Planning your study

Preparing to study for an exam can be a daunting prospect, but with some clear planning you can design a strategy for your study that maximises your chances of success. 


Guidance for planning retakes


Here are some key steps and tips to support you:

1. Study with an Approved Learning Partner (ALP)

There are a wide range of flexible face-to-face and online tuition options available from our ALPs, which ACCA assesses to ensure high quality. Students who study with an ALP have a higher chance of passing their exams, so we strongly recommend seeking tuition support.

2. Ensure you have access to Approved Content

As with approved tuition, using Approved Content including an up to date study text and question and answer bank is proven to increase your chances of passing the exam. These resources provide:

  • the most up to date content and syllabus coverage.
  • tests, quizzes and other support designed to help you prepare for your exam.
  • past exam questions that are updated for changes to the syllabus, question style and exam format as well as other practice questions and answers and full mock exams to ensure you are fully prepared for your exam.

3. Book your exam as early as possible

The earlier you book your exam the less it costs and in addition, you have a higher chance of sitting your exam at your preferred location. Importantly, early booking also ensures enough study time and once you have entered you will begin receiving relevant, tailored ACCA communications and support.

4. Get to know your exam

  • Look at the Introduction to Advanced Financial Management resources, include the introduction video and the one page essentials guide
  • Briefly review the syllabus to get an overall feel for what’s involved in studying for the exam, including learning outcomes, but spend a good amount of time on the examiner’s approach article. This will give you a good understanding of the aims and objectives of the exam, and exam structure.
  • Check your underlying knowledge using the self-check modules on the Student Virtual Learning Centre
  • Access the specimen exam and other content in the ACCA Practice Platform – this will give you a clear picture of how the exam is structured and how it will be assessed as well as the likely style and range of questions that you could see in the real exam. You can scan through the specimen initially to familiarise yourself with it but you should then plan to attempt the specimen and other practice tests under exam conditions.

5. Ensure you have a study plan

If you’re studying with an ALP they are likely to provide you with a suitable study plan. If you’re studying independently, produce your own study plan working back from your exam date. Here are some tips for creating a study plan:

  • Be realistic and consider when you are best able to study – maybe early mornings work better for you or perhaps shorter, more frequent study periods throughout the day
  • Once you have prepared your plan - try to stick to it
  • Consider building in an extra study period after every few chapters to review and consolidate your learning
  • Take a 5-10 minute break every hour to help maintain motivation and concentration

Download the ACCA study planner template (PDF)

Planning for a retake

The ACCA exams are not easy and many students need to retake one or more exams. Whilst it’s disappointing not to pass an exam there are steps you can take to maximise your future chances of success.

1. Reflection

Think back to your exam - what went well and what can be improved?   

We recommend that you book your retake as soon as possible while the content is still fresh in your memory but it important to reflect on both what went well and what you can improve your exam performance when planning your next steps. The first step to success in studying for your retake is to understand the reason you failed and the planning to address these issues.

2. Using Examiner’s Reports

Listening to the examining team feedback relating to the exam you have failed is an important activity. Think carefully about the points the examiner is making and consider if they apply to you. Think about the ideas the examiner suggests to improve student performance and how you can build this into your study plan.

Remember that students often make the same mistakes exam sitting after exam sitting and you will see that the examining team talk about the same key knowledge areas and the same issues around exam technique time and time again. Really think about whether you have made these mistakes as, once you know what caused you to fail, you can work on improving that area.

3. Make a study plan for exam success

Calculate the number of weeks from now until your exam date and draw up a plan. You should build a plan that focusses on any knowledge weaknesses as well as question practice in key areas that you want to improve. You should aim to complete and debrief at least one full mock exam and make sure you also use the Practice Tests in the ACCA Practice Platform as part of your revision programme.

Download the ACCA study planner template (PDF)