Choosing your Professional Options papers

by ACCA student blogger Naresh John 

Hey everyone. Exams are over now and the time has come again for us to be deciding which modules we will pursue for the upcoming sitting. Having completed the compulsory papers in the Professional Level (P1, P2 & P3), I am now faced with the dilemma of choosing my two options papers. As many of you may know, this is not an easy task and is a decision that requires a lot of thought and analysis as it can determine your career path.

Therefore, I took several factors into consideration whilst making this decision:

1. Pass rates of papers - As students we are often interested in trends of examination results over the years since we use pass rates as a measure of how difficult an examination can be. Whilst this may hold some merit, it should not be a critical factor; due to the fact that the pass rates listed are based on the worldwide results rather than country and therefore may vary from country to country. Also, an examiner may be changed and as such the examination may differ to the norm so the pass rate for that given paper may be different.

2. Previous performance in related fundamental papers – This should act as a gauge as to how you would do in the advanced, Professional papers. Additionally, both the knowledge and examination techniques that are being brought forward would give you a head start.

3. The combination of options - After researching the individual options papers, I have come to the conclusion that P4 and P6 are technical papers, while P5 and P7 are papers that rely greatly on application of topics. As such, depending on the time an individual has to devote to their studies and depending on whether or not you would attempt both papers in the same sitting; it would be advisable to pursue a mix of these papers so it would not be too stressful on you.

4. Career path – Most importantly, these options should be chosen carefully as they will influence your career direction. Consequently, choose the papers related to the area of accounting and finance that you would like to get into.

After taking all of these factors into consideration, I have eventually decided to pursue papers P7 and P4 which I will do over two exam sittings in order to try to maximize my efforts at them.

I hope this brief analysis helps anyone who is currently facing this situation as well as future students.Till my next blog post…take care everyone.   

Blog Editor’s comment: Do you need more help in picking your Professional Level option papers? Find out more about making the best options choices.  

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by ACCA student blogger Elyse Burns-Hill

This may be my last blog post as an ACCA student; I have just taken my last two exams (P5 & P7). I feel relatively confident that I will get the results I want in August (i.e two pass marks!)

I thought for this article I would look back over my time as an ACCA student and share my thoughts with you in four points:

1. Don’t give up
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve questioned why I was doing this. It had nothing to do with the subject or job; I really don’t like revision and I especially don’t like exams. In the times you feel like giving up – don’t. The hard work now will be worth it, so stick it out.

2. Early nights
The night before the exam is the most crucial to get to bed early and have a good nights sleep. I have done it before every single exam I’ve taken. Staying up all night revising (however tempting) will not help you in the exam.

A lack of sleep and a brain full of caffeine and sugar is as good as Gandalf standing in front of you shouting “You shall not pass!”. I promise you, I have done exactly as I preach on all 14 papers – it works.

3. Believe in yourself
You want to know the secret to passing these exams? Believe that you can.
Honestly, believe in yourself and you are over half way to passing your exams (the other half is revision and question practice!)

4. Be an accountant
I always think of the line in Miss Congeniality when Victor Melling says to Gracie Hart “You wear the crown, be the crown, you are the crown!” This should be the exact mentality to when you go into your exam. Be an accountant. Think like one. Write your answers like one. Don’t be a student; be an accountant.

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A message from the blog editors: A big thank you to Elyse for contributing to the Student Blog; we’ve enjoyed her positive articles and her great advice to fellow students.

approvedemployer1July

by ACCA student blogger Adhitya Fadriansyah

One year ago, I assisted my employer to become one of the first ACCA platinum approved employers in Indonesia. While it is usually initiated by the employer, we as the students can in fact contribute to the process. In this article I would like to share the benefits the can be gained from it, as well as the process required.

Why? What’s the benefit?

For the student, we can get the ACCA qualification faster by applying for the Performance objective exemption. This does not mean that you did not need to complete the performance objective – it is only a faster track to obtain membership by removing record keeping effort to demonstrate that we have met the minimum requirement. Bear in mind however that this is at your employer’s discretion.

For the employer, the approved employer program means that your company will gain a formal recognition complying with global standard and exclusive branding without any cost at all. ACCA approved employers can also get various discounts from ACCA as well as timely news and developments within the accounting profession.

How. What is the process?

First, make sure you get support from your local management and assess whether your employer fulfils ACCA’s rigorous standard. You can contact your supervisor / manager / finance leadership team or human resources department within your organization to get concurrence to proceed. You may also need to talk to your local ACCA representative to know whether your organization is eligible to apply for the approved employer program.

