Guest Blog – My ACA Experience

Fifteen exams seems an awfully long way off when you start your ACA journey, but now having completed the e-assessments I am well on that journey, with ‘only’ nine exams left in three sittings.

The certificate level ACA consists of six e-assessments: Accounting, Assurance and Law are sat in the first sitting, whilst Principles of Tax, Management Information and Business and Finance are sat in the second sitting. Grant Thornton chooses to do it this way, as then you are out at college for a few weeks at a time, not sporadically in and out of the office, and therefore causing minimal disruption.

Accounting teaches you the basics of accounting, building on the excellent Breaking Records course that is taught internally by Grant Thornton at Bradenham. Looking at debits and credits as the fundamentals, you build quickly on this knowledge, and are required to populate a cash flow or profit and loss account in the exam, as well as 24 multiple choice questions. Management Information and Principles of Tax as of next year will also have a ‘long question’ to complement the rest of the paper which is multiple choice. There is no negative marking involved, but some of the questions have multiple parts, and you do have to get every part right to get the marks.

I did History of Art at university, and whilst I did Maths and Economics at A-Level, that seemed a very long time ago when I walked into Kaplan for the first day.

College is a fun experience – those in the London office doing their learning at Kaplan which is based in Islington, so only a five minute tube journey away from the office. The days are much shorter than office days (only 9 to 4.15) with ample breaks throughout the day. On the whole, the learning and support at Kaplan is first rate, and Kaplan have extremely high pass rates nationwide.

That said – the exams aren’t easy and the past three months (two exam sittings early April and mid-May) with three weeks of college and three weeks back in the office maintaining my revision during evenings and weekends for each sitting. That is the hardest part about these exams, the weeks between college and the exams when your client work and office responsibilities don’t diminish, yet you have to make sure you fit the hours in for the exams. The saving grace is that these intense periods are in short, sharp bursts and the rewards at the end of it are definitely worth the hard slog. The support offered in the office is great, and it has been extremely helpful to chat with second and third year associates who have recently done these exams to get hints and tips, and think about the best way to study.

I’m sure all of you are well underway with your finals, if not already finished, so you’re well aware of the pressure faced with exams, and are all capable of achieving be it in your A-Levels for school leavers, or in your degrees for those graduating this year, and then subsequently in your careers at Grant Thornton. Make the most of your summers and look forward to seeing the new starters around the office come the autumn!

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