The ACA Advanced level Case Study (CS) exam is the final exam sat by ACA candidates.
The Case Study exam is designed to test all areas developed in previous ACA exams. The exam places the student at the heart of a business and gives students a ‘case’ which students are given around 4 weeks prior to the exam.
The case is a fictional information source which contains background, news articles and some financial information about a fictitious business.
The paper itself is actually not very technically challenging. Instead, the exam assesses how students are able to analyse a specific business scenario and apply accounting concepts to solve problems. The exam itself is intended to be written as if it were a report being produced.
A key difference with this exam is the way that marks are awarded. Rather than having to score a percentage of marks in aggregate over the whole paper, each of the three individual questions must be passed in order to pass the exam.
Method of assessment
The ACA Case Study exam itself is 4 hours and given it forms part of the Advanced level, it can only be sat in one of two exam periods. These are in July and November each year.
As such, in each exam sitting all candidates will be set the same questions.
The exam will consist of three questions, and ethical issues and problems will likely appear in both questions.
The exam is fully open book and therefore students are permitted to take any written or printed material into the exam – this includes the pre-release.
How to pass ACA Case Study Exam
Without doubt the most difficult element of this exam and the main reason that candidates fail is the time pressure.
I’m order to pass this exam, you need to be regimented with your time keeping. You need to go into the exam having already worked out how many minutes per mark you are giving yourself, with a plan as to at what time you are going to move on to the next question.
In addition, make sure that the case that you have been given is tabbed up and organised, so you are able to flick to a particular area very quickly. I found a good way of doing this was to create an index which was colour coded. This was the way I found easiest to find pieces of information as I needed them.
Finally, make sure that you practice the first question over and over again. The first question of the paper is virtually the same in every sitting in that you are required to calculate year on year variances against the financial results presented in the pre-release case. This can be an easy way to pick up some marks without using up too much time.
How hard is the ACA Case Study Exam?
As Case Study is the final exam, many would expect this to be the hardest exam of all. However, especially in terms of content, this is not the case.
The difficulty here lies in the time pressure and the very specific mark scheme which comes with this exam. As such, timed practice papers are key to passing this exam.
That said, assuming preparation has been thorough, this exam is certainly passable.
I would give this exam a 4 out of 5 for difficulty.
The pass rate for this exam is 76.83%