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What Order Should I Take My ACCA Exams?

Frequently asked questions around the order in which you should take your ACCA exams.

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In this blog, we answer some of your frequently asked questions about the order in which you should take your ACCA exams.

  • In what order should I take my ACCA exams?
  • Which options papers should I take, and in which order?
  • Which professional paper should I take after my fundamentals papers?

Let’s look at these questions one by one.

In what order should I take my ACCA exams?

The ACCA rule is that “exams must be taken in modular order for the ACCA qualification. However, you can attempt the papers within each module in any order”.

This means you must take the fundamental papers before taking the professional papers. Let’s address your fundamental papers first.

Fundamental level

The first thing for every ACCA student is to pass the fundamental papers. Aside from this, you choose the order ]depending on your own strengths and weaknesses.

Saying that, we do recommend students alternative between calculation-based and theoretical papers where possible. So if you’re taking F5, for example, maybe look at adding F8 the next time as a break for yourself. So you’re thinking differently.

Other than that, there’s no benefit to taking the fundamental papers in any particular order. They don’t have any strong relationships with one another.

Tip: The first ACCA paper you should take should be the paper you think you’ll be most comfortable with.

Professional papers

There’s a lot of overlap between papers at this level, which might affect which papers you choose and which order you take them in.

We’ve written an in-depth analysis of the relationships between every ACCA paper previously, so we’ll keep this short and sweet.

  • P1 links to F8*
  • P2 links to F7
  • P3 links to F7 and F5*

* As of September 2018, papers P1 and P3 are being replaced by the new Strategic Business Leader exam. If you haven’t already passed P1 and P3, this affects you, and you should check out this:

Read The New Strategic Business Leader Exam: What you Need to Know.

If you’ve got the SBL paper ahead of you, we recommend you leave this until the end.

Learnsignal’s Head of Education, Alan Lynch, recently took the SBL paper in exam conditions and felt you’d pick up knowledge in other papers that would prove very helpful.

  • P4 links to F9
  • P5 links to F5
  • P6 links to F6
  • P7 links to P2

Regarding which professional paper you should take first, it again depends on your preferences and strengths. Here’s what Alan had to say:

“If I were you, I would probably pick P2 as my first professional paper. It’s a very detailed paper with a vast syllabus but closely related to F7, which you’ve probably done fairly recently”.

Which options papers should I take, and in which order?

That’s another question students ask us often, and it really does depend on where your strengths lie. They all have advantages and disadvantages.

For example, you could say that P5 is an easier option paper, but you probably took F5 a long time ago. If at all, if you had exemptions. This means the fundamental knowledge might be lacking.

One important thing is not just to pick papers because you like them. We often hear from students who failed P6, which they took because they enjoyed tax or have always been good at it.

But if you’re not actively working in tax every day, it will be a tough paper for you. Even if you enjoyed it and were good in the fundamental paper. Because you really need to be working in that industry daily to tackle P6.

So that’s an important lesson. Look at what’s on the course and your past performance on other papers. Sometimes the paper you least want to do is the one you might naturally be best at.

Final thoughts

The order of your ACCA exams isn’t as important as you think. Many students get really caught up in this question in which order to take the ACCA exams.

The fact is, it’s not hugely important.

On the one hand, the options papers you choose do matter – and students can make their lives more difficult by choosing papers like tax when they don’t need to and don’t work in tax.

So you do need to put thought into that equation and look closely at the syllabus and your performance on previous papers that relate.

But in terms of the order you take your ACCA exams, you can’t go too far wrong. The most important thing is passing your ACCA and getting that qualification. That’s what employers care about.

So think about that end-game, and try not to sweat the more minor details. Instead, invest your energy into studying more effectively and efficiently for whatever papers you’re taking – and you’ll pass the ACCA more quickly.

Conor Motyer
3 min read
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