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ACA assessment regulations

ACA assessment regulations - Effective from 9 February 2016

1 Introduction

(a) This document provides the regulations for ICAEW Certificate Level, Professional Level and Advanced Level ACA assessments. These regulations supersede any previous versions.

(b) Please read these regulations in conjunction with the relevant pages on the ICAEW student website icaew.com/students, where you will find additional information and guidance.

2 The assessment structure

(a) This is referred to below as the ‘new structure’ as it relates to the version of the ACA qualification in operation from July 2013. The version of the ACA qualification in operation prior to this (between June 2007 and July 2013) is referred to below as the ‘old structure’.

(b) Certificate Level

  • (i) Business and Finance
  • (ii) Management Information
  • (iii) Accounting
  • (iv) Law
  • (v) Assurance
  • (vi) Principles of Taxation

These assesments are computer-based assessments (e-assessments) held at ICAEW approved centres

(c) Professional Level

  • (i) Business Strategy
  • (ii) Financial Management
  • (iii) Audit and Assurance
  • (iv) Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • (v) Tax Compliance
  • (vi) Business Planning:
           (a)    Business Planning: Taxation
           (b)    Business Planning: Banking
           (c)    Business Planning: Insurance

These assessments are paper-based assessments held at examination venues and are available at four sessions per year in March, June, September and December except for Business Planning: Banking and Business Planning: Insurance which are available in June, September and December.

(d) Advanced Level

  • (i) Corporate Reporting
  • (ii) Strategic Business Management
  • (iii) Case Study

These are paper-based assessments, sat in ICAEW examination venues at two sessions per year in July and November.

(e) Ethics Learning Programme

  • (i) Students must pass (or receive credit for) the online based test which forms part of the Ethics Learning Programme.

1 Students are required to pass one of the three Business Planning assessments.

 

3 Eligibility

(a) To sit the Certificate Level, Professional Level and Advanced Level assessments, an applicant must be registered as a student with ICAEW.

(b) Students may register with ICAEW:

For further information on entry requirements see the ACA entry routes.

(c) Registered students may attempt the Certificate Level, Professional Level and Advanced Level Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management assessments at any point.

(d) A student may not attempt the Case Study until they have attempted (or received credit for) all Certificate Level assessments, Professional Level assessments and the Advanced Level Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management assessments.

A student can sit all three Advanced Level assessments at the same session (irrespective of the sitting order of these papers in that session) and still comply with this rule.

(e) A student may not attempt the Case Study until they have completed all but their last year of approved training by the end of the month in which the assessment is held unless authorised to attempt the examination earlier by the Executive Director, Learning & Professional Development.

4 Number of attempts at the assessments

(a) Students are permitted four attempts at each Certificate Level and Professional Level assessment2with the exception of the Business Planning assessments.

(b) Students are permitted a combined maximum of four attempts across all three of the Business Planning assessments. An attempt at any Business Planning assessment will therefore count towards the maximum four attempts permitted at any Business Planning assessment.

(c) There is no restriction on the number of attempts at the Advanced Level assessments or the online based Ethics Learning Programme test.

(d) Students who fail a Business Planning assessment are permitted to retake any of the Business Planning assessments providing they have eligible attempts remaining at the Business Planning assessments.

(e) Students may not attempt an ACA assessment that they have already passed (or received credit against).

(f) Students may not attempt an alternative Business Planning assessment once they have passed (or received credit against) one of the Business Planning assessments.

(g) An assessment attempt is recorded when a student enters for and attends an individual assessment and has sight of the content of that assessment.

(h) When the following occurs it is not an attempt:

  • (i) the student enters for an assessment and is absent
  • (ii) the student enters for an assessment and withdraws prior to the assessment
  • (iii) an assessment cannot be completed and/or the result determined due to system failure or an exceptional event.

(i) Students will not be permitted, under any circumstances, to transfer assessment attempts from one assessment to another.

(j) Any student who does not pass a Certificate Level or Professional Level assessment within the permitted four attempts will be entitled to apply for a concession if they believe they have grounds to do so. See regulation 6 Concessions for further information.

(k)Students who have not attempted an examination for a period of three years or more will be removed from the student register. Individuals who have been removed from the register will be required to re-register in order to undertake any further examinations.

