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Frequently asked questions about ICAEW CFAB

Frequently asked questions about the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB).

General queries about the ICAEW CFAB qualification

Can I call myself a chartered accountant and/or a member of ICAEW when I complete ICAEW CFAB?
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No. Completing the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business will not enable you to use the chartered accountant status and it does not entitle you to classify yourself as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and it does not provide you with any ICAEW membership rights. ICAEW membership is only available to those who have passed the  ACA qualification in its entirety. ICAEW treats any misuse as a serious offense.

What will I learn?
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Having a good understanding of how a business really works is highly valued in any organisation around the world. So, ICAEW CFAB will teach you essential knowledge and practical skills in three key areas: finance, accounting and business. There are six modules: Accounting, Law, Business and Finance, Principles of Taxation, Management Information plus Assurance.

These six modules are also the same six modules as the first level of our world-leading chartered accountancy qualification, the ACA. So, you could study for ICAEW CFAB as part of your journey towards the ACA. Learn more about the ACA

Is ICAEW CFAB an entry route to chartered accountancy?
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ICAEW CFAB is a stand-alone certificate-level qualification. It consists of the same six exam modules as the first level of our world-leading chartered accountancy qualification, the ACA

This means that ICAEW CFAB can be a stepping stone on your journey towards gaining the ACA qualification.

Having a good understanding of finance, accounting and business are key skills that many employers will demand for any role and in any organisation. If you want to continue your studies towards chartered accountancy, then showing an employer that you have some of the skills and knowledge they are looking for, can help you get ahead in the job market. 

How difficult is ICAEW CFAB?
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There are no age limits or academic entry criteria required to start studying for ICAEW CFAB. In terms of difficulty, ICAEW CFAB is about the same difficulty as Year 1 of a university degree. UK NARIC (the UK government's agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills) recently completed an independent review of the academic level of ICAEW CFAB and the ACA. The review was to determine how the qualifications compare to the national education system using benchmarks such as the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). UK NARIC concluded that ICAEW CFAB was comparable to RQF Level 4 (first year university) and the ACA was comparable to RQF Level 7 (UK Master's degree/ postgraduate diploma standard).

What order should I do the modules in
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With ICAEW CFAB, you can choose to study the modules in any order and at any time that suits you. There is no set order or sequence you must follow. It is 100% up to you.  

Having said that, if you have no previous experience of finance or accounting, then it may be easier for you to start with one of the less complicated modules such as the Business and Finance module or the Law module. Some of the modules such as Accounting are much more technically complex and some students can feel very time-pressured in this exam because it is a slightly different format to the other modules. However, it is totally up to you to decide which order you prefer.

If I only want to sit one or two modules, can I do this?
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Yes. You can choose to complete only the modules that are relevant to your role or to give you a general understanding of a specific area. We will send you a certificate for each module you sit/pass. However, to gain the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business you must have completed (or gained credit against) all six modules.  

Once you have passed all modules, ICAEW will send you a formal certificate of achievement.  You cannot declare that you have gained the ICAEW CFAB qualification or are an ICAEW CFAB holder if you do not possess the formal certificate of achievement from ICAEW. 

ICAEW takes any misuse as a serious offence.

How much does ICAEW CFAB cost?
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There is a one-off registration fee for ICAEW CFAB of £165 (+VAT where applicable). There are six modules and each computer-based assessment exam costs £70 per attempt. The learning materials are available from Gillards at a cost of £30 per subject. If you decide to register for tuition, your costs will depend on your location, tuition provider and method of study. If you study ICAEW CFAB through a tuition provider, the cost of learning materials is normally included within the cost of their tuition fees. The exams must be sat at an approved exam centre, so please make sure there is an approved exam centre near you before you commit to studying for ICAEW CFAB. Check ICAEW approved exam test centres or through the Pearson Vue network.

Registration fee  £165 (+ VAT) - one-off cost
Computer-based exam £70 per attempt
Learning materials £30 per subject
Tuition Cost varies by tuition provider, location and chosen study option 
How long does it take to complete?
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The ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) is achievable in 12 months depending on your existing commitments, your chosen method of study and whether you are eligible for credit for prior learning. However, you can also choose to take longer and go at a slower pace. There are no fixed exam dates and there is no time limit in which to complete the programme, but you are limited to a maximum of four attempts at each assessment exam. If your employer is financially contributing to your ICAEW CFAB studies, they may choose to allow you fewer attempts and may require you to complete ICAEW CFAB within a set time. This would be up to each employer to decide. 

