Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How long should I spend on Section A and Section B of the SBR exam?

Candidates should spend half their time allocation for the whole exam on the section A and the other half of their time on section B.

How are professional skills examined in the SBR exam?

Two professional skills marks will be awarded in Section A and two in Section B. Further guidance will be given in the questions clarifying what these professional skills marks will be awarded for.

In section A the professional skills marks will always be awarded in relation to the ethics requirement in Q2.  In section B, the professional skills marks will always be in Q4 and are more likely to be linked to investor focus style requirements. The requirement in the exam question will always clarify how the professional skills marks will be awarded.

My strategy is to only learn certain topics and answer questions just on those. Is this the best way to revise?

A candidate should have an understanding of every element of the syllabus.  In the SBR exam, a wide range of syllabus areas are always examined, and it is definitely better to have a broad knowledge of the principles of all of the topics within the syllabus, than to have a detailed knowledge of only a few, and to ignore others.

How should candidates study for the current issues element of the syllabus?

The SBR syllabus contains very specific guidance about what the examining team considers to be the current issues. Whilst there will be material included in the Approved Content Provider texts relating to these current issues, candidates are encouraged to read widely around these issues. For example, candidates should read journals and periodicals and look at the websites of the International Accounting Standards Board and the 'Big 4' accounting firms (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young).

Look out for major issues for users and preparers of financial statements.

Current issues are normally covered by an essay question and therefore if a new accounting standard has been issued then candidates should know the key implications.

If there has been an issue about an accounting standard and an exposure draft or a discussion paper has been issued, then that could be a topic for a question.

Bear in mind that current issues questions do not always deal with specific new standards, or exposure drafts, these questions can also examine any criticisms of existing standards.

Do you have any guidance on teaching students with exemptions, who are often not as proficient as students who have taken and passed financial reporting (FR)?

Before sitting the SBR exam, candidates should ensure that they have a wide understanding of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS®). They should also understand the principles of the Conceptual Framework For Financial Reporting and be able to apply these principles within the context of an SBR question scenario. Candidates will also require  a good working knowledge group accounting and be able to explain their calculations and the rationales behind them.. You may like to set a past FR exam as homework to help them assess their abilities.


How does (SBR-UK) compare to (SBR-INT)?

The UK version of Strategic Business Reporting will:

  • be based on international accounting standards in the same way as the international versions of the exam 
  • include relevant elements of UK legislation and the regulatory framework of UK GAAP.
  • include relevant differences between full IFRS and UK  
  • GAAP be written using $ (dollars) as the currency 
  • be based on international terminology.

Will ACCA test impairment of assets in a pre-existing group?

We could do although this is unlikely to appear in question 1.

Are marks given for workings not included in the final answer?

Yes, and it is very important to show clear workings so that markers can give full credit for method, even where some mistakes have been made in calculations..

What should be the starting point for a cash flow question?

Although guidance on the starting point under IAS7 is not prescriptive, the suggested solution will follow the illustration within the appendix of the standard and marks will be awarded accordingly. 

Are recently revised versions of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) examinable?

The current version of the IFRS is examinable if it has been issued before the cut-off date of 1 September, 12 months before the start of the exam year. For example, exams from September 2018 to June 2019 will examine standards in issue as at 1 September 2017.

Does examiner prefer full or partial measurement of goodwill?

This will depend on the question, both could be examinable, and this will be clearly stated within the question scenario.

Can local knowledge be used in an interpretation question?

Yes, as long as it illustrates the point the candidate is making and answers the question.

How do questions take account of local tax variations?

Candidates are given enough information for this not to matter.

Will there be a translation of financial statements followed by a disposal?

No, this would not be examined together in one question.  The treatment of the disposal of a foreign subsidiary could be tested as a separate issue.

Could you test the reconciliation of group-retained earnings?

Yes, but unfortuntely candidates don't do this particularly well. Candidates should also be prepared to explain their reconciliations and other calculations.

Can you explain the difference between accounting rules and principles?

Principles (eg substance over form) can be applied to a scenario and don't refer to a particular standard. Rules are contained within standards eg impairment.

Generally, candidates find it hard to differentiate between key rules in the standard and those that are not important.

How should candidates best prepare for the FR and SBR exam?

We have evidence that many candidates do not practise exam questions prior to the exam but simply read the questions and model answers together.

Candidates are advised to practise the questions as if they were sitting the exam. 

They should also read the Examiner’s Reports from recent sessions as these contain a great deal of constructive advice for future candidates.


If partial workings in the consolidated financial statements aren't referenced back to the financial statements, would they be marked?

Of course, anything in the answer booklet is marked.

In accordance with IFRS9 Financial instruments, an entity may elect to recognise subsequent re-measurement of investments in equity instruments within other comprehensive income. Is this within the syllabus?

Yes, this is within the syllabus. It is therefore examinable, but unless the question specifically mentions that the entity has made this election, candidates should assume the default position.

Candidates should treat investments in equity instruments within the scope of IFRS9 that are not held for trading as fair value through profit or loss.

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