FA1, FA2 and FFA/FA September 2023 syllabus changes - FAQs

Not all ACCA students will be exposed to the integrated systems and processes which are being used as the basis of ACCA’s FA1, FA2 and FFA/FA syllabuses from September 2023. How does ACCA intend to address this?

It has always been the case that ACCA students will operate in a variety of environments with a variety of different systems in practice. Therefore, we recognise the importance of examining ACCA students' knowledge and skills of applying fundamental accounting principles and the fact that these fundamental principles should always override any differences in employer/client systems. However, we also recognise that the world of finance is increasingly integrated and computerised and, therefore, it is our aim to prepare ACCA students more fully for this environment. We believe that our proposed approach to teaching the basic principles of double-entry bookkeeping in the context of a computerised accounting system strikes a positive balance between utilising modern accounting systems and retaining core underlying accounting principles which can be applied in any situation.

Will teaching students using a computerised accounting system limit their understanding of the underlying methodology of accounting processes?

Although from September 2023, references to books of prime entry and manual accounting systems will be removed from the FA1, FA2 and FFA/FA syllabuses, we are not removing the basic principles of double-entry bookkeeping but rather providing a new focus on how transactions are entered into the accounting system. We will continue to examine the importance of accurate record keeping, basic double-entry bookkeeping skills and the principles of reconciliations as a fundamental control. In addition, incomplete records will continue to be examined in FA2 and FFA/FA as in previous years.

With the use of integrated accounting systems in the syllabuses, how will students be prepared for any breakdown in these systems where there is a need to recreate or reconcile accounting records and information?

There is always a risk that accounting information is omitted or destroyed, leading to incomplete records. This is also the case in relation to manual, paper-based systems (eg a factory fire which destroys inventory records). It would be impossible to predict and examine every eventuality which might lead to a breakdown in an accounting system but the skill of preparing reconciliations will continue to be examined as will dealing with incomplete records in FA2 and FFA/FA as it has been in previous years.

In the workplace, some students still perform reconciliations between trade receivables and trade payables to the lists of individual balances. Why have these been removed from the syllabuses?

Depending on the systems and processes in place in their work, it is likely that many ACCA students will perform tasks which are beyond the scope of ACCA’s syllabuses. It would not be possible to examine every reconciliation which a student may be expected to perform and this has always been the case in ACCA exams. For example, some students may perform tax reconciliations but these have also not traditionally been part of the exam syllabuses. Instead, we will examine ACCA students' knowledge and ability regarding the principles of reconciliations through testing their ability to perform bank reconciliations and reconciliations of individual supplier account balances to supplier statements. The skills developed here could then be used where an ACCA student is required to perform a reconciliation in a different context in their workplace.

How can suspense accounts still be examined in a computerised accounting system when such a system would not permit an unbalanced accounting entry to be made?

In the FA1, FA2 and FFA/FA exams, any errors which must be identified and corrected will be realistic in terms of a computerised accounting system. For example, a single-sided journal entry without a corresponding debit/credit will not be examinable because a computerised system is unlikely to allow this but a single-sided journal entry which is posted with a suspense account as the corresponding debit/credit will be examinable.

A suspense account is created either by:

  • the computerised accounting system automatically balancing a previously imbalanced manual journal entry, or
  • the bookkeeper recognising an amount directly to the suspense account as part of a manual journal entry.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of reasons which may lead to the creation of a suspense account:

Errors of transposition (eg Dr Expenses $32, Cr Trade payables $23)
In this situation, the bookkeeper will either realise their mistake immediately and enter the amount correctly in the first place or, if they are not sure what the correct amount is, they may post the difference to a suspense account and then investigate.

Errors of posting to the same side of the double entry (eg Dr Purchases $50, Dr Trade payables $50)
In this situation, the bookkeeper is likely to either realise their mistake and post the correct journal entry immediately or to post the difference to a suspense account – perhaps being unsure as to whether a third account (eg sales tax) would also be required.

Errors of omission to one side of the double entry (eg Dr Expense $75, Cr - )
In this situation, the bookkeeper may be unsure of what the credit entry should be and so might post this entry to a suspense account before investigating what the correct account should be.

Written by a member of the FFA/FA examining team