The Beginner's Guide to Becoming an ACCA: Subjects, Skills and PER

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The economic development of any country depends on transparency and sound reporting to foster a cohesive investment-based environment. It inspires investors' confidence along with attracting international investment opportunities. This helps achieve global stability, stop resource mismanagement, and curtail corruption. 

This is where string accountancy knowledge comes into play. Trained accountants help create dynamic businesses that deliver long-term value by maintaining accountability and transparency. The highly prestigious ACCA course has been designed to train individuals to excel in the field of finance and accounting. This blog is a detailed guide for aspiring accountants wishing to gain entry into the notable ACCA. Learn about the subjects, skills required, examination structure, fees and other related information before you set on the journey.

What is ACCA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or ACCA, is a worldwide organisation established in 1904. Headquartered in London, the goal of this organisation is to equip individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a successful career in accounting, business, or finance. 

The ACCA course has helped produce competent professionals who are now working in different industries worldwide. This course teaches a wide range of topics, such as taxation, financial reporting, business analysis, auditing, strategic management, and many more. 

ACCA is supported and facilitated by professionals working in the field. It has ties with thousands of employers all over the world. This allows candidates to get direct access to a number of jobs in leading organisations. 

ACCA Examination Structure 

Candidates who want to get the ACCA certification must understand the structure of the examination. The three levels to becoming a member of ACCA are as follows:

  1. Examination Module 

The three components of the ACCA examination are:

  • Applied Knowledge: This section introduces students to the basics of the finance world. The syllabus of the subjects covered in this section helps build the primary understanding of accounting, management, and the impact of technology in business. 

            The three papers that must be attended in this section are: 

  1. Financial Accounting (FA)
  2. Business and Technology (BT)
  3. Management Accounting (MA) 

These subjects act like the building blocks for the other sections of the ACCA course. You prepare for these three exams based on your previous academic knowledge, which will require at least six to eight months. 

There is no hard and fast rule regarding the sequence of these examinations. At this level, you can choose to take any of the exams at any particular time. However, it is suggested that you take the FA exam first, followed by the MA and finally the BT. 

  • Applied Skills: This section helps build on existing understanding and knowledge to develop board, practical, and strong finance skills. Here, you will be taught about useful financing components that help develop the skills needed to build a successful career in this domain. 

Covering this section will help you feel confident catering to accounting needs in almost every industry and sector. 

The papers at this level are:

  1. Financial Reporting (FR)
  2. Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  3. Financial Management (FM)
  4. Taxation (TX) 
  5. Audit and Assurance (AA)
  6. Financial Reporting (FR)

The examinations held at this level will require you to devote more time, effort, and resources. At this second level of the ACCA qualification, the concepts are going to be comparatively more difficult. 

Since no particular pattern has to be followed when appearing for the ACCA examination, you can start with any subject. You can take the ACCA examination four times in a year ( December, March, June, and September). 

You can always divide the subjects based on your knowledge and preparation and attempt the exams according to your liking. 

  • Strategic Professional: The exams held in this last section help students prepare for future leadership positions. You will learn about the ethical, technical and professional skills needed to become good leaders. You will get the opportunity to specialise in areas that best suit your career path. 

At this level, students mandatorily have to complete the exams of both the essential subjects and choose any two from the optional ones. 

The essential subjects are:

  1. Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
  2. Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) 

The optional subjects are:

  1. Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
  2. Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  3. Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  4. Advanced performance Management (AFM)

2. Ethics and Professional Skills Module 

Students must complete the Ethics and Professional Skills module, which helps them develop the complete array of skills employers seek. Following the provided guidelines will help you improve your chances of employability. 

This module will teach you the necessary professional skills for commercial awareness, communication, and leadership. It is advised that you complete this module before appearing for your Strategic Professional exam. This module will help you develop the necessary skills for performing better on the exam. 

3. Practical Experience Requirement 

To become a member of ACCA, you must complete a minimum of thirty-six months of supervised relevant work experience and achieve nine performance objectives. You must record your progress online using MyExperience and get your PER signed by your practical experience supervisor.  

An essential part of the practical experience requirement (PER) is the performance objective. The examinations and the performance objectives are linked very closely. The knowledge that you develop during your studies is also necessary for the techniques and skills used in the workplace. 

Performance objectives act like benchmarks for effective performance. They outline the attitudes and values you should demonstrate and describe your work activities as a trainee accountant. 

You will have to achieve nine performance objectives:

  • All the Essential objectives 
  • Any four of the 17 Technical objectives 

Check out the performance objectives booklet to choose the technical objectives of your choice. 

ACCA Examinations Syllabus 

Comprehensive ACCA examinations are conducted to assess the credibility of students to become professional CAs. As these professionals are needed in almost every sector across the world, it is necessary to have a syllabus that covers nearly all topics. 

