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Student Insights

Staying on top: 10 things for your checklist

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 03 Nov 2022

ICAEW Students end of year young woman glasses studying making notes

Calling all ACA students. Keep your training on track and make the most of your student experience with our handy checklist.

1. Complete the Ethics Learning Programme

You must complete the Ethics Learning Programme within the first 12 months of your studies. Accessed through your online training file, it consists of six learning modules, with practice questions and progress tests at the end of each. Once you have completed all six modules, you’ll need to pass the final assessment with a score of at least 70% – this is a mandatory part of your training.

2. Book your six-monthly review

It is your responsibility to book in your six-monthly review meetings with your Qualified Person Responsible for Training (QPRT), counsellor or principal, and set the agenda. Each review should cover the four sections of your training file: work experience, professional development skills (for those following the ICAEW professional development ladders), ethics and exams, plus audit qualification days where relevant. Make sure you’ve prepared your skills examples and Ethics in Practice scenario notes in advance. At the end of the meeting, you should be clear about what your areas of focus are for the next six months – and have the next review in the diary.

3. Climb the skills ladders

Over the course of your training, you’re required to demonstrate competence across seven professional skills areas, or ladders (if you’re following the ICAEW path). Each ladder has six to eight steps, making a total of 52 skills – and you’ll need to provide specific examples from your day-to-day work experience to show how you have met each of them. Get into the habit of spending 30 minutes a month thinking back over the skills you’ve demonstrated in the past four weeks and adding them to your online training file. It’s much easier to keep track of examples as they happen, so if you’ve just finished a new project or a new client, make a note of it while it’s fresh in your mind.

4. Update your online training file

As a minimum, you should update your training file every six months. It’s most efficient to do it during your six-monthly review meetings; that way, you can summarise the feedback from your QPRT, counsellor or principal ‘live’ and get them to approve it. If you don’t have the chance to update everything during the meeting, do it as soon as practically possible afterwards. Again, remember it is your responsibility to update your online training file – your employer doesn’t have write access. Watch our helpful video series.

5. Log practical work experience days

During your six-monthly reviews, your QPRT, counsellor or principal will also verbally approve your number of practical work experience days so you can add them to your online training file. You must complete at least 450 days of relevant work experience over the minimum 36 months of your training. Get into the habit of recording it from day one, keeping a note of your days in a spreadsheet, diary or your employer’s timesheet system. Each day is the equivalent of seven hours of relevant work of a financial commercial or business nature, either at your primary Approved Training Employer (ATE), or on secondment at a secondary ATE or unauthorised employer.

6. Check the 2023 exam dates

Certificate Level exams can be booked and sat at any time. Professional and Advanced Level exams need to be booked during the booking windows - make sure you know these dates. Exam centre places can be limited so it’s essential to plan ahead if you prefer to sit in a centre. Remember you can choose to sit via remote invigilation too. Booking window usually open around six weeks before the exam session for Professional and Advanced Levels. You’ll find all the UK ACA dates and deadlines, as well as on the ACA planner. It’s also a good idea to bookmark the dedicated exam system status page to keep up to date with any last-minute changes that may affect you.

7. Register as a Level 7 student

If you’re studying as a Level 7 apprentice, make sure you’ve registered correctly. In your ICAEW online training file, you need to select the Level 7 student classification, and enter your unique learner number (ULN) and employer reference number (ERN) if you haven’t already – your training provider and employer will be able to give you these. If you don’t register correctly, you won’t be able to apply for your end-point assessment, which involves sitting the final ACA Advanced Level Case Study exam and submitting your Project Report.

8. Join a student society

When you start your ACA training, you are automatically assigned to your local student society. It’s a great way to meet others in your area who are going through the same experience, particularly for those in smaller firms who may not have lots of fellow trainees. Each society runs its own programme of regular events, and provides lots of opportunities for networking, professional development, support – and, of course, socialising. Get involved with your local student society.

9. Check out your benefits

As an ACA student, you have access to a whole range of resources, services and discounts. Brush up your skills with free webinars and online courses or take advantage of free counselling and professional development support from caba.

10. Follow us

Stay up to date with the latest news, articles and support on social media: follow us on Instagram and Facebook. And don’t forget our Student Support team is always on hand to help with any questions you may have.

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