Technical articles

Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

Exam technique for Advanced Audit and Assurance: part 1 – ethics
Ethical standards and their application form a major part of the Advanced Audit and Assurance syllabus and are examined regularly. This article demonstrates how to maximise marks on these areas using effective exam technique.

Exam technique for Advanced Audit and Assurance: part 2 – risk
Risk is examined in several ways within the Advanced Audit and Assurance syllabus and understanding the difference between these can be key to scoring good marks in the exam. This article demonstrates how to maximise marks on these areas using effective exam technique.

Exam technique for Advanced Audit and Assurance: part 3 – accounting issues
Candidates will be required to discuss accounting issues in many contexts in the Advanced Audit and Assurance exam. This article utilises past questions from the exam to illustrate how accounting issues could be examined and to recap the accounting treatment on some of the areas candidates typically find difficult in this exam.

Exam technique for Advanced Audit and Assurance: part 4 – audit procedures
This article examines the key syllabus requirements in relation to procedures and considers the level of detail needed in order to obtain credit at this level. It also looks at some examples of past questions on this syllabus area and explains the difference between a strong answer and a weak answer to illustrate the detail and specificity that candidates should produce in their answers to attain marks in the exam.

Exam technique for Advanced Audit and Assurance: part 5 – auditor reporting
This article focuses on auditor reporting to shareholders. It is imperative for candidates to be prepared to answer questions on auditor reporting and will need an understanding of the format of the report, the types of opinions which may be given by the auditor and the other modifications which could be required to an auditor’s report.

IAASB exposure draft – Proposed International Standard on Auditing 540 (Revised) Auditing Accounting Estimates and Related Disclosures
This article provides an insight into recent proposed changes to ISA 540 Auditing Accounting Estimates, Including Fair Value Accounting Estimates and Related Disclosures.

Evaluation of misstatements
The completion stage of the audit is when the auditor reviews the work performed and considers the implications for the auditor’s report. A crucial part of this review is the evaluation of misstatements found during the audit.

Responding to Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations (NOCLAR)
This article is intended to provide insight into recent developments to the International Ethics Standards Board’s Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (IESBA) in relation to the auditor’s response to non-compliance with laws and regulations.

Auditor reporting – an update for P7 students on Key Audit Matters (P7 INT) and the Extended Auditor’s Report (P7 UK)
This article outlines the key changes in the requirements relating to auditor’s reports, focusing on the new requirements relating to the Key Audit Matters paragraph for P7 International candidates, and Extended Auditor Reporting for P7 UK and Ireland candidates.

Corporate governance and its impact on audit practice
P7 candidates are expected to be conversant with corporate governance principles, many of which they will have seen in previous exams like F8 and P1. In P7, the focus is on the impact that corporate governance principles and practice can have on the audit process, and this article explores some of these issues.

The new auditor’s report
The completion of an IAASB project in 2015 resulted in a set of new and revised standards on auditor reporting. These standards are examinable from the September 2016 exam session, meaning that F8 and P7 candidates will be expected to understand the requirements and responsibilities of the auditor as set out in the standards.

Auditing disclosures in financial statements
This article looks at auditing disclosures in financial statements, an issue that has been considered by the IAASB in recent years following developments in IFRS requirements and the increased level of complexity and subjectivity involved in the preparation of information to be disclosed in financial statements.

Performance information in the public sector
The Syllabus and Study Guide for P7 (INT), Advanced Audit and Assurance (and SGP adapted paper) includes a section entitled ‘The audit of performance information (pre-determined objectives) in the public sector’. This article is intended to provide insight into this syllabus area and explain some of the issues of which candidates should be aware when studying this aspect of the syllabus.

Laws and regulations
It is important that candidates preparing for P7 have an understanding of how laws and regulations affect an audit, not only in terms of the work the auditor is required to do, but also to appreciate the responsibilities of both management and the auditor where laws and regulations are concerned. 

Audit quality – a perpetual current issue
Audit quality is relevant to P7 in that the Syllabus and Study Guide includes a specific section, C1, which contains a number of learning outcomes in relation to quality control in the context of practice management.