Here is a brief idea of the subjects covered in the ACCA course:

  • Financial Accounting: This subject covers financial information, financial reporting, double-entry accounting, recording transactions and events, preparing financial consolidated statements, interpretation of financial statements, and preparing a trial balance. 
  • Business and Technology: Helps in understanding business from the context of legal, environmental, economic, and regulatory aspects. It touches on topics such as employment, governance, data protection, health, security, and privacy. 
  • Management Accounting: Covers topics such as budgeting, statistical techniques, data analysis, performance measurements, cost accounting techniques as well as standard costing. 
  • Performance Management: It teaches the information and techniques for performance measurement and control, organisational performance, cost management and accounting, employability and technological skills, budgeting, decision-making techniques, and control. 
  • Corporate and Business Law: You will learn about the essential elements of the legal system, the law of obligation, insolvency law, and employment law. It also touches on topics such as capital and financing of companies, constitution and formation of business organisations, corporate fraud, and criminal behaviour. 
  • Taxation: The syllabus of this subject varies according to the country you are studying in. It covers topics such as income tax, NIC capabilities, tax system, corporate tax, inheritance tax, VAR, chargeable gains, and corporate tax liabilities. 
  • Audit and Assurance: You will study the regulation and framework of auditing. You will also learn about review and reporting, audit evidence, planning and risk assessment, and internal control. 
  • Financial Reporting: This subject teaches you about the conceptual and regulatory framework, employability and technological skills, and accounting transactions in financial statements. It also introduces the preparation of financial statements and the analysis of financial statements. 
  • Financial Management: The topics covered in this subject are business valuations, financial management functions, working capital management, investment capital, business finance, and risk management. 
  • Strategic Business Leader: Here, you will learn about leadership, strategy, governance, enabling success and management, technology and data skills, finance in planning and decision-making, audit, and organisational control. 
  • Strategic Business Reporting: This subject has two versions — international and UK. The topic can range from reporting financial performance in a number of entities, fundamental ethical and professional principles, impact of changes, and expected changes in the according regulations. 

Decide How You Want to Study

The ACCA qualifications are very flexible. You get to choose your mode of study, the frequency of your examinations, and where you work for experience. You can choose to study on your own or take classes with an ACCA-approved learning provider. 

The ACCA offers a number of options for you to choose from for you to prepare for the ACCA exam online or offline:

  • Full-time courses
  • Distance learning 
  • Weekend/part-time courses
  • Online learning in ACCA-X
  • Revision courses 

Advantages of ACCA Courses 

Earning the ACCA certification can help you expand your career, widening your employment horizon globally. Some of the benefits of the ACCA course have been listed below:

  • Global recognition: Candidates can get jobs in over 180 markets and gain recognition from several international bodies. 
  • Senior roles: Build a fulfilling career by landing senior strategic roles.
  • Get value for your money: You will land some of the best packages across the globe with a cost-effective education path. 
  • Become a part of a network: ACCA has a powerful alumni network spread across the globe. You get to be a part of this prestigious network. 
  • Gauge the latest skills: Learn from industry experts about industry-relevant knowledge, values, and skills. 

Computer Based Examinations 

All of the examinations conducted by the ACCA are computer-based examinations (CBEs). As you progress with your ACCA qualification, it will support your professional skills and employability. Depending on where you are in your journey, you will sit for either an on-demand or a session-based exam. The two types of CBEs:

  • On-demand CBEs: This type of exam allows flexibility in your studies. You can sit for these exams at any time of the year. Your results will be displayed immediately upon completion of the exam and will be uploaded to your account within 72 hours. 
  • Session CBEs: These exams are conducted during the four exam sessions of ACCA in March, June, September, and December. You will have to book your exam slot before the deadline for each session. On taking the ACCA exam online, you will get your results in approximately six weeks. 

Skills Needed to Become an ACCA Graduate 

Completing the ACCA online courses will give you the knowledge you need to work with leading organisations worldwide. However, just passing the exam won’t be enough to keep up with the ever-evolving accounting and finance industry. This is why learning the necessary skills is essential. 

Here are some of the skills that ACCA graduates must have in order to make an impact:

  • Technical skills: Technology has taken over the accounting and finance industry and will continue to do so for the next decade. ACCA graduates are going to work with cloud-based systems. Software is going to replace manual tasks such as expense processing and bookkeeping. 

Fewer data-entry tasks will continue, and instead, the entire system will become automated. This is why ACCA graduates must be experts in using the relevant software. 

Society is seeing a gradual change from hard cash to cashless transactions. The technological boom of Bitcoin and other digital currencies eliminates businesses' need to handle money, at least some of it, altogether. ACCA graduates have to understand digital currencies in order to stay up-to-date. 

