Skip to main content

Award winning training provider

Award winning training provider

Excellent pass rates

Tutor support until late

Market leader

  • How to prepare for your next exam - today

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2020

    John Cunningham is the regional Head of Education for Europe and Americas, at ACCA. He offers some tips for those looking to get back into their ACCA exams.

    No matter where you are in the world, COVID has been massively disruptive. You have this extra challenge now in the sense that it’s affected all areas of your life, and you may be considering how to get ‘back on track’.

    Given that exams are starting to resume soon, in many countries, there are various things you can be doing to get you where you want to be.


    Ask yourself ‘What is my plan?’. Pick a target date, establish when you want your next exam to be, mentally commit, and work back from there.

    You might simply mentally commit to getting your exam entry in. That first mental commitment is the all important first step.

    Once you’ve done that think ‘What do I need to do now to reasonably prepare for that exam?’.

    There are planning resources out there such as the ACCA study planner, on the ACCA website, which is a great new tool to help manage your time in the run up to an exam. For the other main accountancy qualifications I am sure they have their own versions.

    Learning is a habit, so make sure you get into that habit and stick at it.

    Get good tuition

    I recommend to all students that they should make the use of an expert tuition provider. As you may already know, the qualifications are very difficult and this really helps.

    Some students out there choose to buy the books and study entirely by themselves. This works for some but this is the more difficult way to do it. In my role I look at a large volume of student data, it shows that by using a platinum training provider like Kaplan you’d be significantly more likely to pass.

    Make studying, habitual

    Another thing I look at are ‘risk categories’. Meaning, what are the trends we see when students start to wobble and risk not getting qualified?

    Learning is a habit, so make sure you get into that habit and stick at it. It’s like the gym, if you miss one session and then another and another then the longer it goes on, the less likely you are to get back into it.

    Also, prepare yourself for potential failure. We know that once a student fails an exam, it’s too easy to doubt yourself and step back. So resilience is so important with exams to ensure you have that bounce-back-ability, if you fail an exam.

    It’s vital right now that we are kind to ourselves about our learning.

    Camaraderie and well-being

    Camaraderie is important. Get yourself into a cohort; find other like minded students who you can study with, and feed off. This is really important in helping you get through it and find motivation.

    In terms of well-being, it’s important that we recognise the unusual circumstances we live in right now. It’s been an unsettling and disruptive time, which tests our resilience and adaptability.

    So it’s vital right now that we are kind to ourselves about our learning. Make realistic targets, given the circumstances. Make sure you have balance. Yes, have ambition about your studies - but make achievable targets.

    Also create opportunities for you to be able to express how you’re feeling, either with your tutor or other students. Look after your wellbeing, it’s important.

    The resources at your disposal

    Don’t just pick the book up and dive head first into the syllabus. Use resources available to help contextualise the concepts.

    We have launched something called ACCA bite-sized videos, which help to bring to life and set the scene for the context around the concepts.

    Also look at past exam papers. The research shows that students who go through past exam papers do better in the exams. It’s just a fact.

    We can’t underestimate the importance of good exam technique.

    Finally, focus on exam technique

    We can’t underestimate the importance of good exam technique. When I speak to examiners they always tell me that students leave many ‘marks on the table’, and this is down to exam technique.

    Time management is important - Avoid putting all your time into the first part of the exam, therefore leaving little for the end. Timing is crucial. Really focus on the question, and the wording - even the verb used is important.

    Look out for the verbs in the question - When the examiner uses words like ‘list’, ‘detail’, ‘compare’, ‘contrast’, etc make sure that is what you do.

    For those taking the computer based exams (CBE) make sure you’re familiar with the software and functionality. We see some students wasting a lot of time because they clearly didn’t know how to use the functions.

    Finally, mock exams are really important, so take them. And be serious with the way you take them. Take them in exam conditions, without the resources you wouldn’t have access to in the real exam, and apply the same time constraints.

    Once complete, get your tuition provider to mark it, and make use of the feedback they provide - their feedback is gold and will direct you on the areas you need to focus on during revision. It really will make the difference.

    Best of luck everyone!! And be kind to yourself!

    John Cunningham has many years of experience in Accounting education with ACCA and formerly AAT. He says his main responsibility is to ‘help people to pass exams’.

    For the full interview with our Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley Smith, watch the 30 minute interview.

  • ACCA students - have you considered an Oxford Brookes course?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2020

    With the interruption to exams, many students may be considering what they can do to keep progressing their studies. One option is the BSc Applied Accounting course, offered by Oxford Brookes University in partnership with ACCA.

    Complementing your ACCA qualification, the course allows you to gain the skills needed to apply your ACCA knowledge to a real life situation, which you will also need to use in SBL.

    With it you can make the most of the extra time you may have, and use this as a way to further boost your career prospects. The course has been jointly designed by the University and the ACCA to meet the requirements of a degree and a professional qualification.

    Suited to the current climate

    This short course can be taken entirely online, and requires students to have completed their ACCA Applied Knowledge and Skills Exams, the ACCA Ethics and Professional Skills module (EPSm).

    When preparing for the Research and Analysis Project part of the course, all students will have a mentor. This is the final element of the programme.

    Due to the current pandemic, all mentoring for the course is conducted remotely. Most mentors offer online mentoring and students do not need to use a mentor from their own country.

    Kaplan are a highly valued partner of ACCA with a team of experienced online mentors supporting students through the BSc Applied Accounting

    - Dr Jane Towers-Clark, Head of Academic Partners at ACCA

    Study with Kaplan

    At Kaplan we have a team of experienced online mentors supporting students through the BSc Applied Accounting and enable them to gain the skills desired by their employers as well as their academic and professional skills.

    For more information about how you can start this course with us, visit our Oxford Brookes page.

  • How to become a Financial Controller

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 18, 2020

    For those who like working with numbers, enjoy responsibility, and have superb organisational skills this job might be the one. It's a pivotal role as you'd be responsible for the financial control of a company. But what the does the position involve and how do you get into it?

    What is a Financial Controller?

    A financial controller is a senior role within accounting. They are responsible for all of the accounting operations of an organisation. Essentially they are the finance director’s second-in-command.

    Responsibilities include:

    • Producing periodic financial reports
    • Ensuring a system of accounting records
    • Maintaining the company’s general ledger
    • Managing the accounts or finance team
    • Producing a comprehensive set of budgets and controls
    • Ensuring that all reported results comply with accounting standards and relevant legislation.

    Simply put, a financial controller is responsible for all aspects of the smooth running of a finance department.

    What qualifications do I need?

    You will need a relevant degree in a subject such as Maths, Business, or Economics, as well as having completed an accountancy qualification. This could be from either the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ACA-ICAEW).

    ACCA - consists of three levels: Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional. You will also need to complete relevant work experience. In total, it takes around 5 years to qualify.

    CIMA - is split into Certificate (a standalone ‘beginner’ qualification), and Professional, which is split into three levels: Operational, Management, and Strategic. It takes 3-4 years to complete.

    ACA-ICAEW - is made up of three levels: Certificate, Professional and Advanced, and you’ll need to do 450 days of work experience. It takes around 3 years to complete.

    What skills and experience do I need?

    You will need a lot of experience in finance and management as this is a role that requires you to balance the hands-on financial management of a company with high-level decision making.

    Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is essential. You will need to be able to explain your reports clearly, ensuring that departments understand the implications of your findings.

    Good analytical skills are essential. You’ll need to be able to look at complex data and decipher what it means for your company and the individual departments. You’ll then need to be able to react to the results, and work out how to improve or adapt to any changes.

    Being able to work under pressure and to strict deadlines is a must. Reports need to be produced regularly, and month-end and financial year-end analysis will need to be done.

    Pre-planning will reduce some of this workload but, at the end of the day, the data for a specific period is only available at a certain point. Financial controllers work under a great deal of time pressure to put out the reports, while still maintaining a flawless level of accuracy.

    What can I earn?

    The annual salary for a financial controller ranges from £51,000 to £72,000 depending on experience and location.* But there are financial controller positions that command much higher salaries - some well over £100,000 a year.

    *Source: Reed average salary 2020


    Want to become a financial controller? Check out our ACCA, CIMA and ACA pages for more information about the qualifications, and what is involved to become qualified.

  • Exams and Learning in a Virtual World

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 11, 2020

    Currently, all physical training locations and exam centres are closed, and nobody knows exactly when this will change or what the new world of socially distanced training locations will look like.

