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August 08,2019

How to Choose Your ACCA Optional Papers Perfectly?

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So you have managed to claim victory with all the 11 essential papers in ACCA, with just 2 more remaining between you and the ACCA qualification. Now you have to select two out of the four optional papers. Which ones would you select? How do you know if you would choose the right subjects? What all things should you consider before choosing the right subjects?

Within the Professional level of ACCA there are 4 optional papers – 

  • AFM (P4) – Advanced Financial Management
  • APM (P5) – Advanced Performance Management
  • ATX (P6) – Advanced Taxation
  • AAA (P7) – Advanced Audit & Assurance

Choosing the right subject is very important as the knowledge that you gain from each of these subject will significantly influence your future career. Let’s check out each subject in a bit more detail – 

AFM (P4) – Advanced Financial Management

The AFM paper, formerly known as P4 is the advanced paper of FM (F9) paper. The key areas of the AFM paper are Investment Appraisal, Corporate Finance and Risk Management. The AFM exam is a combination of calculations and discussions and will therefore suit those who can cope with both numerical and discursive aspects of the exams.

Therefore, this paper is most suitable for those students who had a good knowledge of the paper FM. This paper enables your growth if your dream job roles is of becoming a Financial Analyst, Finance Director, CFO, etc.

APM (P5) – Advanced Performance Management

The paper APM, formerly known as P5 is the advanced paper of PM (F5) paper. This paper involves a requirement of a great deal of common sense in order to provide or apply professional judgement in the exam compared to other optional subjects. 

There is a rumour that the introduction of artificial intelligence could affect and decrease the demand of accountants which could result in jobs roles like Book Keeper, Financial Accountant and other related jobs becoming redundant. Therefore, jobs which have a higher level requirement of professional judgement may be considered to be more secured. Therefore, this paper could be seen as a way of securing your future.

This paper is suitable for those students who are interested in becoming a Management Accountant or other jobs which are related to management accounting.

ATX (P6) – Advanced Taxation

The ATX paper, formerly known as P6 is the advanced paper of TX (F6) paper. This paper is mostly selected by those students who have a good grip on the TX paper. Although it is a practical paper, you will have to be able to provide tax advice and recommendations to an individual or a company.

The taxation paper is preferred by students who wish to become a tax planner, tax adviser, or other job roles related to taxation. The students who cleared the UK variant of ATX paper will be eligible for an exemption for the CTA (Chartered Tax Adviser) qualification.

If a student selects the UK variant or any other variant of this paper, and wants to work in a different country, he/she will also have to learn the country’s local tax laws in detail. Therefore, your eligibility to work in the tax field is limited to the country whose paper variant you choose. Unless of course, if you are able to easily study the local laws of the country that you want to work in.

AAA (P7) – Advanced Audit & Assurance

The AAA paper, formerly known as P7 is the advanced paper of AA (F8) paper. This paper is wholly discursive. The syllabus of AAA paper is 60% the syllabus of AA paper, 20% the syllabus of SBR paper, and the remaining 20% are some new aspects of Audit and Assurance.

The paper is usually chosen by the students who are interested in working in the Auditing field. The jobs in the audit field varies from an Audit Assistant to an Audit Partner. A candidate who currently works as an audit assistant could be promoted to higher level jobs by clearing this paper.

Some of you might be wondering where the advanced paper of FR (F7) is. Well, SBR is the advanced paper of FR and it is an essential paper. No choice in that.  

How do you choose them?

All of these papers will need you to apply your skills and knowledge. They will also require you to exercise professional judgement by using a real life business scenarios as your exam questions.

The trick to choose the most suitable paper for you is by considering the following aspects – 

  • Which subject from PM (F5) to FM (F9) do you have a good level of knowledge in and how well did you score in the subject?
  • What is your dream job? How do you plan on living the rest of your life?
  • What is the demand for the job?

Choosing the ACCA optional papers is not always about choosing the subject with the highest pass rate. It’s about studying a subject that you are interested in. Optional subjects enables you to specialise in a particular subject by providing you with advanced level of knowledge on that subject. Therefore, if you specialise in something you are not interested in, then you might be stuck with a job that may not make you happy. Isn’t that why we studied for the past years, to be happy in life?

There are a great deal of students who choose the optional papers that their friends or colleagues choose. Your friend might recommend papers that they found relatively easy to pass, but this is unlikely to mean much for your chances of passing unless you know for sure you have a similar learning style to your friend. It is important to take the advice and recommendations of the well-informed or experienced people around you, but you should be able to decide ‘what is the right thing to do in your own situation?’ This could enable you to take a decision on your own that will be suitable for your situation. 

Some combinations

You need to choose 2 papers. Some of you can also write 2 papers in a single exam session. Some combinations are given below. These can also be written in a single exam sitting or two adjacent exam sessions – 

SBR (P2) and AAA (P7) – This is a good combination as the knowledge of IFRS standards are required in both papers.

SBL (P1& P3) and APM (P5) – This combination is due to the fact that a portion of the SBL syllabus is also included in the APM paper. This can also be written in a single sitting or two adjacent exam sessions.

Common Features

AFM and ATX – These two subjects have a big technical syllabus and might be hard to attend in a single sitting if you have a busy lifestyle. But is easier to study if you are a full time student.

APM and AAA – These two papers have a somewhat smaller knowledge requirement but rely more on understanding and application and a great deal of professional judgement.

Optional papers are a very personal decision, and it is important as sometimes it’s the small decisions that change your life forever. So choose them wisely not randomly.

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