• Kieran Doe

How to Pass the ACA Strategic Business Management (SBM) Exam

Updated: 2 hours ago


This article offers advice on how to pass the ACA Strategic Business Management (SBM) exam. Written by a multiple ICAEW prize-winning ACA tutor, this is a must read for any student preparing for their SBM exam.

How to pass the ACA SBM exam

My view is that SBM is the easier of the three Advanced Level exams and the ICAEW pass rates reflect this. Whilst there are technical marks for Financial Reporting and Financial Management knowledge, the examiners also like to test students' ability to be able to absorb and analyse basic financial data and combine this with various pieces of narrative information provided in the company-specific scenario. These parts of the exam are similar to the ‘skills-based’ ACA exams, such as Business Strategy and Case Study, as opposed to the more technical papers. Therefore, it is crucial that you analyse both the narrative and the financial information, identify links between the two and use this to answer the specific requirement set by the examiner.

In light of this, completing past paper questions is much more effective use of your time, rather than trying to memorise lots of content from the ICAEW Study Manual. Given the time pressures of the exam, it is essential that you develop an optimal technique for reading and interpreting the requirements; allocating your time to each requirement; reading, interpreting and analysing the various exhibits; structuring and writing your answer; developing mark-scoring points to include in your answer; and knowing how and when to use your open book notes.

Given the practical nature of the skills above, the optimal exam technique is best explained by practical demonstration with application to recent SBM exams. This can be viewed below.

Further guidance

The full series of our online SBM tuition and details of our one-to-one tuition can be found here.

About the author

Kieran Doe is a Senior ACA tutor at ACA Masters. Kieran won multiple prizes for the ACA exams including the highest score in the world for the final Case Study exam. Kieran has been tutoring ACA subjects for several years and his student pass rate is considerably higher than other tutors. Kieran’s tuition is based around the learning techniques and exam strategies which enabled him to win prizes for all the exams he teaches.

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