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Frequently asked questions

Have a question on training ACA students? Click on the topic you’re looking for and you’ll be able to find answers to a host of frequently asked questions we get from employers.

Becoming authorised to train students 

Training roles in your organisation 

Training agreement 

  • Is a training agreement the same as an employment contract?

    No. In most countries, employment law requires your organisation to provide your employees with an employment contract. This is a different document and is separate to the training agreement. 

  • Can I extend a training agreement?

    Yes. Extensions can sometimes be required if, for example, a student is switching to a part-time contract or requires more time to meeting their training requirements. Agreements can be extended for up to a total of 60 months. However, please note, you do not need to extend a student’s training agreement for them to complete exams – exams are independent of the minimum three-year training agreement period. 

    Extensions up to three months can be made by the student via their online training file. 

    Extensions beyond three months require the employer to update the training agreement and advise us accordingly by completing the amendments to a training agreement form. 


Practical work experience 

Professional development 

Ethics and professional scepticism

Six-monthly reviews 

  • Do I need to hold six-monthly reviews?
    Yes. The six-monthly reviews are an integral part of ACA training. They allow you to assess the development and progress of your students and help to ensure each student is engaged and on track with receiving the knowledge, skills and experience they need to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. 
  • Who is responsible for arranging six-monthly reviews?
    It is your student’s responsibility to arrange a suitable time with you for each review. However, you should do everything you can to facilitate these meetings at regular intervals and facilitate a process for the reviews.
  • What do I need to discuss during a six-monthly review?

    You need to review and discuss all thee elements of ACA training at each review. This includes: 

    • Ethics and professional scepticism - you will need to discuss your students' ethical development, their progress through the Ethics Learning Programme and discuss at least one ICAEW Practising Ethics scenario and real-life ethical situation.  
    • Practical work experience – you need to review your student’s practical work experience within the last six months and agree the number of days completed. 
    • Professional development - review your student's progress through each of the seven ladders and confirm that you are happy that the examples provided adequately demonstrate the required skills. If you have an accredited professional development system in place, you will use your own appraisal records instead. 
    • Exams - review and discuss their progress and results so far, any re-sit plans and what elements they have found most relevant or interesting. 

    You may also want to use this time to discuss the areas your student would like to develop.  

  • How long should a six-monthly review last?
    Around 1 hour. 

Online training file 

Re-registration of students 

Audit Qualification  

  • Does my student have to complete the Audit Qualification as part of their training?
    No. Audit work experience is not a mandatory element of the ACA.  

    However, if you are a firm of registered auditors, it would be in your student's interest to record any audit experience they gain with you, as holding the Audit Qualification may help them in their future career. 
  • Who can sign off audit experience?
    A counsellor can sign off each six-month period of audit experience.  

    The qualified person responsible for training (QPRT) or person responsible for training (PRT) will be able to provide a final approval of a student's audit experience and sign off their completed online training file at the end of the students training agreement period. Authorised Training Principals can also provide a final sign off. 

    All approvers must hold a UK Audit Qualification and be registered in a training role. Within the training file only appropriately qualified and authorised people will appear in the drop down box as an option for sign off. 
  • Where can I find out more information about the Audit Qualification?
    Full information on the Audit Qualification is available at icaew.com/aq


  • Who can offer ICAEW apprenticeships?
    Currently, ICAEW apprenticeships are only available for organisations in England. 
  • How do I set an apprenticeship up?

    Setting up an ICAEW apprenticeship is a simple process: 

    • Create an apprenticeship service account on gov.uk to set up and approve apprenticeships, access and manage funding, approve training costs and more. 
    • Select a tuition provider. 
    • Recruit your apprentice. 

  • How does apprenticeship funding work and who can access it?

    All organisations in England, regardless of size or sector, can access government funding for apprenticeships.

    • Levy paying employers (organisations with a wage bill of more than £3m) can access their own levy funds to offer our apprenticeship training programmes.
    • Employers who do not pay into the apprenticeship levy can access funding via a government-employer co-investment. Non-levy paying employers make a 5% contribution and the government will pay the remaining 95% up to the funding cap. If you are a non-levy paying employer, with 50 employees or less, and the apprentice you are employing is age 16-21, the government will pay 100% of the cost of the apprenticeship.

    The funding cap is £8,000 for the Level 4 apprenticeship and £21,000 for the Level 7 Apprenticeship.  

    Training fees, learning materials and the end-point assessment are all covered under apprenticeship funding. 

  • Who can I offer apprenticeships to?
    Our apprenticeships are open to all individuals aged over 16 in England (including graduates and existing employees who want to retrain) as long as the apprenticeship is deemed as new learning. Your training provider will check the eligibility of your employees for funding.

ACA-CTA Joint Programme 

  • Can an employer offer the ACA CTA Joint Programme is and the ACA and CTA separately?
    Yes. Employers have the flexibility to choose whichever qualification they think is most suitable for their students. For example, the traditional route which requires students to study both qualifications individually is likely to suit students who have not yet made the decision to specialise in tax, or perhaps work in a firm where there is limited time available to study and sit exams. 

