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Frequently asked questions about credit for prior learning, also known as exemptions.
  • How can I find out if I am eligible?

    First, you should check the online credit for prior learning directory. This gives you an instant view of which academic and professional qualifications are eligible for which credits. If your qualification is listed on the directory please ensure you meet all the criteria listed.

    Programme changes due to the COVID 19 pandemic may result in some university assessments not being eligible for CPL. Please check with your Institution before applying

    The CPL directory is not an exhaustive list. If you cannot find your qualification on the directory, or if you do not meet the criteria on the directory but still want to apply, please consider this carefully because if you choose to apply for CPL and your application is not awarded, you will not get your application fees refunded. You will need to complete an application form to apply for credits if your degree is not listed.

    It is your responsibility to apply for any credit to which you believe you are entitled. Early application is essential – we recommend that you apply for each or all credits before you start your studies. If you have sat an exam module, you will not be able to apply for CPL for that module. Applications take up to 14 days (from receipt of your completed application) to be assessed and processed.

    The date shown on the certificate and transcript for your academic qualification must have a year-end within 5 years of the year of your CPL application e.g. if you are applying in 2024 the transcript and certificate must be dated either 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 or 2024.

  • How do I know if I’m eligible for CPL for the Business Strategy and Technology and/or Financial Management module(s)?

    Please review the learning outcomes for these modules in the Application for Credit for Prior Learning – Graduates. You should ensure that the syllabus from the academic course you have studied covers a substantial proportion of the learning outcomes before you apply.

    We also require the courses used to support your CPL application to have equivalent assessment.  The ACA professional level modules are assessed by 2.5 hour written exam with an emphasis on using knowledge in a case study-type scenario. Essay style questions or multiple choice tests will not be deemed equivalent. For CPL purposes the exam element of the assessment for courses relevant to the ACA modules should be at least 50% of the total marks available. You must submit sample exam papers to support your CPL application.

  • How do I know if I’m eligible for CPL for the Business, Technology and Finance module?

    The Business, Technology and Finance module is a wide ranging syllabus, often CPL is awarded based on completion of the whole degree. Essentially what we are looking to identify is whether the degree programme has covered each of these key areas:

    • Business objectives and functions – business objectives, strategic plans, business plans etc.
    • Business and organisational structures (30%) - the differences between businesses carried out by sole traders, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, alliances and groups.
    • The role of finance (25%) - knowledge of how the accounting and finance function supports business.
    • Role of accountancy profession (15%) – the importance of financial reporting and assurance.
    • Governance, sustainability, corporate responsibility and ethics (15%) – includes knowledge of ethics, internal audit and the corporate governance code.
    • External environment (15%) – includes macroeconomics and microeconomics.
  • If I am eligible for credit for prior learning will I automatically receive it?
    • CPL is not awarded automatically. You need to apply for them and those students who are not eligible for a CPL fee waiver will need to pay for each module.
    • You may be eligible for credit for prior learning (CPL), but your employer may not want to recognise any credit. You should check with your employer before applying for credit.

    For full details and guidance on the full CPL application process, go to icaew.com/cpl.

  • I am an AAT student, what credit/exemptions can I get?
    • You are eligible for credit on up to five modules of the ACA Certificate Level depending on which AAT units you have completed. Go to the online ACA credit directory for more information.

    For all questions relating to the AAT-ACA Fast Track, see AAT-ACA Fast Track FAQs.

  • Do I need to register as an ACA student before I can apply for credit for prior learning/exemptions?

    Yes, you will need to register as a student before you can apply for CPL.

  • Can I sit an exam and apply for credit of that same module at a later date?

    No, once you have sat that exam, you cannot then apply for credit of that module.

  • Can I sit an exam while I am still applying for credit on a different exam module?

    Yes. Remember though, that it takes a minimum of 14 days from the date at which ICAEW receives all required information for your application to be assessed and awarded.

  • How much does it cost?

