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ACCA case study: change is afoot

James Taylor explains how the new case study may affect your planning

October 2017

ACCA is introducing an innovative Strategic Business Leader case study in 2018, whose syllabus aim is “to demonstrate organisational leadership and senior consultancy or advisory capabilities and relevant professional skills, through the context of an integrated case study”.
Core competences have been taken from existing P1 and P3 and made more practical in this new case study, which will be examined for the first time in September 2018.
The ACCA Strategic Business Leader exam is based on an integrated case study containing a number of assignments/tasks; will consist of one compulsory section with all questions related to one case study; will have 100 marks in total (80 for technical syllabus knowledge, and with up to 20 professional marks); and is four hours in duration including reading, planning and reflection time.
The case study will be issued on the day of the exam, so there is no material to pre-prepare. The case study will contain mixed information, such as:
• Annual reports.
• Media sources.
• Spreadsheets.
• Pictures and diagrams.
• Survey results.
• Interview transcripts.
• Memos, emails and presentations.
In the exam you will use the case study materials to perform tasks, which reflect the practical tasks you’ll encounter in the workplace. They might include:
• Analysing and interpreting data.
• Identifying and resolving problems.
• Drafting written business communications.
• Creating presentations.
ACCA, in the new syllabus, explains that “in broad terms it is recommended that students should spend 50% more learning time in preparation for this examination than normally required for other exams at this level”.
So what does this mean for students who have sat either P1 or P3, or are coming to the end of their F papers considering we have now have exam windows (December ’17, March ’18 and June ’18) until P1 and P3 are no longer examinable and the Strategic Business Leader case study exam is launched?
The Strategic Business Leader exam will replace the P1 and P3 exams, and while the core syllabus is drawn from these papers, it will be refreshed and restructured so that it more closely reflects the demands of the workplace. The new exam will focus more heavily on the strategic application of knowledge and professional behaviour in real-life business context.
You will have to sit the new exam if you haven’t passed both P1 and P3 before September 2018. If you’ve only passed one, then you will have to sit the Strategic Business Leader exam and you’ll need to study the new syllabus.
This article is not about making a recommendation for you, it is aiming to lay out the facts so you can make an informed decision on how to sequence your ACCA papers.
• James Taylor is a director at HTFT Partnership

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