Professional scepticism
The article explains the importance of professional scepticism as an essential part of the auditor’s mindset, and considers the reasons why approaching an audit with an attitude of professional scepticism is becoming increasingly important.

Using the work of internal auditors
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
This article focuses on the provision of direct assistance by the internal auditors, which – to date – has been a very controversial issue. Although internal auditors are the employees of the entity, which could result in threats to independence (either in fact or perceived) if direct assistance is provided by the internal auditors, there are benefits relating to this provision which cannot be ignored.

Staying on the right side of ethics
Within the exam, ethical issues are commonly examined alongside practice management issues as the implications of ethical guidelines will interlink with the processes and procedures that an audit or advisory firm must put in place to ensure compliance.

Accounting issues 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
A very common theme in P7 questions is to present you with information that embodies an accounting issue. Sometimes the information is presented as a standalone requirement but is often, for example, included in a set of notes of a conversation with an audit client’s finance director.

Forensic accounting 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
With at least one requirement relating to forensic accounting in three out of five P7 exams between December 2011 and December 2013, this is an area of the syllabus that students cannot afford to overlook. This article explores some of the issues relevant to forensic accounting.

Auditor liability 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
This article focuses on the issue of auditor’s liability in the UK, and therefore contains references to the UK Companies Act 2006, as well as UK-specific legal cases. Candidates other than those attempting the UK adapted paper are not expected to have UK-specific knowledge. The concepts discussed in this article however are broadly relevant and will help candidates to understand why this is an important issue within the auditing profession.

The control environment of a company 
The purpose of this article is to provide candidates with a more detailed appreciation of matters pertinent to an auditor, focusing on the need for the auditor of a large limited liability company (in the UK – a limited company) to evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s control environment.

Continue to be 'rest assured' 
This article looks at the topic of assurance in the context of P7, describing a framework for the classification of assurance and non-assurance engagements, and giving guidance on the practical approach required when undertaking assurance assignments.

ISA 315 (Revised), Identifying and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement through Understanding the Entity and Its Environment (Related to Entity's Internal Control)
One of the major revisions of ISA 315 relates to the inquiries made by external auditors of the internal audit function since internal auditors have better knowledge and understanding of the organisation and its internal control. This article addresses and highlights the components of internal control.

Tackling questions on ethics 
When ethics appears in an optional question in the P7 exam, it is often a popular choice for candidates, but their answers often lack detail and are not well applied to the question scenario. This article aims to assist candidates in terms of knowledge and question technique when tackling a question on ethics.

Planning an audit of financial statements
The key to a successful audit is effective planning. This article explains how planning an audit involves more than just obtaining business understanding and performing risk assessment. She also summarises the main requirements and guidance contained in ISA 300, Planning an Audit of Financial Statements.

Completing the audit
This article explores some of the key requirements of International Standards on Auditing (ISA) that are relevant at the completion stage, and discusses the practical implications of those requirements.

Audit and insolvency
This article highlights some of the issues that auditors may have to deal with in respect of insolvency.

Group auditing
This article reviews the most significant elements of group audits and changes to ISA 600 that were introduced as a result of the recent Clarity project.

Acceptance decisions for audit and assurance engagements
This article discusses the learning outcomes of Professional Appointments from Syllabus reference C4.

Specific aspects of auditing in a computer-based environment
This article provides guidance on various aspects of auditing in a computer-based accounting environment.

Audit of estimates and fair values
Guidance on making estimates, a vital part of preparing financial statements.

Analytical procedures
An outline of the analytical procedures relevant to the audit papers.

Going concern
The additional guidance given for ISA 570, Going Concern.

Audit risk
This article outlines and explains the concept of audit risk, making reference to the key auditing standards which give guidance to auditors about risk assessment.

Auditing in a computer-based environment
The aim of this article is to help students improve their understanding of computer-assisted techniques by giving practical illustrations of computer-based controls and the way they may feature in exam questions.

Massaging the figures
Earnings management – what it is, when it becomes fraud, and implications for auditors.