Registering for ICAEW CFAB

How can I enrol as an ICAEW CFAB student?
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To enrol as an ICAEW CFAB student, simply complete the registration process and provide the information and payment details requested. There is a one-off registration fee of £165 (+VAT where applicable). Once registered, you will be given an ICAEW student number and website login. Please keep this information safe as you will need both of these to book your exams, access the study support resources and to access your exam results. If you are eligible for any exam exemptions (credit for prior learning), you can apply for this when you register.

Study for ICAEW CFAB

Where/how can I study ICAEW CFAB?
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You can study for the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business in many countries around the world. Each ICAEW CFAB module is examined by computer-based exam. You will need to sit these exams at an ICAEW approved exam test centres or through the Pearson Vue network. You should make sure there is an examination test centre near you before registering as a student.

If there is no approved test centre near you, or you are enable to travel to your nearest approved exam centre, then you will need to decide if studying for ICAEW CFAB is the right choice for you.

How can I study for ICAEW CFAB?
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There are various study options for ICAEW CFAB:

  • Classroom tuition: delivered in a classroom by experienced tutors. Face-to-face learning provides the opportunity to ask questions and network with other students.
  • Online learning: if you are unable to attend classes, then online learning could be ideal for you. Online learning will usually involve a mix of tutor sessions and self-study support. Tutor sessions could be delivered in a number of ways including recorded or live online tutorials.
  • Self-study: you can study for ICAEW CFAB on your own. Simply purchase the learning materials and study independently.
  • Blended learning: choose the learning option you prefer on a module-by-module basis, depending on the level of support you feel you need.

Find a tuition provider near you

Please note: some options may not be available in all countries. 

Credit for prior learning / exemptions

How many credits are available at ICAEW CFAB?
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Credit for prior learning (CPL) - you may know this as exam credit or exam exemption - is available to those who are studying for, or have studied relevant qualifications (eg, certain degrees with business, accounting or finance components). There are a maximum of five credits available at ICAEW CFAB.

There is no exam credit available at the Accounting module. All students must complete the Accounting module. The only exception is for AAT qualified individuals who have also passed the ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up module or university students who have passed the ACA Financial Accounting and Reporting module or who passed the previous ACA Financial Accounting module

Please note that if your employer is financially contributing to your studies, they may require you to sit ICAEW CFAB modules even if you are eligible for credit. You would need to check with your employer if they are happy for you to apply for credit for prior learning (CPL).

Why can’t I get exam credit for the Accounting exam?
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Credit for prior learning is not available at the Accounting module at ICAEW CFAB. It is a compulsory module for all students – even if you have previously studied accounting in your degree or through another professional qualification. The only exception is for AAT qualified individuals who have also passed the ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up module or university students who have passed the ACA Financial Accounting and Reporting module or who passed the previous ACA Financial Accounting module. No other type of student is eligible for credit at the ICAEW CFAB Accounting module.

As the rules and regulations around accounting change so frequently, employers have told us that they want recruits to have the latest and most up-to-date Accounting knowledge possible. This is why the Accounting module is a compulsory module for all. Having the latest knowledge can help give you a competitive edge in the job market.

I am studying at university/college. My course has elements of business, finance and/or accounting. Am I eligible for credit on any ICAEW CFAB modules?
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Possibly, but it will depend on a variety of factors if you are eligible for credit for prior learning (CPL) for any ICAEW CFAB modules. This can include the content of
your course syllabus and learning outcomes, how you have been examined, what pass marks you have achieved etc. See full CPL eligibility.

Every year, there are students who study for the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business alongside their university degree/college studies. Many feel that it could help them in the job market as they will gain a professional certificate-level qualification at the same time as they gain their academic qualification.

You need to be registered with us as an ICAEW CFAB student before you can start your ICAEW CFAB studies or apply for any exam credit/exemptions.

I have already studied finance, business or accounting at college/university. Can I apply for credit for prior learning?
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Many degree courses have elements of taught finance, accounting and business as part of the syllabus that are a direct match to the ICAEW CFAB modules. If you have studied one of these courses you may be eligible to apply for credit for prior learning (CPL) against different modules. You should refer to our online credit for prior learning directory for more information.

I am a registered ACA student. Can I gain ICAEW CFAB too?
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Yes. You need to register as an ICAEW CFAB student. You can do this using your ACA student number and it will not affect your ACA student status in any way. You’ll need to pay the one-off ICAEW CFAB registration fee of £165 (+VAT).

