ICAEW: The ACA qualification

Organisations of every size around the world depend on the skill and expertise of chartered accountants. They are respected for their understanding of complex financial information, and trusted for their strategic business advice.

Whether an accountant, engineer or surveyor, being ‘chartered’ is recognised as being a highly qualified professional. It shows you’ve got the knowledge, skills and experience to perform to the highest level.

The ACA qualification is recognised and respected around the world. There are ICAEW Chartered Accountants in all sectors and industries – from multi-nationals and global accountancy firms, to local charities and business start-ups. Career opportunities are endless whether you aspire to be a business analyst, practice partner, finance director or CEO.

There are 3 levels to complete, along with relevant practical experience with an Approved Employer, to become qualified

Certificate Level

This comprises 6 computer-based assessment exams which can be taken at Reed Business School or at a local VUE Pearson centre. Subject matter covers financial accounting, management accounting, taxation, law and assurance. Our weekday courses consist of integrated tuition and question practice. See the ICAEW CFAB page for further details.

Professional Level

This comprises six exams which build on the fundamentals and test students’ understanding and ability to use technical knowledge in real-life scenarios. The exams can be taken in March, June, September and December.

Advanced Level

The Advanced Level consists of 3 papers which are available to sit twice a year in July and November.

The Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management exams test students’ understanding and strategic decision-making at a senior level. They present real-life scenarios, with increased complexity and implications from the Professional Level exams. The Case Study tests all the knowledge, skills and experience gained so far. It presents a complex business issue which challenges students’ ability to problem solve, identify the ethical implications and provide an effective solution.

Professional Level – The Syllabus

There are six modules at this level, build on the fundamentals and test students’ understanding and ability to use technical knowledge in real-life scenarios.

The modules are:

  • Audit and Assurance
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting (UK GAAP)
  • Financial Management
  • Tax Compliance
  • Business Planning: Taxation
  • Business Strategy and Technology

Audit and Assurance

Module aim

To develop students’ understanding of the critical aspects of managing an assurance engagement (including audit engagements): acceptance, planning, managing, concluding and reporting.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  •  understand and advise on the regulatory, professional and ethical issues relevant to those carrying out an assurance engagement;
  • understand the processes involved in accepting and managing assurance engagements;
  • understand how quality assurance processes mitigate risks;
  • plan assurance engagements in accordance with the terms of the engagements and appropriate standards; and
  • conclude and report on assurance engagements in accordance with the terms of the engagements and appropriate standard.

Method of assessment

The Audit and Assurance module exam is 2.5 hours long. The exam will consist of six shortform questions and three longer questions. The exam will test each of the three syllabus areas in accordance with the weightings set out in the specification grid and students may use the permitted text(s) as detailed on the ICAEW website; icaew.com/permittedtexts.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website

Financial Accounting & Reporting: UK GAAP

Module aim

To enable students to prepare complete single entity and consolidated financial statements, and extracts from those financial statements, in accordance with FRS 102 The Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland, and the Companies Act 2006. In addition, students will have a working knowledge of FRS 105 and The Financial Reporting Standard applicable to the MicroEntities Regime.

Students will also be required to explain accounting and reporting concepts and ethical issues, and the application of UK GAAP to specified single entity or group scenarios.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • explain the contribution and inherent limitations of financial statements, apply FRS 102 Section 2 Concepts and Pervasive Principles and identify and explain key ethical issues;
  • prepare and present financial statements from accounting data for single entities, whether organised in corporate or in other forms, in conformity with FRS 102, and/ or FRS 105 and Companies Act 2006 and explain the application of FRS 102, and/or FRS 105, to specified single entity scenarios;
  • identify the circumstances in which entities are required to present consolidated financial statements, prepare and present them in conformity with FRS 102 and Companies Act 2006 and explain the application of FRS 102 to specified group scenarios; and
  • describe the principal differences between UK GAAP and IFRS and prepare simple extracts from financial statements in accordance with IFRS, for both single entity and consolidated financial statements. Learning outcomes apply to non-specialised profit-oriented entities unless otherwise specified.