    In an ever changing world it seems that virtual learning could be the method that many students continue to adopt, even into the future.

    At the moment the only scheduled classes from training providers are via online study channels. With the Kaplan Live Online method, tutors can have their webcams on so students can actually see them, as well as being able to ask questions of the tutor and other students, through the chat panel.

    Zoom, Webex, Teams - these words have now become part of our everyday language. Using them for online meetings has become second nature for many of us as we adapt to remote working.

    As well as LiveOnline we have our OnDemand and Distance Learning study methods. The flexibility of non-scheduled learning means that students can study at a time to suit them, especially useful for those juggling a busy life.

    This has always been a possibility but with furloughed students, reduced working hours for some, and others wanting a distraction, studying remotely is a huge opportunity to keep going, or even start something new.

    What the institutes are doing

    CIMA has been delivering remote exams through Pearson OnVue since 4th May and the other Institutes are following suit - with ACA certificate launching in May and ACCA starting a pilot in July.

    The tax exams will be offering remote options from November, although using a different software to Pearson. Providers of tuition courses are offering courses through online channels, but what has this shift meant for students and their desire to sit exams remotely?

    Your feedback

    In a social media poll* that we completed in May, 59% of those polled were happy to book their next exam, whereas the other 41% felt uneasy and wanted to wait until exams were back in a physical location. Some students taking exams are concerned about sitting them from home, with distractions present due to children, pets, shared housing and the merging of the work and home environment.

    Students seem to be happier with the ‘wordier’ subjects. The biggest fear seems to be the inability to write things down on a piece of paper or a whiteboard in the exam.

    The virtual whiteboard

    The Pearson software has attempted to overcome an element of this by introducing an online whiteboard. Using this means that you can still do workings, although they will be typed rather than written.

    For CIMA exams this functionality can be tested on the CIMA Canvas. Although this isn’t the exact whiteboard you will be given in your exams, it gives you a chance to test it.

    For other exams proctored through Pearson Vue you could check out their virtual whiteboard.


    Pen and paper are still relevant, of course, but in a world that is becoming increasingly digital, maybe this is a lesson to us all that we could save a lot of time and energy by writing things straight onto a computer?

    When writing a report or an email at work there is nowhere to write notes. We write as we think - perhaps this is something we should be doing in exams.

    When doing a calculation question why do we feel the need to write our calculations on a piece of paper? Could we do them straight on a calculator and use the online whiteboard for the key numbers we find?

    In a working day most calculations that we do are done on Excel - which, afterall, is the world’s most powerful calculator. Could this actually be a far more efficient way of working and sitting exams? A lot of the subjects have huge time pressure constraints so perhaps doing calculations straight on a calculator could be a time saver?

    Keep going

    We strongly encourage students to continue studying and sitting their exams. With all the current uncertainty and change, we should try to keep some sense of normality and if you were studying before, keep going.

    Many of us have more time on our hands so picking up a new skill, or advancing a skill, could be something to take your mind off today’s uncertainty. If you have completed a level of a qualification could now be the time to do another level? Or if you have finished AAT, could you think about the next step?

    If you’re anxious about sitting an exam, try the online canvas for a technical question and see how you find it. Book the exam so you have something to work towards and don’t forget to reach out for help whenever you need it.

    Follow Kaplan on Facebook and Twitter for some useful tips and updates. If we can support you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    *374 votes in total, May 2020.

  • ACCA Practising Certificates Explained

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 01, 2020

    An ACCA Practising Certificate (PC) shows that you have the relevant experience and knowledge to perform the duties of a Chartered Accountant.

    Last year, the ACCA used feedback from members to update the Practising Certificate process. Using a similar framework to the student Practical Experience Requirements they created a smoother progression from student to practising member.

    However, the minimum competency level members need to demonstrate remains challenging.

    So, we’ve produced a quick look at Practising Certificates to give you a better understanding.

    Practising Certificate training record (PCTR) Guidance

    If you have already started recording a practising certificate training record (PCTR), which was replaced on 1st January 2019, the ACCA provides a transition guide to help you.

    All completed PCTRs need to be submitted and approved by ACCA by 31 December 2020. After this date, only the Practising Certificate Experience Form (PCEF) will be accepted.

    Do I need a practising certificate?

    You will need a practising certificate if you are:

    • Planning on setting up a practice and intend to produce accounts, tax returns or reports for third party use (public practice)
    • Joining a firm as a director or partner, or other senior position
    • Working in the UK, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Australia, or where there is a local requirement for you to hold an ACCA practising certificate.

    You do not need to apply for a practising certificate if you are engaged in public practice outside of the above territories. You must notify ACCA and apply to be placed on ACCA’s register of practitioners.

    You will need to apply for an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification if:

    • You will be responsible for signing audit reports in the UK and/or Ireland
    • You would like statutory auditor status in the UK and/or Ireland.

    Applying for a practising certificate - what will you need to have completed?

    To receive a practising certificate you will need to have achieved:

    • 3 years of supervised experience with an ACCA approved employer - practising certificate development (general or audit) stream - or an employer that would be eligible to register
    • 2 years of post-membership experience. Only experiences gained after becoming a member can count towards a practising certificate
    • Experience that has been supervised by an appropriately qualified individual
    • The competencies contained in the Practising Certificate Experience Form (PCEF). A member training towards the practising certificate must complete the PCEF part 1 and part 2. You can find out more about the PCEF on the ACCA website.

    To apply for an ACCA practising certificate and Audit Qualification you must, in addition to the above, achieve:

    • The competencies in the 3rd part of the PCEF that cover audit
    • At least 44 weeks (1540 hours) of audit training in the three years. For the UK at least 22 weeks (770 hours) must be specifically in statutory audit work. For Ireland it’s 44 weeks.
    • Passes for the UK (or Irish variants) of the following ACCA exams*:
      • Corporate and Business Law
      • Taxation
      • Strategic Business Reporting
      • Advanced Audit and Assurance

    As of January 2020, the standard fee for a practising certificate and a practising certificate and audit qualification is £514.

    How long does it take to get a practising certificate?

    It takes at least 30 days for the ACCA to process your PCTR or PCEF.

    Important changes implemented from 1 March 2020

    From 1 March 2020 the ACCA changed the way they handle instances where members, affiliates and students are found to be practising without a practising certificate.

    We are also changing the way we deal with members, affiliates and students providing bookkeeping services only.

    There’s lots of information on the ACCA website as well as all the application forms that you will need. You can submit your 2020 practising certificate renewal and firm’s renewals online via myACCA.

    Need more information?

    We’re here to help you with your ACCA qualification, so get in touch with Student Services if you have any questions or just want some more information.

    *Or equivalent from the previous syllabus.

  • How to make Live Online work for you

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 28, 2020

    In today’s climate it’s understandable if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, never mind finding the motivation to learn how to consolidate a foreign subsidiary!

    A lot of my students who are experiencing Live Online for the first time have said they feel demotivated and distracted. So I thought I’d piece together some useful tips to try and boost morale and motivation when using the study method.

    Get dressed for the day

    Let’s be honest. How many times have you stayed in your pyjamas the whole day in the last since late March? As tempting as it seems, my first tip is to actually get dressed in the morning.

    You won’t believe the difference it makes to your mindset and productivity! When you actually get dressed for work it signals to your brain that you’re in “work mode”.

    Get rid of distractions

    How many of us get distracted by our phones throughout the day? From the ever increasing new TikTok dances, to making the famous Dalgona whipped coffee, the temptation to procrastinate through social media is at an all-time high.

    I would recommend for you to check your social media when you wake up and then leave your phone in a separate room to where you’ll be working. You’ll be surprised how productive you can be when your phone is out of reaching distance!

    Bite-sized learning

    A typical teaching day starts at 9am and ends around 4pm - that’s a long time to be staring at a screen. Rather than putting pressure on yourself to concentrate for seven consecutive hours, break up your day.

    Your tutor will usually set you one or two breaks in the morning, and at least a 45 minute lunch break, with a final afternoon break. If you can set yourself small goals such as “stay focussed for session 1 (9-10am)” this makes it a lot more achievable.

    With live online specifically, your tutor will give more frequent breaks, usually on the hour, which lends itself perfectly for bite sized learning

    When you achieve your goal, reward yourself – go and check on your phone, do a silly dance, or go and have yet another slice of cake!

    Attend live sessions as much as you can

    It’s really important that you attend the sessions live rather than listen to the recording. Listening in live allows you to have more of a routine and stay focussed as you need to keep up with the pace of the tutor.

