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Computer-based exams

The introduction of computer-based exams, at the ACA Professional and Advanced Levels, is being implemented in stages across a two-year period. With all Professional Level exams now taken on a computer format, the process will be completed with the transition of the Case Study exam to computer in July 2019.

Students will continue to study, practice questions and prepare for these exams as they do currently. The only difference is the way students will enter their answers to the exam questions that are presented. Computer-based exam support and guidance is available to view online.

The introduction of computer-based exams, has not affected the ACA syllabus, which receives annual updates as normal. 

Computer-based exam introduction: 

On the day of the exam, each student will arrive at their chosen exam centre and they will be allocated a desk with a computer. The exam will already be loaded onto the computer and will be ready for the exam to begin when instructed.

Students can take their own pen into the exam and use the paper provided to make notes during the exam. Notes will not be handed in or marked - students will be expected to show all workings as part of their response on screen. When the exam begins, students will see the exam questions on their computer screen. They will answer each question by entering narrative and/or calculations within the response area on screen. We have provided students with guidance so they can become familiar with the new exam software before the day of the exam.

The exam questions continue to contain both structured and unstructured detail in scenarios that students have to read, assimilate and understand. The information will be presented in a business context, with varying technical complexity. Information may need to be assimilated from various sources within the question.

Navigation within the exam is easy to follow and students are able to complete questions in their order of choice. As a student responds to a question, the exam software automatically saves as they navigate through each question. Students can also flag questions, so they can go back or review answers. 

At the top of the computer screen, a timer will count down the exam time. And at the end of the exam, the student’s responses is automatically sent to our examiners to mark. 

Computer-based exam software

On the day of the exam, students will follow the log in process guided by the invigilator and when advised, start the exam. When the exam has started, they will see the response area below. 

This is the response area where students will input their answer to each exam question. The response area has the essential functions that students will need during the exam. Students will initially view the exam questions by clicking on ‘Question’. They will then input their answer into the response area. There will be a response area for each question. Students will navigate between questions and the response areas by selecting ‘Back’ and ‘Next’. They can also select ‘Flag’ if they want to highlight questions that they wish to review or go back to.

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Exam question: when students click on the ‘Question’ button, the question will appear on screen. To help students assimilate the question content, they will be able to highlight the question and add on-screen notes.

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View the exam question: students can view the exam question and their response area at the same time. This screenshot shows the question on screen allowing the student to enter their answer while still viewing the relevant question content.

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Add a narrative and calculation response: if the exam question requires a written and numeric response, students can input their answer within the same response area as shown in this screenshot. To add narrative, students simply select the icon which appears to the right hand side when a cell in column A is selected. As students input their answers, the size of the box will automatically grow without any further formatting.  

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