ACCA-X - all you need to know

Welcome to a transcript of this podcast

Paul Kirkwood: Welcome to this ACCA podcast. I'm Paul Kirkwood, ACCA’s Head of Learner Experience. And today we're meeting with Krutika Adatia, who is ACCA’s digital learning lead. Our focus today is the fantastic ACCA-X training courses. Hello, Krutika.

Krutika Adatia: Hi Paul, it’s really exciting to be here.

Paul: I am excited too and now I know that you joined ACCA earlier this year. So can you first tell me just a little bit about your previous roles and experiences?

Krutika: Yeah, sure. So, I trained as a chartered accountant, for about three years, and immediately after qualifying, I realized that what I really wanted to be doing was passing on my knowledge and helping others. So, I transitioned into the education sector. And I worked for a leading professional qualifications tuition provider, teaching various accountancy related modules for students that were studying for their professional exams. I also did a year working in a higher education establishment. And there, I was teaching and delivering on various accountancy, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. And throughout my teaching career, I got involved in a lot of projects where I was working on content that was going to go online, or scripting videos, and also just thinking about ways to make things engaging for the online platform. And that really sparked my interest in digital and online learning. So I moved to work for an edtech company last year, and this company offered various accountancy products, and that paved the gateway for my current role at ACCA, where I work as the digital learning lead, and essentially, my current role just marries together all the things that I'm truly passionate about. And that's accountancy students, digital and online. So yeah, there's me in a nutshell.

Paul: Now, we could spend the whole podcast talking about your other aspects of your role, but we're going to focus on ACCA-X. So not all of our listeners may have heard about ACCA-X, can you tell us a little bit about what it is and how it works?

Krutika: Yeah, sure. So ACCA-X is an online learning programme that's offered by ACCA. And the courses are currently hosted on a platform called edX. Now, the great thing about this is that the courses can be accessed anywhere from the wild, the learner could be, in Africa, and America and Australia, and they could access these courses, that global presence is brilliant. So, we currently have seven courses on offer, four these courses are free, which is amazing for those learners that might be a little bit cash strapped, or perhaps are a little bit unsure about making a big financial commitment into the world of Accountancy, but maybe they're just looking to dip their toes into the world of Accountancy. So the free courses are great. I mean, our mission with ACCA-X is really to just make accountancy accessible to all learners, irrespective of their background. So, we're really hoping that learners can develop that the necessary accountancy and business skills to help them in their careers. So, in terms of how do we go about signing up for these courses? Well, it's really as easy as just going on our website, which is And they can enrol, and you're good to go.

Paul: So if I was a student, and I was just thinking about accountancy, and didn't even know anything about it, could I join one of the free courses, and that would give me a little a good introduction to what accountancy is about.

Krutika: Absolutely, Paul, and that is the beauty of the ACCA-X courses that we offer for free. And I'm sure I'll be talking a little bit more in detail about what those courses are. But you totally could, if you were somebody that wanted to even transition your career, maybe you were somebody that worked in retail, and is now thinking you know what, I quite fancy doing a bit of Accountancy, we'll go for it, totally enrol into our Intro to Bookkeeping course, and you'll get a little bit of a feel for the world of accounting and bookkeeping. And if you really enjoy that course, you can then go on to enrol and serve or other courses, which would be fantastic.

Paul: So do you want to clarify – I mean, it just sounds too good to be true. Can you just maybe clarify what course is exactly a free and which ones you have to pay for?

Krutika: Oh, yeah, absolutely. All our courses are very much introductory courses into the world of Accountancy and finance as we sort of touched on, but the four courses that are free include the introduction to bookkeeping course which is FA1, the intermediate bookkeeping course, FA2, the introduction to management accounting, which is MA1, and the intermediate management accounting course, which is MA2. Now, what I will throw in there, Paul is that actually all of these courses cover the technical content that is aligned with the syllabus outcomes for our FA1, FA2, MA1 and MA2 ACCA exams, which is brilliant.

Paul: So, you're using the course names here, which is fantastic, since it links into our formal qualification structure. Do the courses actually lead on to any formal qualifications?