    The joint programme is popular with students who are either already working in a tax role or have ambitions to become a tax professional. 
  • Do the CTA exams need to be completed within the ACA training agreement?
    No, the CTA exams can be completed after an ACA training agreement has ended.  

    Students can apply for ICAEW membership once all elements of the ACA are completed, and then apply for membership of CIOT once all parts of the CTA qualification are completed. 
  • How do students register?
    Students must already be registered as ACA students before they can apply for the ACA CTA Joint Programme. 

    They will be asked to submit a copy of their ACA student registration confirmation email, with evidence of their student number, to CIOT. 

    Providing they meet these entry criteria, CIOT will then register them on to the programme.
  • How is the ACA CTA Joint Programme different?
    The traditional route would see a student complete all of the components of the ACA to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, before registering as a CTA student, completing the CTA qualification and applying for membership with the CIOT. 

    The ACA CTA Joint Programme enables students to study the ACA and CTA qualifications simultaneously, allowing employers to design training programmes according to their organisation’s needs. 

    The flexibility of the programme also enables students to progress and qualify more quickly than they would be able to traditionally.
  • How long does it take to complete the Programme?
    The programme may take between three to four years for a student to complete. This is dependent on workloads, scheduling of courses, hours of study and exam results. 
  • Is there a time limit for students on the Joint Programme?
    To gain both the ACA and CTA qualifications leading to membership of ICAEW and CIOT, students must complete the requirements of both institutes. 

    Students can attempt ACA exams until they reach the maximum of four attempts. 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 will remain valid for the next nine sittings. 
  • Is there any support available for ACA CTA Joint Programme students?
    Yes. Both institutes provide guidance and resources for their respective students. 

    ICAEW (ACA): Past papers, sample questions, skills webinars and exam resources for ACA students can be found on the ACA student website at icaew.com/examresources 

    CIOT (CTA): Past papers, suggested answers and Examiners’ reports for previous CTA examinations can be accessed from the CIOT website at https://www.tax.org.uk/adit/past-papers 
  • What credits for prior learning (CPL) /exemptions are available?
    Exemptions are available for up to 11 of the ACA exams. Find more information about the credits available for the ACA exams. 

    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 will remain valid for the next nine sittings.

    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? 

    Yes, a student can complete the ACA qualification as the CTA exam has been deemed equivalent to ICAEW’s Business Planning: Taxation. 
  • Will students still gain two qualifications?
    Yes. Students will still be eligible to gain both qualifications and use the designatory letters ACA and CTA after their names.  


Level 7 Apprenticeship: ACA CTA Joint Programme

  • 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. 
  • How should students register for the ACA CTA Programme as a Level 7 Apprenticeship?
    Firstly, students should register with ICAEW as an ACA Level 7 student. An ACA student number is generated. Students must already be registered as ACA students before they can apply for the ACA CTA Joint Programme. 

    They will be asked to submit a copy of their ACA student registration confirmation email, with evidence of their student number, to CIOT. 

    Providing they meet these entry criteria, CIOT will then register them on to the programme. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • What is 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. 
  • 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 completion of the apprenticeship including off-the-job training and an end-point assessment.
  • What is the funding cap 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 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 more than £21,000 are payable by the employer. 
  • What is the structure of the Level 7 Apprenticeship for the ACA-CTA Programme?
    Level 7 Apprenticeship students are first required to complete an on-programme assessment.  

    For Level 7 apprentices on the Joint Programme, this comprises of 13 of the 15 ACA exams (not the Business Planning: Taxation or Case Study exams), and one of the three CTA specialist papers.  

    They must also complete all other standard training requirements involved in the ACA CTA programme. For the ACA, this includes complete ICAEW’s online Ethics Learning Programme, professional development ladders and 450 days of practical work experience and in order to qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. For the CTA, students are required to demonstrate three years of relevant work experience. 

    Apprentices are then required to complete an end-point assessment. Level 7 students will follow ICAEW’s end-point assessment for the Joint Programme. This consists of the final ACA exam, the Case Study, and a Project Report. 

    They will also need to spend at least 6 hours a week on off-the-job training during the apprenticeship. 

    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. 
  • Who is eligible for the Level 7 apprenticeship?

    Apprenticeships are open to all (including graduates and existing staff who may want to retrain) as long as the apprenticeship is deemed as new learning.  

    There are no set entry requirements for the apprenticeship, however minimum entry requirements do apply for the ACA / ACA CTA Joint Programme: 

    • Be working in tax 
    • ACA students must not have completed (or attempted and failed) the Professional Level Business Planning: Taxation module; and 
    • CTA students must not have completed the two CTA Advisory Papers or the CTA Taxation of Major Corporates Advisory Paper. 

    Additionally, the apprentice must have a Level 2 (GCSE pass) in English and Maths before they attempt the end-point assessment.  

    Employers may wish to set additional entry criteria to suit their organisation. 

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