Skip to main content

Award winning training provider

Award winning training provider

Excellent pass rates

Tutor support until late

Market leader

ACCA Expert Tips and Technique - F1-F3 papers - computer based exams

ACCA Approved Learning Partner Platinum

Tips for Computer Based Exams

Computer Based Exams (CBEs) are available for ACCA Knowledge module papers F1, F2 (MMA) & F3 (MFA) and for F4 as an alternative to the Paper Based Exams (PBE).

Why should I attempt a CBE, rather than a PBE?

We think that there are more advantages for students to sit a computer based exam. Please view our comparison table below which should help you to decide.

Benefits of taking CBE compared to a PBE
Computer Based Exam (CBE) Paper Based Exam (PBE)
Dates & times are flexible, available throughout the year, so you should be able to select an exam date and time to suit your personal circumstances. Fixed date per paper, once in June and once in December, starting at 10am GMT.
Sat at Kaplan centre (if you are a Kaplan student, this will be a familiar location; you know where to park and how much time it takes to get there, making you more relaxed on the exam day). Sat at ACCA regional exam centre (formal situation which can put pressure on students, especially if you don't know the location).
Book your exam directly with Kaplan, when it suits you (subject to availability). Formal ACCA exam entry process with strict deadlines.
Answers entered directly on computer, which you can review and amend easily. Answers marked in official exam answer booklet. Special process to follow to change an answer.
Results available immediately at end of exam, so no worrying wait for results. Results released by the ACCA approximately 9 weeks after each exam sitting
Get feedback on marks achieved per topic, so can identify areas for additional study. No feedback on exam.
If necessary, can resit exam almost immediately (subject to CBE availability) whilst topics are still fresh in your mind. Will have to wait 6 months to resit a paper-based exam.

How should I prepare for a CBE?

The whole of the syllabus is examinable therefore you should have practiced and be confident in all syllabus areas. To give you the best chance of passing and full support, we recommend that you join a Kaplan course. There are various options available: Part-time Pass & Go, Full-time, Live Online, Online and Distance Learning. Alternatively, you could purchase separate Kaplan Publishing study materials.


You should aim to work as many practice questions as possible. With lots of practice you will recognise familiar patterns and formats and this will make it easier in the real exam.

As a Kaplan student you should also practice questions on MyKaplan. Answering questions on a computer screen is very different to answering a paper exam therefore practicing answering computer based questions is vital.

Read each question carefully. Sounds obvious, but many students try and find the question that they are familiar with instead of reading the actual requirement. The requirement is usually at the end of the question. So, read the requirement, think about what type of information is needed to answer the question, and then look for the information.

Don't spend time making your workings perfect - no one will see them.

Make sure you are familiar with your calculator - do not buy a new one the day before your exam! You should know how to use all the relevant functions and for example, the most efficient way of working out a percentage. You may wish to consider purchasing a second identical calculator as a spare too.

All question practice should be attempted under exam conditions and to exam time.


As you have 50 questions to complete in 2 hours, it will mean an average of 2.4 minutes per question. Please be aware that some questions may require more time than others, so you should be looking at average timing.

Therefore, it is recommended that you answer questions in batches of 10 and aim to do 10 questions in 24 minutes. Practice timing questions in batches and work out which type of questions will take longer to answer, so you don’t panic if you go over your 2.4 minutes on a particular question.

Getting help

If you find that there is a particular topic that you are struggling with review your course notes and text books before attempting more questions. Do not waste time writing out revision notes, the best revision is question practice. You can contact your Kaplan tutor for assistance too.

If possible, try and think of fun ways to practice – perhaps hold a quiz with colleagues who are also studying.

What types of questions appear on the CBE?

There will be 50 randomly selected multiple choice or single number entry questions:

Each question is worth 2 marks each and the pass mark is 50%. The questions will be a mix:

  • Multiple choice (A B C or D; A B or C; A or B)
  • True or false
  • Select 2 options which match the criteria requested
  • Fill in the blank
  • Numerical entries (not applicable for paper F1)

What happens during a CBE?


A maximum of 2 hours is allotted for a CBE. You should arrive at the exam location 30 minutes before the actual exam start time, and allow 15 minutes after your exam before you leave.

