ACCA pre-exam checklist


Sourced from the ACCA website

We provide guidance on preparing for your exams, including what to bring with you on the day, regulations, how to maximise opportunities for earning marks and how to organise your exam answers

Examination Attendance Dockets are dispatched three weeks before your first exam. The Examination Attendance Docket includes a timetable of all the exams you are entered for, and details the desk assigned to you for each paper. Importantly, it also gives the address of your exam centre. If you are not sure where the centre is, how to get there, or how long the journey may take, check out your route before the exam. Make allowances for rush hour traffic or other possible delays if your exam starts at a busy time of day. Try to arrive at the exam centre about 30 minutes before the exam is due to start. This will give you time to relax and prepare yourself.

As well as photographic ID, also bring your Examination Attendance Docket to your exam as it will be used to verify your attendance. You must sit at the desk shown on your docket. The supervisor will collect your Examination Attendance Docket during the exam, so please keep it available on your desk. If you have any other exams during the session, the Examination Attendance Docket will be returned to you. If it is your last (or only) exam, the supervisor will keep the Examination Attendance Docket for ACCA’s records.

The Examination Attendance Docket also details important exam regulations and guidelines that you must abide by during the exams; read these carefully, and make sure you only take permitted equipment into the exam. The exam rules and regulations appear in the Notice board section of Student Accountant.

Duplicate Examination Attendance Dockets can be downloaded via myACCA.

When you arrive at your exam desk

On your exam desk will be:

  • a Candidate Answer Booklet
  • the Examination Question Paper
  • Check that you have the booklet, and the correct version of the exam paper, before the exam begins. If you have any queries, raise your hand and an invigilator will come to you.

Exam regulations

Before your exam starts, the supervisor will make any announcements and go through the exam regulations. If you have any queries once the exam starts – for example, if you want additional booklets or need to go to the bathroom – raise your hand. An invigilator will attend to you.

For security reasons, because ACCA holds exams worldwide, you must remain in the exam hall until the end of the exam. All papers –including your Question Paper and Candidate Answer Booklets – will be collected before you are allowed to leave.

How to make points and present answers

It seems obvious, but answers must be appropriate to the requirement in terms of form, length and depth. Ideally, answer questions using clear and relatively short sentences, although answer length does depend on the instructional verbs used in the requirement.

For example, for requirements asking for a ‘list’, or a ‘brief description’, bullet points or brief points will be adequate. If ‘explanation’ is required, then fuller answers should be given; each valid point will normally attract a mark, depending on the mark allocation. If a requirement asks for analysis or evaluation, then develop points logically, relevantly, and coherently, thereby gaining the additional marks available.

Set out answers so that the marker can clearly see the points being made. ACCA does not penalise candidates for poor grammar or style, especially in the Foundation level exams and Fundamentals level exams, as long as points can be understood by the marker. However, by making points succinctly, you can also earn marks more quickly and efficiently.

Avoid numbering the points made within an answer, unless the numbering relates to that used in the question (see above). Additional numbering can be very confusing for markers.

If a diagram, figure or table is needed to illustrate an answer (such as ‘Porter’s five forces’, for example), then support it with a full explanation. This tells the marker that you understand the model, theory or concept being illustrated.

Time management

In an exam, effective time management is vital. If you run out of time, then some questions (or parts) will be left unfinished and marks lost.

The key to good time management is to divide the time allowed between the marks available. For example, in a three-hour exam allow 1.8 minutes per mark and in a two-hour exam allow 1.33 minutes per mark. This allocation gives a rough guide as to how long to spend on a question or part. Candidates often waste time by:

  • Working on a requirement for longer than necessary because they wish to correct a mistake and amend all related follow-on figures
  • Feeling they have so much to say about a certain requirement that they ‘dump’ all their knowledge in the Candidate Answer Booklet
  • Persevering for too long with a question even though they are struggling.

Candidates can avoid these problems as follows:

  • If you discover an error in a calculation or on a financial statement, only correct the initial error. Don’t waste time making all the follow-through corrections. By leaving the original error uncorrected, the only mark(s) lost are those associated with that particular entry or calculation, as ACCA uses a ‘method’ or ‘own figure’ marking policy. If the method adopted is correct, credit will always be given despite incorrect numbers being used.
  • Only make as many points as there are marks available. For example, if five marks are available for discussing a theory, only make five (or possibly six) separate points. If the total mark available is a round number, then the examiner usually awards one mark per relevant point made. So, in this situation, even making 10 relevant points will earn no more than the maximum five marks available, and so writing those additional points wastes time.
  • If you are struggling to get to grips with a requirement, move on to the next requirement, or even question, leaving enough blank pages in your Candidate Answer Booklet to complete it later.


The global pass rate for any exam is very sensitive to the performance of marginal candidates. If these candidates gain an extra mark or two, then not only will they pass, but the global pass rate would be significantly higher.

The guidance in this article can really make a difference, so remember the following:

  • Find out where your exam centre is, and how to get there, leaving yourself plenty of time.
  • Turn up to the exam on time and bring your Examination Attendance Docket with you.
  • Bring the right equipment, including an appropriate calculator and pens with black ink.
  • Complete the Candidate Answer Booklet properly.
  • Keep all answers relating to question requirements together and in order and start each question on a new page.
  • Start the answer to a new requirement in a new paragraph.
  • Start each answer point on a new line.
  • Write points concisely and clearly.
  • Relate the length and depth of answers to the instructional verbs used.
  • Correct only the original error in calculations or financial statements.
  • Make only the number of points required for the marks available.
  • Move on to another question if you are stuck.