The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is the oldest and largest accountancy body in Europe with more than 138,000 members in over 160 countries. It is the most prestigious professional body for Chartered Accountants globally attracting many students every year who aspire to become qualified accountants.

The ACA qualification is an internationally renowned leading accounting qualification awarded by the ICAEW and its completion is a prerequisite to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and to be accepted as an ICAEW member.
ICAEW members work at the highest level of business, across all industry sectors around the world. This professional qualification delivers essential knowledge, skills and technical expertise in accountancy, finance and business. ICAEW ensures that its members are at the forefront of their profession by maintaining and developing their skills and knowledge. They regulate professional and ethical standards, and are industry leaders in the provision of technical accounting information.
The ACA Chartered Accountancy qualification builds on the profession’s traditional strengths, whilst focusing on the needs of modern business. This course ensures that candidates develop the financial and technical knowledge, as well as valuable practical experience required to pursue a career in the accounting/auditing profession, either in private or in central government, semi-governmental organisations, the banking and insurance sectors, or just about any type of small, medium or large business or corporation, locally or internationally.

 And a minimum of 3 years of practical experience with an approved training firm is needed to gain the qualification.

The ACA qualification has 15 modules over three levels. Each ACA module is directly relevant to the work that you do on a day-to-day basis and will help you gain in-depth knowledge across a broad range of topics in accountancy, finance and business.

The ACA Modules

There are 15 ACA modules in total which are split into 3 levels, namely the Certificate Level, the Professional Level and the Advanced Level.   All three levels cover all aspects of Accountancy, Finance and Business.  The modules can be taken in any order with the exception of the Case Study which has to be attempted last. You must pass every ACA exam (or receive credit for prior learning) – there are no alternate options. This ensures that once qualified, all ICAEW Chartered Accountants have a consistent level of knowledge, skills and experience.

Six-monthly reviews:

It is a requirement of the ACA training agreement that you and your employer meet at least every six months. These meetings are to discuss and monitor your progress on professional development, ethics and professional scepticism, practical work experience and exams.

Exemptions:

Exemptions may be awarded on the basis of previous qualifications. The maximum number of exemptions awarded is 12 out of 15 papers.

Certificate Level:

There are six modules at the Certificate Level that introduce the fundamentals of accountancy, finance and business.
Each module has a 1.5 hour computer-based assessment which can be sat at any time. You may be eligible for credit/exemptions for some modules if you have studied accounting, finance, law or business at degree level or through another professional qualification.

Professional Level:

The next six modules on which the Professional Level is composed build on the fundamentals and test your understanding and ability to use technical knowledge in real-life scenarios. Each module has a 2.5–3 hour exam, which are available to sit four times per year. These modules are flexible and can be taken in any order. The Business Planning: Taxation and Business Strategy modules in particular will help you to progress to the Advanced Level.

Advanced Level:

The Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management modules at the Advanced Level test your understanding and strategic decision making at a senior level. They present real-life scenarios, with increased complexity and wider implications than from the Professional Level modules.
The Case Study presents a complex business issue which challenges your ability to problem solve, identify ethical implications and provide effective solutions. Through contextualisation, the Case Study tests the knowledge, skills and experience you have gained to date.
The Advanced Level exams are fully open book, so they replicate a real-life scenario where all the resources are at your fingertips.

There are two ways in which you can study for the ACA qualification:

One of the most popular entry routes into studying for the ACA is under a training agreement with an organisation that is an ICAEW authorised training employer. This means that you can learn and earn at the same time. Employers would usually expect a first or upper second class or any equivalent in a first Bachelor degree. It is not considered a prerequisite to have an Accounting related Bachelor degree.

Alternatively, you can also study for the ACA qualification as an ’independent student’, but you will not be able to complete your studies (or qualify as an ACA) without completing an approved period of work experience (usually 450 days). This can only be done if you are employed by an ICAEW authorised training employer and have entered into an ACA training agreement.

Independent Students:

There are several ways to qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. What is noteworthy is that you don’t need a university degree for entry into the ACA program.  You can start training towards the ACA straight after completing A-levels (or equivalent school-leaving certificates).

To find out whether your specific qualification meets the ACA Entry Requirements, please see the ICAEW website here.

Apply Online:

Once you have met the ACA Entry Requirements, you may apply to start your ICAEW qualification here. You will be required to pay a registration fee of £165 (+ VAT where applicable).

Useful Links:

Below we have listed some useful ICAEW links.

Timetable and Tuition Fees

For Registration:

Examination dates for registration are published annually by the ICAEW.
As an ACA student, the ICAEW annual student fee of £165 + VAT (if applicable) is payable to ICAEW upon registration and each year of your studies. Please note that the fee may change depending on the date that you register, as follows:
  • If you register within 1 January and 30 June the annual fee of £165 + VAT is required.
  • If you register within 1 July and 31 October, you will pay a half year fee of £99 + VAT.
  • The annual fee is also required if you register within 1 November and 31 December (in this instance, you will receive your first annual bill after 14 months).
  • Your annual student fee is renewable on 1 January each year.

Professional Stage:

There are four examination sittings each year:  March, June, September and December
Examination fees for the Professional Stage / Level are as follows:
  • £70 for each Certificate level
  • £90 for each Professional level
  • £170 for the Financial Accounting AAT-ACA top-up module

Advanced Stage:

There are two examination sittings each year: July and November
Examination fees for the Advanced Stage are as follows:
  • £170 for each Technical Integration module and
  • £260 for the Case Study

Credit For Prior Learning / Exemptions:

Where students have previous relevant professional qualifications or experience they may be eligible to apply for credit for prior learning (CPL), reducing the number of ACA exams the students must pass.
The costs for applying for credit for prior learning, where applicable, are as follows:
  • £70 for each Certificate level.

  • £90 for each Professional Level module.

  • Some students in some countries may be eligible to receive credit at a reduced cost or free. See the ICAEW website to see whether you are eligible for this benefit.

Credit is not available on Advanced Stage exams.