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Student Insights

Exam highs and lows – Advanced Level

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 01 Apr 2022

Exams main
Left: Fay Bartlett, audit senior, PEM Accountants, Cambridge
Right: Jasmine Cheong, audit associate, EY Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

In the third and final of our series of round tables, two ACA students share their experiences of studying for and sitting their Advanced Level exams.

Fay: For me, it was the opportunities it gives you. Once you’ve got the ACA under your belt, you can go off and do so many different things. I work in audit, and I see people doing a variety of things every single day.

Jasmine: It’s pretty similar for me, because I feel it’s a very holistic programme. It doesn’t limit you to just doing audit – I’m also in audit, specifically for banking and finance, but you can see how the ICAEW qualification will benefit you no matter what career you choose.

Fay: I started straight out of school. I joined Grant Thornton in Cambridge when I was 18, and started studying for the AAT. The Level 4 AAT qualification gave me exemptions for the ACA Certificate Level, so then I moved on to the Professional and Advanced Levels. I’ve got two exams left out of 25 in total, so the end is coming! I sat Strategic Business Management in November, so I just have Corporate Reporting and the Case Study to go, which I’m planning to take in July and November.

Jasmine: I’m currently working at EY Malaysia, and I also have two Advanced Level exams left. I sat Corporate Reporting in November but I failed, so I will take that one again in July.

Fay: It’s definitely a step up, not so much the learning, but how the exams are structured – it’s a more practical approach. With Strategic Business Management, for example, there are only two questions, but you have to go into much more depth. The most challenging thing for me was not knowing how the marks were split across the different points in the question.

Jasmine: I agree. For me, it was certainly a step up. I think one of the biggest differences is that for the Advanced Level, we integrate and apply knowledge that we’ve gained throughout the Professional Level – and that’s actually quite difficult. As Fay said, I also had the same struggle to figure out which points I should be spending more time on to get more marks.

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