ISA 240 (redrafted), auditors and fraud
The definitions given by International Standard on Auditing (ISA) 240 (Redrafted) of fraud and error, and the historical expectations of the audit role.

The importance of financial reporting standards to auditors
This article provides guidance on the financial reporting issues that require a detailed level of knowledge, and those for which less detailed knowledge will be expected.

Forensic auditing
This article explores some of the key issues relevant to forensic investigations.

Auditors' reports to those charged with governance
This article discusses the important reporting 'output' produced as a result of the audit process, that of the auditor's communication to those charged with governance.

Group audit issues
This article summarises some of the sections of ISA 600 (Revised and Redrafted).

Examining evidence
This article explains the importance of understanding audit evidence.

Audit working papers
How working papers provide evidence that an effective, efficient, and economic audit has been carried out.

Study support videos

Planning, risk and audit procedures
Steve Whittenbury from BPP looks at planning, risk and audit procedures, focusing on Question 1 of the June 2015 P7 exam.
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Matters to consider when delivering a valid audit opinion
Steve Whittenbury from BPP considers how to approach P7 type questions where candidates are required to offer a valid audit opinion as an external auditor in relation to a specific event within a company. Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Risk assessment and audit procedures
Steve Whittenbury from BPP provides some exam technique advice on approaching P7, including what to expect in Question 1, syllabus requirements, examinable documents and examiner comments. Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Professional marks – the difference between a pass and a fail
Julie Corkish, education technical adviser at ACCA, provides some hints and tips around ensuring you get those professional marks which could mean the difference between a pass and a fail in your exam.

Advice for students retaking exams
This video is about turning your exam fail into a pass at your next attempt. It suggests ways to reflect on where you went wrong, how to draw up an effective study plan, and practising exam questions.

Syllabus updates

Syllabus and Study Guide and exam format update 
This article explains the changes affecting P7 from June 2013 and candidates are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the content of this article while preparing for exams in June 2013 and subsequent sittings.

Making the best Options choices 
The Options papers are the final exam hurdle. Peter Redfern, ACCA qualifications manager, explains how choosing Options papers which you are most comfortable with will, hopefully, improve your chances of success.

Exam techniques

Passing Strategic Professional exams
This article looks at what you can do to improve your chances of passing ACCA’s Strategic Professional exams.

Advanced Audit and Assurance – examiner’s approach
This updated examiner approach article looks at the syllabus and paper format changes that have occurred in the last few years. It should be read in conjunction with the P7 Syllabus and Study Guide, and with other recent articles prepared by the examining team.

P7 – A guide to using the examiner’s reports
Guidance to help you if you are taking the P7 exam for the first time as this takes you through how to use the examiner’s reports as part of your revision phase as directed by the study-support guides. This document will help you to understand how you should be using the examiner’s reports to make the best use of them.

P7 – A guide to reflection for retake students
Guidance to help you if you are retaking the P7 exam as this takes you through the process of reflection using the examiner’s reports as directed in the retake guides. This document will help you to understand how you should be using the examiner’s reports to make the best use of them.

Underpinning knowledge for the audit papers
This article explores the similarities and differences between F8 and P7 and identifies how best to prepare for the step up to the Professional level.

P7 (UK) and (IRL) exam style
This article provides candidates preparing for P7’s (UK) and (IRL) exams with information on question styles and the wording of exam requirements. It reiterates and builds on the guidance given in previous examiner’s articles.

Exam technique for P7
This article provides supplementary advice on exam technique, reiterating and expanding on comments made in the examiner’s reports, and focusing on some of the more common requirements that feature in P7.

How to tackle audit and assurance case study questions – part 1 
This article provides an insight into the recommended approach for Section A questions.

How to tackle audit and assurance case study questions – part 2
The second of a two-part series outlines the recommended approach to answering typical Section A case study questions.

How to earn professional marks
This article explains what professional marks are, how they are awarded at the Strategic Professional level and to remind potential candidates how best to achieve these additional, and often crucial, marks.

Exam support resources

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