Once you have support and alignment with your local management and ACCA representative, the process is very straightforward. Your employer will need to apply online or complete a form containing background information about your company. Once it has been submitted, the ACCA representative will start the corroboration process, either through an interview or via email. After that, your employer will receive a notification on the outcome of the request via email.

The approved employer status will be valid for three years. After three years, ACCA will need to reconfirm that the details for your organization are still valid.

What are you waiting for? 

Are you nearing the completion of your ACCA program? Does your company support your study? Have you completed the Practical Experience Requirement established by ACCA? If the answer to all these questions is yes; I would suggest you begin to discuss with your management and to engage your local ACCA representative now, to start the process. From what I can see, it is a three way win-win-win situation for all – you, your company and for ACCA as well.

Further information on the approved employer program can be found on this page.

Your workplace mentor will play an important role in helping you to achieve ACCA membership. Not only will they be responsible for signing off the experience you have gained and recorded in My Experience, they should also support you in planning, achieving, and recording the experience required to become an ACCA member.

1. Who should be your workplace mentor?

Ideally, a workplace mentor should also be in a position to influence your access to experience. They should, wherever possible, be able to provide you with opportunities to gain relevant experience so that you can achieve your performance objectives. This may be through secondments, job swaps, or project work.

2. What if there isn’t anyone who can be your workplace mentor?

In most cases, your line manager should be able to fulfil that role. However, if your line manager isn’t a qualified accountant there might be another suitably-qualified person who you work with – either someone in another department or more senior in the organisation. It may be that your organisation’s auditor has knowledge of your work and is able to sign-off your experience.

3. More than one mentor?

It’s possible that you may have more than one workplace mentor, with different people planning, supporting, and reviewing different objectives. This might be the case if your experience is gained in more than one department or with more than one employer. Remember that experience in any sector – part-time or voluntary roles – may contribute to your practical experience requirements, as long as it’s in a relevant accounting or accounting-related role.

4. How to approach someone to be your workplace mentor

In order for the mentoring relationship to work, it’s essential that your workplace mentor is interested, willing, and committed. How you approach a potential workplace mentor can help to influence this.

A successful mentoring relationship is most likely to be achieved when both parties clearly understand the objectives and benefits of the process. An individual is more likely to agree to be your workplace mentor if you can specify what you require from them as a mentor. Consider the following before approaching a potential workplace mentor:

  • Plan what you are going to say and be clear about your key points. You will come across as more professional and more likely to get the support you want.
  • Be clear about what role you want them to play – do you want them to oversee all your practical experience or just specific performance objectives?
  • Be confident in the benefits your workplace mentor will receive. Sell the role to them by explaining what’s in it for them and why they should support you.

by ACCA

If you are waiting for exam results or are waiting to start studying for your next exams, why not take this time to think about your practical experience requirements (PER). Here are answers to some of the most common misconceptions held by students who talk to ACCA Connect about PER.

1. ‘All I need to do to achieve a performance objective is to tick the right box’

You must demonstrate your competence with each performance objective by answering a series of three challenge questions – to which there are no right or wrong answers (it depends entirely on your individual experience). These must be reviewed and signed off by your workplace mentor before counting towards your PER. It’s your workplace mentor who decides when you have achieved the performance objective – not you.

2. ‘I won’t need to prove experience when I’ve passed all my exams, I’ll be an ACCA member’

Exams are only half the story. By completing your PER, you demonstrate you have applied the knowledge gained through your studies in the workplace – exercising your judgment and identifying areas for future improvement, all key factors in your development as a rounded professional. Don’t forget you need to complete the Professional Ethics module too. Exams, experience and ethics are all needed to attain ACCA membership and use the letters after your name.

3. ‘I can only use permanent jobs to count towards my 36 months of work experience’

If your job includes only a small amount of accountancy and finance work, it can count, as long as you pro rata the time spent on these activities. Also, the experience gained doesn’t have to be in a single role or in one continuous period – experience can be gained in part-time roles, secondments, job rotations, project work or undertaking new responsibilities.

4. ‘Whoever I am working for can sign off my performance objectives – even if I achieved them in a previous job’

Whoever is your workplace mentor at the time you undertake the work must sign off the performance objective you are claiming for. So you may well have more than one mentor signing off as you progress towards completion – for instance, if you’re promoted, switch teams or change employer, or if you’re temping.

5. ‘I don’t need to do my PER’

Employers value the ACCA Qualification exams – but without relevant practical experience, you’ll be at a disadvantage compared with those who have passed their exams but continue to work towards achieving ACCA membership. Start identifying or asking for opportunities to achieve your performance objectives right away.

You can update any practical experience you have gained through myACCA.