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AAT-ACA Fast Track FAQs

Frequently asked questions about AAT-ACA Fast Track.

What is the AAT-ACA Fast Track?
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This fast track programme allows individuals qualified with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) to continue to develop their skills and to train to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant in as little as three years. In addition, they may be eligible for credit for prior work experience. Studying for the ACA qualification involves four essential elements: exams, technical work experience (TWE), initial professional development (IPD) and structured training in ethics (STE).

There are up to five exam credits/exemptions available for AAT-ACA Fast Track students (depending on which AAT units you have completed). There is also an ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up paper in place of the full ACA Financial Accounting module.

AAT-ACA Fast Track students may also be eligible for up to 12 months credit for the technical work experience requirements of the ACA. This could mean you need to gain 300 days of technical work experience rather than the usual 450 days of technical work experience that is required for the ACA.

Is the AAT-ACA Fast Track available to non-AAT qualified staff?
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No. It is only available to those people who are AAT qualified and want to progress their career to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

Which exam exemptions (credit for prior learning) am I entitled to?
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Credit for prior learning or CPL (which you may also know as exemption) is available for some of the ACA Professional Stage exams. On the AAT-ACA Fast Track, there are up to five exam credits/exemptions available depending on which AAT units you have completed).

The five ACA exam modules for which credit may be available to you are:

  • Accounting
  • Business and Finance
  • Management Information

Credit for these ACA exam modules is available for completion of the AAT Level 4 Diploma in Accounting.

  • Assurance – credit is available for completion of AAT External Auditing at Level 4 Diploma in Accounting.
  • Principles of Taxation – you must have passed both AAT’s Preparing Business Taxation Computations and Preparing Personal Taxation Computations to be eligible for credit.

AAT-ACA Fast Track student are also eligible to sit an ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up paper in place of the full ACA Financial Accounting module.

If you pass this exam it counts as having completed and passed the main ACA Financial Accounting module. Please go to icaew.com/cpl and read the explanatory notes. The online CPL directory will allow you to see exactly which credits are available to you based of which AAT units you have completed.

What is the Financial Accounting Top-Up paper?
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If you have completed the AAT Level 4 Diploma in Accounting, you are also eligible to sit an ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up paper in place of the full ACA Financial Accounting module. If you pass this exam it counts as having completed and passed the main ACA Financial Accounting module.

The Top-Up exam is only available in the March, June and December exam sittings.

What is the cost to apply for credit for prior learning (CPL)?
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Please go to icaew.com/cpl for current costs for credit for prior learning/exemptions.

When (and how) do I apply for CPL?
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ICAEW regulations do not allow you to apply for credit for prior learning (exam exemption) on any ACA exam module that you may have previously attempted. You are therefore strongly advised to apply for any credit for which you may be entitled when you register as an ACA student.

For more information and questions/answers relating to CPL, see CPL FAQs.

To apply for CPL, go to icaew.com/cpl.

I am a qualified AAT. How do I know if I am eligible for the reduction to 300 days of technical work experience (TWE)?
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If you are going on to study the ACA with your current employer, and they are an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE), you can apply for credit for prior work experience (CPWE), where you can count up to 12 months of work experience gained with them. (Please note: your employer must have been an ICAEW authorised training employer for the full length of time for which you are claiming credit for prior work experience).

This will mean that you will then work towards 300 days of TWE when you start your ACA training agreement. If you are with another employer, and your previous employer, where you took your AAT was not an Authorised Training Employer, then you cannot claim for credit for prior work experience.

TWE for the ACA requires at least 450 days in total. So, in the example above, it assumes that the student will have gained at least 150 days of work experience as an AAT student during the period for which they are claiming credit for prior work experience.

I've studied AAT but my ACA training agreement is for three years. Can I still just complete 300 days TWE (technical work experience)?
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If you have not claimed for credit for prior work experience then you will need to complete the 450 days. A three year training agreement requires at least 450 days during the period of registration with ICAEW.

My ACA training agreement is a two year agreement. Should my evidence of technical work experience form (ETWE) include the dates of TWE from AAT, or should it just be the dates from ICAEW training?
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This will depend on whether you have applied for credit for prior work experience (CPWE). Your ETWE form includes a row at the top row which you must complete for any credited prior work experience (CPWE). This includes CPWE for AAT Fast-Track students.

I am on a three year training agreement, I am AAT qualified but have not applied for my prior work experience to be recognised. Is it too late to apply for this? And will my current training agreement need to change?
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If you are on a training agreement for three years, then you will not need to go back and apply for credit for prior work experience that you may have gained while doing AAT as you will be working towards your 450 days TWE.

If your experience was gained in an organisation that was not an ICAEW authorised training employer, then you will NOT be able to claim credit for prior work experience. If you were with an ICAEW authorised training employer, then they will need to agree with your employer the terms of your training agreement to take into account any previous work experience.

I am studying the ACA through the AAT-ACA Fast Track route. Can I use the two years of experience I gained while completing my AAT to count towards my initial professional development (IPD)? I am with the same employer that I completed the AAT under.
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Yes you can. AAT-ACA Fast Track students should start their IPD at the level of the framework most appropriate to their work experience to date. For the majority of AAT students this is likely to be stage two. However you will need to demonstrate your development to your employer and they will need to sign off your IPD up to the level that you have reached.