(l) Under the pre-2007 structure students must have completed all of the assessments within eight years from the date they registered as an independent student or from the first day of the training agreement (whichever was first).

(m) From 1 June 2007 to 1 March 2011, an attempt bar operated for students who had failed four attempts at any ACA assessment. Students who were attempt barred on any Advanced Level assessment between 1 June 2007 and 1 March 2011 may re-register for Advanced Level assessments.

1 References to the number of permitted examination attempts relate to ICAEW’s rules for the achievement of the qualification. They do not relate to the conditions set by individual employers for their students under a training agreement.

5 Transitional arrangements

(a) Students registering or sitting an assessment for the first time after 1 July 2013 must sit examinations under the new structure outlined in section 2.

(b) Any student taking their first ICAEW ACA assessment after 1 July 2013 in the new structure is defined as having started on the new structure. A student beginning on the new structure may not take assessments from the old structure.

(c) A student beginning on the old structure (taking their first assessment prior to 1 July 2013) may:

  • (i) retake any failed examinations under the old structure (where not attempt-barred and where sessions remain available);
  • (ii) sit any outstanding examinations under the old structure (where not attempt-barred and where sessions remain available);
  • (iii) sit the required examinations under the new structure (where not attempt-barred and where sessions remain available).

(d) Once a new structure paper is attempted a student may not revert back to the old structure equivalent.

(e) A student beginning on the old structure (taking their first assessment prior to 1 July 2013) must pass one of the Business Planning assessments if they did not pass either Business Reporting or Business Change under the old structure.

(f) A student beginning on the old structure (taking their first assessment prior to 1 July 2013) cannot attempt the Case Study unless:

  • (i) they have completed all but their last year of approved training by the end of the month in which the assessment is held and they have attempted all the Professional Stage and the Advanced Stage Technical Integration assessments (or new structure equivalents); or
  • (ii) they have attempted all the Professional Stage and the Advanced Stage Technical Integration assessments (or new structure equivalents) and
    they attempt the Case Study from July 2014 onwards.

(g) Students registering for the first time after 1 July 2013 must complete the online based Ethics Learning Programme test or accredited equivalent.

6 Concessions

(a) ICAEW may, in exceptional circumstances, vary or waive the conditions of eligibility for the assessments.

(b) A student can apply for a concession under the grounds that circumstances beyond their control prevent them from completing the assessments according to the regulations.

(c) A student who became attempt-barred after 1 July 2013 can make an application to the Committee for an additional examination attempt on the grounds that they have experienced exceptional circumstances.

(d) A student who became attempt-barred after 1 July 2013 can make an application to the Committee for an additional examination attempt on the grounds that they have experienced exceptional circumstances.

(e) All such applications must be made in writing to ICAEW and must be supported by medical or other appropriate evidence.

7 Credit for prior learning

(a) Students can apply for credit for Certificate Level and Professional Level assessments on the basis of prior learning experience(s).

(b) Applications for credit must be accompanied by the correct fee (details available on our website at icaew.com/students).

(c) Students may not apply for credit in any assessment that they have already attempted unless the student is eligible for credit of that assessment from an additional qualification they have gained since failing the assessment in question.

(d) Students must submit applications for credit at least 28 days before the closing date of the assessment session.

(e) For e-assessments, applicants must also allow 28 days for processing.

(f) Eligibility will be determined on application.

8 Assessment entry

(a) It is the responsibility of the student to enter for the assessment and adhere to any published closing dates for entry.

(b) Students may only enter assessments for which they are eligible.

(c) Late assessment entries are accepted at the discretion of ICAEW and may be subject to increased fees.

9 Assessment fees

(a) Assessment fees are listed on our website at icaew.com/students.

(b) Refunds are not normally given. Students absent from the paper-based assessments due to medical or other exceptional circumstances beyond their control may request a refund up to 28 days from the date of the assessment subject to submission of valid evidence.

(c) Refunds may be subject to an administrative charge.

10 Assessment Venues

(a) Students should arrive at assessment venues 30 minutes prior to the start of the assessment.

(b) Students will be assigned a seat.

