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Get the Easy Marks!

Having spent the last decade of my life doing ACA exam questions pretty much continuously, I have noticed a striking pattern which applies to all ACA exams. Almost all questions have a mixture of easy, medium and hard marks. In a typical ACA exam paper, approximately 70%+ of the marks will be for adjustments/points that you will have seen several times in past exams. Obtaining these marks will ensure that you comfortably achieve a passing grade. These marks are relatively easy so I consider them to be low-hanging fruit/quick wins (or high return, low risk for my FM students 😉). Allocating your time to each question will ensure that you attempt every question and get these relatively easy marks on each question. Whilst there will be some very difficult marks in each question, you do not need these to pass. If you are struggling to get these difficult marks or are at risk of exceeding your time allocation, it is better to move on as this will ensure that you have sufficient time to get the easy and medium marks on the next question. Based on my experience, the most effective thing to do in the final run up to the exam is attempt the most recent exams and mock exams under strict exam conditions (you can access exams in the exam software via the ICAEW website). After attempting each exam, you should mark your answer to identify which questions/topic areas you need to focus on. Having identified any areas of weakness, you should:

  • Watch the video class on that topic again.

  • Ensure you have understood and memorised the key technical content from the notes.

  • Practice lots of questions on that specific topic (our Master Plan categorises the Question Bank questions by topic).

  • Review several answers on the topic together so that you identify which points come up regularly and are relatively easy.

  • Read the examiners’ comments to identify the common mistakes made my students – this could mean that they will look to test this again if students performed poorly!

  • Read the relevant ICAEW Workbook pages if further clarification needed.

Good luck, keep calm and focus on grabbing that low-hanging fruit.


About the Author

Kieran Doe is a Senior ACA Tutor at ACA Masters. Kieran won ICAEW prizes for his performance in Financial Accounting and Reporting, Tax, Financial Management, Audit, Business Strategy and Case Study. This is in addition to winning several prizes at university for various Accounting, Management, Business and Economics subjects.


Kieran’s tuition is based around the learning techniques and exam strategies which enabled him to win prizes for all the subjects he teaches. Under his guidance, several of his ACA students have also won ICAEW prizes.


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