    Copy down relevant notes and attempt the questions set by them. Another advantage of listening live is the ability to interact with your tutor and colleagues via the chat panel. This is a great way to boost morale rather than re-watching a recording with no interaction.

    Look after yourself

    Stay aware of your mental health. We’re going through such an unfamiliar period in life and it’s likely to have an impact on our wellbeing.

    Understanding that you’re going to have some ups and downs during this period of uncertainty is absolutely normal. Try and go outside once a day – either by sitting in your garden/balcony or going for a short walk around your neighbourhood.

    Getting that time away from a screen and taking in a bit of fresh air can do wonders.

    Another way to look after our mental health is through healthy eating: drinking plenty of water and exercising. There are many free online classes that you can try out to aid your well-being around things such as: yoga, meditation, HIIT and many more.

    Finally, make sure you check in on family/friends and let them know how you’re doing. Set up regular FaceTime/zoom calls between groups of people. Since it’s difficult to spend time with them as we normally would, it’s important to get some face time with your nearest and dearest.

    Final thoughts

    All the above points are valid, but I’d say the best way to ensure your success with Live Online right now is through implementing structure to your day, and to look after your mental health.

    Please don’t feel like you’re in this alone. There are plenty of resources available to you if you feel you need to reach out to someone. From your tutor to charities such as Mind or CABA – there will always be someone to speak to.

    So stay safe everyone – we’re in this together.

  • Which qualifications help you earn a Fund Accountant’s salary

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 21, 2020

    A fund accountant prepares accounts and investor reports for investment funds. But what does the role entail and what are the routes into this accountancy based profession?

    What is a fund accountant role?

    A fund accountant prepares accounts and investor reports for investment funds. They usually work with investment managers to make sure the fund is well serviced.

    They must detail how the company is using its funds, which may include producing separate reports, and they help companies decide how to use available revenue.

    Essentially, a fund accountant acts as a go between for the investor and the business.

    Businesses use fund accountants to ensure that their funds are achieving their targets, while remaining compliant. In some cases, this role is focussed on how money is spent rather than the profits incurred.

    The areas of specialism range from government, to non-profit, hedge funds or others.

    The average salary of a fund accountant is £38k, but this can obviously vary depending on region and experience. Top salaries in the field can earn in excess of £55k.

    Fund accountant qualifications

    To be attractive to an employer, typically, employers will expect fund accountants to qualify and be a member of a professional accountancy body such as ACCA, CIMA or ACA.

    Also having a bachelor’s or master's degree in accounting or a similar field would also be acceptable.

    In addition to the above, you’d be expected to have the following soft skill traits:

    • Strong interpersonal skills
    • Excellent attention to detail
    • Great time management skills
    • Multitask ability

    Experience needed

    In terms of experience, many employers expect fund accountants to have strong knowledge of basic computer programs, and accounting software.

    Although fund accountants will largely work in an office, they may be required to travel to other offices, so access to transport would be helpful.

    Being a good candidate for this type of career is not just about having a good exam track record. You also need to have the right experience to prove that you’ll be competent within your role, and be able to apply your skills correctly.

    Any real life experience can help count towards influencing their decision, so things like PER within an ACCA qualification could help.

    How to gain ACCA, CIMA, or ACA qualifications

    Here’s an overview of the qualifications you’d need to be able to start a career in fund accounting:

    ACCA - This qualification consists of three levels: Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional, plus the relevant work experience you’ll need to complete. In total, it takes around 5 years to qualify. ACCA is also ideal if you are looking to become a chartered accountant, or work in an accountancy, audit or tax firm.

    CIMA - CIMA is split into Certificate, a standalone ‘beginner’ qualification, and Professional, which is split into three levels: Operational, Management, and Strategic. Averagely it takes 3-4 years to complete. Also ideal if you’re looking to develop your accountancy skills to lead finance departments or provide management accounting consultancy.

    ACA - Consists of three levels: Certificate, Professional, and Advanced. You’ll also need to have 450 practical work experience days, and it takes around three years to complete. ACA is also a great option if you’re looking to become a chartered accountant and work in accountancy and finance.

    Start your fund accountant journey!

    So why not look into this further, get thinking about the next steps in your career.

    For more information on our courses visit our website.


  • Moving from Classroom to Online Learning

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 14, 2020

    Sarah Powell is the Quality and Equality Manager at Kaplan, and spoke to 500 of our students who’ve had to transition to Live Online - literally overnight. Here is their feedback.

    We were aware that Live Online is a very different learning experience for those who were used to the classroom. But as we all know, we had no choice.

    So following this unprecedented shift, we wanted to find out what students thought. As most of those we surveyed didn’t choose to study online, we felt it was important to quickly identify areas for improvements.

    I’ve always avoided online study, favouring the classroom, but this is significantly better than I expected. I’m likely to continue studying this way, going forward.

    Student feedback

    The main questions we asked were:

    - How would you compare your learning experience of Live Online with face-to-face classes?

    - How easy are you finding it to concentrate and study at the moment, alongside other commitments?

    The feedback can be categorised into the below themes:


    Many students thought the speed of delivery was faster than in the classroom, or at least that was their perception.

    We were also made aware that many of our students are juggling home-working with other family commitments, so concentration may not be as easy as in the classroom environment.

    The key message for students is that if they are finding the delivery too fast, they should let the tutor or the Teaching Assistant know. Everyone works at different paces, and in the virtual classroom it’s not as easy for the tutor to work this out.

    Students also need to remember that they have full access to the recordings, so they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves if they do lose a bit of concentration at times. They can always review a section that they are struggling with, and get their head around it at a later date.

    For extra support, our Academic support team can provide students with access to qualified Accountants, and our apprentices can talk to their Talent Coaches.

    It’s still interactive and you get the personal tutor touch that I thought would be missing online.

    Student feedback

    The chat panel

    The chat pane is a live and interactive way to communicate in the online sessions.

    The feedback was that some students wanted to simply listen to the tutor, whilst others really valued their questions being answered.

    Many who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable asking questions in the classroom felt more confident asking questions through the ‘chat’. Some loved it and welcomed the interaction with both the tutor and their peers, but some found it distracting and said the tutors spent too much time on it.

    Extra support (i.e. Teaching Assistant)

    Many valued the extra layer of support provided by the TAs, with some commenting on the extra resources and exam tips being posted by them - as well as the jovial remarks!

    It’s important to keep the class buoyant after a long day sat staring at screens!


    One of the major benefits of Live Online is that students can ask questions, which increases engagement. It’s also good to see what others are asking, a bit like in class.

    Often their questions are similar to ones that other students might have already asked - so it makes them feel that they are all in this together.

    I’d certainly advise students to not only ask and answer questions throughout the session, but also to be active on our forums between classes. It’s a great way to keep in touch and stay engaged.

    Student motivation/Concentration

    We realise how difficult people are finding things currently, and with exams looming - it’s easy for things to get on top of us. The survey found that half of those who responded felt they were behind with their studies, or had deliberately slowed things down to accommodate other commitments, including home-schooling.

    Studying online requires self-discipline, which is easier said than done. But students must try and make use of the other support resources we have available.

    For instance, we’ve got some great blogs on our Insights page about how students can motivate themselves.

    Final thoughts

    If students are struggling, they should speak to their tutor, ask questions, and try to keep engaged. You’re not alone in this so try to keep engaged throughout classes on the chat panel and after class.

    Try to remind yourself why you are here - focus on the end game - and set yourself small achievable targets to take you along the way. Yes there will be more distractions at home, but try to minimise these and get into a positive mindset before class.

    Make a study schedule, with regular breaks. But remember to keep talking to us. That’s what we’re here for!

  • A guide to the ACCA Practical Experience Requirement (PER)

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 14, 2020

    It’s important to have the relevant experience, as well as exam success, to secure a top notch qualification. So to become an ACCA member you have to show relevant skills and some experience of a real work environment.

    When we return to more ‘normal’ circumstances, you’ll find it easier to work on PER as you are studying for exams, and will keep your experience in ACCA’s MyExperience tool as up to date as possible.

    So as soon as you’re in a relevant position, find a practical experience supervisor you can work with to achieve your PER.

    What is PER?

    The Practical Experience Requirement (PER) is a period* of supervised experience in a relevant accounting or finance role, and requires the completion of nine performance objectives.

    PER is completely transferable - across organisations, sectors and geographical locations.

    *36 months

    What experience is relevant for PER?