If you gained your Accounting exam at ACA through exam exemption / credit for prior learning (CPL), then you will need to re-sit that exam (as an ICAEW CFAB student) in order to gain the ICAEW CFAB certificate as Accounting is compulsory for all ICAEW CFAB students.  

Our exam system will then automatically recognise that you have gained the six required modules needed for ICAEW CFAB (assuming as mentioned above you haven’t gained your Accounting module through CPL). We will then post your ICAEW CFAB qualification certificate to you.

International students

Can I study for ICAEW CFAB outside of the UK?
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The ICAEW CFAB exams are computer-based assessment exams. These exams must be taken at an ICAEW approved assessment test centres or through the Pearson Vue network, so it is important to check there is an examination centre near you before registering as a student. 

If there is no approved ICAEW CFAB exam centre near you, then you will need to decide if you are willing to travel to the nearest exam centre. If you are not able to travel to an approved exam centre, then you will need to decide if studying for ICAEW CFAB is the right choice for you.

Is ICAEW CFAB an internationally recognised programme?
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Yes, ICAEW CFAB is recognised internationally. Also, UK NARIC (the UK government's agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills) recently completed an independent review of the academic level of ICAEW CFAB and the ACA. The review was to determine how the qualifications compare to the national education system using benchmarks such as the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). UK NARIC concluded that ICAEW CFAB was comparable to RQF Level 4 (first year university) and the ACA was comparable to RQF Level 7 (UK Master's degree/ postgraduate diploma standard).

I'm an international student who has just finished/about to finish my degree course. Will ICAEW CFAB allow me to study in the UK on a student visa?
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No. ICAEW CFAB students are not eligible for a UK student visa.

Syllabus content

How many modules are there?
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The ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business has six modules: Business and Finance, Management Information, Accounting (Mandatory), Law, Assurance and Principles of Taxation.

You can see syllabus in the ICAEW Certificate in Finance Accounting and Business - brochure for students or ICAEW Certificate in Finance Accounting and Business - brochure for employers

What will I learn?
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ICAEW CFAB will teach you fundamental knowledge and practical skills in three key areas: finance, accounting and business. There are six modules: Accounting, Law, Business and Finance, Principles of Taxation, Management Information plus Assurance.

Why is the Accounting module compulsory/mandatory?
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Employers have told us that they prefer students to have a common level of understanding of the Accounting module and the most up-to-date knowledge of Accounting standards and regulations. Therefore credit for prior learning is not available for the Accounting module.
Do I still have to sit the Accounting module if I have passed the ACA Financial Accounting module, ACA Finance and Reporting module or ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up paper?
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No. Credit for the Accounting module is available to AAT qualified individuals who have passed the ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up module or university graduates who have passed the ACA Financial Accounting and Reporting module or who passed the previous ACA Financial Accounting module. Credit for the Accounting module is not available in any other circumstances.
What order do I need to take the modules in?
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There is no specific order that the modules and assessments must be completed. You can complete them in any order for maximum convenience. We will send you a certificate for each module you sit/pass.

ICAEW CFAB and the ACA

What is the difference between ICAEW CFAB and the ACA?
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ICAEW CFAB is the same syllabus content as the first six modules of our world-leading chartered accountancy qualification, the ACA. You can study ICAEW CFAB as a stand-alone qualification or as a possible stepping stone to the ACA qualification. Once you have passed the six ICAEW CFAB exam modules, you gain the ICAEW CFAB qualification certificate. This does not entitle you to ICAEW membership or confer any membership rights or allow you to refer to yourself as a chartered accountant.

To achieve the ACA qualification you need to be employed by an organisation that is an ICAEW authorised training employer. Your employer will provide an ACA training agreement and you will be required to pass the remaining ACA exams as well as complete the work experience and soft skills development requirements. Once you have passed all the required elements of the ACA and completed the ACA training agreement, you will be eligible to apply for ICAEW membership. Membership allows you to use the ACA designatory letters and to refer to yourself as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

I have already completed some modules of the ACA. Can I register for ICAEW CFAB?
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Yes, you can register for ICAEW CFAB but you need to successfully complete all six modules to be eligible for the certificate. There is a one-off registration fee of £165 + VAT where applicable to register as an ICAEW CFAB student.
I want to do the ACA after completing ICAEW CFAB. Do I need a training agreement? Would previous work experience count towards the ACA?
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In theory, you can continue to study for the remaining nine ACA exams on your own. However, the ACA is more than just exams and you cannot qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant or gain the ACA qualification without completing the required personal skills development and gaining a minimum of three to five years' work experience.