Krutika: Oh, yes, they absolutely do, Paul. And as well as the four free courses, I should also add that we do have three paid courses, and our paid courses include financial accounting, management accounting, and Business and Technology. And these three modules align with the very first three modules at the Applied Knowledge stage of the full ACCA Qualification. And touching on your point about the qualifications that you can pick up along the way, if you do the ACCA-X courses, well, I can tell you that if you were to do all seven of the ACCA-X courses, you could pick up an amazing three qualifications. So, I'm just going to talk you through the three qualifications that you can pick up. So we'll start off with the Level Two Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting. Now, you can get this diploma if you complete the FA1, that's the intro to bookkeeping, and the MA1, the introduction to management accounting course, and you sit the respective exam. Now, in order to get this diploma, you've also got to complete a Foundations in Professionalism module. Now, this is also a free module. And you can access this once you register as a student with ACCA. And you can get this through your myACCA portal. So that's brilliant. So that's the level two diploma, you can then move on to do a level three Diploma in financial and management accounting. Now you can get this diploma if you complete the FA2, which is the intermediate bookkeeping, the MA2 module, which is the intermediate management accounting module and also complete the Foundations in Professionalism module. Now, the good news is that if you've done the level two diploma, and you've already got the Foundations in Professionalism module under your belt, you don't need to do it again, it will qualify you for the level three diploma as well.

Paul: So these are free courses, including the Foundations in Professionalism course. But you would have to pay to sit the exams, and you would have to register as a student.

Krutika: Yeah, of course, yes, that is absolutely correct. So that's a good point, you raised there Paul, you would need to pay for the exam. And to register as a student, but actually getting the technical content, which tends to be the bulk of the cost, if you're attending a face to face course, let's say would be substantial, and was here with ACCA-X  you’re getting it for free, which is brilliant. Now, the final diploma that you can get is a level four Diploma in accounting and business. And you can get this diploma if you study the financial accounting, management accounting and business and technology module, which as we mentioned already also leads into that the full ACCA qualification, it’s essentially the applied knowledge stage. So if you do the level four diploma, you basically get an exemption from the applied knowledge stage as a full ACCA qualification.

Paul: That's fantastic. That's so much detailed, Krutika. And I'm sure by going to the ACCA-X website, which you flagged earlier, you can get all that information as well.

Krutika: Absolutely, yeah, there's lots of information on there as well.

Paul: It's great. So we've got the seven exams, you've paired up the first two sets of exams, which provide their own qualifications, and then the final three go on and the bottom rung of the full qualification. Okay, so are they actually any ACCA-X students who have gone on to qualify? As full ACCA chartered certified accountants?

Krutika: Yeah. Now I'm going to start off answering this question by saying that we do appreciate the all our learners that kind of come on to the ACCA-X courses, might not necessarily have an ambition to do the full qualification. And that's the beauty of this learning programme that we offer, that you don't have to do the full qualification if you don't want. But having said that, Paul, we've had an incredible 50 of our learners that have gone on to actually complete the full ACCA qualification with their learning journey, having started with X, which is incredible. We also have 1 in 21 of our learners that actually go on to register as a student with ACCA which is brilliant. And if I remember correctly, we've had over 24,000 exams that have been sat and passed by our learners across the seven exams and these are supported by the ACCA-X learning programme.

Paul: Okay, that's great to hear. It sounds like it's got so many uses for those who want to see this as the first rung to get a full professional qualification, but as well, just helping people to increase their knowledge of finance of business and accounting. How many students do we have on the platform at the moment?

Krutika: We have insights into our data via edX insights. And currently, our insights revealed that we've got about 16,000 learners across the seven courses at present. In fact, since ACCA-X launched, which was in 2015, we've had over 200,000 learners, which is incredible. And there's no denying that with the current pandemic, there's such an appetite for online learning. But in fact, when the pandemic first hit during the first couple of months, we were getting around 5,000 enrollers per week, which is amazing.

Paul: Now, I know as well, that you touched on it earlier, some of the benefits of ACCA-X is its online nature. Have you got any more benefits that you could share to study in these courses on demand?