Method of assessment

The Financial Accounting and Reporting: UK GAAP module exam is 3 hours long. The exam contains four written test questions. Students may use the permitted text(s) as detailed on the ICAEW website; icaew.com/permittedtexts.

The module will include questions on:

a. preparation of single entity financial statements (excluding statement of cash flows) from trial balance;
b. preparation of consolidated financial statements (excluding consolidated statement of cash flows) from single entity financial statements; and
c. explanation of the application of UK GAAP to specified scenarios, with supporting calculations.

Other question types could include:
a. preparation of a full consolidated statement of cash flow, or extracts, from consolidated financial statements, or preparation of revised extracts from a draft consolidated statement of cash flows; and
b. mixed or single topic questions requiring extracts from single entity or consolidated financial statements (including from statement of cash flows) and/or explanation of financial reporting treatment with supporting calculations and/or calculation of specified figures.
Concepts, ethics and IFRS will be tested in any of the questions.

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

Ethical thinking must be the mainstay for honest, true, fair and prudent financial accounting and reporting. The ability to identify and explain ethical issues is examined specifically under the syllabus area ‘Accounting and reporting concepts and ethics’. Over and above this ethical thinking and professional scepticism will be required to be applied in the exercise of all judgements.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Tax Compliance

Module aim

To enable students in straightforward scenarios to:

  •  prepare tax computations for individuals and companies;
  • understand the tax implications of a course of action; and
  • explain potential tax treatments of transactions.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • recognise the ethical issues arising in the course of performing tax work and identify the obligations the UK system of taxation imposes on taxpayers and the implications for taxpayers of non-compliance;
  • calculate the amount of VAT owed by or owed to businesses;
  • calculate the amount of stamp taxes due in straightforward transactions;
  • calculate the capital gains tax payable by individuals;
  • calculate the amounts of inheritance tax due on lifetime transfers and transfers on death by individuals, personal representatives and trustees;
  • calculate the corporation tax liabilities of companies;
  • calculate the amounts of income tax owed by or owed to individuals; and
  • calculate the amounts of national insurance payable by individuals, businesses and companies.

Taxes covered in this module

  • Capital gains tax
  • Corporation tax
  • Income tax
  • Inheritance tax
  • National insurance
  • Stamp taxes
  • VAT

Method of assessment

The Tax Compliance module exam is 2.5 hours long. The exam will consist of five questions. The exam will test each of the taxes on the syllabus as a discrete topic. Students may use the permitted text(s) as detailed on the ICAEW website; icaew.com/permittedtexts.

In the exam, students will generally be expected to assume that any beneficial election, claim or deduction has been made, unless otherwise directed in the exam

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

Ethical behaviour in tax compliance is paramount. Students will be expected to apply the ICAEW Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation. Appropriate and trustworthy calculations, explanations and tax planning must be provided, being mindful of tax avoidance and tax evasion. Professional scepticism will be critical in recognising bias and exercising judgement.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Financial Management

Module aim

To enable students to recommend relevant options for financing a business, recognise and manage financial risks and make appropriate investment decisions.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  •  identify capital requirements of businesses, assess financing options and recommend relevant methods of financing;
  • identify the financial risks facing a business and the principal methods of managing those risks; and
  • apply appropriate investment appraisal techniques taking into account other factors affecting investment decisions
  • apply appropriate investment appraisal techniques taking into account other factors affecting investment decisions.

Method of assessment

The Financial Management module exam is 2.5 hours long. The exam consists of three questions. Managing financial risk will be assessed as a discrete topic. The other two questions will assess financing options and investment decisions and valuation either as discrete or integrated topics.