    A ‘relevant role’ means that you have a job in areas such as accounting, finance, audit and assurance, or the more technical areas of forensics, taxation and insolvency. Internships, part-time and voluntary work can also count towards PER.

    If you are self-employed, performing basic bookkeeping and other accountancy work under supervision (e.g. on a subcontract basis) may count towards the PER.

    Trainee accountants can provide basic book-keeping and certain other services direct to the public, but this cannot constitute 'approved accountancy experience' and therefore may not count towards the PER.

    You can gain practical experience before you register with the ACCA, but it has to be signed off by a practical experience supervisor at the employer where you gained the experience.

    What are the benefits of PER for ACCA students?

    Apart from being necessary for membership and getting the letters after your names, there are other ways PER can benefit you in your role. They include: applying your theoretical knowledge to real-life practical scenarios, improving your skills, opening up new job opportunities and networking.

    What are performance objectives?

    Performance objectives allow you to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and techniques in the workplace. They are a vital part of the PER.

    They are the benchmarks of effective performance, and describe the types of work activities you'll be involved with as trainee accountants. They also outline the values and attitudes you should demonstrate as you fulfil the practical experience requirement.

    How many performance objectives do I have to achieve?

    You have to achieve 9 in total - 5 essential objectives, and then 4 from a list of 17 Technical objectives.

    What are the performance objectives?

    They are compulsory and you have to demonstrate experience in every one of these areas:

    • Ethics and professionalism (PO1)
    • Stakeholder relationship management (PO2)
    • Strategy and innovation (PO3)
    • Governance, risk and control (PO4)
    • Leadership and management (PO5)

    And then you choose four from this list:

    Corporate and business reporting

    • Record and process transactions and events (PO6)
    • Prepare external financial reports (PO7)
    • Analyse and interpret financial reports (PO8)

    Financial management

    • Evaluate investment and financing decisions (PO9)
    • Manage and control working capital (PO10)
    • Identify and manage financial risk (PO11)

    Management accounting

    • Evaluate management accounting systems (PO12)
    • Plan and control performance (PO13)
    • Monitor performance (PO14)


    • Tax computations and assessments (PO15)
    • Tax compliance and verification (PO16)
    • Tax planning and advice (PO17)

    Audit and assurance

    • Prepare for and plan the audit and assurance process (PO18)
    • Collect and evaluate evidence for an audit or assurance engagement (PO19)
    • Review and report on the findings of an audit or assurance engagement (PO20)

    Advisory and consultancy

    • Business advisory (PO21)

    Data, digital and technology

    • Data analysis and decision support (PO22)

    It’s best to choose the technical objectives that most suit your role and everyday work. Don’t choose anything that you won’t actually be able to get experience in. The ACCA has a competency framework to help you choose the right objectives for your role, or the career you’re aspiring to.

    You have to demonstrate your achievement of the performance objectives to your practical experience supervisor. You do this by performing activities in the workplace to achieve the elements, and writing a statement to provide examples of your experience.

    For more information on the performance objectives, PER examples and linked ACCA exams, download the performance objectives booklet. The one-page exams objective factsheet (PDF download), gives you more information about how the performance objectives link to your ACCA exams.

    What is a practical experience supervisor (PES)?

    A practical experience supervisor is someone who supports your development in the workplace and reviews your progress and performance at work. They are there to support you and help you with: performance objectives, targets, timescales, as well as helping you find the right work experience and making it possible for you to achieve it.

    They will also evaluate and review your progress, and sign off performance objectives once you’re achieved them. Finally, they will confirm that you’ve claimed the right amount of work experience time towards the 36 months requirement.

    Who can be a practical experience supervisor?

    They are usually your line manager or the person you report to on a regular basis. They have to be a qualified accountant, work closely with you, and know your work.

    You can have more than one supervisor, or change supervisors over time. Family and friends should not be your supervisor in case there is a conflict of interest.

    How and when should I record experience?

    Ideally you should start recording your experience as soon as possible, as long as you are in the right role. You will record your experience in ACCA’s MyExperience tool - this can also be used to help plan your work experience.

    You’ll need to add employment details, complete your objectives and write your statements. These are all done via the tool, which is very clear and easy to use.

    Are there any exemptions?

    If you work for an ACCA Approved Employer you may be able to claim a performance objective exemption. Approved employers, that hold trainee development approval at Gold or Platinum level, have been assessed by ACCA and have shown that the level of training and support they provide is sufficient to meet the PER.

    You will need to check if your employer meets this standard - you can check ACCA’s Approved Employer directory to see if yours is on the list.

    If you qualify for the exemption, it means that you do not need to record the performance objectives in MyExperience and will achieve these through the training you’ll receive with your employer, but you’ll still need to complete the minimum 36 months’ experience.

    If you leave the approved employer where you received the exemption, you’ll need to complete an approved employer PER summary form available on the ACCA website.

    More support

    If you want more information, advice or support, we’re here to help. Just get in touch with Student Services and we can explain PER further, and advise you on your next steps.

    Good luck!

  • Moving on from AAT to CIMA

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 07, 2020

    If you are coming to the end of your AAT qualification or have already finished, now might be a good time to think about what your next step could be. Could it be CIMA?

    If you have an interest in management accounting, adding value to businesses and looking at strategic level decisions then that is a great start.

    Here’s a few things to think about to help you decide if CIMA is the right direction for you.

    What is the difference between AAT and CIMA?

    The AAT is a Level 4 assessment and CIMA is a Level 7 assessment. This means that it is examined at a higher level and you will need to study at a higher level with more complex studies and questions.

    On gaining a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation, after finishing your exams and submitting professional work experience, you will be given Chartered status. This means you’ll be a fully qualified management accountant.

    AAT is deemed technician level, so on gaining your CIMA qualification you will be more qualified and hopefully able to earn more money while getting more enjoyment out of your work.

    CIMA is significantly harder than AAT because you need to know a lot more, and have more experience. AAT is great for the basics, but if you want to go further in an accounting career, then CIMA is the way forward.

    With CIMA, you delve deeper into some of the topics you studied in AAT. You explore new studies and skills including: financial analysis, negotiation, project management, and leadership.

    If I’ve done AAT, are there any exemptions going on to CIMA?

    If you have completed AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4) you are exempt from the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, and can start the CIMA Professional Qualification straight away.

    If you haven’t completed AAT but hold the AAT Level 2 (Foundation) or Level 3 (Advanced) diploma you can still study for CIMA. You will begin with the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, this is four exams aimed at testing the fundamentals of accounting and business.

    When you have completed the certificate level, you then go on to the CIMA Professional Qualification, this is broken down into three levels - Operational, Management and Strategic.

    At each level you have three Objective Tests and then a case study exam.

    CIMA award the exemptions so if you have any queries on these you should get in touch with them directly.

    Need a student’s thoughts on it?

    One of our previous students, Tom Kelly, is a Project Accountant and is fully exam qualified with CIMA. He started out as an AAT apprentice with Kaplan, but the last two years have seen him progress to the CIMA qualification and move on in his career.

    We spoke to him about doing AAT and then CIMA, and how studying with Kaplan helped him get to where he is now.

    What can I do with CIMA?

    CIMA is a globally recognised qualification so the world’s your oyster once qualified. As long as you have the professional experience to back up your exams you should be able to command a higher salary, and work in a field that interests you. CIMA students and members work in the NHS, Biffa and John Lewis to name a few.

    The CIMA qualification is designed to bring together management accounting (the P pillar of your exams), financial accounting (the F pillar), and studies on businesses and the environment in which they operate (E pillar).

    You will study and develop practical skills all employers need. You should be able to work in a wide range of roles from finance to consultancy, business partnering and ultimately Finance Director level.

    Interested in CIMA?

    If you want to find out more about CIMA, we have plenty of information about it on our CIMA course pages. And don’t forget to check out our study methods, so you can choose the right one for you.

    We look forward to supporting you in your next steps and onto your next qualification.

    Remember, we are here to support you whenever you need us.

  • How to access your positive psychology

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 05, 2020

    Lucy Whitehall is the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association's (CABA) expert in positive psychology and well-being, with over 10 years' experience. Drawing on science-based techniques she describes how we can live our best life.

    With positive psychology principles we look at: resilience, mindset, emotional intelligence, hope and optimism. It’s a very useful subject that is largely about performance, productivity and living your best life in any circumstance.

    Human beings have a range of emotions - some of them are positive, some are negative and some of them are neutral. All are valid.

