that’s assuming your pass all your papers – which you probably won’t, if you’re sitting multiple exams per sitting.
You’re more likely to fail with two exams per sitting
Looking at results, students do better overall if they take one exam per sitting.
And the thing is, once you start failing your confidence suffers. And your plans for smart paper combinations go awry because you have to squeeze in re-sits.
Or plenty of students just add their failed exam onto their next sitting, so they’re putting themselves under even more pressure – which doesn’t work. That becomes a cycle, of failing, failing, failing, and failing.
Instead, if you fail a paper, make your next exam the re-sit. Don’t take your planned exam AND the re-sit in your next sitting, even though it’s really tempting. With the ACCA, slow and steady wins the race.
Slow and steady wins the ACCA race
Taking one exam per sitting means you’re not putting yourself under too much pressure, and can embrace a slow, methodical approach. That’s the best route to passing the ACCA.
A fantastic example is Kelly Crawford, a LearnSignal student who came Joint 1st in Ireland and Joint 11th worldwide for F8 last summer. So far, she’s passed every paper first time and with flying colours. Her advice?
“I start 2 to 3 months before an exam and I only sit one exam per sitting. That means it’s realistic to chip away at study, a couple of hours a day. I very rarely study during the day because I work in the week, and I have a young family – weekends are my family time.”
Read more: An ACCA success story [Interview]
Take ONE ACCA exam per sitting – for a faster, less stressful pass
Taking more than one exam per sitting is making a rod for your own back. You put yourself under heaps of pressure when these exams are already difficult and stressful, and you’re more likely to fail.
It’s natural to want pass the ACCA as quickly as possible, but racing towards the finish line is a false economy. You generally take longer to qualify than if you just took one paper per sitting anyway and your experience is much more stressful.
Instead, approach the ACCA methodically – studying one exam per sitting – to give yourself the best chance to pass.
Check back into our ACCA FAQs series next time and we’ll show you how to create an ACCA study plan, to maximise your chances of passing every sitting.