The Certificate level ACA accounting exam is likely to be the first exam that you sit. This exam teaches you the fundamentals of accounting which are comprehensively built on in further exams.
Looking back at all 15 exams, I would say that this is the most critical for building the foundation of knowledge. Though the content appears simple to me now, it certainly isn’t one to take lightly…
Overview of ACA Accounting Exam
I would describe the ACA accounting exam as Accounting 101. Essentially this exam gets you used to thinking in the language of accounting and enables you to prepare and understand basic financial statements.
If you have not studied accounting before (which many students have not), the concepts taught in this paper can be difficult to understand. You need to master how debits and credits work, and how journal entries are used to produce a trial balance, which in turn is used to create a set of financial statements.
There is an introduction to many accounting areas in this paper, such as:
- Cash reconciliations
- Accounts receivable/Payable
- Financial statements (Balance sheet/P&L/Cash Flow)
Method of Assessment
The ACA accounting exam is 1.5 hours long and is computer based (as with all ACA exams from 2019).
40% of the marks are allocated to the long form question, which is the preparation of single company financial statements. This can be either in the form of an income statement, balance sheet or cash flow.
60% of the marks are allocated to 24 multiple choice questions which cover all areas of the syllabus (as follows).
1 Maintaining financial records 30%
2 Adjustments to accounting records and financial statements 25%
3 Preparing financial statements 45%
How to pass ACA Accounting Exam
To pass the accounting exam and to be comfortable with the accounting content for future exams, I really recommend spending sufficient time on this paper so that you really understand the logic behind the exam answers.
As with most exams, question practice is key here and completing the question bank would put you in great stead to ace the exam.
That said, my advice would be to really think about answers to question bank questions, rather than simply flicking to the back and thinking ‘makes sense’. It often takes a bit more time to really understand these concepts which will make all the difference.
In terms of exam tips, focus on nailing the long form accounts preparation question which is worth 40% of the marks. These tend to be very similar to practice questions and so being comfortable with the QB will give you a solid foundation here. Once you know you have most of the long form marks in the bank, you should be confident knowing you have a buffer for the MCQs.
How hard is ACA Accounting Exam?
The pass rate for this exam is actually the lowest of all 15 ACA exams at around 70%. This may seem strange given the concepts are fairly straightforward (at least looking back), however given that this is the introduction to accounting for many people, understanding debits and credits can be very challenging.
It should also be noted that for most people on training contracts, this will be the first exam sat. As you probably know, exam failures can have big consequences and therefore there is often a lot of pressure on these first exams and therefore this can add to the difficulty.
Overall, assuming you are new to accounting, I would say this exam is quite difficult and for that reason I would rate this 3 out of 5 for difficulty.
For hints and tips on each of the other ACA exams, click here!