Krutika: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Now, there tends to be an initial fear when students first decide that they want to do an online course, especially if they're used to the face-to-face environment. But I can honestly tell you, there are so many benefits to obtain from actually doing a course online. And I guess the most obvious one is the flexibility that it offers, you can log on to these courses, do an hour in the morning, log out, do another hour in the evening, come back to it maybe three days later. And the system will take you back to exactly where you left off, giving you that seamless learning experience. So it's not quite like the classroom where you've got to be there for a set time for a set day in a set location. So that flexibility is incredible. The second thing I will say and that sits under the umbrella of flexibility is that the course is self-paced. If you're a learner that doesn't quite grasp things as quickly, or maybe you just want to rewatch or relearn something through the video or the content you've seen on screen, you can do that through these courses. And again, that's something you may not be able to do when you're in a face to face environment. Because, again, you're up against the time, and it’s restrictive, you've got to just be there and understand it at the time that that it's being knowledge is being imparted to you. So here, there's that benefit of it being self paced. And one other thing that I will just add is that certainly for our courses, we really foster collaborative learning. And I think that's something that really sets us apart. We want our learners not to feel isolated. So, again, that that tends to be a bit of a fear when people come on to online courses, that they're going to be doing it alone, and it's just going to be isolating. But actually, our courses, they are truly collaborative, we get a lot of learners engaging in our communities, we have a team behind the scenes that support you along the way. So I can't speak highly for it. I think there are so many benefits. And I've just touched on a few there.

Paul: You know, you're making me want to go back and do some more learn already. It's great. I know it's on demand. And I know and self paced, and having taught online myself, and also listening  to students, I know that one of the things that they sometimes struggle with is that motivation, so that collaborative learning is so important. Have you got any more examples of how you support the students on the X platform?

Krutika: Yes, of course. So as I mentioned, we do have a team working behind the scenes that really do support our learners. And I guess the best way that we do support our learners is through our communities, which basically comprises the discussion forums, and the various avenues that you can reach out to the ACCA-X team. So just to give you a few examples of things that we're doing to support our learners, we have at the end of every section, a discussion forum where students can go in and put forward their questions or have conversations with other learners to bounce ideas off one another, we often see that a lot of conversations are taking place in these discussion forums. We have also introduced seeded questions. And this is essentially to prompt our learners to think about what they've just learned through a particular unit. Again, just to reinforce that learning. I mentioned we've got a team behind the scenes, which comprises a community manager, and she's committed to ensuring that our learners are supported, the pastoral support is there, technical issue support is there, and we've also got a subject matter expert who's there on hand to deal with any content queries that students might have. So we're really committed to supporting our learners, but also we find that our learners support one another. So often we find in the discussion forum that that students are responding to each other's questions, which is brilliant.

Paul: There's nothing better than seeing the students support each other. So now I've got probably the most important question of the whole podcast, Krutika. What are the pass rates for the exams that are taken at the end of each course?

Krutika: Wow. Now that is a very important question, isn't it and I'm sure a lot of our listeners will be interested to know that we have an incredible 90% first time pass rate for our learners. And actually, our learner pass rates do always exceed the global average pass rate, which is fantastic news. And what it showcases is just how useful ACCA-X is as a learning tool in supporting our learners through their accountancy journey. Now, Paul, if you don't mind, I'm just going to give you examples of a couple of learners that have just recently posted on our discussion forum about their delight for the exams that they've passed. So just a few months back, we had an FA1 that's intro to bookkeeping, a student posted on the discussion forum, they're saying, after studying with ACCA-X, he scored an amazing 80% in his exam, which is incredible. And earlier in the year, I believe it was around June, we had another learner commenting on our financial accounting course on the discussion forums and stating that she had scored an incredible 94%, that's just 6% of the exam where she didn't score correctly, which is incredible. So it's comments like these that really do make the team smile.

Paul: That's incredible. I'm just getting a little bit worried here, I think they are significantly better than anything I scored. They really do sound like a grid suite of courses. What advice would you give to someone who was maybe just starting out on an X course?