  • (i) At an examination venue this will be by the unique candidate number assigned per assessment session.
  • (ii) At e-assessment centres this will be when the student arrives for the assessment.

(c) Students arriving late to a paper-based assessment will not be given additional time and their lateness will be reported to ICAEW.

11 Conduct

(a) Students may not leave the examination venue or e-assessment centre during an assessment and return unless accompanied by an invigilator.

(b) Within the United Kingdom, once an assessment has started, students may not leave the examination venue within the first and last 30 minutes.

(c) Students taking assessments outside the United Kingdom may not leave an examination venue once the assessment has started.

(d) Students must at all times follow the instructions of the invigilator. Failure to do so will be considered as misconduct.

(e) Students may bring food and drink to the examination venue for paper-based assessments only, provided that it will not cause a disturbance.

(f) Students must only use the paper provided in the examination venue. Material submitted on other paper will not be marked

(g) Students must stop writing or typing immediately when instructed by invigilators.

(h) All materials prohibited under regulation 13 must be placed with any bags away from the student’s desk and all mobile phones, smart phones, pagers, laptops, e-readers, tablets or any other device capable of transmitting, storing or receiving information must be turned off during an assessment.

(i) Students may not remove materials provided at the examination venue or e-assessment centre unless instructed otherwise.

(j) If a student is ill or suffers from any other circumstance that may affect performance during the assessment they should report this to the chief invigilator or e-assessment centre administrator.

12 Identification

(a) Each student will be required to show two forms of identification in the examination venue or e-assessment centre, at least one of which must contain an identifying photograph.

(b) The following are accepted as photographic identification:

  • (i) a current passport
  • (ii) company identification card containing photograph and signature
  • (iii) driving licence containing photograph and signature
  • (iv) a national identity document containing photograph and signature.

(c) The following are accepted as signature identification:

  • (i) a current passport
  • (ii) company identification card containing photograph and signature
  • (iii) driving licence containing photograph and signature
  • (iv) a national identity document containing photograph and signature
  • (v) another formal document or card, such as a debit/credit card.

(d) If a student does not currently hold adequate means of identification they must obtain it before the assessment.

13 Prohibited materials

(a) The following equipment is not permitted to be used by students during any assessment:

  • (i) mobile phones
  • (ii) smart phones
  • (iii) pagers
  • (iv) laptops
  • (v) e readers
  • (vi) tablets
  • (vii) any other devices capable of transmitting, storing or receiveing information whether internet connected or otherwise
  • (viii) electronic equipment capable of being programmed to hold alphabetical or numerical data and/or formulae or capable of automatically computing net present value (NPV) or internal rate of return (IRR) or any other functions as determined from time to time by the Committee.
  • (ix) non-permitted texts (see section 16, Permitted Texts)

14 Permitted materials

(a) Students are provided with appropriate writing paper for each paper-based assessment being taken.

(b) Assessment-specific materials are provided for each e-assessment at the assessment venue.

(c) For paper-based assessments all answers must be submitted in black ball point pen, which students must provide. ICAEW does not recommend use of correction fluid

(d) Calculators may be used in the examination venue for paper-based assessments. A financial or scientific calculator may be used, provided it is not in contravention with regulation 13(h). Calculators must be silent and non-mains operated.

(e) Calculators will be provided for e-assessments (on screen calculators are also provided)and only these calculators may be used during an e-assessment.

(f) ICAEW reserves the right to change, amend, remove or vary at any point the materials permitted in an assessment.

15 Liability

(a) ICAEW will not be liable for any loss, theft or personal damage to any items brought into or left outside of the examination venue or e-assessment centre. All personal items are brought at the owner's own risk.

16 Permitted texts

(a) Certificate Level

  • (i) There are no permitted texts for Certificate Level assessments. All necessary information will be provided on screen.

(b) Professional Level excluding Business Planning assessments

  • (i) Students may take certain publications only into the examination room. Publications change on an annual basis and the website should be checked at icaew.com for updated details
  • (ii) Texts may be annotated ONLY to the extent of underlining, sidelining and highlighting.
  • (iii) Page tabs may be used but must not be written on.
  • (iv) For each assessment students may take only one copy of any permitted text listed.
  • (v) Students may take an edition of the permitted text of a year other than the one listed (i.e. 2014 instead of 2013).
  • (vi) Assessments are set on the edition year listed and any student taking a different edition does so at their own risk.

