Stay up-to-date with the latest business and accountancy news: Sign up for daily news alerts

  • ACA students
  • Apply for exams
  • Applications for Professional and Advanced Level exams

ACA dates and deadlines

ACA Professional and Advanced Level exam dates, results dates and exam booking deadlines.

Visit the  Level 4 Accounting Technician page  or Level 7 Accountancy Professional page  for key dates and deadlines.

Exam system status

Remember to frequently check our dedicated exam system status  page for all the latest exam updates which may affect you.

You only have a limited time to book your place as exams are booked on a first come, first-served basis – so it is essential that you plan ahead. Make sure you know the date exam bookings open and close. All the dates you need for 2023 are also included in this year’s ACA planner .

We cannot accept late bookings or changes to an exam application after the booking deadline and any errors or omissions cannot be corrected after the booking deadline.

Professional Level  

March 1 , june, september and december exam sessions.

1  March: A limited number of exam venues open during the March session.

2  Financial Accounting and Reporting: You are required to sit and pass one of these exams. Please ensure that you apply for the correct exam.

3  Business Planning: you are required to sit and pass one of these exams, either the banking, insurance or taxation version. Please ensure that you apply for the correct exam.

Advanced Level

Advance information

July and November exam sessions

Please note: ICAEW reserves the right to vary examination dates, deadlines and times. Timetables for exams held outside the UK will vary, please check your admission details for confirmation.

Jag's Journey

Sharing my life experiences including the Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualification

ICAEW Case Study Made Easy – How to Pass ACA Case Study

What was my first impression of the ICAEW Case Study? Weird. This exam is completely different to the 14 ACA exams prior which actually have new content to learn. The ICAEW Case Study was completely unknown to me until I came to study for this exam. It was not really an exam that was spoken about at all beforehand. For this reason, I have written this blog to give others an insight into the ICAEW Case Study exam with tips to pass . If you would like to know how much preparation is needed for the ICAEW Case Study, click here .

I will also share a few of my ‘ help sheets ‘ for free to those of you who have kindly joined my journey. These sheets can be tailored to your ICAEW case study, printed out and taken into your exam as it is open book. It isn’t too late – join now! You will receive these within three/four days of joining at 6pm (UK).

Check out my  YouTube video  if you would prefer watching to reading!

Table of Contents

Introduction to the icaew case study, icaew case study materials, icaew case study exam format, executive summary, requirement 1, requirement 2, requirement 3, different ways to fail the icaew case study exam, icaew case study marking key and timings, make it easy.

To reiterate, there is no new content that you need to learn to pass the ICAEW Case Study. Passing this exam is more skills based than anything. According to ICAEW , students need to demonstrate they “ can provide advice on complex business issues in the form of a written report “. In order to do so, you will have to analyse both financial and non-financial data as well as portray ethical awareness to form conclusions and recommendations.

In terms of difficulty , the calculations involved are quite basic such as percentage change and there is minimal technical knowledge required. You will even already know roughly 40% of the exam that is going to come up. The remaining 60% is somewhat predictable too based on the case study information you are given.

If you are reading about the ICAEW Case Study for the first time, you are probably thinking “ this is great! “. I know I was. However, hold your horses as you might start to smile slightly less as you continue to read on.

The way the ICAEW Case Study works is that prior to the exam (roughly a month before I think it was) you should get sent the Advanced information (AI) . This is 40-50 pages of information – it is everything we need to know about the client before the current financial year. Do not worry about researching the industry outside of the AI as there is plenty of information including prior year financial statements and a few news articles within this. My case study was during COVID-19 and there were not many extra marks available regarding this.

Using this AI, you can really get to know the fictional client. You should understand the history of the company, the products the client sells, the pricing, competitors, opportunities, etc. Furthermore, you can perform a SWOT analysis, PESTEL analysis and all sorts.

The surprise aspect of the ICAEW Case Study comes in the exam where you will get 10-15 pages of new information. However, this information is unlikely to be a total surprise as the AI will point towards this. For example, my ICAEW Case Study was about a magazine company. The AI mentioned the possibilities of exploring different consumer markets, different prices for magazines, a different type of magazine, etc. In the exam, out of all of these options price changes was one of the questions which came up so I was somewhat prepared.

The way I see it is that the AI is historical and the exam information is like meeting with your client for a new financial year and they update you on how it went. You will get the latest financial statements, hear of actual potential strategies and opportunities as well as get provided some newer news articles.

Every ICAEW Case Study will have the same exam format as follows:

For more information regarding each of these key exam areas, see the tabs below. As this is a report, your ES and requirements will need to be numbered throughout. My ‘help sheet’ will assist with this.

This first thing to do before even reading the exam question is to start the executive summary. You will need to address the external report to the client from your accountancy firm as per the Case Study. Following this, you should also write a disclaimer regarding liability. Doing this will get you a tick in the overall assessment criteria and my ‘help sheet’ has this all set out.

The purpose of the ES is to provide a balanced summary of all the three requirements. If someone did not have the time to read your full report, they should be able to pull out all the key information from this executive summary. The ES is standard for any ICAEW Case Study exam and is part of the 40% where you know what will come up.

You cannot simply copy and paste the conclusions from your requirements otherwise you will not get any marks . This could also result in you failing, see below. The ES needs to be slightly more detailed than the conclusion.

The ES is on a separate tab in the ICAEW software to the requirements so there would be a fair bit of flicking back and forth between the tabs to do this properly. The way I went about doing this was copying each of my requirement answers into sticky notes/comments on the exam exhibits. I would then paste these into the ES, remove less important information and reword parts to ensure I gained marks.

