Letters: 24 January 2016

In September last year, anonymous students expressed their concern to the Maltese media about the pass rates for certain papers of the ACCA Qualification, and the relevance of these specialist exams they need to take in Malta. 

They had questioned the pass rates for what they perceived to be the ‘hardest’ papers – the advanced Malta tax variant paper (P6) and also the paper in advanced audit (P7).

There are specific exams that need to be taken in Malta to meet the country’s Maltese Accountancy Profession Act. In some countries, the papers in tax and audit are optional, but in Malta they need to be passed to meet requirements. For instance, if someone wants to be certified to work in audit, then they do indeed need to pass the relevant paper – that is a logical requirement demanded by statute. 

It was concerning to read of the candidates’ issues, so I wanted to have the opportunity to explain our stance, and also put the record straight. 

We aim to make the ACCA Qualification and its papers fair, balanced and relevant. We also want the papers to be appropriately demanding and testing. And that’s because the public, employers and indeed our own candidates want them to be that way.

Thousands of people around the world pass these expert papers every year, and progress to have successful careers as professional accountants. We have recently announced pass rates for our first ever September exam session, where more than 1,850 students passed their final Professional papers to take a major step towards qualifying as a professional accountant.

Pass rates for the September exams were in line with previous sessions and some 40,704 students across 15 countries took the opportunity to use the additional session in September to focus on specific exam papers, with many opting for one paper only. Recent P6 pass rates over time are the highest of the Options exams because the exam is mostly taken by those wishing to practise and specialise in taxation.

This year ACCA will be increasing flexibility even further by running exams in March, June, September and December in all 162 countries where it usually offers exam sittings, with March 2016 being the first additional session available to all ACCA students.

Becoming an ACCA member is a badge of honour. The ACCA letters after someone’s name denote expertise. The letters are a public sign that someone has passed what we call the 3 Es – exams, experience and ethics. Employers the world over tell us that this is what they need – qualified individuals, who can grow in their role and who are ethical in their approach.

ACCA is committed to helping people of ability become professionally qualified accountants. Opportunity is one of our core values, a long held value since our creation in 1904.

Students have access to a wide range of resources to support them prepare for success in their exams. They can practise exam-style questions, gain insights from the Examining Team on how to approach the exam, and broaden their understanding of exam topics. ACCA’s Student Accountant magazine publishes regular insights and updates from professional examiners, and we also run a global student event called Access ACCA which also offers sessions on exam preparation, and other sessions on how to succeed.

We also have an online learning community, using social media to connect ACCA students around the world so they can share their success and questions about their studies and their own progress. 

We also review our papers on a regular basis to ensure that they remain relevant. We work with tuition providers, employers, regulators and local institutes such as the Malta Institute of Accountants to ensure that the papers are ahead of the curve.

As we all know, exams by their very definition are meant to be challenging. Some exams will be more demanding than others. But ACCA candidates should be reassured that our exams and papers are pitched at the right level to enable the successful candidate to work as a professional accountant. It prepares them for a successful future. 

Being an accountant demands expert knowledge, immense responsibility and someone who recognises their own strengths. Being an accountant demands continuous development too, so when someone qualifies, the learning does not stop. Our CPD ensures our members are professionally adept and capable. 

Accountancy is an illustrious career choice, and the ACCA Qualification offers a passport to success. A qualified professional accountant joins the ranks of peers in other professions too, such as lawyers and doctors. And the public – you and I – all want to be assured that the lawyers, doctors and accountants we rely on for expert advice are tested, trained, and developed to their full potential, in a fair, balanced and robust way.

Best of luck to all ACCA students who should have received results on 18 January. We hope you do well.

Dorothy Wood

Head of Education, ACCA Western Europe