Later this year, ACCA will move to 4 sittings per year, with the first new sitting in September (not in all exam centres, so check the ACCA website for full details).
Naturally, a lot of students are asking me questions even now as they register for June 2015 classes and exams – so here is my best attempt to answer them.
Will colleges run courses for September?
I would imagine all colleges will offer revision courses of some sort in late August. The big question is whether there will be anything else offered. The June 2015 results do not appear until August 1st, meaning a lot of students might not want to commit to tuition classes for September until after results are announced and they know what papers they want/need to sit.
Colleges are unlikely to offer tuition classes before August 1st if low demand is expected, and tuition starting after August 1st would probably be too intensive to fit the timeframe.
Also, with very few syllabus changes (in some cases none at all) from June to September, students thinking right now that they will sit in September could sit June tuition classes and just delay the revision element until September sitting.
If I sign up to September exams before August 1st, might my results mean I have to amend my September exam booking?
Probably not, as I suspect the ACCA website will not allow exams to be booked for September that are impossible. In any case, September exam entries can still be made after August 1st, and at the same price per paper, so it is probably best to wait.
Surely this means that for all four sittings, nobody can enter exams in two consecutive sittings, because they would need to know results from the first one to know what to sit at the next one?
ACCA have seen this coming, and from September onwards they seem to have solved it. Students will be able to enter two consecutive sittings at the same time, and as long as the combination of papers would be allowable at one sitting (under the current system), spreading it over two sittings will be allowed.
As a result, a fail of a lower ranked paper at September 2015 would not stop an attempt at a higher level paper at December 2015.
However, this new two sitting approach for exam entry rules does NOT apply from June, so students wanting to sit in September 2015 might find their exam possibilities a little restricted until results are published in August.
So maybe it is best to skip September 2015, rather than be a guinea pig in a new system?
September will allow numerous possibilities. For one thing, there is the obvious chance to resit June fails more quickly.
For students on first attempts, if June exams come around too quickly a deferral is no longer a 6 month wait. I suspect the number of absences on exam day might creep up now students know they have a shorter wait.
I would normally aim for 2 papers every sitting – I am now thinking one paper every 3 months, to help spread the workload. Good idea?
On the face of it, an obvious plan. Surely this will help pass rates improve.
But students need to consider that using all four sittings per year is going to mean fewer gaps with no classes. For those who prefer the weekly class approach for tuition, this could mean scheduling holidays, business trips, etc., becomes more difficult and classes will get missed.
Of course, tuition providers will seek to adapt to student demand. Courses might get more intensive/bunched and perhaps the one class per week approach will disappear, at least in part. If students are mostly sitting just one paper, tuition could start nearer the exam week and move more quickly.
Anything else I should know?
From September 2015, the exam timetable is changing to get all the papers into a 5-day exam week. This means that some combinations will become impossible so students intending to sit at least 2 papers at a single sitting should plan ahead. For example, P3 and P6 will no longer be viable at one sitting.
Also from September, the P-level papers P1 to P7 can be sat in any order instead of the current requirement to do P1-P3 first.
Four sittings presents a lot of flexibility for any ACCA student. Whether colleges will run a full suite of classes at all four sittings remains to be seen, but course provision will have no choice but to match the flexibility offered by ACCA so expect class timetables to evolve going forward.
Paul Merison is Director of ACCA at the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)
Do you have any questions about the recent changes in the ACCA syllabus? If you do, this is your chance to get them answered by someone who really knows what they’re talking about.
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