The global body for professional accountants

FAQs about the PER

What is my status if I have passed all my exams but have not yet completed the PER? 

To become a member of ACCA and qualify as a professional accountant, you must pass all the exams, successfully complete the Professional Ethics module and complete the PER.

You cannot apply for membership until you have completed all three components. 

What do I have to do to complete the practical experience? 

There are three components to the PER:

  • completing three years' employment in an accounting or finance-related role or roles
  • achieving nine Essentials and at least four Options performance objectives to the satisfaction of your workplace mentor
  • recording and reporting your PER progress through the online My Experience record.

Further information on the PER can be accessed within this section and from the 'Related links'.

FAQs about gaining experience

Can I use work experience gained before commencing the ACCA Qualification?

Yes. You can use experience from previous job roles (before or after registering as an ACCA student) to help you claim a performance objective. There is no specific time limit.

However, the qualified person who supervised your work at that time must be able to review and sign-off the answers to your challenge questions.

Also, as the profession continually evolves, consider carefully if experience gained more than five years ago is still relevant.

Can lecturing experience count towards my PER?

Yes. Up to 12 months' lecturing experience can count towards meeting the PER. The lecturing experience must be at a minimum level equivalent to the Fundamentals level of the ACCA Qualification and cover basic accounting, business studies and finance-related subjects.

I am currently studying. Is it possible to use a work placement or internship towards the PER?

Yes. You can use experience gained at either a work placement or internship if the work experience was relevant and provided sufficient breadth and depth to contribute towards achieving performance objectives. This experience must also have been properly supervised.

Can I use experience gained in a part-time or temporary position towards the PER?

Yes, provided that the work experience is of sufficient breadth and depth to contribute towards achieving performance objectives and is properly supervised.

However, you may find that experience gained in a part-time or temporary position does not allow you to achieve many performance objectives and may not provide sufficient opportunities for career development.

Also, work experience gained on a part-time basis can only count towards the PER for membership on a pro-rata basis. Therefore, wherever possible, it is advisable to obtain full-time work experience* that is relevant, supervised and meets the PER.

*As a guideline, ACCA considers full-time work experience to be 140 hours per month. 1,540 hours of part-time work equates to 12 months of full-time work experience. This discounts annual leave etc.

Is it better to get your work experience in a small or large organisation?

As long as you are in a relevant accounting or finance role, the PER can be achieved in all sectors and sizes of organisation. Once in a relevant role, the first thing you need to do is find a workplace mentor you can work with to achieve your PER.

Can I gain my practical experience from different countries?

Yes. You could start your qualification in one country and complete it somewhere entirely different - many ACCA trainees do. PER is completely transferable - across organisations, sectors and geographical locations.

To support trainees around the world, we have a network of national offices providing support and information for trainees including, in many cases, national websites.

How do I get the range of experience needed to achieve the performance objectives?

Ideally, you should have a job where most of your time is spent on activities and tasks related to accounting, finance, audit and assurance, or in other related technical areas such as taxation, insolvency and forensic accounting.

If your role or organisation does not offer sufficient opportunity to achieve your performance objectives you have a number of options.

You can use experience from previous roles to help you claim a performance objective, including experience gained before registering with ACCA. The qualified person who supervised your work at that time must be able to review and sign-off the answers to your challenge questions.

You may start in a junior role where your exposure to different work activities is limited but you should aim to gain more responsibility and accountability over time. Examples include when:

  • you are promoted
  • your job changes in some way.

Other ways that you may be able to gain experience in a current role is through job rotations, secondments, project work, workshops, job shadowing, and on-the-job training. Or you may consider moving to a different organisation to allow you to take on increasing levels of responsibility and accountability.

You can also achieve performance objectives outside of your employment. For example, you may act in a voluntary capacity as treasurer to a club or society.

To make progress, you should actively plan your career, setting yourself goals which should include the types of jobs you would like to do. Take a look at our Competency Framework to help you plan, which can be accessed from the 'Related links' section of this page.

Do I have to work for an organisation that has been approved by ACCA?

No. You do not have to obtain your practical experience in an organisation which has been approved by ACCA. Although there are advantages to achieving your PER if you do work for an ACCA Approved Employer.

Information on the Approved Employer programme can be accessed from the 'Related links' section of this page.

After completion of my studies, do I have to work in every employment sector in order to gain the necessary practical work experience?

No. ACCA trainees can chose to work in any business sector or combination of sectors to gain their PER, providing they work in a relevant role and are able to get the range of experience required to achieve the performance objectives.

