ACA Exams

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5 April 2010 - 7:47pm


Hi

Can anyone give me some information as to when you will take your ACA exams? Is it laid out like University with 3 around Christmas and then 3 in the summer? Also if I wanted to get a headstart in studying for some of these exams where can I find information regarding this?

5 April 2010 - 8:13pm


If you're gonna be doing your ACA, I wouldn't bother trying to get a headstart! You''ll have so much work to do when you do start that I'd just enjoy the "free time" now. Plus all the information you require will be provided during the classes for the ACA. If you try to prepare before hand, it is very likely you'll end up reading outside the scope of what is required of you.

Also, the exams (depending on the firm) tend to be laid out such that you complete most in your first year and a few in your second year and the third year is spent "time-qualifying".

6 April 2010 - 9:52am


jungle_boogie is correct. You'll do 12 exams in your first year, then 3 in your second year. (This is how PwC and Deloitte do it anyway).

6 April 2010 - 10:02am


Here is a typical big 4 study schedule:

The study set up is pretty much identical for all big 4. Almost straight after joining you go on a three week course with Kaplan (or BPP) in London to study the first three knowledge modules. Some of this work is self study and some is in college BUT they spoon feed you a very precise timetable even for the self study days. So you do chapters x-y, lunch break, chapters x-y tea break, Evening, online test. etc etc. You spend about one week per subject. After the three weeks you take the three exams . These are e-assessment. You get the results the next day. You then spend maybe a month or two working on audits or internal training course and then have another 3 weeks college doing the next three knowledge modules. Back to the office for a couple of months then you go on a 6 week course at college. In college every day 9 til 4 to study the first three application exams. This is a very intensive, all in college course with lots of mock exams and timed practice questions. You sit these exams in an exam centre at the end of your 6 weeks. The results are published 5-6 weeks later. After another 2 or 3 months you do the next 6 week course for the next three application exams. SO, after one year, give or take, you should have completed the Professional Stage of ACA. 12 exams in total. Over the next year you'll sit two Advanced stage and one Case study paper,Total 15 exams plus 3 years working in accountancy and then you are an ACA. Big 4 will also put you through a lot of internal training. You will get fantastic training for sure. It's hard work at college because you get homework every evening and weekends but worth it.

7 April 2010 - 6:41pm


Hi that is great thanks for the information. Just to clarify when you finish your 3 weeks of studying do you do your exams straight after that or do you get some time to read over stuff it just seems to be really intense to do that many exams in such a short space of time!

8 April 2010 - 9:46am


PwC do three weeks study then you take the three exams on the following Tues/Wed or Mon/Wed. So, basically you finish studies on a Friday and take the exams in the beginning of the following week. But you will have done loads of progress tests and mock exams. Last year Deloitte did one subject per week with the exam at the end of each week. You will be very well prepared if you keep to the study plan and work hard. Should you fail ,you re-take the exam pretty quick, say a week or 10 days later. Yes, it is very intense, especially the first three weeks when you don't know what's hit you. But be assured that the selection to employ graduates ensures they select the graduates who can cope with it. And, everyone feels exactly the same. (Girls been known to cry..) After the first three weeks you get used to the nature of the beast. For those with no previous knowledge the first time you do accounting it's pretty difficult. Debits and credits etc. Are you an accounting graduate, abcarson22?

8 April 2010 - 11:34pm


Thanks Tutor for the information been really helpful. I was a business graduate so have a decent knowledge of accounting subjects. It does all seem intense looking forward to having a go at it though!

11 April 2010 - 12:35pm


I'm doing the application stage exams at the moment - meant to be revising now in fact! The structure varies massively between firms and service lines and even within service lines. Within my service line there are two streams (so all the grads aren't out of the office at the same time).

Knowledge stage we did 4 modules taught and two self study. For the first three ()tax, fa, assuarance) we did three weeks in college followed by a month in the office (where we revised after work) then sat the 3 exams over 3 days. We found that because we did'nt know what to expect for the first set a lot of us 'over revised' i.e. did more than was required and therefore made the whole experience more stressful for ourselves than was acutally needed. Lookig back the material is not very hard.

The second set we had a week in college for MI followed by two weeks in the office and 4 days study leave (2+2 days) for Law and BF again sitting 3 in 2 days. For this set the self study is quite wordy but essentailly pretty easy especially if you have come from a business / economics / law degree. MI is mathsy. This was stressful as we didn't have much time to prepare. They want you to pass afterall.