(c) Advanced Level and Business Planning assessments

  • (i) There are no restrictions or recommendations on what texts a student may take into these assessments. Study manuals are permitted.
  • (ii) A student may not submit any pre-prepared material or, for example, annotated exhibits from the Case Study advance information with their answers. This material will not be marked by the examiners.

(d) Students are advised to see section 18 Misconduct for further information.

17 Access arrangements for examinations

(a) ICAEW complies with the Equality Act 2010 for assessment provision. Students are asked to notify ICAEW on registration so that their needs may be considered.

(b) Candidates are able to request alternative access due to short-term or long-term indispositions.

(c) Applications must meet the relevant deadlines as laid out in the Access Arrangements for Examinations policy.

(d) Students who have been granted access arrangements must inform ICAEW immediately if the circumstances related to their access arrangements change prior to the sitting of the examination in question.

(e) Students who are no longer eligible for access arrangements due to a change in their circumstances will be deemed to have committed misconduct should they continue to sit an examination under those access arrangements.

18 Misconduct

(a) Engaging in any activity which is in breach of these regulations, or deemed to breach the intent of these regulations, will be considered as misconduct.
Examples of this may include (but are not limited to):

  • (i) cheating i.e. failing to comply with the rules governing assessments or any instructions given by the invigilator 
  • (ii) colluding i.e. assisting another candidate to gain an advantage by any means, facilitating or receiving such assistance
  • (iii) fabricating i.e. misleading or attempting to mislead the examiners by presenting work for assessment in a way which intentionally or recklessly suggests that factual information has been collected which has not in fact been collected, or which falsifies factual information
  • (iv) personating i.e. acting, appearing, or producing work on behalf of another candidate in order to deceive the examiners, or soliciting another individual to act, appear or produce work on your own behalf
  • (v) plagiarising i.e. incorporating within your work, work (published or unpublished in whatever format or medium) created by another person without appropriate acknowledgement.
  • (vi) using any materials prohibited under regulation 13 during an assessment
  • (vii) disruptive conduct in the examination venue or e-assessment centre will also be treated as misconduct.
  • (viii) failing to comply with the ICAEW Instructions to Candidates document may be considered misconduct.

(b) Chief invigilators and administrators at e-assessment centres will report to ICAEW all cases of irregularity or misconduct at an assessment. They are empowered to stop the assessment of students who conduct themselves improperly.

(c) ICAEW reserves the right to contact a student's training office in relation to cases of misconduct.

(d) ICAEW will investigate any student suspected of involvement in any irregularity or misconduct. Where a case for misconduct is to be considered, the student will be notified and given opportunity to explain in writing the circumstances of the case.

(e) Where ICAEW believes a case of misconduct may exist this will be referred to ICAEW's Assessment Committee for investigation and potential disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may include setting the mark of an examination to zero, voiding the attempt or any other measure deemed appropriate by the Committee. Cases of misconduct may be referred to the Professional Conduct department and include additional disciplinary action.

(f) ICAEW reserves the right to withhold publication of the results of an assessment, and prevent further assessment attempts, of students suspected of having been involved in any irregularity or misconduct in connection with an assessment, pending the completion of investigations into the alleged irregularity or misconduct.

(g) Details of ICAEW appeals procedures are available on our website at icaew.com/students.

19 Results

(a) Results for e-assessments will normally be available 24 hours following completion of the e-assessment.

(b) Results for paper-based assessments will be available by letter, email, text message and on ICAEW student website.

(c) Details on timings are available at icaew.com/students.

(d) ICAEW offers marks feedback and marks review services for paper-based assessments.

(e) Scripts and assessment materials submitted remain the property of ICAEW and will not be returned to candidates. ICAEW retains the right to use scripts and submitted materials for training and feedback purposes.

20 Powers of variation

Subject to compliance with the Companies Act 2006 and appropriate consultation with the Financial Reporting Council, the Committee shall have the power to vary or waive the above regulations.