I am self employed. How can I achieve my PER?

In order for work experience to count towards the PER, it must be supervised and verified by a suitably qualified person. While trainees can provide basic book-keeping and certain other services direct to the public, this cannot constitute 'approved accountancy experience' and therefore may not count towards the PER.

However, basic bookkeeping and other accountancy work undertaken under supervision (eg on a sub-contract basis) may count towards the PER.

FAQs about workplace mentors

What is a workplace mentor?

A workplace mentor is an individual who supports your development in the workplace. A workplace mentor oversees your achievement of performance objectives and signs-off performance objectives once they have been achieved. 

The workplace mentor role is central to you completing the practical experience requirement of the ACCA qualification and achieving membership. 

For more information about workplace mentors, please visit our Workplace mentors section

Who can be my workplace mentor?

Your workplace mentor should be someone with whom you work closely, who knows the type of work you are doing now, and who also knows the quality of your work. Ideally this will be your line manager or the person to whom you report on particular projects or activities.
Your workplace mentor should be a qualified accountant recognised by law in your country and/or a member of an International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) body.

If your workplace mentor isn’t qualified, or you work for a small organisation and are the most senior finance person in the organisation, or your organisation does not employ a professionally qualified accountant who can act as your workplace mentor, then you will need to find someone else who can be your workplace mentor or Training Supervisor.

Read the section entitled 'The Training Supervisor Role' if you think this describes you.

How do I approach a potential workplace mentor?

It is your responsibility to find a workplace mentor. Once you have identified who the most appropriate person to be your workplace mentor, in most cases this will be your line manager, the next thing to do is to thoroughly familiarise yourself with the workplace mentor role so you can have an informed conversation with them. For full information and resources, please visit our ACCA workplace mentor guidance section

If the person you approach is not an ACCA member, you will need to also explain basic information about the ACCA PER to them.

Although you need a workplace mentor in order to progress through the PER, workplace mentors also benefit from their role in many ways and it will help you to have a more successful conversation with them if you can explain these benefits.

Some benefits include skills development in areas such as communication and time management, which when applied to your role can increase your effectiveness and the value you are able to bring to your team and organisation. Many mentors also report that they have learnt a lot through mentoring an ACCA trainee and find it personally meaningful.

The mentoring role may contribute to the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements of their own professional body as well.

ACCA has produced a video to explain the role and the personal and organisational benefits of being a workplace mentor. Watch our workplace mentor video

Visit our Workplace mentor section to learn more. The section contains a brief guide that trainees can download and give to potential workplace mentors, explaining the reasons for taking on the role.

Can another trainee accountant be my workplace mentor?

In some instances another trainee accountant could act as your workplace mentor.

ACCA requires that the trainee fulfilling the workplace mentor role be in a more senior role than you. This seniority should derive from them having progressed further in their development/studies and having acquired greater experience than you.

It is not sufficient for the workplace mentor to have the same level of experience as the trainee that they support or simply more years in a similar role at the same level; they must be in a more senior position in your organisation.

ACCA manages the associated risk by classifying trainees who use another trainee as their workplace mentor as being in a higher risk category for PER audit. This risk is further mitigated by requiring a second level of sign-off for performance objectives by a suitably qualified training supervisor.

If you are unsure about whether it is appropriate to use someone as your workplace mentor, please contact ACCA using the details below.

How can I amend my workplace mentor details? 

Your workplace mentor has the ability to update their contact details through their myACCA account.

However, if you have entered their details incorrectly and they consequently have not received an email notification from us to review your performance objective, you will be required to deactivate that workplace mentor. Once you have done this, simply add them back in as an additional workplace mentor (even if this is the same individual), entering the correct details.

What is the training supervisor role?

A trainee supervisor is a qualified accountant who countersigns achievement of performance objectives with your unqualified workplace mentor. A training supervisor may be based within your organisation or external to your organisation.

1. Using someone working at your employer

There may be a qualified accountant working for the same organisation who is able to be your training supervisor. They may not be able or willing to fulfil the role of workplace mentor as they do not work closely with you. However, they will have a general overview of your work and can confirm details of your experience with your unqualified workplace mentor and may ask to see samples of your work. This training supervisor would typically be someone senior to your line manager or a manager from another department.

2. Using a consultant or external contact as your training supervisor

There may be a consultant or external contact who is a qualified accountant and knows your work. They could act as your workplace mentor or training supervisor.

