Your Ultimate Guide to ACCA Exam Papers

Your Ultimate Guide to ACCA Exam Papers_Credit: Nick Morrison

If you’re considering ACCA as a professional qualification or about to start studying for your ACCA exams, it’s important to know what’s involved and what you’ll learn to advance your accounting career.


In this blog, we look at each of the ACCA papers you will need to complete to become an ACCA affiliate. 

Strategic Professional

Strategic Business Leader (SBL) 

The Strategic Business Leader (SBL) exam is a 4-hour, closed book exam worth 100 marks – 80 for technical knowledge and 20 professional marks. The exam will consist of one compulsory section with all questions related to one case study.

The case study will be issued on the day of the exam, so there is no material to pre-prepare. You will receive up to 18 pages of information which includes annual reports, emails, media sources, spreadsheets, pictures and diagrams, presentations, survey results, interview and transcripts. 

Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

The Advanced Audit and Assurance paper is designed to reflect the challenges auditors will face as a professional. 

Throughout the exam, you will need to analyse, evaluate and conclude on the assurance engagement and other audit and assurance issues in the context of best practice and new developments.

Note that the level of knowledge for AAA is aligned to the SBR syllabus. Therefore the ACCA advises that you should pass SBR before attempting AAA.

Advanced Taxation 19/20 (ATX)

The ATX exam is designed to help you understand how to exercise professional judgement and provide information and advice on the impact of taxes on financial decisions to individuals and companies.

By completing this exam you will have the ability to apply your taxation knowledge by interpreting and analysing the information provided and relaying outcomes. 

Advanced Performance Management (APM)

The Advanced Performance Management paper focuses on managing a business to improve performance and laying the groundwork for a successful business. It’s about first principles – what should a business be measuring if they want to be successful in 5 years and what are the building blocks?

Most topics were introduced in the Management Accounting and Performance Management papers but are examined at a higher level. By passing this paper you will have a greater critical awareness of the difficulties in measuring and management performance. 

Advanced Financial Management (AFM)

The Advanced Financial Management paper focuses on managing the finances of a business and is an advanced version of the Financial Management paper. 

The AFM paper expects candidates to have in-depth knowledge, better analytical skills, and the ability to exercise greater professional judgement. 

So, instead of being asked to value a bond as you would in a Financial Management question, candidates will need to be able to recognise the need to calculate a bond value based on the scenario. 

Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)

The Strategic Business Reporting paper teaches you to apply your knowledge, skills and professional judgement in business reporting. 

You will learn how to correctly prepare reports and effectively communicate reporting principles and concepts to relevant stakeholders.

Essentially this is about having an in-depth understanding of corporate reporting and being able to communicate that to other business leaders.

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Applied Skills

ACCA Exam - Applied Skills

Financial Management (FM)

The Financial Management paper explores how to manage the finances of a company. For example, you should learn how to conduct effective investment appraisal along with identifying and evaluate alternative sources of business finance 

At the end of this course, you will have the knowledge and skills expected of a Finance Manager in the areas of financing, investment and dividend policy decisions.

Audit and Assurance (AA)

The Audit and Assurance paper is a practical exam that teaches students how to complete an audit.

Broken into seven key areas, there’s a clear logic and journey to the course. It looks at the regulatory environment, professional and ethical considerations, reporting, practice management, audit planning, current issues and developments and other assignments. 

Financial Reporting (FR)

By completing the Financial Reporting paper, you will develop knowledge and skills in understanding and applying accounting standards. 

You will also understand the theoretical framework in preparing financial statements including groups and how to analyse and interpret financial statements.

Taxation 19/20 (TX)

The Taxation exam will develop your knowledge and skills relating to the tax system that applies to companies, groups of companies and individuals.

In the exam, you will need to answer 15 object test questions of 2 marks each. Section B of the exam consists of three questions comprising five objective test items worth two marks each; therefore each question is worth a total of ten marks.

Performance Management (PM)

The Performance Management exam focuses on how to manage the performance of a company across 4 key areas to ensure it becomes profitable. 

The four areas include: 

  1. Costing and Management Accounting Techniques
  2. Decision Making
  3. Budgeting & Control
  4. Performance Measurement & Control

Corporate and Business Law (LW-ENG)

The Corporate and Business Law exam will help you to develop knowledge and skills in the understanding of the general legal framework and specific legal areas relating to business. 

By the end of the LW paper, you’ll be able to: 

  • Identify key legal system elements including sources of law
  • Understand and apply relevant legal rules relating to the law of obligations
  • Explain and apply law relating to employment
  • Distinguish between alternative forms and constitutions of business organisations
  • Recognise and compare capital types and company financing
  • Describe and explain how companies are managed, administered and regulated
  • Recognise the legal implications related to insolvency law
  • Show proof of an understanding of corporate fraudulent and criminal behaviour

Applied Knowledge

Applied Knowledge

Management Accounting (MA)

The Management Accounting paper is an introduction to the area and looks at techniques that would be used in an office environment from a technical point of view. 

The main purpose of the paper is to develop an understanding of management accounting techniques that a business might need to use in various contexts, to support management decision-making.

Financial Accounting (FA)

The Financial Accounting exam isn’t a particularly difficult paper, but there are some specific skills you need to know in order to pass. 

The whole syllabus relies on a really strong understanding of double-entry bookkeeping and the accounting equation. In essence, this paper tests the practical skills of being a financial accountant.

Accountant in Business (AB)

The Accountant in Business paper will give you an understanding of the business environment and the role of accounting and other key functions in contributing to the effective and ethical management of an organisation, workforce and systems.

On completion, you will have a solid grasp of the context of a business environment, including economic, legal and regulatory influences such as governance, employment, health and safety, security and data protection.

Conclusion

This blog should provide you with a brief overview of each ACCA paper in the three key levels - applied knowledge, applied skills and strategic professional. 

Understanding what’s involved in each paper should provide you with a good overview of the journey you will embark on to become an ACCA affiliate. 


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Topics: ACCA