Students often assume you should sit your ACCA exams in numerical order… but that might not be the best advice. If you’re starting the ACCA and wondering which order you should take papers F1 to F3, you need to read this.

What’s the story?

The ACCA exams are broken into three modules:

  • Knowledge papers, F1 to F3
  • Skills papers, F4 to F9
  • Professional papers P1 to P7

You must sit the modules in order starting with the Knowledge papers – but you can sit the papers within each module in any order.

Why should you care?

Let’s look at the pass rates for the first three fundamentals papers.

ACCA Pass Rates


Paper F1 consistently shows the highest pass rates, implying that most students find this exam easiest. That’s unsurprising. There’s also a significant drop between F1 and F3 – up to 24 points difference, in December 2014. That’s also fairly unsurprising.

What is surprising is the difference in pass rate between F2 and F3 – in F3’s favour.

What does that mean?

Firstly, many students seem to find F3 easier than F2 – partially because the syllabus is smaller for F3. As ACCA F3 tutor Sue Richards said, when we interviewed her last year:

“The ACCA F3 paper is not too difficult to pass – but there are some specific foundations students need to know well”.

Read more: How to Pass ACCA F3 with Sue Richards

On the other hand, ACCA F2 tutor Lynne Watkins confirms that many students seem to fail F2 because they lack applied understanding: 

“Students don’t pass F2 generally because they don’t understand the content in context. The syllabus isn’t hugely complicated but they can’t apply it”

Read more: How to Pass ACCA F2 with Lynne Watkins

Paper F3 can give students a valuable foundation to help their applied understanding in F2, so you could be more likely to pass if you’ve already studied F3.

ACCA Studies

A second reason could be that some students rush into F2 without sufficient preparation. You can sit four exams during each exam cycle so students might make the mistake of over-committing on these early papers, assuming they’ll be easy to pass.

This doesn’t leave you time to study all three ACCA exams in enough depth, and because F2 has a larger syllabus than F3 it’s the paper that’ll suffer most if you cut your revision short.

What’s the takeaway for your ACCA exams?

Essentially, that you might do well to take F3 before F2. Many students find F3 easier as the syllabus is shorter, and because F3 is a helpful foundation for F2 -studying for F3 first could help you secure higher marks in both exams.

Also, think carefully about how many knowledge papers you handle at once, because they might require more study time than you think. You might be better served to sit F1 and F3 together and then sit F2 with F5, the Skills paper it leads into.

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