10 ACCA Exam Tips to Qualify it in First Attempt

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification is actually regarded as the ultimate certification in the field of accounting and finance. It can be regarded as a ticket to a certain field of professional activity, which provides access to numerous opportunities. Regardless of your goal of a career with global leaders or starting your business or you want to become a financial analyst, you are on the right path with ACCA. However, these exams are far from a piece of cake.

So here, you may be asking yourself, “How do I make sure that I will come out successful in the first attempt of the ACCA exams?” This is where this guide comes into the picture. We will present you with a few pieces of advice which can make you more prepared and hence increase your probability of success. Beginning from developing a realistic studying timetable to handling tension during exams, you are sorted. So, here is your coffee for the day, pull your chair closer and let me assist you to prepare for those ACCA exams effectively.

Understanding the ACCA Exam Structure

The ACCA qualification is divided into three levels: Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional. Each level builds on the previous one, testing your knowledge and skills in accounting and finance.

The exams are designed to ensure you have a strong foundation and the ability to apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios. Knowing the structure and what each exam entails can help you plan your studies more effectively.

Here’s a breakdown of the ACCA exam levels, their modules, format, duration, and key areas of focus:

LevelModulesFormatDurationKey Areas of Focus
Applied KnowledgeBusiness and Technology (BT)Multiple-choice, objective test2 hoursBasics of business and technology
Management Accounting (MA)Multiple-choice, objective test2 hoursFundamentals of management accounting
Financial Accounting (FA)Multiple-choice, objective test2 hoursBasics of financial accounting
Applied SkillsCorporate and Business Law (LW)Multiple-choice, long-form questions2 hoursBusiness law and regulations
Performance Management (PM)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursManagement accounting techniques
Taxation (TX)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursPrinciples of taxation
Financial Reporting (FR)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursIntermediate financial accounting
Audit and Assurance (AA)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursPrinciples and procedures of auditing
Financial Management (FM)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursBasics of financial management
Strategic ProfessionalStrategic Business Leader (SBL)Case study, long-form questions4 hoursLeadership and strategic business management
Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursAdvanced financial reporting
Advanced Financial Management (AFM) (optional)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursAdvanced financial management techniques
Advanced Performance Management (APM) (optional)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursAdvanced performance management
Advanced Taxation (ATX) (optional)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursAdvanced principles of taxation
Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA) (optional)Multiple-choice, long-form questions3 hoursAdvanced auditing principles and practices

10 Strategies to Ace Your ACCA Exam Preparation

Passing the ACCA exams on your first attempt requires strategies tailored specifically to the unique demands of each subject. Here are ten ACCA-specific tips to help you prepare effectively and increase your chances of success.

  1. Understand the ACCA Exam Structure and Syllabus
    • Tip: Download the detailed syllabus for each paper from the ACCA website.
    • Example: For Financial Reporting (FR), focus on IFRS standards, financial statements, and consolidation techniques.
  2. Create a Realistic Study Schedule
    • Plan your study sessions around the ACCA exam dates, focusing on specific areas for each subject.
    • Example Table:
SubjectHours per WeekFocus Area
Financial Accounting10IFRS, financial statements
Management Accounting8Budgeting, variance analysis
Taxation12Income tax, VAT
  1. Use ACCA-Approved Study Materials
    • Tip: Stick to materials from ACCA-approved providers like Kaplan and BPP.
    • Example: Use Kaplan study texts for detailed explanations and practice kits for exam-style questions.
  2. Join an ACCA Study Group
    • Engage with peers to discuss difficult topics and share resources.
    • Example: Join ACCA study groups on platforms like LinkedIn or ACCA Global forums to discuss complex audit procedures in Audit and Assurance (AA).
  3. Attend ACCA Revision Courses
    • Many ACCA-approved learning providers offer intensive revision courses tailored to specific papers.
    • Example: Sign up for a weekend revision course with BPP focusing on Strategic Business Leader (SBL) to reinforce key strategic management concepts.
  4. Practice with ACCA Past Exam Papers and Specimen Exams
    • Tip: Use the ACCA website to access past exam papers and specimen exams.
    • Example: For Advanced Financial Management (AFM), attempt the last five years’ past papers under timed conditions to master financial management techniques.
  5. Focus on Technical Articles
    • ACCA publishes technical articles that provide insights into difficult topics.
    • Example: Read technical articles on transfer pricing and tax planning for the Taxation (TX) paper to gain deeper insights.
  6. Utilize ACCA’s Exam Support Resources
    • Take advantage of the free resources ACCA offers, such as webinars and podcasts.
    • Example: Watch ACCA’s examiner approach videos for Performance Management (PM) to understand what examiners look for in answers.
  7. Regularly Review ACCA Examiner Reports
    • Examiner reports highlight common mistakes and areas where students lose marks.
    • Tip: Read the reports for each subject to avoid common pitfalls.
    • Example: For Financial Reporting (FR), focus on the examiner’s feedback on common errors in the preparation of consolidated financial statements.
  8. Stay Updated with ACCA’s Latest Announcements
    • ACCA periodically updates exam formats and content.
    • Tip: Regularly check the ACCA website for any updates or changes.
    • Example: Ensure you are aware of any syllabus changes or additional resources provided for your exam session, especially for new or updated papers like Strategic Business Reporting (SBR).