Krutika: The best advice that I could give my top tip rather, is that they should really take the time to understand the content. It's so easy when you're doing a course such as accountancy or intro to bookkeeping, to want to just rush through and get to the end, because it just seems like the courses endless there's so much to learn. But I cannot stress enough the benefits of really understanding what it is that you're learning, because it will just be beneficial when you sit the exam because if you understand something, you're more likely to score better. And also with the way the ACCA exams are generally set up modules do tend to build on one another. So if you've got that strong foundational knowledge, it will just put you up in good stead for the future exam, should you wish to do future exams. Other tips that I would give is just make sure you complete all of the activities. It's all about the practice. So make sure that you don't skip any of the activities. And if you don't get it correct first time around, don't be too disheartened. Because you can reattempt it. I mean, this is an on demand course. So learn from those mistakes, the importance of practice, I'm sure many have stated on this podcast already. And the final thing that I would say is really take advantage of the learners that are also studying at the same time as you so basically engage in the community, look at the threads of discussions that have taken place before, because you never know you might just learn something really useful from conversations that have been had before.

Paul: That's a great advice. Yeah, you're absolutely right about the these been the foundations for the future courses in the qualification and future exams, that the absolute basics of management, accounting, and financial accounting, which are within these courses, you use all the way through up until your final exam, undoubtedly. And actually, since when I actually took my exams, it hasn't changed. These are the fundamental building blocks. These are really fantastic skills. Now I'm concerned about time, unfortunately. So I'm going to do one more question. And that's really to look to the future. Could you give me an insight into any potential future developments that you've got planned or are considering for the ACCA-X platform?

Krutika: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that we've currently launched or were piloting, certainly for the intro to bookkeeping course, is a new teams feature. And essentially, Paul, what this does is it collates all the frequently asked technical queries, that students have been putting forward in the discussion forums, so that we have it all in one place that offers easy navigation. And students can click on this page and see the responses that have been provided. We have also been carefully curating data that we're receiving about topics in the discussion forums as technical queries that we're receiving. And we're using that data to really help inform the decisions that we make about costs and content enhancements. And we're also looking at the feedback that we're getting from surveys that we send out to students. And a reoccurring theme that we see in the survey result or feedback results is that our learners want more videos. So what we're trying to do is think about: we've got some data here. These are topics that students are generally asking more questions about. Our students want videos? Well, how about we produce video content that complements the content that we already have on the course. And just sort of sticking with the idea or theme of videos, we’re also trialling responding to technical queries using a tablet capture style videos, which are a little bit more informal, and just lend themselves well to dealing with queries, which include things like T accounts that are better explained with tablet capture, rather than a long narrative text type answer. Thinking bit further into the future, we'd love to sort of experiment with interactivity within videos. So we know that to keep learners engaged and to make sure they're being tested, it will be great to have videos that have quizzes embedded within them, just to reinforce the learning that a learner might see through a video. So those are just a few of the things that we have in the pipeline. So watch this space as it were for ACCA-X.

Paul: I certainly will. I'm absolutely sold an ACCA-X. And I would encourage anybody who's at those early stages of the qualification to go and have a look, one more target group, maybe, perhaps even if you're coming into maybe the applied skills, and you've had exemptions from the earlier papers, you could get into the early courses, just as a refresher, just to refresh your knowledge of basic accounting concepts.

Krutika: Honestly, I wish this was a resource that was available to me when I was a student, because I certainly would have made use of it. You're absolutely right, Paul, and touching on the idea that you could be doing applied skills, like financial reporting, where a lot of it does build on what you would have seen in financial accounting. And I know, students, if they don't grasp double entry, the basics of it, they're going to struggle when it comes to more complex journals that they see in financial reporting. So yeah, thank you, Paul, for touching on that, absolutely. If you're a student listening to this thinking, I'm doing applied skills, well, actually, the ACCA-X courses can still help you they're spot on.

Paul: Now, finally, we always ask one question, just to get to know a little bit more about you. If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?

Krutika: Oh, Paul, do you know you'd have to be a data guru, you know, you just can't get away from data at the minute I feel like it's such an important thing. We're just surrounded by so much information and data, I would love to be in a position where I could just analyse and make judgments and, and present data in a way that's easy to digest.

Paul: Wonderful. Krutika, thank you so much for your time today and your insight into our ACCA-X.

Krutika: Thank you so much, Paul. It's been amazing being here.