Skip to main content

Selecting your ACCA Options papers

Books and pen

Within the Professional Level of ACCA there are four optional papers:

  • P4 - Advanced Financial Management
  • P5 - Advanced Performance Management
  • P6 - Advanced Taxation
  • P7 - Advanced Auditing and Assurance

Each student has to select, study and pass only two of these four exams. Choosing the right papers for you is very important. We hope the guidance below helps you make the right choice.

General information and guidance

The optional papers all build on the knowledge gained in a related subject in the Skills module. If you found the lower level paper extremely difficult or were exempt from it, you are likely to struggle at the higher level paper. Therefore, we suggest you avoid choosing an optional paper in these circumstances, if possible.

ACCA pass rates

Our pass rates are proven - 46 of our classes achieved 100% pass rates in the June 2017 exam sitting*.

*Based on ACCA F5-F9, P1-P3, P6 and P7 papers for part time classroom students across 14 Kaplan centres at the June 2017 sitting.

If you currently work in a specific role (e.g. auditor) it may give you an advantage to select a paper that examines topics you will have already experienced in your role, and vice versa. However, if you are thinking of changing your role in the future, you may wish to choose a paper which reflects your future career plans.

Read through the detailed study and syllabus guides on the ACCA website and view past exam papers. This will give you an idea of the type of topics covered. If you are interested in a particular subject, then it often makes studying and understanding the topics much easier.

Exam information

From September 2016 each exam will simply be 3 hours and 15 minutes long.

The exam papers are divided into two sections:

Section A - compulsory - normally two questions carrying approx 60% of the marks

Section B - select 2 out of 3 or 4 questions, for the remaining 40%

Need any more help?

We hope that the information above and in the following notes will assist you to make a choice on which optional papers are best for you.

If you need further help, we suggest you contact your local Kaplan centre and discuss your position with an experienced ACCA optional paper tutor. The ideal time to do this is during an ACCA Open Day although tutors are available all year round. To find out more about our courses, please visit the Kaplan Financial website.

Alternatively, please contact customersupport@kaplan.co.uk and we will help you with your enquiry.


P4 - Advanced Financial Management - AFM

What assumed knowledge will I need?

P4 follows on directly from F9 and the key areas for P4 are Investment Appraisal, Corporate Finance and Risk Management. Students who enjoyed F9 would be well suited to P4 as all of the topics in F9 are examinable again at P4 but in far greater depth and in a much more open ended way. Students need to think through financial management issues and come up with their own solutions and suggestions and there is often more than one way of answering the question’s requirements.

What is the style of examination?

The P4 exam is a combination of calculation and discussion and will therefore suit those who are good all-rounders, and who can cope with both numerical and discursive aspects of exams. The exam is very demanding but by focusing on the basics, students should obtain enough marks to pass.

Will it suit me and how will it help for the future?

P4 is particularly suited to those who work in commerce and industry, and especially those who are likely to be involved in strategic planning, project appraisal, corporate finance or risk management. It fits well with either P5 or P7, and some of the material and ideas overlap with P5. It would also suit students working in practice who may wish to pursue a career in business or financial advice rather than pure tax or audit and assurance.

Syllabus

Available on the ACCA Global website.

Aim of paper

To apply relevant knowledge, skills, and exercise professional judgement as expected of a senior financial executive or advisor, in taking or recommending decisions relating to the financial management of an organisation.

P5 - Advanced Performance Management - APM

What assumed knowledge will I need?

P5 is a high level Management Accounting paper and the P5 syllabus assumes a sound knowledge of papers F2, F5 and P3. Consequently, a review of these subjects is recommended before beginning the course.

What is the style of examination?

Candidates are often misled in believing that P5 is a purely discursive paper and in fact there is a large computational element, typically 50% of the marks. Section A questions may or may not be based upon the same scenario and may test areas from several parts of the syllabus. Section B questions are based in a small scenario and at least one will be entirely discursive in nature.

Will it suit me and how will it help for the future?

P5 is particularly suited to those working in industry dealing with management accounts on a daily basis.

Syllabus

Available on the ACCA Global website.

Aim of paper

To apply relevant knowledge, skills, and exercise professional judgement in selecting and applying strategic management accounting techniques in different business contexts and to contribute to the evaluation of the performance of an organisation and its strategic development.

P6 - Advanced Tax - ATX

What assumed knowledge will I need?

A candidate choosing to study Advanced Tax at professional level should be prepared to build upon the technical skills acquired at F6 or other previous studies if exempted from F6. A sound knowledge of current income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, National Insurance and VAT rules will be assumed when students begin the P6 course.

If F6 has not been studied recently, then the purchase of a Kaplan Finance Act Update course is highly recommended, as this will explain (via an online video and book) the impact of the latest Finance Act on the F6 syllabus and highlight the required knowledge which is assumed at the start of the P6 course. If you purchase a Kaplan P6 tuition course, the Finance Act Update is included automatically.

What is the style of examination?

The emphasis of the P6 syllabus will be to provide students with a professional and practical application of tax rules that they are likely to face in a scenario with a client.

Consequently it is both a computational and discursive exam with real life multi-tax scenario questions requiring the application of higher skills to give tax planning advice and understand the interaction of taxes.

The P6 exam requires the following skill sets: analytical ability, technical tax knowledge and computational ability.

Will it suit me and how will it help for the future?

P6 is often a paper that is popular with people that work in a practice or tax environment and P6 will allow them to gain expertise in this area. Knowledge of tax is also important to individuals who work in commerce or plan on a business consulting career.

P6 Advanced Tax is popular with students as it examines real life scenarios which people find both interesting and relevant.

Candidates who have passed the final examinations of the ACCA (including P6 Advanced Tax UK variant) may apply for exemption credit for the Application and Interaction paper of the CTA qualification.

In addition to this, having passed P6 it may be useful for students to consider sitting it with P7 to assist them in obtaining an ACCA Practising Certificate in the future (subject to ACCA approval).

Syllabus

Available on the ACCA Global website.

Aim of paper

To apply relevant knowledge, skills, and exercise professional judgement in providing relevant information and advice to individuals and businesses on the impact of the major taxes on financial decisions and situations.

P7 - Advanced Audit and Assurance - AAA

What assumed knowledge will I need?

P7 should only be selected at professional level if the student has a sound knowledge of the material covered in F8 Audit and Assurance and P2 Corporate Reporting.

What is the style of examination?

P7 is a wholly discursive paper and the questioning style within the P7 exam will require the use of higher skills and the application of a variety of auditing techniques not seen or expected at F8. Candidates will draw on many different areas of the P7 syllabus as well as good corporate reporting knowledge. The advanced audit examiner is happy to examine the audit of complex areas of Corporate Reporting such as Share based payment. You will need to know your IFRS’s from P2 for this one. The questions will be split into a number of requirements that may cover any area of the syllabus and section B will examine using a short scenario focusing on much more specific topics.

Will it suit me and how will it help for the future?

P7 is a very practical exam that is popular with students that have a senior audit role within a firm of Accountants that offers audit and assurance to clients. It is therefore a more practical exam than F8 and the candidate will be placed in a real life scenario when attempting questions in which to apply gained knowledge.

Syllabus

Available on the ACCA Global website.

Aim of paper

To apply relevant knowledge, skills, and exercise professional judgement in analysing, evaluating, concluding and reporting on the assurance engagement and other audit and assurance issues in the context of best practice and current developments.