ACCA Exemptions - What You Need to Know

Exemptions can save you time and money while pursuing your ACCA qualification. In this article, we will take you through the process of applying for exemptions.

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If you embark on studies with the ACCA and have previous accounting and finance qualifications, you may be eligible for exemptions.

Exemptions allow you to start studying for the ACCA qualification at the right level for your skills and knowledge and can save you time and money while you get your qualification.

In this article, we will take you through the process of applying for exemptions.

Why Are ACCA Exemptions Awarded?

ACCA Global acknowledges that many students have prior studies equivalent to ACCA qualifications. Since ACCA membership is sought after by employers in the industry, exemptions are their commitment to getting as many skilled chartered accountants into businesses as possible in the shortest time period. 

Exemptions Offered

The ACCA exemption process is very rigorous in order to maintain quality standards. Currently, exemptions are offered for the following qualifications:

  • Certificates and diplomas (awarded by recognised institutions)
  • Foundation degrees
  • Bachelor degrees
  • Postgraduate qualifications
  • Professional qualifications

A maximum of nine exemptions are available for the Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills level of the qualification. 

There are no exemptions awarded for the Strategic Professional level. This ensures that all students finish the qualification based on the same examinations. 

The CAT and Foundations in Accountancy qualifications also have a certain number of exemptions depending on the quality and level of previous studies.  

Is There a Fee For Exemptions?

ACCA does charge an exemption fee for each exemption awarded. You can expect to pay the following fees:

Applied Knowledge exams: £98 per exemption

Applied Skills exams: £123 per exemption

Once you receive an exemption notice, an invoice will be issued, and you can pay your exemption fees through MyACCA

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Application Process

  • You must apply for exemptions when you first register as an ACCA student
  • Use the exemption calculator to calculate the number of exams you are exempt from
  • Send copies of your highest level of professional qualification and transcripts. Your documents must include details of subjects and the marks obtained. Email to or send via post or fax (do not send original documents to ACCA; only copies)
  • Receive an email confirming exemptions from ACCA exams. You should wait for confirmation before registering to write any exams. 

All documents must be sent in English. Should your qualifications and transcripts be in another language, you need to have them translated by someone fluent in both languages.  

Documents that cannot be understood will not be considered for the exemption process. 

Reasons for Exemption Refusal

Qualification reviewers at the ACCA adhere strictly to their criteria for awarding exemptions. This ensures employers can confidently employ ACCA members, knowing that all members have gained the same knowledge and skills. There are justifiable reasons for declining an exemption. Some of the reasons are listed below:

  • the institution or campus where studies were undertaken is not recognised
  • the type of qualification that was awarded is not equivalent to an ACCA level
  • the subject major stated on the completion certificate, transcript or other documents does not comply with the requirements
  • the modules studied during the course of the qualification are not equivalent to ACCA levels
  • the year studies were commenced or completed 
  • A student wrote ACCA exams and failed and then applied for an exemption

Who is Responsible For Exemptions?

The Professional Qualifications Approvals team forms part of the Quality and Recognition Department and is responsible for the following: 

  • formulation and dissemination of ACCA’s global entry and exemption information
  • benchmarking of global education systems to ensure consistency and fairness in the application of ACCA’s entry requirements and exemption awards 
  • development of ACCA’s accreditation regulations and criteria (including syllabus, exams and program standards), which govern the accreditation of relevant educational programs
  • assessment of exemption accreditation applications from educational institutions 
  • provision of advice to institutions seeking exemption accreditation of new programs and accredited institutions seeking further exemption 
  • review of all program changes within exemption accredited programs and maintenance of ACCA’s exemption calculator 
  • review of the performance of ACCA’s exemption policy and program exemption accreditation assessments to maintain appropriate levels of exemptions being awarded.
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Some Advice From The Experts @ VIVA

You may not always want to take up an exemption

Take it from us, you need to consider exemptions carefully. If it has been 5-7 years since completing your qualification, you may be working with outdated information. This will be to your detriment when you write your exams. 

If you want a breakdown of module content to help you make your decision, visit our ACCA page and explore the subject syllabi.

If you intend to complete the BSc - Applied Accounting, you will be exempted for having written certain ACCA exams. So the work you put into the ACCA will benefit future studies. This may be a good reason to leave exemptions for a later date. 

Comply with ACCA exemption requirements

Your application will be successful if you carefully study the ACCA requirements and then send in your documents as requested. We’ve attached a list of documentation below to help you with this process. 

A Word about Post-Professional Qualifications

You should know that the following qualifications do not attract exemptions:

  • Diploma in Financial Management (DipFM) 
  • Diploma in International Financial Reporting (DipIFR) 
  • Certificate in International Financial Reporting
  • Certificate in International Auditing

An Inside Look at Assessment Criteria

Here is some insight into the assessment criteria that ACCA pane members will use to evaluate your qualification:

  • the balance of practice and theory is appropriate to the ACCA exam
  • the standard of examination questions and any other relevant assessment method is comparable to the ACCA exam being considered 
  • significant areas of the syllabus and all core ACCA examination topic areas are covered 
  • the mark allocation for individual examination questions is comparable to the ACCA exam 

Visit the ACCA Global Exemption Database

It is highly advisable that you visit the exemption database before you finalise your registration as an ACCA student. Arm yourself with as much information as possible to avoid disappointment.


And Finally…

Exemptions are a great way to enter the ACCA qualification at the right level, provided you have thoroughly considered how current your knowledge and skills are after your previous qualification. 

If you have thoroughly read the information provided and are convinced you qualify for exemptions, please go ahead and access the database as suggested before you register for exams.

We are always ready to help you determine how prepared you are to write the ACCA exams. Our skilled tutors have years of experience and we have previously received a global pass rate excellence award. We are very proud of this award because it shows our commitment to our students. Let us help you too!

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