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ACCA Qualification – the future

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On Monday 10th October, ACCA announced some significant changes to their qualification. The design of the qualification followed an extensive two year review and consultation with a number of stakeholder groups, including employers and students. The aim of the re-designed qualification is to give students the forward-thinking strategic abilities and advanced skill set required of modern professional accountants who will shape the future of global business. It integrates ethics and professional skills with deep, broad and relevant technical skills. The qualification will have a real –world focus resulting in students who will be prepared to handle the challenges of the workplace immediately.

Key features:

  • A new Ethics and Professional Skills module
  • P1 & P3 replaced with a case study
  • P2 overhauled, to give students more experience in finance and business reporting

In brief the changes include; a new Ethics and Professional Skills module, that will replace the current Professional Ethics Module in October 2017 and from the September 2018 examinations, P1 & P3 will be withdrawn to be replaced with a case study and P2 will be overhauled to expose students to the wider context of finance and business reporting. Please see below for further details. 

From October 2017, ACCA will be making changes to the ethics module

  • The Professional Ethics Module will be withdrawn and replaced with Ethics & Professional Skills, a new module that has ethics at its core but also focuses on employability and the professional skills that accountants in the 21st Century need.
  • It aims to develop the professional skills and leadership capabilities to make students more employable and increase their effectiveness and career potential in the work place. It also  introduces and applies the key ethical and professional skills and behaviours required to help prepare students for the Strategic Business Leader examination (please see below).

Changes to the Professional Level examinable from September 2018

Professional Level will become known as Strategic Professional. It will still consist of the Essentials and Options subjects. The Options level will see no change in structure but syllabi will be refreshed.

However there will be extensive changes to the ‘Essentials’ level.

P1 & P3 will be withdrawn and replaced by a new case study, Strategic Business Leader (SBL). This case study is based on a realistic business scenario and aims to give students the skills and technical expertise required by modern businesses.

It will be a 4 hour exam and will not have any pre-seen information; all information will be provided on the day. In the specimen exams this was made up of 6 exhibits, 8-9 pages of information in a variety of formats such as Company background, an interview transcript, integrated reporting data, board reports, and notes from a meeting. It unites governance, risk, ethics and business analysis to mirror the workplace more closely than traditional exams preparing your staff for the real life challenges they will experience as part of their everyday working lives.

There is a much greater emphasis on professional skills, 20 professional marks were available in both of the specimen exams awarded for demonstrating commercial acumen, scepticism, analytical skills and communication skills.

P2 will be revamped and will be renamed Strategic Business Reporting (SBR). It will remain as a 3hour 15 minute exam testing the underpinning principles of corporate reporting but will go further than the current exam to give students the vital skills needed to explain and communicate, to a range of stakeholders, the implications of transactions and reporting. This new examination will better reflect the role of strategic accountants in a modern business environment.

Within Kaplan, our publishing team, as official ACCA publishers, have been involved in the consultation process and are currently working on the creation of new material to support the September 2018 exam sitting and beyond. We are looking at the implication this will have on our courses and will keep you posted on any developments.

How do these changes affect students’ studies?

There are 7 exam sessions remaining before September 2018 so it is essential to plan ahead and think about the number of exam sessions students may want to study to before September 2018. Then it is essential to consider how many papers will be taken each sitting and in what order they will be sat. It is important that this planning takes place so that every exam a student has sat will count towards their final qualification.

In order to receive an exemption (converted pass) from the Strategic Business Leader exam students must have passed both P1 and P3. If they have have passed just one, unfortunately they will lose this pass. It is therefore important for students to plan their studies so they will have passed both subjects by the September 2018. Alternatively, students might decide they should sit P2 and some of their Options papers first and attempt the Strategic Business leader exam at (or after) the September 2018 session.

If a student has passed P2 they will automatically receive a converted pass in the Strategic Business Reporting exam.

Any student that has passed the existing Professional Ethics Module (PEM) by October 2017 will retain the credit. However, they will have access to the new Ethics and Professional Skills module if they would like to attempt it. If they have not completed their Strategic Professional exams, students may find it useful to attempt the new module, even if they have already passed PEM, as not only has it been designed to help develop the professional skills required in the workplace but it will also support their studies at the Strategic Professional level.

ACCA have provided a tool to guide you through the transition based on a students’ individual circumstances. Please follow the link below:

For access to the syllabi and specimen papers please follow the link below:

If you have any queries or would like more specific information, please contact one of the Kaplan team on 0161 259 7400.