1. Pre-seen information
The primary aim of the pre-seen is to enable students to familiarize with the business model of the case study organisation and the external environment and industry and in which it operates. Familiarity with this important contextual information will help students to better understand and apply the further information that will be provided in the exhibits in the SBL exam. The pre-seen is designed to provide background and context only and will purposely not signal areas of the syllabus or tasks to be assessed in the exam.
Students will not be allowed to take into the exam their own annotated copy of the pre-seen, since SBL will remain a closed book exam. A copy of the pre-seen will be available to students for reference purposes during the exam.
2. Duration of the SBL exam
The SBL exam time has been reduced from 4 hours to 3 hours 15 minutes to reflect the fact that students will already be familiar with the background information and the context of the case study through the pre-seen. The new exam length will bring SBL in line with other ACCA Strategic Professional exams.
3. Format of the SBL exam
The SBL exam will contain further new information in the form of exhibits, which students should focus on in answering the requirements. The total number of exhibits will be significantly reduced from the current format. The exhibits may take a various forms like memos, emails, interview extracts, web pages, financial reports etc.
The SBL exam will now have three compulsory tasks, with each task having a varying number of parts and total marks. All five professional skills will continue to be tested and will still be worth 20 marks. Each professional skill will be tested only once in every exam and will be worth four marks.
The SBL exam will no longer be answered as a single requirement in one word processer document. Each task will be completed as a separate requirement in a separate response option. As a result, the exam workspace area will look different such that only one task will be shown at a time, and it will no longer be possible to view all tasks together.
What is NOT changing
The SBL exam will continue to be an integrated case study in which all requirements relate to a single case study. Students will continue to be given a role or roles that they will assume as they carry out various tasks in the case study.
The content of the syllabus will largely remain the same. The SBL exam will continue to be closed book. The SBL exam will continue to have 80 technical marks and 20 professional skills marks.
Pre-seen release date
The pre-seen is part of the SBL exam and therefore students should take note of its release date which will be two weeks before the exam session. ACCA will communicate the release date to students through appropriate communication channels.
The pre-seen will be a PDF and students will have access to it through myACCA. Students should plan in advance to access it as soon as it is released and set aside enough time to read and fully familiarize themselves with the content of the pre-seen.
There will be two parts to the pre-seen information: the industry information and information that relates to the organisation.
- The industry information
ACCA will continue to base the case study exam on an industry or sector of the economy. Students need to familiarise themselves with the information provided in the pre-seen, even if they are already familiar with the industry. This is because for the purpose of the SBL exam, certain facts about the industry may be simplified.
- The organisation information
The organisation in the pre-seen is fictious and will not represent a real organisation. The pre-seen will contain information such as when, where, and how the organisation was formed, its products/services, processes, suppliers and customers, its ownership and governance, selected financial data, the outlook, risks and challenges, developments and strategies etc. The specific information provided will vary depending on what is appropriate for each SBL exam.
Using the pre-seen
Students should read the pre-seen to fully understand the activities of the industry and the organisation. Students will need to spend time familiarising themselves with the industry terms and activities including the products/services the industry provides, its type of customers and suppliers, the developments, risks etc. Students may choose do some research to better understand the activities of the industry. However, there is no expectation that students undertake further research. It is important to emphasise that the SBL exam is based on a fictitious organisation and as such the tasks will relate to this organisation specifically and not to any research that students may have undertaken.
Students should ensure that they are very familiar with the content of the pre-seen prior to the exam session. They should know where to find information within the pre-seen, since this will save time in the exam.
What to avoid doing with the pre-seen
- Avoid extensive additional research into the industry
- Avoid speculating on areas of the syllabus that will be examined based on the pre-seen
- Avoid using the pre-seen as the only source of material for answering the requirements. The exhibits provided on the exam day must also be used.
- Avoid spending too much time on the pre-seen at the expense of revising areas of the syllabus and completing practice mock exams
- Avoid question spotting
We will be making the changes to the CBE mocks format to reflect these changes in preparation for the Sept 2023 exam. Additionally, the pre-seen will be available in audio format within 24 working hours of pre-seen release, and saved in the resources section of the SBL learning plan.