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ACA CTA Joint Programme: Level 7 apprenticeship FAQs

ICAEW and the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) have developed a joint programme which enables students to achieve both the ACA and the CTA in three to four years. The programme is a unique and efficient route for students who want to specialise in one of three areas in tax.

Level 7 Accountancy Professional apprenticeship

1. Can the Joint Programme be studied as part of the Level 7 apprenticeship?

Yes, the ACA CTA Joint Programme can be studied as part of the Level 7 apprenticeship.

The Level 7 Accountancy Professional apprenticeship is equivalent to a Master’s degree and takes 36 – 48 months to complete. As well as studying for the ACA and CTA qualifications, students will also develop additional knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the Level 7 apprenticeship standard throughout their apprenticeship. This is gained through a combination of off-the-job training and practical experience in the workplace.

2. What is the structure of the Level 7 apprenticeship?

Students are required to complete an on-programme assessment. For students on the Joint Programme, this comprises 13 of the 15 ACA modules (not Business Planning: Taxation or Case Study), and one of the three CTA specialist papers. Students are then required to complete an end-point assessment which consists of the final ACA module, the Case Study and a Project Report.

Once all elements of the apprenticeship have been successfully completed, the apprentice qualifies as an Accountancy Professional. Then, once all ACA requirements have been completed as well, the apprentice will become a fully qualified ICAEW Chartered Accountant. Once the CTA requirements have been successfully completed (which are a second CTA tax paper and a one-hour exam in Professional Responsibilities & Ethics, which are not part of the ICAEW Level 7 Apprenticeship) the fully qualified Chartered Tax Adviser designation can be attained.

3. In what order should students attempt their exams?

Please refer to the ACA CTA Joint Programme brochure for the recommended structure.

Note that any training delivered after the end-point assessment is not eligible for funding. Therefore, when following our recommended approach, the following CTA papers will not be eligible for funding: Professional Responsibilities & Ethics, and the second written CTA paper.

4. What is the funding band for the Level 7 apprenticeship?

The funding cap for the Level 7 apprenticeship is £21,000. This means that for levy-paying employers, this is the maximum amount that you can claim back from your ring-fenced levy pot per apprentice. For non-levy paying employers, the government will fund 90% of the apprenticeship costs so all you will have to pay is the remaining 10% (£2,100). Any costs in excess of £21,000 are payable by the employer.

5. What does the funding cover?

Funding can be put towards tuition fees, learning materials and fees incurred for the first attempt of the end-point assessment exams. Resits and exemption fees are not covered by the funding.

As neither the CTA nor the ACA are mandated qualifications for the Level 7 apprenticeship, funding cannot be drawn down for ICAEW or CIOT registration/annual fees, or exam fees for the on-programme assessment.

6. What is the difference between standard ACA-CTA training and the Level 7 apprenticeship?

While funding is only available for the apprenticeship route, there are many similarities between the apprenticeship and ‘traditional’ ACA-CTA training.

However, there are some additional requirements for the completion of the apprenticeship - see below. Students will also need to complete a Project Report as well as 20% off-the-job training.

7. In addition to the exams, what are the additional ACA and CTA requirements?

Students are required to complete ICAEW’s online Ethics Learning Programme, professional development skills and 450 days of practical work experience and in order to qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

To qualify as a Chartered Tax Advisor, students are required to demonstrate three years of relevant work experience.

8. How much tax work experience does a student need?

To gain the CTA qualification students need to demonstrate three years of relevant experience.

Students do not necessarily need experience of tax before they start the Joint Programme, but they will need ongoing involvement in tax to be able to complete the CTA work experience requirements and to complete the CTA exams. The Taxation of Major Corporates exam paper assumes that candidates will be in a tax role gaining practical experience of the taxation of major corporates. The Indirect Taxation route assumes that candidates will be in an indirect taxation role.

9. What does the Project Report involve?

As part of their end-point assessment, students must demonstrate the skills and behaviours they have acquired throughout their apprenticeship via a Project Report. Students are required to describe situations where they have shown competence in the required skills and behaviours and describe the lessons they have learnt that could be applied in the future. This usually focuses on the last 12 months of the apprenticeship.

10. What is 20% off-the-job training?

This is any learning that improves students’ professional development and is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment, but within normal working hours. This could include shadowing a colleague, listening to webinars or attending conferences, for example.


11. What are the entry requirements for apprentices?

There are no set entry requirements for the apprenticeship, however minimum entry requirements do apply for the ACA / ACA CTA Joint Programme. Please visit the relevant page. CTA students can join the Joint Programme as long as they have not completed the two CTA Advanced Technical Papers.

Additionally, the apprentice must have a Level 2 in English and Maths before they attempt the end-point assessment. Employers may wish to set additional entry criteria to suit their organisation.

12. Who is eligible for the Level 7 apprenticeship?

Age restrictions for apprentices have been relaxed, which means that the Level 7 apprenticeship is open to graduates and existing staff who might want to retrain, so long as it is deemed to be new learning.


Level 7 apprenticeship registration

How should students register?

Firstly, students should register with ICAEW as an ACA Level 7 student. An ACA student number is generated. Once they have this number, students can register with CIOT as a student on the ACA CTA joint programme.
Note that students will need to secure an ACA training agreement with an ICAEW authorised training provider to meet the work experiences requirements of the programme.

End point assessments

Which end-point assessment will Joint Programme Level 7 students complete?

Students on the ACA CTA Joint Programme should do the ICAEW end-point assessment.

CTA exams, exemptions and tuition

1. Credit for prior learning / exemptions?

A common question we get asked is: If a student has received credit for prior learning (CPL) / exam exemption for ICAEW’s Business Planning: Taxation exam as a result of passing the relevant CTA exam, are they able to complete the ACA qualification if they do not pass the remaining CTA exams?

The answer to this question is: Yes, a student can complete the ACA qualification as the CTA paper has been deemed equivalent to ICAEW’s Business Planning: Taxation.

2. Do the CTA exams need to be completed within the ICAEW training agreement term?
No, this is not a requirement.
3. Where is tuition available for the CTA exams?

For details on CTA tuition providers, please visit the Chartered Institute of Taxation's webpage on the matter:  

4. Are CTA exams computer based?
The CIOTs Professional Responsibilities & Ethics exam is a computer-based exam (CBE). As a student on the Joint Programme, the other CTA exams you are required to take are all written.
5. How long are the CTA exams?
The Professional Responsibilities & Ethics exam is one hour long. The other exams are all three hours long plus fifteen minutes reading time.
6. Are the CTA exams open book?

You are allowed to bring in bound copies of the legislation. The Chartered Institute of Taxation has published a list of the permitted texts. This will also be detailed in your candidate instructions.


7. Is there a time limit for completing the CTA exams within the Joint Programme qualification?

There is no time limit. Students have no limit on the number of attempts on the CTA examinations. A CTA exam credit for passing remains valid for the next seven sittings following the sitting at which the credit was obtained. Professional Responsibilities & Ethics passes remain valid for the next nine sittings.