Exams: The what, why and how

During your ACCA journey it’s likely you’ll have some questions about your exams. You may be progressing on to another stage in the qualification, which means the structure and timings have changed. Or you may wonder why exams are challenging.

Based on a recent survey, we’ve answered some of the common questions that came up so that you can understand our processes better.

And remember if you need to speak with someone regarding exams, you can contact our Connect team.

Why can’t I take all of the exams on-demand?

For most of our Foundations in Accountancy and Applied Knowledge exams, you can take the exams on-demand at a time and place that suits you. We’re able to offer these exams on-demand because, unlike the more advanced stages of the ACCA Qualification, students receive unique exams with questions drawn from a huge question bank which do not require expert/human marking. 

Our Applied Skills and Strategic Professional exams can only be taken during four exam sessions, which take place over a single week and across multiple time zones globally. These require expert marking, and in the case of our computer-based exams questions are drawn from smaller question banks. A number of measures, including limiting the availability of exams to four sessions a year, allows us to keep the exam content secure which helps provide students the fair and reliable results which employers can trust.

What’s involved in providing a quality exam experience?

Working with trusted partners, we hold exams in over 400 test centres in more than 140 countries. Because we want students to perform to their potential we aim to provide a professional and consistent exam experience.  That’s why for example we work with the British Council and why ACCA students have exclusive use of the venues during the exams to help limit any unnecessary distractions. Additionally, after each exam session we ask for your feedback which helps us maintain and improve the exam experience.

Each test centre has an exam supervisor who monitors and reports back on the running of the exams aand can report back on any conditions which may have impacted exam performance. Students can also make a request for mitigating circumstances should they feel their exam performance has been adversely affected for any reason.

What do exam fees pay for?

We understand studying for the ACCA Qualification requires both a considerable time and financial commitment. That’s why each year we review our qualification fees, because we’re passionate about giving as many people as possible the opportunity to gain our world-renowned qualification.

We work hard to keep our fees competitive and have a pricing model that we believe is fair, provides opportunity and that the overall cost of the ACCA Qualification is both balanced and competitive.

Students’ qualification fees enable us to both deliver exams worldwide to a rigorous standard and invest in continually evolving the ACCA Qualification.  It is because of the value and trust placed on the ACCA Qualification by employers that our students and members are sought-after worldwide.

How I am supported with post exam feedback?

We appreciate that students really value post exam feedback, particularly if they’ve not been successful. We offer support such as our examiner reports, which are a great way of finding out what made a great answer and where students typically made mistakes. Additionally, we email students to give specific advice on how they should plan their next steps and provide guidance if necessary on how to get back on track. 

We are continually looking to improve our post results support so that we can give even more personalized exam feedback to help students on their way to membership.

Why are the exams challenging?

Sometimes, despite the hard work and commitment you’ve put into your studies, you don’t always get the result you hoped for. The ACCA Qualification is challenging, which is why our members are so valued by employers globally. Employers know that through hard work and dedication, our members have the skills and expertise to add immediate value to their organisations. However, we understand it can be frustrating when you feel like your efforts deserved a better outcome. 

Our marking procedures, just like the development, production and delivery of the exams, go through an extremely rigorous process. This includes a continual cycle of reviewing and standardizing to ensure consistency in marking and the use of advanced psychometrics. This means we can ensure that all students get a result that is fair, reliable and reflective of how they performed on the exam day. 

To maximise your chances of exam success we recommend studying with an Approved Learning Partner. Their tutors have been expertly trained to support students pick up the extra marks that can make the difference between a pass or a fail. 

Can I get my exam results sooner?

The period between taking your exams and getting your results can be stressful. We understand you want to continue your exam journey and make decisions on your next steps as early as possible.  Because our on-demand exams use only objective test questions, we’re able to provide students with an immediate result following their exam.  For our session-based exams, it takes longer to produce results due to how these exams are delivered and due to the differences in the type of questions being used.

In order to provide secure, fair and reliable results for all students there are a series of marking procedures which each exam goes through.  These include expert marking from our team of examiners, quality checking to ensure standardisation and the advanced use of psychometrics to account for differences in the questions students face.  In recent years we have managed to reduce the amount of time it takes to provide results for our session-based exams from 8 to 6 weeks.  This means that you can always make exam entry decisions for an upcoming exam session based on your most recent set of results.