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

In identifying financing options, managing financial risk and arriving at appropriate investment decisions, underlying ethical thinking is a requirement. The implications of financial strategy for all stakeholders must be evaluated and any ethical dilemmas resolved. Students will also be expected to apply professional scepticism and critical thinking when making all judgements.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Business Strategy and Technology

Module aim

To provide students with an understanding of how an organisation develops and implements strategy, including any ethical implications.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • identify and analyse the consequences of an organisation’s current strategic direction including objectives, market position and technology developments;
  • use data to evaluate the likely consequences of strategic choices and technology developments, and recommend strategies to meet the objectives of an organisation; and
  • recommend appropriate methods for an organisation to implement and monitor strategies including responses to technology developments, and demonstrate how data can be used subsequently to measure and monitor strategic performance.

Method of assessment

The Business Strategy and Technology module exam is 2.5 hours long. The exam will consist of three scenario-based questions, covering a range of different industries and types of organisation. Each question will cover one or more syllabus areas.

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

Ethics must be an underpinning of sound strategic and technological development for a business. Sustainability and the interests of all stakeholder groups are key considerations. Related learning outcomes are interwoven through the syllabus areas of Strategic analysis, Strategic choice and Implementation and monitoring of strategy. Students are expected to develop their skills to ensure business trust and professional scepticism are paramount.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Business Planning: Tax

The Business Planning modules provide students with the opportunity to gain subject- and sector specific knowledge while studying for the ACA. Students will sit one of the Business Planning modules. There are three to choose from – Business Planning: Taxation, Business Planning: Banking, and Business Planning: Insurance.  We offer courses for the Tax module.

Module aim

To enable students to apply technical knowledge and professional skills to identify and resolve taxation issues that arise in the context of preparing tax computations and to advise on tax-efficient strategies for businesses and individuals.

Students will be required to use technical knowledge and professional judgement to identify, explain and evaluate alternative tax treatments and to determine the appropriate solutions to taxation issues, giving due consideration to the needs of clients and the interaction between taxes. The commercial context and impact of recommendations will need to be considered in making such judgements, as will ethical and legal issues.

Prior knowledge

There are no regulations stipulating the order in which students must attempt this module. However, students are strongly advised to complete both the Principles of Taxation module and the Tax Compliance module before attempting this module, as the ability to prepare tax computations is required to be successful at this module. Although technical topics by necessity flow through the three tax exams, a technical topic will not usually be retested in this module in a comprehensive computational question if it has already been tested in detail in either of the other two tax exams.

Method of assessment

The Business Planning: Taxation module exam is 2.5 hours long. The exam will contain questions requiring the use of communication, judgement and evaluation skills as well as an ability to understand the interaction of different taxes.

The exam will consist of three questions. One question will be an integrated scenario of approximately 40 marks which will cover a range of taxes as well as including tax planning. Ethics and law may be tested in any of the three questions.

The exam will be open book and will permit students to take any written or printed material into the exam, subject to practical space restrictions. To see the recommended text(s) for this exam, go to icaew.com/permittedtexts.

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

It is imperative that ethical issues are prioritised in the planning of business taxation. Students will be expected to apply the ICAEW Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation across all of the questions in the exam. Students will be required to recognise and explain key ethical issues, identify ethical dimensions of possible scenarios, make appropriate judgements being mindful of professional scepticism and recommend in a sound and trustworthy manner.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website

Advanced Level – The Syllabus

The Advanced level consists of three papers

  • Corporate Reporting
  • Strategic Business Management
  • Case Study

Corporate Reporting

Module aim

To enable students to apply technical knowledge, analytical techniques and professional skills to resolve compliance and business issues that arise in the context of the preparation and evaluation of corporate reports and from providing audit services. Students will be required to use technical knowledge and professional judgement to identify, explain and evaluate alternatives and to determine the appropriate solutions to compliance issues, giving due consideration to the needs of clients and other stakeholders. The commercial context and impact of recommendations and ethical issues will also need to be considered in making such judgements.

