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ACCA SBR Exam Changes – Question 1 Gets A New Format

For the September 2023 sitting there are going to be changes to the format of Question 1.


The Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) exam is one of the two compulsory papers at the Strategic Professional level of the ACCA exams. As of September 2023, the exam’s first question will undergo a significant transformation. This blog post will guide you through the ACCA SBR exam changes and provide tips to help you navigate them successfully.

The New Format of Question 1

Starting from September 2023, there will be a change in the SBR exam. Specifically, question 1 will undergo a transformation. It will adopt a prepopulated spreadsheet response option. This option will contain a draft consolidated financial statement. This change aims to align the exam with the practical use of spreadsheets in a professional finance environment.

What You’ll Be Expected to Do

In light of the ACCA SBR exam changes, the new format will require students to actively correct a variety of issues present in the draft consolidated financial statement. These issues could relate to accounting errors, changes in accounting policies or the acquisition or disposal of a subsidiary.For instance, students may need to adjust a draft consolidated statement of profit or loss, a draft consolidated statement of financial position, or a draft consolidated statement of cash flows. There may also be unrecorded transactions. These transactions will require recognition or adjustment. Examples of these could include a defined benefit plan. Foreign exchange issues could also be a part of these transactions.In addition, students may be asked to discuss the impact of these adjustments on the financial statements. For example, has the parent company’s investment in a company now changed from a subsidiary relationship to that of an associate?However, it’s important to note that students will not be required to construct a consolidated financial statement from the parent and subsidiaries’ separate financial statements.

Guidance for Students

To help students adapt to this change, here are some exam technique tips:
  • Use the pre-formatted spreadsheet to answer the relevant requirement.
  • Show your workings in the area set out below the draft financial statements. It will not be possible to copy and paste from the word processor into the spreadsheet, so save time by only using the spreadsheet to conduct your workings.
  • Clearly demonstrate how you arrived at the adjustments in your spreadsheet workings. This will help markers award credit where it is due.
  • Marks are not awarded for using formulae or students’ spreadsheet ability, so simple workings can be used. Markers will review each spreadsheet cell for workings.
  • Markers will continue to use existing principles to mark student responses, such as the own figure rule. Please note, the spreadsheet displays negative numbers with a minus sign, not brackets.

Additional ACCA Supports

To help students adjust to this new exam format, the ACCA will host a webinar on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 10 am (GMT). The webinar will cover an overview of the latest examiner’s report, and go through the ACCA SBR exam changes and answer any questions students have.

What’s Not Changing

Despite the new format, the accounting principles being assessed remain the same. The exam tests the same application of knowledge using a spreadsheet format. There will be 10-14 marks available for the spreadsheet requirement.


The changes to question 1 in the September 2023 SBR exam are significant but manageable with the right preparation. By understanding these changes and adapting your study strategies, you can overcome the new challenges and seize the opportunities they present.
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