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Student Insights

Top tips from tutors

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 19 Apr 2023

Magnifying glass on paper

ACA tutors from around the world attended the Tutor Conference this year.

The Tutor Conference is an opportunity for Partners in Learning to attend a workshop for each of the Professional and Advanced Level exams. The workshops are run and led by examiners who write and mark the exams. This provides a unique opportunity to those who attend have their questions answered and also get valuable insight into how the exams are marked, what makes a successful script and what would constitute as a fail. 

The tutors also get to hear from the team at ICAEW on future developments to ICAEW qualifications which include the syllabus and the learning materials. 

Your tutors are then equipped with top tips and insight and are able to share these through delivering their courses and teaching. 

Below are some of the top tips for each Professional and Advanced Level exam from tutors. 

Professional Level

Audit and Assurance

Make sure that you focus your answer on the specific scenario the examiner has provided and do not just regurgitate content from the Workbook.

Financial Accounting and Reporting

Make sure that you understand the technical concepts rather than just memorising proforma calculations or ‘steps’, as this will enable you to answer the explain questions and deal with computational questions which require extracts. 

Financial Management

Students should not assume some areas of the syllabus are fringe/marginal just because they are examined less frequently. Spreadsheet entries must be copied into the word processing area with adequate workings provided.

Tax Compliance

The syllabus is vast, so break it down into smaller topics to make your exam preparation more manageable. Identify what content is available in the permitted text to reduce the amount you need to memorise.

Business Planning: Taxation

Try to identify all the taxes relevant to the scenario. The key to scoring well is identifying all the issues, not getting the detailed calculations correct.

Business Planning: Banking

Prepare properly for the Ethics element of the exam. Many students treat this as an “easy” element because there are no calculations, but there is a skill to this aspect as with all elements of the exam. The examiners are looking for specific qualities in the candidate’s response, such as the ability to take a measured, balanced approach.

Business Planning: Insurance

Get to know and practice with the question bank early in your revision and preparation. Focus on writing less, but be concise.

Business Strategy and Technology 

Spreadsheet skills have been a weakness for Business Strategy and Technology students in recent sittings. It is increasingly important for students to be aware of how to use the functions available to them in the exam software, to be able to crunch granular data. 

Advanced Level

Corporate Reporting

Make sure that you focus your answer on the specific scenario the examiner has provided and do not just regurgitate content from the Workbook. For audit procedures, use a strong active verb (recalculate/inspect rather than check/ensure), consider the reliability of the source of the evidence you are using and which assertion the procedure supports. When redrafting financial statements, make sure that you flow through any P&L/OCI adjustments into equity.  

Strategic Business Management 

Sustainability is not just about the environmental aspects, so you should also consider social and governance elements. Be prepared for potential sustainability conflicts – between different aspects, or between the short and long-term.

Case Study

Exam technique is crucial to passing this exam so optimising your exam technique through use of past exams and mock exams on your case study business is the key.

Resources available

Discover the range of exam resources available to support your studies. Read more articles, including our exam guides to hear more top tips from Tutors over on the Student Insights hub.