These can only be gained while you work for an organisation that is an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) and are supplied with an ACA training agreement by that employer. Therefore, the sooner you start an ACA training agreement the sooner you can start to gain practical work experience that counts towards the ACA.

Please remember, that you cannot qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant or gain the ACA qualification without completing all the required elements of the qualification.

Therefore, to continue your studies towards the ACA we strongly recommend that you obtain an ACA training agreement with an ICAEW authorised training employer as soon as possible after (or during) your ICAEW CFAB studies.

If you gain work experience as an ICAEW CFAB student within an organisation that is an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) then you may be eligible to apply for credit for work experience when you register as an ACA student. This could mean that any relevant work experience you gained during your ICAEW CFAB studies can count towards the work experience requirements of the ACA qualification.

However, if the work experience you gained as an ICAEW CFAB student was with an organisation that was not an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE), then you will not be able to count that experience towards the ACA work experience requirements. Please refer to the ACA training programme for more information.

I have failed one of my ACA knowledge/certificates level modules four times. Can I apply for ICAEW CFAB?
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No. ICAEW CFAB is made up of the same six modules as the first level of our chartered accountancy qualification, the ACA, and you are limited to four attempts of these assessment exams. So if you have already failed an ACA certificate (previously known as knowledge) level module four times, you have reached the maximum number of attempts that ICAEW regulations allow and you will not be allowed to continue as a student with ICAEW.

Exam assessment

Do I have to pass all modules to get the certificate?
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We will send you a certificate for each module you sit/pass. However, you need to have passed or gained credit against all six modules to gain the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) qualification certificate. If you have applied and gained credit for prior learning (also known as exam credit / exemptions) for a particular ICAEW CFAB module(s), you do not need to pass that module again because you have already demonstrated your knowledge of the subject matter.

However, if you are not eligible for any credit for prior learning (exemption) against any of the ICAEW CFAB modules, you must sit and pass all the modules to achieve the Certificate in Finance, accounting and Business.

Please note, if your employer is financially supporting your ICAEW CFAB studies, they may require you to sit and pass all the modules even if you are eligible for credit on a particular module. You should check with your employer if they are happy for you to apply for credit. 

How many attempts am I allowed at each assessment exam?
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ICAEW regulations allow a maximum of four attempts per module. However, if your employer is financially contributing to your studies, they can choose to allow you fewer attempts. You should check with your employer, how many attempts per module they will allow you. 

If you fail one of the ICAEW CFAB exam modules four times, then you will not be allowed to progress with your ICAEW CFAB studies or to progress on to the ACA qualification.

Do I get any designatory letters when I complete ICAEW?
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No. There are no designatory letters awarded for successful completion of the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business. Completing ICAEW CFAB does not entitle you to refer to yourself as an ICAEW member and it does not entitle you to any ICAEW member rights. ICAEW considers any misuse as a serious offense.

Do I get a certificate once I have successfully completed the exams?
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You will receive a certificate for each module you sit/pass. In addition to this, when you successfully complete the ICAEW CFAB programme, you will receive a final certificate of achievement from ICAEW - a world-leader of the accountancy and finance profession. This will be sent to you in the post within four weeks of completing your last exam.
Who receives my exam results?
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You are the only person who has access to your exam result(s). You can forward these to a third party (eg, your employer) from your online results page if you wish.
How do I register for an ICAEW CFAB exam?
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If you are studying with a tuition provider you may take your assessment at the end of the tuition period. This should be arranged directly with the tuition provider. Alternatively, you may also book assessments through Pearson Education.
When can I sit the ICAEW CFAB exams?
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The computer-based ICAEW CFAB assessment exams are available all year round - there are no fixed exam dates. You need to sit the exams at an ICAEW approved test centre. Most of the tuition provider venues are approved ICAEW assessment centres, and will offer exams to coincide with their training courses. Alternatively, you can book your assessment exam directly with your local Pearson Vue test centre.
Where are the assessment centres located?
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Pearson Vue has a large network of test centres in the UK and around the world. Most tuition providers venues are also ICAEW assessment centres.
How long is each exam?
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You are given 1.5 hours (90 minutes) to complete each ICAEW CFAB computer-based assessment exam.
Where can I practice the assessments?
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A practice assessment module is available to give you an idea of the style of what to expect in the actual assessment. You will find this is the study resources area which you will be able to access once you are registered as a student.

ICAEW CFAB learning materials also include questions which reflect the style and difficulty of the assessment questions, and you should always use the question banks in the learning materials for revision purposes