    Positive psychology isn’t positive thinking

    The two often get confused. Positive psychology is based on research and tells us how we can improve our lives through simple methodology. It’s not just about ‘looking on the bright side’.

    Positive thinking, on the other hand, you will often see talked about on social media. Sentiments such as ‘Be positive’ , ‘Think nice thoughts’. But if we are experiencing difficult times with our mental health, being told to ‘think positively’ is not very helpful.

    It’s not only extremely difficult to do that, it also fails to appreciate that human beings have a range of emotions - some of them are positive, some are negative and some of them are neutral. All are valid.

    Positive thinking has no evidence based science behind it. You should not be thinking there is an issue if you have negative thoughts. It’s an unavoidable part of being human. So that approach doesn’t stick and doesn’t last.

    Applying positive psychology to home study and work

    At the best of times it’s hard to juggle study and work, speaking not only as a psychologist but as someone who works and studies often.

    We now have the added pressure of having to struggle with this crisis, and dealing with our lives which have been turned upside down.

    The brain can only concentrate fully for up to 90 minutes. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

    What we can take from positive psychology is the concept of resilience - for productivity and performance. To tap into our resilience we should be harnessing our brain’s ability to think about one thing at a time.

    We are getting lots of pressure to juggle lots of things at the same time but this can be distracting. Resist the temptation to multi-task, as it’s proven that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Working for short periods of time, but very deeply, is the way forward.

    Turn off those distractions to have undisturbed time. That time might be as little as 10 minutes, and that’s fine. The amount of time the brain can concentrate on fully for is 90 minutes. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

    Building resilience

    There are lots of ways to build resilience. Some techniques help prevent us feeling overwhelmed when things get too much. One simple technique is called ‘box breathing’.

    Box breathing is used by the US navy seals, so if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. It’s a natural way to relax the body and engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

    It involves doing 4 things, to the count of 4:


    Then holding it


    Then holding it

    And repeat. Ideally try and do this for between 2 and 5 minutes.

    This is a repetitive way to lower your blood pressure, cortisol and adrenaline. A natural way to calm the body down and useful for when you feel anxiety or stress in your body, or you’re overwhelmed with negative thoughts.

    Celebrate your successes

    Another important thing I want to recommend is self compassion. In the current climate, we may feel extra pressure to be productive, but caving in to this can have a negative impact.

    Many of us will think ‘Well, I’m at home, I’m not commuting anymore, I have all this time, so why am I not more motivated? Why am I not packing more into the day?’.

    But remind yourself that we are actually in a world wide pandemic right now. It’s a very stressful time. Even if we don’t feel like we are on the frontline, there will still be an underlying anxiety.

    So be realistic, within these circumstances.

    Maybe break your study session down into smaller study periods and focus on what is possible.

    With positive psychology we celebrate our successes and achievements. It’s very easy for our brains to focus on what we have not done rather than celebrating the little wins we have had.

    And this is not just a pat on the back or a ‘nice to have’. Once we keep reinforcing the positives it actually starts to rewire the brain. We have seen this happen in the brain. In itself, this is hugely motivating.

    Keep reflecting on your daily achievements

    In the morning, establish what it is you want to achieve for that day, then keep checking in with yourself to see where you are. By the end of that day, celebrate your successes. Maybe even write down the things you want to achieve. Lists are good.

    In fact, it’s proven that we are 7 times more likely to commit to a task if it’s written down. We are even more likely to stick to it if we have an accountability buddy - someone we told we were going to do this task.

    Access your positive psychology

    There are lots of things we can be doing to motivate and unlock your positive psychology in these trying times.

    But in summary, be kind to yourself.

    The world is putting enough pressure on itself right, to get back to normal. But if you show yourself more compassion then you’re more likely to achieve what you want.

    CABA support past and present ICAEW members, ICAEW staff, ACA students and their close families from across the globe.

    To watch the full interview with Lucy Whitehall watch the live recording.

  • What is online proctoring?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 01, 2020

    Firstly we’ll answer the question: what is proctoring? It basically means the same as invigilating. To watch people take an exam and make sure that they don’t cheat.

    So how does that work online? With social distancing, many exams are going to be taken at home, online. If there isn’t someone physically there to watch you take the exam, how is it going to work?

    Sitting an exam at home

    If you are sitting an exam at home, you still need to be monitored to make sure you don’t have any outside help. Before you sit an exam on your own computer, you’ll need to download monitoring software that will be used to track you via your camera as you answer the questions.

    It is worth checking with your professional body if they have any checks you need to perform.

    Different types of proctoring

    During online proctoring, software is used to allow you to sit the exam wherever you like. To keep the exam secure and 100% reliable, software is used to track you and monitor you through video, so the exam goes fraud-free.

    Subsequent Proctoring

    Images and logs are captured as you do the exam, and are recorded on video. Later on, a proctor (aka an invigilator) will be able to see if you engaged in any form of cheating.

    The decision is based on the evidence from the captured images. Because everything is recorded, you can sit the exam at any time you feel like - just log in and begin an exam without prior scheduling, unless your qualification institute tells you otherwise.

    Live Proctoring

    This is more like a real exam setting. An online proctor actually watches you as you do the exam, via webcam. They can intervene if they notice anything unusual, just like in a real classroom setting. You would need to book the exam in advance to see if there's a proctor available to invigilate you.

    Automated Proctoring

    In automated proctored online exams, computer software is used to detect any instances of possible cheating or outside help. It can detect whenever different software is opened, or even if there's another person in the room. The remote proctor is alerted to any such events, and they are then in a position to review them.

    Exam setup at home

    You will need to make sure that where you are taking the exam is suitable and that the technology you have is reliable.

    So with that in mind, you will need to have:

    • A quiet private place to take the exam, where you won’t be disturbed
    • A computer with a webcam that is reliable and clear
    • An internet connection that is strong and won’t go down during your exam. Check with your institute if they have minimum requirements, or an internet connection test, just to make sure it’s going to be okay for your exam.

    Will my next exam be online?

    Each individual institute will be reviewing how they are doing their exams in the near future. Some institutes have cancelled them for the foreseeable future, and some are going to move to online as soon as they can, with at least one proposed to start exams this month.

    We will keep you as up to date as we can, but it’s best to check with your qualification provider for more information.

  • The Furloughed Student

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 23, 2020

    AAT student, Emily, is like many of our learners - adapting to change at short notice. She’s now re-prioritising work, life and study. We share her story.

    When the government restrictions were announced, I was sent home the next day and given full pay until the end of March. It was a little bit unnerving as it didn’t look like it was going to be as simple as the government first said.

    Our company told us a few things: that we were probably going to be put on furlough, that there might be redundancies, and that we should be ready to go back to work at any point! So there was a lot to consider.

    I work as a manager of a wig shop, mostly for people with cancer or alopecia. We are part subsidised by the NHS, so many of our patients get prescriptions for their wigs.

    Given the face to face nature of our company though, we obviously couldn’t work under the current circumstances. Working from home just wasn’t an option.

    More time to study?

    So being at home I thought ‘Maybe there’s an opportunity here. Maybe I can get through loads of my course stuff - when my son isn’t driving me mad’. I live with my young son you see. He’s at the high maintenance age.

    So I tried it. I tried working through my AAT Foundation work, but I just couldn’t concentrate. Whenever I would sit down to study my head was somewhere else. Work, son, money furlough, the world, there were too many things to think about.

    I realised I had to give myself time off to adjust. A week off. A break. So I did that and then went back into it a week later. It seemed to make the difference - I felt better. I think it’s because I allowed myself to establish an order and routine.

    Back into the swing of things

    When I managed to get back into it, I picked up where I left off. I carried on using the work books,and using some of the exercises to refresh. I went back over old ground and did some practise exercises based on the things I was familiar with.

    So now I’m in a routine of doing a little bit every day, after I’ve put my son to bed.

    To keep myself motivated I’m pretty much acting like my exams haven’t been cancelled, so I’m working towards my first exam and progressing as normal. But when the time comes, I’ll be ready. I’m at the start of my AAT ‘journey’, on the Bookkeeping controls exam - AAT Foundation Level.

    A work in progress

    I know it’s easier said than done as it’s hard balancing life, stress and study. The first week was ok for my son, but after that he started to get restless. Now he’s wanting to go to peoples’ houses or the park, so needs a lot of my attention.

    This situation is very weird, you just have to roll with it, although it can hit you all at once sometimes. I’ll be fine one moment and then I’ll suddenly pause and reflect on it all. At that point it can be hard to motivate yourself. My Mum and friends help to bring me back down to earth though.