    For the relevant costs for credit for prior learning:

  • If I apply for credit for prior learning (CPL) but it is not awarded, do I get my money refunded?

    No. Application fees for CPL are non-refundable.

  • How, when and where do I apply?

    How: Most students can apply for credit for prior learning (CPL) online, for details and guidance on the CPL application process visit icaew.com/cpl.

    When: Once you have registered as an ACA student. You can apply for CPL at any time, however when you have sat an ACA module, you are unable to apply for CPL against this module. Applications take up to 14 days (from receipt of your completed application and supporting documentation) to be assessed and processed.

    Where: Please upload your supporting documents as part of the online CPL application process. Alternatively you may email us cpl@icaew.com, please quote your student number in all correspondence.

  • How long does it take to apply for CPL?

    We will assess and respond to your application (including all your supporting documents and evidence) within 14 days of receipt. If we need you to send in additional information, your application could take another 14 days from receipt of all required information on top of the original time to be fully assessed.

    You cannot claim credit for an exam that you have already attempted.

  • Can I check the progress of my CPL application?

    Yes. You can check the progress of your application at CPL application.

    • If your application status says applied, this means we have received your initial application. We may still be waiting to receive some of your supporting evidence.
    • If your application says pending we've received your application and supporting information but something more is needed. We will have emailed you telling you what this is.
    • If your application says declined then you have not met the criteria for credit in this subject.
    • If your application says awarded then you have been given credit in this subject.
  • What information on CPL can the student support helpline tell me?
    They can help with They are unable to help
    Talk through the CPL procedure Tell you which credits you will get if your qualification does not appear on the CPL directory
    Tell you costs Tell you if you supporting information was received if it was only posted within the previous five days
    Talk you through the credit for prior learning form
    Talk you through the credit for prior learning directory
    Talk you through the procedures for applying
  • Do I need all of the modules listed on the CPL Directory to claim CPL?

    Yes. If more than one module is listed you must have passed all modules listed with the required pass mark. Sometimes there may be alternatives listed, this is to take into account changes made to the accredited programme, therefore the relevant information will depend upon which year you studied e.g.:

    • A pass mark of 50% is required in all of the modules listed below:
      ACFI 301 Theory and Practice of Auditing


    • ACFI210 Audit and Assurance (For 2015 graduate onwards)

    Please call student support for assistance if you are unsure before you apply for CPL.

  • I have received exemptions for some of the modules required, can I still claim CPL?

    ICAEW policy is that we cannot award CPL based upon exemptions awarded by other professional bodies.

    We may, however, award CPL based upon the qualification that gave rise to the exemptions. For example If your ACCA transcript shows that you were exempt from some modules, if the exemptions were awarded for a relevant degree, we may award CPL based on the degree. You will be required to produce additional supporting documents in such instances and CPL fees may apply.

  • What supporting documents should I send with my CPL application

    Please do not send original documents to us, we cannot guarantee that they will be returned.

    If you are applying for CPL that is listed on the CPL Directory, we need evidence that shows you have completed the accredited programme and achieved the required pass mark in the listed modules. Please send scanned copies of your certificate and official transcript.

    In support of a CPL application where the qualification is not listed on the CPL Directory please provide scanned copies of the following documents:

    • Full syllabus details for each module listed on your application (a module specification document). This can be requested from your university or found online and is normally a two page document.
    • Copies of the final exam taken for each module listed on your application. This can be requested from your university, we only require the final exam and not a marking plan or model answer.
    • We do not require lecture notes, PowerPoint slides and in class quizzes. Providing documents that are not required slows down our processing times and will delay the update and outcomes of your application.
    • Please do not send drop box files, screen shots of documents and links to documents, we may have issues receiving and opening these files and cannot rely on screen shots as appropriate evidence.

    Documents should be uploaded as part of the online CPL application process, alternatively you may email us cpl@icaew.com please quote your student number in all correspondence.

Student support team

The student support team is here to help. We recommend that you contact us via our Live Chat or chatbot Mia first.