For the three application stage (tax, fa, assurance) exams that we are studying now we have 3 weeks college followed by a month in the office followed by 3 weeks revision then sit the exams in June. We have found college to be more laid back but there material is a lot harder and there is a hell of a lot more of it. The time pressure is nothing like you have ever seen - to the point in questions we are actively told to 'leave out the hard adjustments' as they take up too much time and you're better completing the questions and getting follow through marks. The second 3 of the application stage is more of the same - 3 weeks college, couple of weeks in work followed by 2 weeks revision followed by the three exams. Fun fun.

It is tough, you need to keep on top. It does feel like too much sometimes but when it clicks it's a good feeling. It's a long haul but once completed it will be a great feeling. Personally my social life has taken a huge hit but the Big 4 pass rates are so high that they clearly know what they are doing.

11 April 2010 - 8:31pm


Littlelegs, it's good to have your input. I presume that you are not with PwC? Deloite Reading certainly seems to follow a study program similar to the one you describe, ie more broken up with a bit of a breather in between when you are back at office work but rivising in the evening. There are pros and cons for this method as opposed to the Pwc all intensive approach. Obviously you get more time to assimilate and absorb the topic your way but on the PwC plus side is the fact that putting all the effort into a program for 6 weeks then sitting the exam immediately keeps you on your toes and you don't have a month to let the first three weeks work go rusty.

At the end of the day (horrible catch phrase) whichever route you take, the success rate is high and the college seems to do a good job. Well, they'd be in deep sh1t and loose a lot of business if they didn't deliver.

Good luck with the exams. Tax is a bit of a b****r, so much detailed legislation to learn. By all accounts (bad pun) the next three application exams are "nicer" Are you related to the poster "LilShortie" ?

12 April 2010 - 5:12pm


Tutor - I am not related, just have very little legs!

I am with Deloitte, not the Reading office though. I think generally there are pros and cons for both really. Personally I am not a huge fan of revising before / after work but I would prefer that than going straight into it after college tuition.. For those reading, it is tough but if you get an offer at the big 4 or many of the mid size firms you clearly are capable of passing these exams. Good luck!

12 April 2010 - 9:43pm

ank

I was wondering if anyone could explain the following please:

http://www.icaew.com/index.cfm/route/146593/icaew_ga/Students/ACA_students/Your_exams/Exam_applications/Examination_dates_and_deadlines_for_2010_and_2011/pdf

If someone joins in September, when do they take their first exams? Does everyone take the above exams or PwC has its own timetable to follow?

Are the first exams on 13-15 December 2010? And the next in March 2011? And the next in June 2011?

Any help from current trainees or those more knowledgable will be greatly appreciated!

13 April 2010 - 12:07am


Knowledge modules or e-assessments i.e. the first 6 exams are sat at College (Kaplan / BPP) and it is up to the firm / college to set these exam dates so they are a little flexible, hence you wont find dates for them until your firm confirm them once you start at college (It is likely you'll have done all 6 by Christmas / early new year following your autumn start date).

I havent looked at the link but assume these are the application stage exam dates i.e. the second 6 exams that you will either sit in March, June, September or December 2011 (if you start sept 2010) depending on your company / service line (2 x 3 exams e.g. I am doing 3 in June and 3 in Sept). Hope that helps.

To be honest I wouldnt worry / think about it. Just do the pre work when it gets sent to you and make the most of your time before you start!

13 April 2010 - 9:08am


Sound advice, littlelegs.

To all new starters make sure you give yourself enough time to do all the pre work. It's easy before you join to be quite casual or last minute-ish about the pre course work. Believe me if you put some effort into it you'll reap the benefit because once the actual course starts it goes at a fast pace and you MUST keep up. No pain no gain.

13 April 2010 - 9:45am

ank

Thanks a lot for the sound advice. The reason I was asking the above was because my brother is planning to get married next year and he has asked me when I am likely to be free...he has two dates in mind...January and June.

Which time do you think there will be no exams and the workload is less at work?

Thanks.

13 April 2010 - 4:42pm


Ank. Presume you're Joining PwC London in September 2010?

If so and assuming they follow the same pattern as the Sept 2009 intake then you will take the 6 knowledge papers between September and Dec 2010. The first three will be taken in September as they like to get all new grads straight into Accounting, Taxation and Assurance asap. These are the e-assessment papers that you sit in Kaplan's.

