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Professional and Advanced Level exam FAQs

All Professional and Advanced Level exams are computer-based, so getting to know the exam software in advance of your exam is crucial to success.


How to book an exam

How can I apply for an exam that is computer-based?

You can book your Professional and Advanced Level exams via your online training file. When you book your exam, you will enter a town, postcode or country and the closest venues, with availability, will be displayed. You will then select the centre you want to sit your exam.

It’s important that you book your exam before the exam booking deadline, no late bookings will be accepted after this date. View all key dates and deadlines by downloading the ACA planner

Can I apply for access arrangements?

Yes, if you are applying for access arrangements for the first time, you will need to submit an application for access arrangements online at my.icaew.com/examsonline

Please read our guidance documents for further information on the information required and deadlines. 

If I have access arrangements will I be able to apply online?

Yes, the exam application process will show the exam venues that are available to you based on any specific arrangements that have been awarded.

For more information on access arrangements, please read the Instructions to Candidates.

Late bookings

No exam bookings will be accepted once the exam booking deadline closes. Students, employers and tutors must ensure they are aware of and make a note of all exam dates and deadlines. 


What happens if there are no seats available at my chosen location?

When you apply for your exams, the venues that are shown during the exam booking process will be the closest venues to the location you have entered with available seats. Once a venue is filled to capacity, it will not be displayed on screen. Booking will work on a first come first serve basis.

On the day

Can I bring my own watch or clock into the exam?

Watches and desk clocks are not permitted in the exam room. The exam software has a built in timer that counts down the remaining exam time. In the practice software, there are no timers embedded in the software. Therefore, please ensure you time yourself when practising.

Can I have a paper copy of the exam?

No. The exam software has been designed to deliver the exams in a manner that reflects the work environment.

Can I take a calculator into the exam room?

Yes. For Professional and Advanced Level exams, you are allowed to take a calculator into the exam room. Your calculator cannot be pre-programmable nor have additional functions built in capable of automatically computing NPV or IRR. You may be asked to show that the memory within the calculator is empty. If you are unable to do so, you will not be allowed to use the calculator during your exam. It is therefore advisable to use a calculator without additional built in functions

Can I use earplugs if I am concerned about the noise in the exam room?

Yes, to avoid noise disturbance you are allowed to use earplugs or wear headphones during your exam. These must not be connected to any device. We do not provide earplugs or headphones, so you must bring your own.

During my exam

Do I still need to show workings for my calculations?

Yes, while the software provides the functionality required to support your computations, workings must still be shown in order to ensure that you get the full credit that you deserve. The sample answers illustrate how workings could be set out.

What if my keyboard does not have the required currency symbols?

Some keyboards may not have £, $ or € keys available. Please use abbreviations such as P / GBP for £, D / USD for $, and E / EUR for € to indicate a currency if this is required.

What should I do if I experience technical difficulties?

In the unlikely event that you encounter any technical difficulties, the invigilator will be able to provide support. You must make the invigilator aware as soon as possible, you will then be required to complete an invigilator report.

What will I see on screen during a computer-based exam

You will be able to view both the exam question and response area at the same time. If your exam includes exhibits, you can open these and drag, and re-size as required. The on-screen response area will enable you to enter narrative and/or numeric responses. Download the exam guide for more information on what you will see on screen, including the formatting buttons and key functionality with illustrative screenshots.

Will I be able to make notes during the exam?

Yes. You will be provided with a pen and paper to make notes. However, any notes you make will not be handed in or marked, so make sure you display all of your workings within the answer area.

Your answers must be visible and not hidden within cells, they will be presented to the examiner exactly as they appear on screen.

Will I be allowed to take permitted texts into the exam room?

Yes. You must take your own copy of the relevant permitted text into the exam room.

Will the computer equipment be different across exam centres?

All our exam centres must adhere to a set of guidelines (including minimum specifications for IT equipment). While screen sizes may vary, this will not affect the amount of content that is visible on screen – larger screens will just have more blank white space around the exam software.

Will the question window and response area be visible at the same time?

Yes, you can move and resize the question window to fit side by side with the response area.

Support and guidance

How can I access the practice software?

You can access the practice software via icaew.com/cbe and icaew.com/examresources. You can access webinars, online/offline question banks, the exam guide, sample exams and top tips. It is vital that you familiarise yourself with the software before you sit your exam.

What is the difference between the live and practice software?
  • The practice software is delivered in a browser and the live exam in a lockdown environment. This means that some windows specific functionality may differ such as shortcut keys. 
  • The practice software also allows you to export your answer into a PDF to be marked. During the live exam, the software will automatically save your answers to be marked.
  • There are no timers in the practice software, so please ensure you time yourself correctly when practising.
Will I need to learn new skills for the exam?

Alongside your usual exam preparation, you will need to become familiar with the exam software, you can prepare for the exam by completing this checklist:

  1. Read the exam guidance
    This guide is essential to help you to understand what to expect on the day, how to navigate within the software and key functionality.
  2. Review the sample exams with answers
    A sample exam with answers is available under each module at icaew.com/examresources. This allows you to review the suggested way to present your answers in the exam.
  3. Read the Instructions to Candidates
    The Instructions to Candidates contain important information regarding the administration of your ICAEW exams. Read them carefully so you know our processes and procedures before you attempt your exams
  4. .Watch the exam webinars
    A series of short webinars are available for you to watch on-demand.
  5. Use the practice software
    You must practise with the software in advance of your exam. Being unfamiliar with the functionality and formatting may cost you valuable time in the live exam.


Will the speed I type affect my performance in the exam?

We do expect a certain degree of IT literacy from students. We encourage you to use the practice software to ascertain whether any improvement in your typing skills is required.