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Computer-based exams: guidance and support

Computer-based exams, at the ACA Professional and Advanced Levels, are being introduced over a two-year period from March 2017. Audit and Assurance and Tax Compliance will be the first to move to computer at this time.

You will continue to study, practise questions and prepare for computer-based exams as you currently do for ACA exams, although it is essential that you also become familiar with the new computer-based exam software in advance of the exam.

Your guidance and support

The new exam software has all the essential functions that you need during an exam, and you will already be familiar with most of them. We have conducted extensive student testing on the new computer-based exam system and we are confident that the software contains all the functionality that you will require to complete your exams. A live pilot was also held at the September and December 2016 Professional Level exam sessions when a group of students took their Audit and Assurance and Tax Compliance exams on computer. The results were directly comparable to students taking the same exam on paper.

To help you become familiar with the new computer-based exam platform in advance of your exam, the following guidance and support is available.

Please note that it is recommended that you clear the cache in your browser before opening any of the practice content.

Exam guide

The Professional Level computer-based exam guide provides information on what to expect on the day of the exam, how to navigate through the software and key functionality within the software.

Webinars

A series of short webinars are available for you to watch on-demand before your exam. They provide an overview of what to expect on the day of your exam.

  1. Introducing computer-based exams
  2. Overview of the computer-based exam software
  3. The exam experience from start to finish
  4. Overview of the guidance and support available
  5. Computer-based exams top tips
  6. Computer-based exams question banks

Practise the exam questions

Sample exams

Sample exams for all Professional Level exams moving to computer are available with a blank version of the computer-based exam software, so you can practise answering questions as you would in the actual exam. You can also view the illustrative answers from our examiners and guidance on exam technique. Please note that these illustrative answers are based on the marks plan produced by the examiners, and therefore contain content that exceeds 100 marks. The illustrative answers should therefore be used to gain an understanding on how computer-based responses should be set out. A key learning point is that the answers should be clearly laid out, with all workings shown and referenced, but that excessive formatting is not required.

Question banks

We have provided the questions from the ICAEW published question banks to view within the new computer-based exam software. You will be able to access the question banks by visiting the exam resources web pages for each of the computer-based exams:

The question banks enable you to practise exam-standard questions within the new exam software. You will also be able to save, export or print your answers.

Instructions to candidates

You should familiarise yourself with the Instructions to Candidates before the day of the exam. This document sets out and describes all the processes and procedures of a Professional Level computer-based exam.

How to export your practice answers

The exam software now has the functionality to export your practice answers, which can be saved and/or printed.

You can export your practice answers in two ways:

  1. Click on the ‘Export’ button
    Select the ‘Export’ icon at any time to export your practice answer into a HTML file. It will appear in a new tab within the browser you are using. You can then save your practice answer or print it. Please note that you will need to use one the of the browsers listed below.
  2. Select the ‘Finish’ button
    Click on the ‘Finish’ button to download your practice exam into a HTML file. It will appear in a new tab within the browser you are using. You can then save your practice answer or print it.

Supported browsers

To save practice answers, the following browsers must be used:

Please note that these functions are new and were added to the practice exam software in January 2017. Therefore, the computer-based support and guidance available on this page will be updated in due course to reflect this new functionality.

More information

Exam venues

Computer-based exams will take place at specialist computer-based exam venues. These venues are available across the UK and in specific approved international locations.

New preferred suppliers for the delivery of computer-based exams have been selected, they are BTL, for venues in the UK, and the British Council, for international venues. We have worked closely with our new suppliers to ensure that exam venues are available for you to access in similar locations to paper-based exam centres.

Booking your exam

You will continue to book a Professional and/or Advanced Level exam via your online training file. When you apply, you will be asked to enter a town, postcode or country as your preferred location. The five closest exam centres with availability will appear so you can select the centre where you want to sit your exam.

If an exam centre does not appear within the list, it means that this exam centre is fully booked, so be sure to book your exam early. If you have access arrangements, the centres that meet your specific arrangements will be displayed.

Access arrangements

If you have already applied and have been awarded access arrangements for the Audit and Assurance and/or Tax Compliance exams, we will contact you to confirm your access arrangements before the exam moves to computer.

From 2017, the deadline to apply for access arrangements will be the same date as the exam application deadline.

If you have access arrangements already in place that are not due to expire, you do not need to reapply when you book an exam that is moving to computer. If you do not have access arrangements for any of the Professional or Advanced Level exams but feel you may need them once they move to computer, or you haven’t taken an exam in two years, please get in touch, email us at aa@icaew.com.

If you have access arrangements for any of the other Professional and/or Advanced Level exams, we will contact you before they move to computer.

Key dates

2017

March Professional Level exam sitting with the first computer-based exams for Tax Compliance and Audit and Assurance.
September Professional Level exam sitting with the first computer-based exams for Financial Accounting and Reporting and Financial Management.

2018

March Professional Level exam sitting with the first computer-based exams for Business Planning and Business Strategy.
November First computer-based exam sitting for the Advanced Level.

Have a question?

If you have a question, please get in touch. Contact our student support team, call us on +44 (0)1908 248 250, email studentsupport@icaew.com or speak to an adviser by clicking on the live web chat box on this page.