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The ACCA CBE exam changes

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If you’re about to sit one of ACCA’s final level exams you’ll have heard about the change from paper to computer based exams (CBEs). This is to be rolled out in selected locations from March 2020.

The ACCA is making the change as part of their long term plan to digitally transform their exams. They want to prepare the modern professional accountant for an increasingly digital world and help produce work-ready students.

At Kaplan, we’ve taken a similar approach, with our OnDemand study method.

What is an ACCA Computer Based Exam?

There are two types of computer based exams - Session and On-demand. Session CBEs take place during the four annual ACCA exam sittings and need to be booked via ACCA’s online booking system, whereas on-demand CBEs can be booked anytime.

You get your results for On-demand CBEs as soon as you finish the exam, and for session CBEs around 6 weeks after the exam as these still have an element of human marking.

The Strategic Professional exams will be Session CBEs.

What will the Strategic Professional CBE (except SBL) be like?

The Strategic Professional CBE exam will be 3 hours and 15 minutes long, with an additional 10 minutes to read instructions.

The exam carries 100 marks and is made up of two sections, A and B. You’ll be expected to answer questions using a word processor and spreadsheet tools.

Watch ACCA’s video below, created to explain how the ACCA CBE Software works, and what to expect in Strategic Professional CBEs.

 What will the Strategic Business Leader CBE be like?

The Strategic Business Leader CBE exam will be 4 hours, with an additional 10 minutes to read instructions.

The exam carries 100 marks and has one case study scenario with multiple tasks. You’ll be expected to answer questions using a word processor, spreadsheet tools and possibly slides.

Watch ACCA’s video below, created to explain how the ACCA CBE Software works for the Strategic Business Leader exam.

 When will the changes to CBEs be rolled out?

Strategic Professional subjects will start being examined in computer format in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Ireland and the Czech Republic in March 2020.

From June 2020, London and all other UK locations will use CBEs for ACCA Strategic Professional level. From September 2020 it will be rolled out worldwide. You can check the international rollout schedule on the ACCA website.

Once CBEs are offered in a location, you will no longer have the option to sit the paper version of these exams.

Don’t worry, the ACCA CBEs aren’t difficult

While a change to the exam format can sound scary, you’re likely to find it very beneficial. The content is the same as the paper-based exam.

ACCA has been using CBEs for Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills exams for some time now, so students progressing to Strategic Professional exams will enjoy a smooth transition.

ACCA CBE software gets you work-ready

For those of you who haven’t experienced the CBE format yet, it really is a great piece of software. ACCA has worked hard to create an environment that produces work-ready students.

With it you’ll be able to use formulae in calculations, and copy and paste technical information from scenarios to help plan your answers, just like you would at work (as per the image).

Close up of computer screen

 How to prepare for Strategic Professional ACCA CBEs

Your usual exam question practice is key. Also, Kaplan students benefit from our virtual learning environment (MyKaplan) which offers a personalised online study space.

  • Learn about how to use the exam software to get as much experience as possible. Word and Excel have more functionality than the exam software, so we advise you stick to the exam software to replicate the real exam experience.
  • Watch exam preparation videos and read articles from ACCA’s wealth of online resources. Many of them are linked to from your MyKaplan course environment.
  • Practice your revision mock and question-based mock in the software we’ve designed to give you the look and feel of the CBE within your MyKaplan courses.
  • Use ACCA’s specimen exams and past papers to build your confidence using the software for each subject. You’ll find these within a practice platform you can access via your MyACCA portal.

If you have any questions about the changes, why not give our Student Services team a call? They’ll be happy to reassure you and help you find the resources you need to prepare for CBEs.

Learn how Kaplan is also supporting the more digital accountant of tomorrow with our award-winning ACCA On-Demand study option which blends self-study with a tutor-led course.

Good luck!