For example, your organisation may have external accountants or the organisation's auditor might be willing to fulfil this role – but make sure they do not feel there is any conflict of interest if they agree to do this. If this person is not sufficiently familiar with your work, they may be more suited to acting in the capacity of training supervisor to countersign the achievement of your performance objectives.

Your unqualified line manager could then be your workplace mentor. Your training supervisor will need to confirm details of your experience with them and may ask to see samples of your work.

Contact us

If you do not have access to a qualified training supervisor to countersign the achievement of your performance objectives please contact ACCA to discuss your options.

Please visit our Contact us page

FAQs about recording experience

How often should I update My Experience?

ACCA recommends that you regularly update your online My Experience record. One of the difficulties trainees can encounter when they come to apply for membership is that they find they are missing vital information, such as employer details, or they have failed to gain sign-off for performance objectives achieved with a previous employer.

A reminder pop-up screen will appear when you log into myACCA if you have not recently engaged with My Experience, as a prompt to update your record.

How do I answer the challenge questions? 

You should consider the following when answering challenge questions:

  • Keep your answers concise, but relevant. You should use a minimum of 100 words but no more than 500 words. As a guide, someone who doesn't know your work should be able to read your answer and fully understand and appreciate the work you have completed. Provide evidence and examples to help illustrate your answers.
  • Check back against the detail of the performance objective's indicators of effective performance. Have you met all the outcomes and shown that you have conducted yourself in an appropriate manner?
  • Demonstrate that you have met the performance indicators, on many occasions and over a period of time.
  • Your workplace mentor should obtain value from your answers to the challenge questions, as these should provide them with a useful reminder about your workplace achievement and contribution.

For more information about challenge questions, please visit our PER support page

How do workplace mentors sign-off performance objectives?

  • Once you have found someone who agrees to act as your workplace mentor, you should enter their details including their email address against the relevant employer in your online My Experience record. 
  • Submit a single performance objective to your workplace mentor for review and sign-off. An email will be sent asking them to agree to act as your workplace mentor. This email will contain a unique code to enable them to link with you.* They will then be given access to review your challenge question answers and sign-off your performance objective(s) via My Experience. While they can review your challenge question answers, they cannot see or change anything in your My Experience record. 
  • Please note: your workplace mentor only receives an email when you submit a performance objective to them for review and sign-off. If it has been a long time between you asking the person to be your workplace mentor and your submission, it a good idea to explain that there will be an email coming from ACCA. 

* Important: only submit a single performance objective to your workplace mentor to begin with to enable the link to be established. Once your workplace mentor has signed off this performance objective, you will receive a confirmation email. You will then be able to submit additional performance objectives for review and sign-off.

Once my workplace mentor has signed off my performance objectives - what next? 

If your workplace mentor is using the online My Experience record to review and sign-off your performance objectives, ACCA will automatically have a record of this and invite you to membership once all performance objectives are signed off.

If your workplace mentor chooses not to use the online My Experience record, you can print off the answers to your challenge questions and ask them to sign these off. Only then can you mark the relevant performance objectives as 'achieved' in your My Experience record using the 'record paper sign-off' function.

Keep the signed-off hard copies safe, because you will be asked to provide these when you apply for membership or if you are selected for a PER audit.

FAQs about Approved Employers

Do trainees at ACCA Approved Employers need to use the My Experience record?

If your employer is an ACCA Approved Employer - trainee development stream, you may be able to claim the performance objective exemption. This is because ACCA recognises that your employer already has a strong training and development programme in place, which will equip you with the required competence.

It is up to the employer to decide if they want to allow you to claim the performance objective exemption. You will still be required to complete 36 months' experience and record this in My Experience.

In summary:

  • Please note that it is your employer - not you - who decides whether you can claim the performance objectives exemption.
  • You will still need to use My Experience to record the 36 months of experience you gain.

What do I need to do if I leave an Approved Employer?

If you are employed by an Approved Employer where you are claiming the performance objective exemption and you are planning on leaving, you must complete the Approved Employer Summary Form.

Please forward the signed-off copy to ACCA and we will update your My Experience record to reflect the performance objectives you have achieved. Access the 'PER support' section from the 'Related links' for the Approved Employer summary form.

Make sure you keep the original form for your own record; it may be requested during an ACCA audit.

Remember - you will need to achieve the balance of your time in a relevant role and performance objectives with a new employer. 

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Last updated: 19 Mar 2015