    I’m also working on not taking time for granted. With this situation there is so much time, it makes it easy to keep putting things off and procrastinating. I’m getting there though.

    We know there are many of you in similar circumstances to Emily, so if you need any support during these times do visit our Covid19 page or contact our student services team.

  • Reducing stress through Live Online - a student story

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 23, 2020

    We love to hear from our students, and Peter Criddle is one of our Live Online advocates. He tells us why it worked for him, and how it can work for you.

    Hi Peter, how did you end up choosing Kaplan?

    I started my studies at BPP, but moved to Kaplan during my Professional level.

    I heard great things about Kaplan. Whenever I turned up to exams, I’d see all the students holding “Kaplan pocket revision guides”, so I started asking around and people had very positive things to say. When I went on the website and saw how much easier it was to book a course through them, my mind was made up.

    And what do you think of Live Online?

    Kaplan’s Live Online platform is reliable, everything works, and everything is useful. Really, that’s all the students need.

    I was working full time whilst studying. Fortunately, my company gave me time off for exams, and a couple of study days for each module I took. However, we had our second child in the middle of my course, so there were a lot of sacrifices that had to be made!

    Studying through LiveOnline was so much better for me than having to go to a classroom. It meant that I could stay in the office, or go home and study, and it meant I could spend less time commuting and more time with my family. It also meant that when I did get home, I could just enjoy the time that I had with my family.

    As I have been working and studying for so long, I've had to sacrifice a lot of time with my family. People should be prepared for that because it’s never easy, but it will all be worth it in the end.

    Thanks to ACCA, I'm now able to interview for a new role, and that will bring with it more money and added flexibility in terms of working hours. This will mean that I get to enjoy more time with my family in the long run.

    Any tips for those considering Live Online?

    Find somewhere to study that works for you

    I found that the best thing for me was to use my office as a place to study.

    It’s best to find somewhere where you can regularly go and get work done, whilst spreading it out over your course (rather than cramming at the end).This is really important during the key revision dates at the end of your course. You can’t afford to get distracted at that stage.

    Use the online resources

    There’s a wealth of really useful online study materials and you should definitely take advantage of these. I didn’t use them at first, but once I discovered them, I pretty much stopped using the textbook. It’s so easy to find the information.

    My Tax textbook is 1200 pages long, so it’s really hard to find information. Kaplan’s online materials saved me so much time, and they were so useful for my exam.

    What’s next for you?

    I’m considering a new role and have a lot to learn. I think I’m going to specialise in tax or treasury. Whatever I end up doing, I’m glad to have done Live Online with Kaplan - it made my life a lot easier and a lot less stressful.

    Considering Live Online?

    If Peter’s experience has inspired you, check out Live Online and our other study methods to find out which one will work best for you.

  • Online learning - don't forget VideoBank!

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 17, 2020

    In the wake of Covid19 many of you will have moved your classroom lessons to online, and you’ll be getting to grips with the learning tools at your disposal.

    Some of you may already have been using Live Online, but with the extra time might be looking to use other study resources you’ve previously taken for granted.

    Which is why we want to remind our learners not to forget about the benefits of VideoBank.


    VideoBank offers hundreds of bite-sized expert tutor-led videos, ideal for furthering your learning. They provide hints, tips, and practical advice on how to get through your exams and are useful for a whole range of accountancy topics.

    The videos are short and informal, not overwhelming, and don’t take up too much of your time.

    Why would I use it?

    Yes there are great benefits to using Live Online, or any of our other online study options, but adding to that with VideoBank could be helpful. It’s an alternative and visual way to break down information. This could be a great way to embed concepts you might be struggling with or only have a basic understanding of.

    VideoBank is accessible to all our students and is held within the MyKaplan platform. You simply click on ‘course content’ select ‘VideoBank’ and then search for whatever topic you want.

    For more of an overview watch our video:

    So make the most of the extra time you may have, with VideoBank - the alternative way to supplement your learning.

    Feedback to us

    If you can’t find what you’re looking for, email our team and tell us what you think should be on there. We are always looking to add valuable content to our library.

  • Moving on from AAT to ACCA

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 09, 2020

    If you're nearing the end of your AAT qualification, or if you finished it a little while ago, it might be time to start thinking about a move to ACCA.

    Here are some things to consider before making any decision.

    What is the difference between AAT and ACCA?

    AAT is your first step into accounting, and all you need to begin the course is enthusiasm. The Foundation level Certificate in Accounting will give you the basic accounting skills and knowledge, from costing and double-entry bookkeeping, to computerised accounting.

    ACCA is aimed at those with some previous qualifications. To start the Applied Knowledge level, you will need to have at least two A levels and three GCSEs or the Level 3 (Advanced) AAT qualification. If you have a Level 2 (Foundation) AAT qualification and don’t meet the A level and GCSE requirements, you can register for the ACCA Foundations in Accountancy qualification.

    The Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills levels of ACCA start at a more advanced level than AAT Level 2 and 3 (Foundation and Advanced).

    Its coverage is both broad and deep, focusing in detail on topics including Financial Accounting, Corporate and Business Law, and Performance Management.

    Progressing to ACCA after AAT Professional (Level 4)

    Once you’ve completed AAT Professional Diploma (level 4) you can go on to do the full ACCA qualification and become a chartered accountant, but you will also be able to apply for some exam exemptions (see below). ACCA is considered a much harder qualification to achieve, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

    The AAT fast track route to ACCA chartered status

    ACCA is one of several UK chartered accountancy bodies that offer AAT full members (MAAT) and fellow members (FMAAT) exemptions that allow them to complete a chartered qualification faster.

    ACCA to AAT Exemptions

    You will be eligible for ACCA exam exemptions once AAT qualified. You won’t need to sit Accountant in Business (AB - previously known as F1), Management Accounting (MA - previously F2), or Financial Accounting (FA - previously F3).

    How long will it take to move from AAT to being ACCA qualified?

    Thanks to the exemptions you get from being AAT qualified, you could complete your ACCA qualification in two years instead of three.

    How much does it cost to move to ACCA?

    In addition to course materials and exams, you will need to pay an initial one-off registration fee of £89, plus an additional annual subscription fee of £112 to the ACCA. This pricing is subject to change.

    Can I get my employer to pay for my qualification?

    Yes, especially in public practice. There are an increasing number of employers offering training contracts for chartered status. This opens up training opportunities in major commercial companies, such as those in the manufacturing, retail and telecoms industries.

    How hard are ACCA exams?

    The ACCA exams are demanding, and increase in difficulty as you go through the syllabus. If you start ACCA once AAT qualified, therefore exempt from the first three exams, the standard of the first ACCA exam is set at the level of a UK Bachelors degree. The Professional Level exams are set at a Masters degree level.

    But don’t worry - because you’ve completed the AAT qualification, you will have a really strong base to build on, and to develop through the ACCA qualification.

    Could I earn more with an ACCA qualification?

    The other thing to consider is where you want your career, and salary, to go. If you’re wanting a large salary with most doors open to you, then ACCA is the way forward. You could be looking at a salary of over £100,000* once qualified and a few years’ experience. With AAT you’re looking at roughly around £30,000.

    So should I do ACCA?

    In the end, it’s entirely up to you, but there are some things to consider. ACCA will take up a lot of your free time, so you’ll need to consider if you can really commit to it.

    You will also need to do 3 years’ work experience - this will be easy if you’re already in a relevant accounting or finance role, but worth considering if you’re not quite in the right position.

    For more information, watch a senior Kaplan tutor's webinar on the subject

    Need more help to decide?

    Have a look at our ACCA pages for more information about the qualification, what’s involved, and how it might work for you. Also our student services team are always on hand for any additional questions.


  • Are you new to Live Online?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 02, 2020

    It looks like attending face to face lectures is not going to be possible at least for the next few months given COVID-19. But the good news is this doesn’t mean you’ll need to put your career and financial education on hold.

    Because, as a result of not going out you will have more time to study and new technologies make it easier than ever to learn remotely.

    Using Live Online

    The online method that classroom students will probably be most familiar with is Live Online. This is where you are invited to a scheduled webcast, normally on a WebEx or Zoom platform with the lesson delivered live by a tutor.

    It’s not too different to the classroom experience, however, the classes are recorded. Attending live is really important though as it means you’ll have a fixed commitment, a date and time in the diary set aside for study.