  • Analytical and IT skills: As ACCA graduates, you will have to analyse the data available instead of just reporting the numbers. Business leaders expect accountants to analyse and interpret the numbers and provide strategic insights. 

Company heads seek knowledge about the current patterns and trends, which is where both your analytical and IT skills come into play. Using your analytical skills, you analyse both financial and non-financial data to check for inconsistencies. 

Whereas, using your IT skills, you run those numbers on software, which helps you come to insightful conclusions. ACCA graduates use their analytical and IT skills to observe and run numbers of software to anticipate the company's financial health. 

  • Decision-making skills: Humans still have the upper hand over machines when it comes to judgement and decision-making. ACCA graduates working in various industries across the globe should keep their reviews sharp and make important decisions. 

These professionals are required to make challenging decisions on the basis of the entire business instead of just financial numbers. 

  • Financial skills: This is one of the most important skills an ACCA graduate must have. A proper understanding of financial concepts can help you land a lucrative job in diverse industries. 

Financial reporting continues to evolve every single day, including both financial and non-financial information. This gives company owners and investors a proper picture of the entire company’s performance. 

Understanding the concepts of finance also helps in making important decisions regarding the future health of the organisation. 

  • Management skills: ACCA graduates work in some of the most prestigious organisations in the world, and these professionals have to interact with people both inside and outside their departments. 

Working in close coordination with various stakeholders of the company will require proper management skills. You will have to juggle between people from multiple backgrounds and communicate your observations. A high level of emotional intelligence can help you manage and coordinate in a diverse setting. 

How to Prepare for ACCA Examinations

ACCA offers a number of resources that will help you prepare for the examinations. Here are some of the techniques and resources that will help you in your preparation journey. 

  1. Planning your route 

Attaining the ACCA qualification might sometimes take time since there is no single way to membership. In order to plan your path, you can take the help of the pathway videos and the compass planner offered by the organisation. 

  • Pathway videos

The pathway videos provided by the organisation can help you develop a strategy that will help you maximise your chances of success. ACCA pathways exist for Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional

  • Compass planner 

A realistic exam schedule can help you attain your goals more easily. Using the Compass tool, you can visualise the study year ahead. You can also plan the time required for learning and the final revision needed to attempt the examination successfully. 

  1. Study options and tuition

ACCA recommends studying with an Approved Learning Partner to help you perform well in your examination. The organisation also assesses the learning partners' course delivery, so you can rest assured that you are offered top-notch tuition.  

  • Types of tuition: There are three types of tuition offered from which you can choose the one that is best suited for you. They are:
  • Face-to-face: A learning partner provides face-to-face tuition to a group of students. It serves as an excellent way of staying on track and motivated. Your learning partner will help you practice questions for the exams and master the techniques needed for clearing them. 
  • Online learning: Online learning gives you the opportunity to organise your studies and complete the syllabus of the exam in your own time. This option is ideal for full-time working professionals. You can either take a ‘live’ class (online classes scheduled at a particular time) or complete it at your own pace. 
  • Blended learning: In this learning module of the ACCA course, you get a combination of online learning and face-to-face. This will give you the advantage of partially controlling the place, time, and pace of your learning as well as having the opportunity of face-to-face interaction with your tutor. 
  • Approved Learning Partners (APLs): ACCA offers different levels of approval to their learning partners — platinum and gold. ACCA regularly visits its APLs to make sure that they are up-to-date about the developments in the market. Feedback from ACCA students is noted as well. 

The two types of Approved Learning Partners are:

  • Platinum: This is the most prestigious and highest approval level for APLs to teach ACCA aspirants. These learning partners will help you meet the best global practice benchmark.
  • Gold: These learning partners have been awarded the approval for teaching the ACCA course or Foundation in Accountancy. 
  • University Partners: ACCA has collaborated with several leading universities all across the globe. These qualifications have been designed to complement your ACCA qualification and will help you specialise in a field for broadening your skills.

ACCA offers its students the option to study abroad. Having both qualifications will give you an edge in front of employers, thus enhancing your employability. 


The global approach and acceptance rate of ACCA is the main element that attracts aspirants from across the world to take the examinations. Becoming a member of ACCA opens up a plethora of job opportunities for you. You will get the chance to work for some of the leading organisations in the world. 

Whether you are a school graduate who wants to build a career in accounting and finance or are a working professional with relevant experience, the ACCA online courses are very flexible and effective. 

Take your accounting career to new heights with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants course by Imarticus. This course will prepare you for high-paying jobs in almost 180 countries across the world. 

So what are you waiting for? Enrol with Imarticus Learning today!

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