Then you move onto the application exams whose dates you have already seen on the ICAEW (per your link above). This year I believe the trainees are split into two study groups. So, one group sits the first three application exams in March 2011 (21,22 and 23) the other will sit them on June 13,14,15 2010. For the first three exams they had 6 weeks and 1 day study before the week of the exams. So if your're doing March sitting, study begins on Friday feb 4 , 2011. If you're doing June exams you're at college from Friday April 29 2011. Please check my calendar calculations!!

Hope this helps. In summary you'll be free in January (you'll have some pre course reading) and the second half of June. That takes care of study. Office work, I haven't a clue. Depends what clients you're on but it shouldn't be too difficult to book time off when you're in first year and it's a family wedding.

Sorry cannot supply a weather forecast too but I'd go for June unless it's going to be a Carribean wedding when January is best.

Please note this all assumes you'll pass exams first time. Any fails in March will be re-taken in June.

13 April 2010 - 6:10pm


tutor - once again thanks for your insight (in particular when we are likely to have "free time" between exams!)

do you work for a Big 4 firm?

13 April 2010 - 6:23pm


Quaified with one then moved to another to work in Corporate tax. bingkk32, as I recall you are going to Uxbridge office PwC. Do they use Kaplan London and use the same study timetable? You're going into tax. Their busy periods will differ from audit. Audit are always busy for Dec year ends and March, to a lesser extent

13 April 2010 - 7:15pm


Yes - they use Kaplan London but my study timetable hasn't been confirmed yet. So what the busy periods traditionally for tax work? I guess January with the deadline for filing self-assessment returns

14 April 2010 - 9:19am


@bingkk32, could you please give some advice on partner interview at Uxbridge office, PWC? I have my interview next week for Assurance. How should I prepare and what is that they are looking for in the partner interview? Any Tips...

Cheers

14 April 2010 - 11:56am


bingkk32, hello.

Busy periods for tax? Well, certainly for Income Tax, as you have correctly indentified, it's the self assessment returns deadlines and of course all the payment on account deadlines.

But your area will also cover owner managed businesses (Yes?) so you will also be overlapping with CT deadlines of the owner's business vis a vis CT returns, payment of dividends, interest on loan accounts, bonuses etc.

Overall I would imagine there will be less stress in your deadlines than in assurance. The main trouble often is that you will sitting ready to act and meanwhile you are on the umpteenth reminder letter to the client to produce the information you need!

14 April 2010 - 8:27pm


thanks for the reply tutor.

keshu (sounds like chinese? - sorry random thought) my partner interview focussed heavily on more competencies - more like a continuation of the manager interview. Which kinda surprised me because I was expecting more commercial awareness Qs (of which I received none!!). So I don't think my particular interview is of the "standard kind". however, I still tried to show my com awareness by mentioning topical issues pertaining to tax whenever the opportunity allowed - e.g. when it was my turn to ask Qs, I asked whether issues you see in the news (such as mass redundancy/ adjustments to work practices to avoid redundancy) has substantially affected their workload (from a HR tax perspective). i also googled the partner who was going to interview me, and found an article written by that partner which I could mentiion at interview :)

15 April 2010 - 12:07pm


yes googling senior people in the office is a good idea

15 April 2010 - 5:27pm

ank

Thanks tutor for the incredible insight into the courses and exams structure...much appreciated. Thought you could give me a weather forecast as well...never mind!

The wedding is taking place in the Indian Ocean...so i guess it will be sometime in late June then. :)

2 July 2010 - 1:52pm


Hi, I'm also starting the ACA course at a Big 4 firm in September and i was just wondering if you did do any extra reading outside the pre course work? I've been thinking about doing some but i'm thinking it might be a waste of time. Cheers

6 July 2010 - 3:41pm


I think the best advice (especially if you haven't done any accountancy before) is go through all the pre course reading thoroughly. The accounting and tax can be quite a culture shock if you have never studied it before. Kaplan are used to people struggling and will even announce when you are doing the most difficult/worst day. Girls have been known to cry.......but pretty much everyone passes and a year later when it's all soooo familiar you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. Stay cool.

26 February 2012 - 4:28pm


Hello I would like to know whether anyone has ever done the Audit & Assurance application module via self study. I mean no course taken from BPP or Kaplan but using only the ICAEW materials to study for the exams? Please let me know if anyone has ever done that or if you guys think its possible or not? Many thanks

4 March 2013 - 4:02pm


Hello, I was wondering how many people on average there are in each exam sitting? Thanks

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