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Careers


So how long will it take you to pass?

Professional accountancy exams are tough. But did you have any expectations about just how long it might take you to qualify?

October 2015

Latest figures from the Financial Reporting Council show nearly one in three (29%) of students are still ‘getting qualified’ after five years on studying.
That adds up to a whopping 155,990 students – out of a worldwide total 536,463 – who are still struggling to qualify half a decade after signing up. That’s a lot of annual subscriptions!
The figures, based on 2014 data, show the ACCA has nearly 120,000 people who are still PQs over five years after they first registered. That is a rise year-on-year of 2.5 percentage points to 31.5% of the total number of students on the ACCA’s books.
CIMA has managed to get its total of five-year-plus PQs down, but not by much. Last year, 30% of its student base was over five years old. For 2014 that figure has fallen to 28%, but still amounts to nigh on 36,000 students.
CIPFA also has a merry band of PQs studying for over five years. It’s total of 863 represents 25.6% of the student membership.
Even the Irish Institute has a good chunk of its students still ‘getting qualified’ five years on – 17% (1,123).
The two bodies with a different story to tell are the ICAEW and ICAS. The ICAEW has a mere 1.3% of its students still signed up as students after five years. ICAS has slightly more with 2.8%.
What we aren’t told is the number of students who have their contracts terminated for failing the exams.
CIPFA’s head of qualifications, Steve Daniels, told PQ: “Although a large proportion of students aim to and do qualify with CIPFA within three years for many reasons a number do take longer. For many this is a deliberate decision based, for example, on personal or employment factors.”
He emphasised that CIPFA has a range of strategies to maximise progression to membership. These include post-exam services for students unsuccessful in exams, such as personal exam script feedback and contact from our Student Support team to ensure students are aware of all their options.
The ACCA’s Ros Leah said the association was “totally focused” on enhancing the support available to its PQs. The ACCA has invested heavily in its website and it believes these new resources will allow students to progress at the pace that suits them.

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