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • formulate, implement and evaluate corporate reporting policies for single entities and groups of varying sizes and in a variety of industries. They will be able to discern and formulate the appropriate financial reporting treatment for complex transactions and complex scenarios. Students will be able to evaluate and apply technical knowledge from individual accounting standards and apply professional skills to integrate knowledge where several accounting standards are simultaneously applicable and interact.
  • analyse, interpret, evaluate and compare financial statements of entities both over time and across a range of industries.
  • explain the processes involved in planning an audit, evaluate internal controls, appraise risk including analysing quantitative and qualitative data, and gather evidence including using data analytics to draw conclusions in accordance with the terms of the engagement. In addition, they will be able to perform a range of assurance engagements and related tasks.
  • evaluate corporate reporting policies, estimates and disclosures in a scenario in order to be able to assess whether they are in compliance with accounting standards and are appropriate in the context of audit objectives.
  • identify and explain ethical issues. Where ethical dilemmas arise, students will be able to recommend and justify and determine appropriate actions and ethical safeguards to mitigate threats.

Prior knowledge

This module assumes and develops the knowledge and skills acquired in the Financial Accounting and Reporting module and in the Audit and Assurance module.

Background knowledge based upon the strategic elements of the Business Planning modules, Business Strategy and Technology and Financial Management modules will also be required in evaluating the business and financial risks of reporting entities.

Regulation

The regulations relating to auditing and corporate reporting will have international application and are therefore based upon IFRSs and ISAs (UK). Knowledge of specific national standards will not be tested.

Method of assessment

The Corporate Reporting module exam is 3.5 hours long. Each exam will contain questions requiring integration of knowledge and skills, including ethics. The exam will consist of three questions. Ethical issues and problems could appear in any of the three questions.

The exam will be open book and will permit students to take any written or printed material into the exam, subject to practical space restrictions. To see the recommended text(s) for this exam, go to icaew.com/permittedtexts

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

At the Advanced Level students will be expected to demonstrate the higher skills of sound, discerning business judgement and critical evaluation. The ethical implications will be both at the organisational level and for individuals. This must be paramount whether the accountant be in public practice or in business. The importance of ethical practice is reflected in ethics being covered in its own specific syllabus area as well as featuring heavily in the integrated learning outcomes. Social responsibility, sustainability and environmental matters, identifying earnings manipulation and creative accounting are included. The ethical codes referenced will be those issued by IESBA and ICAEW. The use of professional scepticism in a complex scenario is a necessary skill for the trusted business professional.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Strategic Business Management

Module aim

To enable students to demonstrate quantitative and qualitative skills, in order to make realistic business recommendations in complex scenarios. Business awareness will need to be demonstrated at strategic, operating and transactional levels.

To achieve this aim, students will be required to use technical knowledge and professional judgement to apply appropriate models and to analyse quantitative and qualitative data from multiple sources, including corporate reports, in order to evaluate alternatives and determine appropriate solutions.

On completion of this module, in a national or global context, and for a range of different business structures and industry scenarios, students will be able to:

  • analyse and identify the external environment and internal strategic capability of an entity; evaluate the consequences of strategic choices; recommend strategies to achieve stakeholder objectives, recommend appropriate methods of implementing strategies and monitoring strategic performance; manage business risks; and advise on corporate governance.
  • identify and advise upon appropriate finance requirements; evaluate financial risks facing a business and advise upon appropriate methods of measuring and managing those risks; provide valuations for businesses and securities; and advise upon investment and distribution decisions.
  • identify and explain ethical issues. Where ethical dilemmas arise, students will be able to recommend and justify and determine appropriate actions and ethical safeguards to mitigate threats.
  • interpret and apply corporate reporting information in evaluating business and financial performance; recognise and explain the corporate reporting consequences of business and financial decisions; apply corporate reporting information in appropriate models to determine asset, equity and entity valuations, demonstrating an understanding of the usefulness and limitations of accounting information in this context
  • appraise and explain the role of assurance in raising new equity and debt funding and in the subsequent monitoring of such funding arrangements; understand, explain and evaluate the role of assurance in selecting and implementing key business decisions including acquisitions and strategic alliances; understand and explain the role of assurance in financial and business risk management.