3 Tips to Maximize Your Performance During the ACCA Exam

Maximizing your performance on the day of the ACCA exam is crucial for success. Here are some ACCA-specific tips to help you perform well, manage your time effectively, and stay calm during the exam.

1. Practical Tips for Performing Well During the Actual Exam

  • Read the Questions Carefully: ACCA exams often have complex scenarios. Take time to understand the context and requirements. Pay attention to keywords like “evaluate,” “discuss,” or “calculate.”
  • Plan Your Answers: For papers like Strategic Business Leader (SBL), outline your answers to ensure you cover all necessary points. Use frameworks and models relevant to the scenario.
  • Apply ACCA Techniques: Use specific techniques you’ve practiced, such as applying IFRS standards in Financial Reporting (FR) or performing substantive procedures in Audit and Assurance (AA).

2. Techniques for Time Management and Handling Difficult Questions

  • Allocate Time Based on Marks: For example, in Financial Management (FM), if a question is worth 20 marks and the exam is 3 hours long, spend around 36 minutes on it.
  • Move On If Stuck: If a question in Performance Management (PM) stumps you, move to another question and return if time allows.
  • Answer All Questions: Even if you’re unsure, attempt every question. In ACCA exams, partial marks for correct steps can significantly boost your score.

3. Checklist for the Day Before the Exam

  • Review Key Concepts: Focus on areas like the latest IFRS updates for SBR, important ratios for Financial Management (FM), or audit reports for AA.
  • Gather Exam Essentials:
    • Identification: Ensure you have your ACCA registration number and a valid ID.
    • Stationery: Bring extra pens, pencils, an eraser, a calculator (if allowed), and a ruler.
    • Comfort Items: Bring a bottle of water and light snacks if permitted.
  • Plan Your Journey: Know the location of your exam center and plan your route to avoid any last-minute stress.
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Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding common mistakes can significantly enhance your chances of passing the ACCA exams on your first attempt. Here are some ACCA-specific pitfalls to watch out for, presented in a table for easy reference:

Procrastination and Poor Time ManagementACCA exams cover extensive material, and last-minute cramming is ineffective.Start early to cover complex IFRS standards in Financial Reporting (FR) and leave time for revisions.
Neglecting Weaker Subjects or TopicsFocus on both strengths and weaknesses for a balanced understanding.Allocate more study time to understand tax laws and calculations thoroughly in Taxation (TX).
Over-Reliance on Last-Minute CrammingACCA exams test application and understanding, not just memorization.For Strategic Business Leader (SBL), apply strategic models and frameworks, not just last-minute reading.
Ignoring Examiner ReportsExaminer reports provide insights into common mistakes and what examiners expect.Review examiner reports for Performance Management (PM) to avoid common errors in variance analysis.
Failing to Practice with Past Exam PapersPast papers help you understand the exam format and time constraints.Practice past papers for Financial Management (FM) to get familiar with complex calculations and time management.
Not Reviewing the Entire SyllabusACCA exams can include questions from any part of the syllabus.Ensure you cover all topics, including risk assessment and audit procedures, in Audit and Assurance (AA).
Inadequate Answer PlanningStructured answers are crucial for gaining full marks.Plan your answers in Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) to ensure you address all parts of the question.
Misinterpreting the QuestionsCarefully read and understand each question before answering.In Taxation (TX), ensure you understand whether the question asks for tax computation or tax planning advice.
Lack of Application of Theoretical KnowledgeACCA exams require the application of concepts to scenarios.Apply financial theories to case studies in Advanced Financial Management (AFM) rather than just recalling information.
Ignoring the Importance of EthicsEthics and professional behavior are integral to ACCA.Ensure your answers reflect ethical considerations and professional judgment in exams like SBL and AA.


Passing the ACCA exams on your first attempt is a challenging but achievable goal with the right preparation and mindset. If you comprehend the examination format, apply special methods of studying for ACCA, and avoid some blunders – your probabilities will be considerably higher. It is important to pay attention, time management during the exam and last but not least, do not panic.

Hence, to become a qualified ACCA member, one has to have the following- Time management, effort and proper planning. Always remain optimistic, and always trust in the fact that you can do it. The right approach with dedicated effort towards achieving it will go a long way in helping you achieve the ACCA qualification and advancing your career in accounting and finance. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to clear ACCA in the first attempt?

Prepare a detailed study plan, use ACCA-approved materials, and practice extensively with past exam papers.

What is the hardest exam in ACCA?

Strategic Business Leader (SBL) and Advanced Financial Management (AFM) are often considered the toughest.

What should I bring to the ACCA exam?

Valid ID, ACCA registration number, pens, pencils, an eraser, a calculator, and a bottle of water.

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