What to take with you into the exam room

You must have official photo ID. If you registered before April 2011 you will need to take your ACCA registration card; alternatively please take a Drivers License or Passport.

You are allowed to take into the exam room: pens, pencils, rulers and calculators (without printout facility or programmable function).

You are NOT permitted to take in the exam room with you: mobile phone, pencil case, books/notes or any other papers/notebooks.

You may wish to take a watch too – although there is a timer on the CBE screen.

What you will be given in your exam

You will be given paper to do your rough workings on.

You will receive printed instructions on the CBE process.

If you are sitting paper F2, you will also be given an ACCA formula sheet.

What you should do when you enter the exam room

Remain silent from when you enter, as you are then under exam conditions.

Sit at the desk allocated and ensure you are comfortable, adjusting your chair, the monitor position, keyboard and mouse placement, until you are happy with the set up.

Read through the ACCA official instructions handed out.

Listen to the invigilator’s instructions. Ask the invigilator any questions you have, prior to the commencement of the exam. Raise your hand to ask a question.

At the start of the exam

You will need to follow the instructions on screen. This will include entering your ACCA registration number and date of birth.

Your name and the name of the exam will appear on screen – ensure that this is the correct exam that you are planning to sit. Inform the invigilator if any of the information is not correct.

There are then 3 pages of formal instructions on screen to read, before the invigilator will give you permission to start the exam.

During the exam

ACCA CBE diagram

Don't leave any multiple choice questions unanswered, if you really don't know which answer is correct just make a guess. You have a 25% chance of being correct!

Provided you have time, review each question/ answer at least twice.

At the end of the exam

The CBE will automatically end after your 2 hours are up.

You can finish early if you are certain that you have completed every question to the best of your ability, by clicking on the 'Exit' icon. Don’t feel pressured to finish early simply because some other candidates in the exam room may have done so.

A summary of your exam will appear – this will show the marks gained in each main topic area and an overall mark. This is out of 100%. You are required to achieve 50% or more in order to pass.

Raise your hand and the invigilator will come over and note your result. When instructed to do so, print two copies of your provisional results. You will then be given permission to leave.

What next?

If you have passed, your result will automatically be uploaded onto the myACCA section of the ACCA website – this can take up to 7 days.

If you were unsuccessful, you will need to arrange a resit.

Where and when can I take my CBE?


Kaplan Centres have been accredited by ACCA to hold CBEs. You can book your CBE online for your local centre.

When to take your CBE

Kaplan students normally attempt their CBE approximately one – two weeks after completing their course, whilst all the information is fresh in their mind. However, you can opt to take your exam earlier if you feel ready, or delay if you want to practice more first. The choice is yours.

CBEs are available all year round, subject to availability, and may be offered in the week, at the weekend or in the evening, giving you flexibility of choice. Your local centre will be able to advise you when the next available date and time is. We recommend that you book your CBE well in advance, as places do get booked up quite quickly.

ACCA CBE deadlines

There are certain deadlines which may affect your decision as to when to take your CBE.

Under ACCA rules, a student may only sit a maximum of 4 papers in an exam sitting. Sittings run in the following periods:

  • June sitting 1 February – 31 July
  • December sitting 1 August – 31 January

Therefore, if you are planning to sit F1 in February, F2 in March and F3 in May, then you could only sit one exam in June to reach your 4 paper maximum, regardless of whether that exam is computer or paper-based.

You are not able to book a CBE until ACCA have provided you with your ACCA student registration number as this is required to enter you for the exam.

Can I practice a CBE?

Yes! In fact we think it is essential that you practice answering questions on a computer before the real exam, as well as practicing normal written questions.

Firstly, all Kaplan students on a course or who have purchased a text book from Kaplan Publishing, should try our online questions at MyKaplan. These are short online tests which, when completed, show your score and, if you got a question wrong, you can review a correct answer explanation. Once you have completed all the questions on MyKaplan then you should attempt the CBE pilot on the ACCA website:

As well as more question practice, you will become familiar with how to move around the actual CBE screens, giving you confidence and saving you time in the real exam.