Prior knowledge

This module assumes and develops the knowledge and skills acquired in the Financial Accounting and Reporting module, the Business Strategy and Technology module and the Financial Management module.

Background knowledge based upon the strategic elements of the Business Planning: Taxation and the Audit and Assurance module will also be required in evaluating the business and financial risks of reporting entities.

Ethics

Ethical codes will be those issued by IESBA and the ICAEW. The ethical implications will be at both the organisational level and for individuals, particularly with respect to the accountant in business.

Method of assessment

The Strategic Business Management module exam is 3.5 hours long. The exam will contain questions requiring integration of knowledge and skills, including ethics. The exam will consist of two questions, and ethical issues and problems could appear in either question.

The exam will be open book and will permit students to take any written or printed material into the exam, subject to practical space restrictions. To see the recommended text(s) for this exam, go to icaew.com/permittedtexts.

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

Ethical thinking must be at the forefront of the strategic business awareness that students will be demonstrating. Students will be considering notions of stakeholder impact and scope as well as appropriate safeguards within a specific learning outcome. Over and above this, recommendations relating throughout the syllabus will only by definition be valid if they fulfil fundamental requirements of being fair and just. This is guided by specific focus across a range of considerations from social responsibility and sustainability to transparency. Professional scepticism will need to be evidenced in complex scenarios, recognising bias and gaps in evidence

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Case Study

Module aim

To ensure that students can provide advice on complex business issues in the form of a written report. The objective of the Case Study is to assess students’ understanding of complex business issues and the ability to analyse financial and non-financial data, exercise professional and ethical judgement, and develop conclusions and recommendations.

Case Study format

The Case Study scenario may be based on any one of a variety of different organisational structures or operations. Students will be provided with background details (‘Advance Information’) on the organisation and its business environment ahead of the exam. This information will not give specific indication of the eventual requirements of the Case Study. Students will be expected to familiarise themselves with the information provided about the organisation and the industry in which it operates, by undertaking details analysis of that Advance Information and some additional analysis and research where necessary. Students may take the results of their work into the exam

Method of assessment

The Case Study module exam is 4 hours long. The Case Study will not require the detailed computations needed for the Certificate, Professional and Advanced Levels; but students will be required to undertake financial and business analysis. Requirements will be open in that there will be no predetermined correct answers to the Case Study. All areas of the syllabus may be tested over time

Ethics and Professional Scepticism

Ethics and business trust is ingrained throughout the Case Study material. Analysis of the skills assessed that follows shows that candidates are required both to identify and evaluate ethical issues and dimensions. Recommendations will necessarily only be valid if they satisfy the same rigour and principles. Professional scepticism will be an underlying requirement within the complex scenarios that the Case Study presents. It must be applied being mindful of provenance and recognising the potential for bias.

Preparation and approach to the Case

The Case Study is designed to reproduce a typical situation in which ICAEW Chartered Accountants find themselves. This will involve using information arising from meetings and communicated in memoranda, letters or reports from a variety of business and professional advisors and stakeholders. The situation will generally relate to a business plan or transaction and will require preparation for the submission of a report.

The reality of such situations is that in drafting a report you would:

  • receive some materials in advance;
  • carry out some work beforehand and make use of it in the report;
  • include additional analysis in appendices to the report;
  • develop additional lines of enquiry as you assemble the report; and
  • expect to discuss and advise on relevant matters

The limited class time available with a tutor, even when supplemented by extensive home study, is insufficient for success in the Case Study. Students must bring work experience into their preparation and development programme.

