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How to Pass the ICAEW ACA Exams

Updated: May 16


‘I know someone with a First from Cambridge who failed a Certificate Level exam twice and got sacked’

‘Apparently, each module has the same amount of content as a degree’

‘If you fail an ACA exam 4 times you are barred from ever becoming a chartered accountant’

Anybody thinking about becoming a Chartered Accountant will have heard the horror stories about how tough and time consuming the exams are. It is understandable how students, often from a non-financial background, can struggle when they are faced with a 500 page textbook full of numbers, formulas and accounting standards, only then to then be told, ‘this is just the first exam’. But as with any significant task in life, breaking it down into manageable chunks, getting the right help and support and developing effective exam technique is the key to success. I speak from experience. Having trained at a Big Four firm, I passed the ACA first time and won prizes for 7 of the 13 exams I sat, including the highest mark in the world for the final Case Study exam. Am I a genius? Far from it. Am I a workaholic? Not really. The secret behind it all is effectiveness….

Working full time and studying means time is at a premium, so you need to study effectively, i.e. learn as much exam crucial content in as short a time as possible. Exams are incredibly time pressured so you need to answer effectively, i.e. write as many mark scoring points in as short a time as possible. In fact, you even need to read the questions effectively, i.e. identify exactly what the examiner wants in as little time as possible.

So what this boils down to is the fact that you need to learn the most examinable parts of each syllabus and have an exam strategy for answering each type of exam question as quickly as possible. This firstly requires a rigorous analysis of the syllabus, past exam papers and examiner comments to identify which areas should be prioritised. Secondly, and more crucially, it requires the creation of exam techniques to enable you to score as many marks as quickly as possible.


Fortunately for the new generation, I have already done all the exam methodology development that is required. The effectiveness of my techniques has not only been proven by the prizes I have won personally, but also by the marks and prizes of the students I teach. Through the use of condensed and concentrated technical learning, exam technique development, shortcuts and tips, I have taken students who have failed multiple times to prize-winning marks within a matter of weeks.

Our tuition courses and classes are designed so that our prize-winning techniques are accessible to ACA students from all locations and budgets. We have classroom courses in London where students can attend the full course or just drop in for a single class if they are struggling with a particular topic. We also have live and recorded online courses. Again, students can purchase a full course or a single class on a particular topic / exam question that they need help with. If more intensive support is required, we also offer one-to-one tuition.


So if you are a student who is struggling with the ACA exams, or you are wondering what to do if you have failed an ACA exam, then get in touch so that you can get the help you need to pass the ACA exams with top marks.

Need Help Passing the ACA Exams?

Our classroom and online courses focus on the most frequently examined technical content and demonstrate the optimal exam technique for each ACA exam. Sample classes and materials can be found on our website. We also post classes from our online ACA courses on our YouTube channel and exam tips on our LinkedIn page.

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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