    In addition, attending live will increase your levels of engagement. Even if you don’t contribute directly, concentration levels are higher and as a result learning is more effective.

    Here are some things to consider when using Live Online for the first time.

    Before class

    Check out any messages that might be sent in advance of the lecture. Tutors will often post a comment on the activity feed (forum), prior to class, reminding students what will be covered and or highlighting what you should be thinking about.

    Get ready for class

    In the same way that you prepare for a face to face lecture, you need to do the same for Live Online. Have the materials for that session ready in front of you, give yourself plenty of desk space, pens, coffee, calculator all at the ready.

    There is also some degree of mental preparation. Think of the session as a one-off event that you must make the most of. You shouldn’t need to watch the recording, no more than you would sit in a classroom lecture twice. It’s there to reinforce your learning, not act as a backup because you weren’t concentrating the first time.

    Follow closely and work the questions

    When the tutor starts, be ready to take notes - exactly as you would in a classroom. Make sure your sound quality and visuals are good and follow the tutor, annotating the notes as they do. If you are asked to perform a calculation or answer a question, give it your best shot. It doesn’t matter if you get it wrong, it’s having a go that’s important.

    Waiting for the tutor to put the answer on the screen is certainly easier but copying the answer is nowhere near as effective as working the problem. There is a term in learning called ‘desirable difficulty’, which states that although challenges slow down the speed of consumption, the effort made increases the level of retention. To put it simply - ‘No pain No gain’.

    Contribute to the chat panel

    Just because you aren’t contributing to the chat panel doesn’t mean you are not engaged, but it will make the session more enjoyable and go a whole lot faster.

    From a tutor’s perspective it’s really helpful to see comments in the panel. It gives an insight as to what students understand, or what might need further explanation. Without a student’s body language, the tutor finds it hard to judge their own performance with regard to pace, levels of detail and clarity of explanation.

    The one caveat about this is - not everyone wants to chat in the same way and not everyone wants to ask questions in class. So make sure it works for you - chatting should help, not be a distraction.

    After class, there’s more to do

    The session will of course be available to watch again and if you have the time by all means do so. However it’s a good idea to narrow down what you want to see to one or two areas rather than watching the whole lecture again.

    It’s far more important that you spend your time studying the areas not covered. These can be found together with any homework on MyKaplan. Alternatively, your tutor will highlight them.

    What you study online is a significant part of what you need to know, but not everything, so please make sure you put time aside to complete the additional work required before the next session.

    You might not have chosen to study remotely but Live Online is an excellent way of learning. It’s true that you need to be disciplined and you may miss being with your colleagues and friends, but as with many things post Covid-19, it will be interesting to see what permanent changes will result.

    More students learning online might be one of them.

    This blog is written by Stuart Pedley-Smith, Kaplan’s Head of Learning.

  • Joint 1st in the world - secrets to success

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 26, 2020

    We’re so proud of our student, Krupa Nandha, for being joint 1st in the world for her CIMA Strategic Case Study results. We asked her how she managed the exam, her tips for students, and plans for the future.

    Hi Krupa - congratulations! Tell us about receiving your results. How was that?

    I simply got the news in an email, it was a complete surprise. It’s a pretty cool achievement, you never think that with exams, I just hoped to pass it.

    Where are you based? What do you do?

    I’m based in London and work as a commercial finance analyst at TUI, the travel company. They put me through the CIMA course as it’s a requirement for my role.

    Which study method did you choose?

    I did Classroom for most of it, and a few modules OnDemand. I really liked going into classrooms for case studies especially. They’re so subjective and often complex. It’s great to discuss ideas with other people on your course as it helps you understand everything better.

    Discussions really helped my ideas and were a part of why I was successful.

    CIMA is more focussed on business and how finance works in a business

    Why did you mix up the study methods?

    It just depended on availability of the courses, although Classroom is always my preferred choice. However I’m not missing waking up on a Sunday to go to class!

    I did all 3 levels with Kaplan, over 3 years. I did my first level in a year, but Management level took longer because I was based elsewhere due to things going on in my personal life. I did the Strategic level in 8 months, as I just wanted it to be over and done with.

    Why CIMA?

    Most companies offer a choice between CIMA or ACCA, but CIMA is more focussed on business and how finance works in a business, rather than lots of technicalities on how to put accounts together.

    The qualification is a great stepping stone onto the next stage of my career. I can’t progress far without having the CIMA qualification when it comes to management accounting.

    The course is very useful if you’re going to work in accountancy as it’s very important to understand the standards and principles. The analytical skills and problem solving skills that you develop on the course are really useful for the role. These skills will benefit you in the long run, even if you don’t think you’re using them right away.

    What are the secrets to your success?

    A good work/life balance. I’m working full time alongside my course, so it’s a challenge to fit my CIMA studies around my lifestyle. I expected CIMA to take up a lot of my time, but I wasn’t quite expecting the sacrifices that I’d have to make. When all of my friends were making exciting plans for the weekend, I had to go home and study!

    So that was hard. I couldn’t go out on a Friday night. In between exams I had to make even more of an effort. But I made sure to plan a holiday around the time of each exam as a reward.

    These skills will benefit you in the long run, even if you don’t think you’re using them right away.

    Any advice for future students?

    Discipline is really important. If you’re working like me, you often have to sacrifice your evenings and spare time. So it’s important to do little, and often, to make sure you’re not cramming. It’s so much easier to understand the course and perform to your best when you spread it out and give yourself enough time to study for a subject and break it all down.

    Lots of practice questions - that’s the key. It’s really important to become familiar with the type and style of questions if you want to do your best. So take advantage of all the practice questions and spend time perfecting your technique for answering them.

    And for the Case Study itself - any tips?

    Be really familiar with the case study itself. Think of it not as a techy thing but more like if you were running the business and how would you do it. Try not to segregate the bits because you will be required to draw on knowledge from Management and Operational levels too.

    Don’t solely focus on being too specific as you need to have a wider understanding. Do as many practise questions as you can - that's what made a difference. There are no ways to cut corners.

    This level is more focussed on the strategic, bigger picture, and more about the real world and how practical stuff is. At Strategic level the questions can be broader, so you need more initiative, and working knowledge, to pass it.

    What does the future look like for you now?

    I’ve finished CIMA now and I’m looking to progress to the next role in Accounting. It could be an internal or an external move, I’m just figuring it out.

    We wish Krupa the very best of luck in her accounting career, and congratulations again for the fantastic exam results.

    If you’ve been inspired by Krupa, and want to find out more about CIMA, we have plenty of information about it on our CIMA course pages.

  • Getting back on track - studying ACCA after a break

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 19, 2020

    ACCA Regional Head of Education, John Cunningham, and Kaplan tutor Grace Hodgetts delivered a webinar aimed at helping ACCA students get back on track after a break in their studies.

    Over 200 people listened in and took part in the question and answer session. Here we’ve summarised the main points for you.


    Think back to when you first started studying. What was your reason for doing the course? Has anything changed? And do you still feel the same now as you did back then.

    Grace took a poll and found:

    Webinar poll results - What motivated you to study ACCA?

    Career progression - 60.9%

    A desire to work in finance - 21.7%

    Job security and good salary - 40.6%

    Other - 1.4% - including: I wanted to get a degree, I need more security in my career

    So as you can see, most people decided to study ACCA to progress their career, for more job security and for a good salary.

    This is what you need to revisit. Your motivation will get you through it. Look back at why you wanted to do it in the first place. It’s easy to forget why you’re doing it. Just because it’s been a while since you last sat an exam, don’t give up now. Your goal is still possible if you just remind yourself of your initial motivation.

    Getting back on track

    Have a think about when you want to sit your next exam. It’s always better to do it sooner rather than later, whilst the information you’ve learnt is still fresh.

    Webinar poll - When are you likely to sit your next exam?

    0-3 months - 41.6%

    4-6 months - 45.5%

    7-12 months - 9.1%

    Over 12 months - 3.9%

    Most people wanted to sit their next exam in the next six months - which is great. Most people are keen to get back on track. If you’re delaying because you’re nervous or concerned that you don’t have the knowledge, the sooner you get back on it the better. Pull together a good study plan and all the resources needed for the exam.

    As long as you have planned there’s no reason you can’t take the exam within the next 6 months. Get it done - finish the qualification and reap the awards. Don’t be afraid to book your exam sooner rather than later. If you make a commitment, it’s harder to back out, and easier to focus on.

    What route should you take?