Success at the Case Study requires an integration of the technical knowledge and skills acquired from all of the ACA modules, namely:

  • the core technical knowledge and skills and practical application acquired at the Certificate and Professional levels;
  • the technical, analytical, evaluative and integration skills from Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management; and
  • the advisory, judgemental and communication skills acquired through practical work experience undertaken during the training agreement.

For further information, visit the ICAEW website.

Link and Revision Courses

Our courses comprise weekday face-to-face teaching. We offer taught courses focusing on syllabus knowledge and application, and revision courses which polish application up to exam standard. Question practice and mock exams are taken in for marking on and between courses and marked by our expert team of tutors and markers to ensure progress is on track.We strongly believe the combination of our expert tuition and unique environment offering residential facilities help our students achieve the consistent first time pass rate success. We are the only tuition provider to publish a complete set of pass rates for all professional exams. We liaise very closely with employers and provide both formal and informal feedback on students’ performance. In addition, tutors and the course manager are available to discuss students on a one-to-one basis at any time.

Class sizes are managed allowing plenty of opportunities to interact with the course tutor. All tutors are qualified accountants with many years practical and teaching experience and a proven track record.

Students have email access to the subject tutor who will provide remote assistance during periods of home study and leading up to the exam.

The following course material is provided:

  • ICAEW study manual and question bank (invoiced separately)
  • Open books as required (invoiced separately)
  • Course notes

We provide a recommended study route for students commencing their studies with a September and January start date. Our study programme is made up of cohorts and most students will remain within the same group throughout their studies. Coupled with our consistent and caring tutor team and the options of staying at the Business School on a residential basis, encourages students to support one another whilst both at the Business School and when home studying.

Our study programme is only a suggested route and students who have exemptions or require different study route can contact us to discuss an alternative study path.

We recommend the study programme and annual planner are viewed together for an overview of the whole qualification and detailed course dates for the coming year.

Students can attend courses on a residential or non-residential basis. Self service breakfast and lunch are provided to all students attending our courses at no extra charge.

Full details of our course brochure can be viewed under the ‘download section’ on the right of the page.

Residential Options

For students who wish to stay overnight, we offer highly competitive rates on a full board basis – providing students with a study-bedroom and all meals on site. Students don’t have to spend any time travelling to and from courses and can focus solely on their learning.

Our accommodation rates compare very favourably to hotel costs enabling us to maximise the value of investment on professional development. The rooms come as either a shared room, a single room or our recently refurbished premium en-suite rooms.

Students staying on site also provides opportunities to network with like minded people, often developing into informal study groups that support and help one another. Taking advantage of the residential facilities is an efficient use of time and money by utilising time for private study and avoiding the distractions and demands of commuting and day to day chores.

The premium rooms come with en-suite as standard and with a range of single, double or king-sized beds. We advise booking early to avoid disappointment as en-suite rooms are limited.

Residential fees start from £48/night on a full board basis. Accommodation can be booked when enrolling on the course.

View details on our residential facilities.

Pass Rates

Reed Business School is an approved Learning provider with ICAEW

We are the only accountancy tuition provider who openly publishes all exam results, providing a transparent and detailed breakdown of results achieved by students attending our ICAEW courses.
See here for our most recent pass rates

Details of our historic pass rates and prize winners can be viewed on this page

Useful ICAEW information

As an ICAEW student, you will have login access to the ICAEW website.

 

 



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Other courses of interest

ICAEW ACA Retake courses

Students often find a different approach to their previous studies helps them secure a pass at their next attempt. We offer a combination of revision courses and dedicated retake courses with one to one reviews and practice questions marked by your tutor.

ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business

The ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) is an internationally recognised certificate that provides essential knowledge in business, finance and accounting. It requires candidates to pass 6 computer based assessment exams and is a qualification in its own right. It also serves as the starting point to progress to the ACA qualification.

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ICAEW

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