SBL pre-seen materials

Taking the right approach to using the SBL pre-seen materials is key to your success. Here are the key points you need to consider as you use the pre-seen to prepare for the live SBL examination.

How to analyse SBL pre-seen

In this video, expert tutor Sean Purcell provides a practical demonstration of how to analyse and make sense of the pre-seen information provided for the SBL exam, and a suggested approach using the published September 2023 pre seen material.

When will pre-seen information be available

SBL pre-seen information will be available two weeks before the date of the SBL exam.

How do I access SBL pre-seen information?

To access the pre-seen information, please follow these instructions:

  • Go to Exam Planner
  • Click on your SBL booked exam details within ‘Your Plan’
  • Click on the download links for the ‘Pre-seen information’ 

SBL pre-seen information must be downloaded from exam planner. Do not access this document from any other source. 

Aim of the introduction of pre-seen materials

The main aim of the pre-seen is to enable you to become familiar with the business activities of the case study organisation and the industry in which it operates before the exam session. Familiarity with the important contextual information included in the pre-seen will help you to better understand and apply the further information that will be provided in the exhibits in the SBL exam. The pre-seen is designed to provide background and context only and will not signal areas of the syllabus or tasks that will be included in the exam. 

Structure of pre-seen materials

There are two parts to the pre-seen information: the industry information and information that relates to the organisation.

The industry information

ACCA will continue to base the case study exam on an industry or sector of the economy. You should familiarise yourself with the information provided in the pre-seen, even if you are already familiar with the industry. This is because for the purpose of the SBL exam, certain facts about the industry may be simplified.

The organisation information

The organisation in the pre-seen is fictitious and will not represent a real organisation. The specific information provided will vary depending on what is appropriate for each SBL exam. You will need to spend time becoming very familiar with the information in the pre-seen. You may do some research to better understand the terminologies and activities of the industry. However, there is no expectation that students undertake further research. Remember that the SBL exam is based on a fictitious organisation and the exam tasks will relate to this organisation specifically and not to any general research that you may have undertaken independently. 

Pre-seen materials in the live exam

As SBL is a closed book exam, you are NOT allowed to take your own annotated copy of the pre-seen into the exam. A copy of the pre-seen will be available to you for reference purposes during the exam. During the exam, you should know where to find information within the pre-seen, as this will save you time. 

What not to do

  • Avoid extensive additional research into the industry
  • Avoid speculating on areas of the syllabus that will be examined based on the pre-seen
  • Avoid using the pre-seen as the main source of material for answering the exam tasks. The exhibits provided on the exam day must be used
  • Avoid reading the pre-seen for the first time just before the exam session
  • Avoid spending too much time on the pre-seen at the expense of revising areas of the syllabus and completing practice mock exams
  • Avoid question tipping and spotting

Effects of Covid 19

Due to the varied effects of Covid 19 globally, the pre-seen and the SBL live exam will not consider any specific Covid 19 related situations affecting any industry, organisation and government. You should ignore the effect of COVID 19 for the purpose of the SBL exam.

SBL pre-seen and question practice

It is vitally important to take time to read and understand the pre-seen material before attempting practice exams like specimens and the mock exam. This will help you get the best out of your question practice and reflects how you should approach the live exam.

Question practice and mock exams are key to exam success. Don't let the pre-seen for the real exam distract you away from this vital activity.

The pre-seen sets the scene for your exam but to be ready to tackle the tasks on exam day you must practice past exam questions and new mock exams. Make sure you create space in your study plan for both familiarising yourself with the pre-seen as well as undertaking question practice.