ACA Case Study Syllabus Information
The case study element of the ACA syllabus is intended for the candidate to demonstrate that they have managed to assimilate all of the core knowledge and skills accumulated in all modules, to give advice on a complex business issue in written form. Candidates will need to digest and analyse financial and non-financial information while exercising professional and ethical judgement in the developing of conclusions and recommendations.
In order to be successful, ACA candidates are required to incorporate work experience gained during their training contract into their case studies and draw from essential skills learnt from the Business Change and Business Reporting modules.
The case study is intended to reproduce a common business scenario or issue faced by chartered accountants to assess whether a candidate is able to provide an appropriate solution or business plan to successfully address the situation. The scenario will necessitate the use of any number of capabilities developed during ACA training while observing professional ethics.
The case study will involve the submission of a report in relation to a business plan or transaction and as such several pieces of information will be provided in advance to the candidate to replicate a real-life business scenario such as minutes from meetings and information from memorandum. All relevant simulated data will be available to the candidate to ensure that the case study can be dealt with in a realistic manner.
To bring more life to the business scenario and enable the drafting of the report, the candidate would:
• receive some materials in advance
• carry out some work beforehand and make use of it in the report
• include additional analysis in appendices to the report
• develop additional lines of enquiry as you assemble the report
• expect to discuss and advise on relevant matters
Candidates will be given adequate information on the organisation in question and their business environment well in advance of the exam. Candidates will be expected to study the information provided about the organisation and its business environment and will be allowed to bring results of their analysis into the exam room. Detailed computations that are required in the Professional Stage and the Technical Integration modules will not be necessary in the Case Study exam although a financial and business analysis will.
• Understanding the subject matter
• Accessing, evaluating and managing data and information provided in multiple sources (some pre-disclosed) and from independent research plans
• Using technical knowledge & professional experience to assess interaction of information from different sources
• Understanding an organisational framework: evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of an organisation and comparing with benchmarks
• Planning, controlling and evaluating operations in a global context
• Understanding the needs of customers (internal and external)
• Demonstrating an understanding of the significance of ethics in the business environment and the importance of ethical behaviour
• Using relevant content of the International & ICAEW Codes of Ethics
• Demonstrating an understanding of the regulatory structure of the profession, its ethos, culture and role in corporate and social responsibility
Structuring problems and solutions
• Using the information given: analysing and evaluating requirements, information, issues and business context
• Analysing, evaluating and synthesising new and complex ideas
• Displaying an enquiring and questioning mind
• Identifying faults in arguments and gaps in evidence
• Demonstrating understanding of the pressures on professional ethical behaviour, including the interaction between professional ethics, the law and other value systems
• Financial data analysis:
- analysing and evaluating data by selecting appropriate analytical and technical tools and applying technical knowledge and professional experience
- demonstrating an understanding of sensitivities to change: flexing a range of inputs and evaluating potential outcomes
- evaluating, prioritising and trading off solutions to complex problems, considering various perspectives, including competitive reaction and internal reaction
• Financial statement analysis:
- analysing and evaluating financial statements by selecting appropriate analytical and technical tools and applying technical knowledge & professional experience
- linking all elements of financial statements, evaluating & making comparisons where there are complex interactions
- evaluating financial statements in the context of other business information
• Using technical knowledge, & professional experience and evidence to support reasoning
• Applying discrimination: filtering information to identify critical factors
• Applying a sceptical and critical approach
• Interpreting information from a range of stances and developing arguments, having first appreciated the perspective of other parties
• Conducting critiques: Considering alternative views in testing the validity of ideas in practice
• Considering and evaluating the effects of a range of alternative future scenarios
• Seeking opportunities to add value
• Prioritising key issues
• Applying the concept of materiality to interrelated situations
• Appreciating the ethical dimensions of situations, exercising ethical judgement and explaining the consequence of unethical behaviour
• Appreciating when more expert help is required
The case study exam lasts four hours and the pass rate is 78.2%.