    Grace focused on those who have completed Applied Skills and are yet to do Strategic Professional.

    Strategic Professional is made up of 4 exams - 2 compulsory and 2 optional.

    The compulsory exams are Strategic Business Leader (SBL) and Strategic Business Reporting (SBR).

    The optional exams are Advanced Financial Management (AFM), Advanced Performance Management (APM), Advanced Taxation (ATX-UK), and Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

    Grace advises that you do SBR first, especially if you’re choosing to do tax or audit as an optional exam. You will learn the essentials in SBR first, to help boost your confidence and knowledge.

    And she says to do SBL last, as all the technical information you learn earlier on will be vital for this exam. But she also says you can do the exams in any order that you like - whatever suits you best.

    No matter what options you choose, you will need to do Ethics and Professional Skills, and it’s best to do this module first, as ACCA have discovered that students who do EPSM first are 25% more likely to pass SBL.

    It’s an online module delivered via your MyACCA portal and should take you around 20 hours to complete. There is some great content in there relating to the Strategic Professional subjects you will go on to study, so it really is the best introduction to this level.

    Which sittings should I do?

    So you can take your exams in four sittings, or less,each year, it’s up to you. However keep in mind your time restraints and how much you are able to study before an exam.

    If you do 4 sittings you’ll always be studying. There will be little time for a break and recovery between exams. But it does mean you’ll get to focus on 1 subject at a time.

    If you do 2 sittings you’ll get a break between them, but you may lose motivation between the exams. You will also probably want to do 2 subjects at the same time to get qualified quickly, which means careful planning to balance your studies over two syllabi.

    Did you know?

    According to ACCA’s most recent global survey, 96% of employers think ACCA is a respected qualification.

    Study plans and progress

    Grace set the next question to see why people have slowed down, and why they are in the position where they find themselves having to get back on track. As we know, accountants want everything to be perfect, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that.

    Webinar poll - If your progress has slowed, why do you think that is?

    Not having time to study - 66.2%

    Studying is too expensive - 16.9%

    The subject is too difficult - 29.9%

    Other - 19.5% - volume of information, I’m a perfectionist, lack of motivation

    Grace pointed out that accountants want everything to be 100% perfect - but you only need 50% to pass these exams!

    Focusing on “not having time to study” here are some tips:

    Make a study plan

    • Set goal and target dates for your study
      • Start with your exam date
      • List all the tasks
      • Block our times you can’t study
      • Slot the tasks into your plan
    • Online calendars - access your plan anytime/anywhere
    • Consider your exemptions - you may need more time to brush up on your assumed knowledge - extra revision might be needed. Check what knowledge you should have before you sit the exam.
    • Be honest and realistic with yourself - you’re less likely to go off track.

    Set what date you want to sit the exam, and work backwards. List out all the tasks that you need to complete in the weeks you have between now and then. Make sure you have up to date materials, especially if you’re resitting. Just double check that you have the right syllabus for the exam you’re sitting.

    List out any assessments, mocks, and tests you want to complete and by when.

    Be honest in the times you can’t study. Block them out of your calendar straight away.

    Use your calendar like it’s your professional one. If you have a study slot, treat it as a business meeting - you have to attend.


    Grace’s advice is to give yourself 12 weeks before an exam. 4-5 weeks to absorb the knowledge, 2-3 weeks to start on questions and how to apply your knowledge, and then 3-4 weeks for final practice timed questions, using the CBE software, marking answers, and understanding where you’ve gone wrong.

    Essentially the top advice is to just get started - the sooner the better!

    One participant posed a question during this section: How long should I study? It is very personal. Some people will work an hour or 2 a day, some will work 6 hours on a weekend day.

    It really depends on what works for you. Don’t overestimate what you can do in a day. And remember to take breaks to rejuvenate and give your brain time to absorb the new information.

    Exam confidence - technique and tips

    Understand the verbs used in the exam questions - what are they asking you to do? i.e: are they asking you to name something? Simply name it - and it will probably be worth half a mark. Do they want you to explain or describe? You need to identify a term, and then give more detail - this would probably be 1 or more marks. Make sure you understand what they want eg: Critically discuss = disadvantages of something, not the advantages.

    Read examiners’ reports and articles from the examining team - this will help you find out what they’re looking for, and what pitfalls other students have made.

    Practice, practice, practice - and read the instructions carefully. You don’t want to set off writing about something that isn’t relevant.

    Try marking your own answers - learn where the easy marks come from, and find out what sort of questions trip you up the most.

    Computer based exams - make sure you’ve practiced doing them on the software that is used. It’s very different doing exams on the computer than on paper. The ACCA student support section has all the guidance about computer based exams, and videos showing how to use the software and what to expect.


    Remember the motivation you had at the beginning of your ACCA journey. There must have been a reason to do the qualification. Focus on that and get going. Don’t put it off any longer.

    If you’re ready to commit to an exam, book your ACCA exam now and get back on track. Best of luck.

  • How does CPD work for AAT?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 19, 2020

    Continuing Professional Development, or CPD for short, is an essential part of any career. You need to keep on learning and evolving as the world changes. And it’s vital in the fast changing world of finance.

    By doing AAT CPD it allows you to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with any relevant changes within the industry. It also shows clients and prospective employers that you’re up to date on all Accountancy practices, you are driven, you’re organised, and that you set high standards for yourself.

    Who needs to record CPD hours?

    Every full and fellow AAT member has to do CPD. The only people who are exempt are those who have retired and will not be returning to work.

    What qualifies as CPD?

    There are four different types of CPD for AAT. These are:

    • Work-based learning - including coaching or mentoring from colleagues or specialists, work shadowing, being a representative on a committee, or expanding your job role.
    • Professional activity - attending local AAT branch meetings, networking, career events, mentoring or conference and relevant events.
    • Formal/educational - taking a course, attending a seminar, undertaking an e-learning course, writing papers, or doing research.
    • Self-directed learning - webinars, listening to podcasts, volunteering, reading and research.

    How do I record CPD?

    It’s your responsibility to track and record all of your CPD activities, but AAT have made it simple with their online CPD record tool, accessible via your AAT account. You can also download free online templates if you don’t want to use the online tool.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated, just as long as you evidence the area for development, activities planned to meet this, date completed, and the hours that count towards CPD.

    Interested in AAT?

    If you’re interested in the AAT qualification, and want to learn more, check out our AAT pages for more information.

  • The benefits of ACCA to employers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 04, 2022

    We often talk about the merits of studying ACCA from the perspective of potential learners, but why, and how, could it benefit employers and organisations as a whole? Read on to find out more.

    Firstly, what is ACCA?

    ACCA stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It’s a globally recognised qualification and is ideal for those wanting to become a chartered accountant, or work in accountancy, tax or audit.

    Why should your employees do ACCA?

    By completing the ACCA qualification your employees will gain essential skills and knowledge needed to add value to your organisation. They will have extensive finance and business skills, adding knowledge to their teams. They will be able to take on higher level roles and responsibilities, and communicate effectively with important internal and external stakeholders on key business and financial matters.

    Is it just an accounting qualification?

    Not at all - there’s a lot more to ACCA than first meets the eye. It’s not just an accountancy qualification as it focuses a lot more on business as a whole. For example during Applied Skills the subjects include Corporate and Business Law in England and globally.

    Learners also study Performance Management, discovering techniques for planning, decision-making, performance evaluation and control. It’s not just spreadsheets and numbers.

    And at the Strategic Professional level, your employees will study ethics and professional skills, as well as business leadership, and advanced financial and performance management. They’ll get a lot more out of this, as will you, than if they did a low level accounting course.

    What is the ACCA approved employer programme?

    The ACCA Approved Employer Programme recognises employers’ high standards of staff training and development. The ACCA recognise and reward organisations that support the ACCA qualification, and set the highest standards of employee support. By becoming an approved employer your organisation will receive a number of benefits via ACCA, including free recruitment services, quality assurance, research and industry insights, discounts on courses, and support from ACCA themselves.

    How do I get my employees ACCA qualified?

    Have a look at our ACCA pages and see what the qualification involves. Most people can start Applied Knowledge with three GSCEs and an A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) - you can check on the ACCA website to see the various entry requirements.

    If any of your employees have already completed the AAT qualification, they can start at Applied Skills. They would have to apply for an ACCA exemption - more information can be found on the ACCA website.

    Need more information?

    If you’d like to speak to one of our team about getting your employees ACCA qualified, or any other qualification, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Latest Accountancy & Tax posts