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How Many ACCA Exams Should I Take Per Sitting?

How many exams you take per ACCA sitting can greatly impact your exam success rate. Read on to find the answer to this important frequently asked question.

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How many exams you take per ACCA sitting can significantly impact your exam success rate. Read on to find the answer to this important, frequently asked question.

  • How many ACCA exams should I take per exam sitting?
  • Should I take more than one exam in each sitting
  • What if I want to pass the ACCA as fast as possible?

This is part of our ACCA FAQ series, where we answer the questions hundreds of you have asked us. Learnsignal also runs regular webinars addressing your questions live and often refers to your frequently asked questions on our popular podcast show – Forget the Numbers: The Student Accounting Show.

How Many ACCA Exams Should I Take?

When there were only two sittings per year, it was prevalent for students to take two or even three exams in June and two or three in December. This put students under tonnes of pressure and didn’t allow much flexibility in how they studied, so a few years ago, the ACCA changed this to allow 4 sittings per year.

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More exam sittings make it easier to take one exam per sitting. From your perspective, this is better because you can now flexibly fit exams around your life without putting massive pressure on yourself in one sitting. And it allows you to take any resits earlier while the material is still fresh in your mind.

Read more: Why do I keep failing the ACCA?

Four ACCA exam sittings per year are also preferable for employers, who can fit exam cycles around their internal processes and busy periods.

Studying for the ACCA  (especially in a classroom) can feel like you’re hurting, not helping, your employer because you have loads on your plate right when they need you most. Shifting to four sittings allows you to better balance study and work.

Overall, four sittings allow you to spread out exams and work at an easier pace. This means it’s a bit counterintuitive to take multiple papers in those four sittings.

Cramming your exams doesnt.... learnsignal

To pass the ACCA, you have to do your three years of professional experience anyway. This means cramming your exams into less time doesn’t mean you qualify any quicker – it just means you amp up the pressure for those exams.

And that strain always makes itself felt somewhere. Maybe you start slacking in the office because you’re exhausted and stressed. Or snapping at your partner and struggling to make time for family.

And that’s assuming your pass all your papers – which you probably won’t if you’re sitting multiple exams per sitting. Remember, you’re more likely to fail with two exams per sitting.

Looking at results, students do better overall if they take one exam per sitting. And the thing is, once you start failing, your confidence suffers. And your plans for smart paper combinations go awry because you have to squeeze in re-sits.

Or plenty of students just add their failed exam onto their next sitting, so they’re putting themselves under even more pressure – which doesn’t work. That becomes a cycle of falling, failing, failing, and failing.

Instead, if you fail a paper, make your next exam a re-sit. Don’t take your planned exam AND the re-sit in your next sitting, even though it’s tempting. With the ACCA, slow and steady wins the race.

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A fantastic example is Kelly Crawford, a learnsignal student who came Joint 1st in Ireland and Joint 11th worldwide for F8 last summer. So far, she’s passed every paper the first time and with flying colours. Her advice?

”I start 2 to 3 months before an exam, and I only sit one exam per sitting. That means it’s realistic to chip away at studying a couple of hours a day. I rarely study during the day because I work in the week, and I have a young family – weekends are my family time.”

Read more:  An ACCA success story [Interview]

Take ONE ACCA exam per sitting – for a faster, less stressful pass

Taking more than one exam per sitting makes a rod for your own back. You put yourself under pressure when these exams are already difficult and stressful, and you’re more likely to fail.

It’s natural to want to pass the ACCA as quickly as possible, but racing toward the finish line is a false economy. You generally take longer to qualify than if you just took one paper per sitting anyway and your experience is much more stressful.

Instead, approach the ACCA methodically – studying one exam per sitting – to give yourself the best chance to pass.

Alan Lynch
4 min read
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