Timing is key in this exam so I would recommend to avoid leaving the ES until the end. Write it up after each requirement when the points are fresh in your mind.

Requirement 1 is part of that 40% where you know what question will come up. There is a small part of this requirement that is unknown but using the case study you can form an educated guess for what might come up.

The first thing you will need to do for every requirement is to create an appendix . These will be fairly basic calculations using information from the exhibits. Requirement 1 is all around financial statement analysis , in particular financial performance.

You already have the financial statements for the year prior to the exam statements in the AI. This will be used for the YOY comparison which is essentially what this R1 appendix is. You will need to have a movement column (£) and a % change column.

The software can be a pain when it comes to this requirement. This is because once you have produced the appendix, you will need to discuss the movements in the year and explain why this has happened using information in the exhibits. Again, this is fairly predictable and you can for example prepare reasons for increase/decrease in revenue beforehand. However, given the software you would need to keep scrolling up and down to see the numbers.

This is why my ‘ help sheets ‘ are useful as one addresses this issue. See a preview below. I took this in with me printed out as part of my open book file. As I was populating the appendix in the software I was writing all the numbers out too. This prevents having to scroll constantly and if you practice, it will save you more time than it wastes.

The less obvious aspect of this requirement will relate to a proposed financial adjustment. For example, a stock write off, bad debt issue, to do with cash flow or more. Do not worry too much as the AI will hint towards the potential issues.

As stated in requirement 1, you will need to produce an appendix made of fairly straightforward calculations. This should be the calculations behind evaluating a potential strategy or opportunity. For me, this was the potential revenue for different magazine pricing strategies. This was somewhat predictable so I had practiced calculations beforehand.

The rest of requirement 2 tends to have the same structure :

Always state “any changes in the assumptions will affect the results of the model” for any ICAEW case study – it is an easy, guaranteed mark!

The shortest appendix will be needed for this requirement. It should be a few simple calculations to assess a potential strategy or opportunity. In all honesty, sometimes the lines can get slightly blurred between what could come up in requirement 2 or requirement 3.

As with 2, requirement 3 has roughly the same structure from ICAEW Case Study to Case Study:

The recommendations can be quite straightforward such as carrying out market research. If there is another company involved, carry out due diligence on them.

Within all requirements , wider business context points are required to be sprinkled in throughout. These can be gathered from the AI and prepared beforehand but then ensure to add them in where relevant.

This is probably the most horrible aspect of the ICAEW Case Study. Either this or the fact that it is 4 hours long. What surprised me is that you can still fail this exam even if you achieve the actual pass mark. Yes, you read that correctly. Even if you reach the 50% pass mark, you can be failed for any of the other reasons outlined below .

Essentially, the examiner wants to see that you can write a complete report properly. If you do not do as ICAEW say in this exam you will be punished and you will fail.

I could honestly spend a very long time talking through the marking key. However, I do not want to get too bogged down with this in this blog. You will go through this in a LOT of detail once studying for this exam. I will therefore cover this at a high level. If you want further details about the ACA ICAEW Case Study marking key, click here where I have delved into this much more.

The main thing to know is that there are skilled assessment boxes (total of 40): ES (6); each of the three requirement (11); and one final box for the overall assessment criteria. The mark per each box is 0-6 so the maximum mark is 240 for this exam (40 x 6). Each box will have six points/’diamonds’ that need to be made. For example, one point/’diamond’ is stating revenue increased by x amount/(y %) based on the case study numbers. This will make more sense once you start studying for ICAEW Case Study.

From the table above you can see you do not benefit for hitting six points/’diamonds’ rather than four. You waste time but then it is difficult to know whether a point you make is in the skills assessment box or not. Through these boxes you demonstrate that you can: assimilate and use information; structure problems and solutions; apply judgement and form conclusions and recommendations.

You may be slightly confused as the marking key is unlike any others. There are no predetermined correct answers . In fact, only after assessing the first 100 say papers are the skills assessment boxes points/’diamonds’ put together. You need to write what everyone else writes so state the obvious and work together when preparing beforehand!

To briefly touch on timings, the ICAEW Case Study is four hours as mentioned. Believe it or not but it is very time pressured . There are many different ways to plan your time. I will share how I did it on one of my ‘help sheets’.

This blog title is definitely not click bait. These ‘help sheets’ will definitely give you a good idea of how to approach the ICAEW Case Study.

In addition to this, people do say you cannot revise for this exam given there is no content. However, I do definitely think you can prepare and you will need to go through the AI beforehand. Like I said though, do not go overboard with this as the AI should have all the information you need. Find out exactly how much preparation is needed to pass here . You should also familiarise yourself with the ICAEW software beforehand.

Practice for this exam to master the technique and timing. You may be wondering how and you probably will not like the answer. I would recommend practicing mock exams , as in previous ICAEW Case Study exams. This is tough as sitting one four hour exam is bad enough. Additionally, you would have to read AI’s that are not relevant to your exam and it is a lot of work. It is worthwhile though to do a few!

Another way to practice is through ACA Simplified / Paradigm Shift . Once the AI is released, this company will use the AI to predict around 5 different exams for your case study. It is fairly expensive but if you do want to practice on your own case study it is worthwhile. You can take the mark schemes in with you too as it is open book so this can potentially help in the exam if a similar question comes up. I mentioned above that requirement 2 and 3 have simple calculations but these can actually sometimes be tricky depending on the case study. ACA Simplified can help with this.

And there you have it! This was a very lengthy blog so if you found this useful it would be great if you could leave a comment 🙂

I thought I would also throw in a video of my final ICAEW exam day (Case Study) in November 2020 – I am sure many of you can relate to these feelings!


It’s all just come screaming back to me, great summary! Excited to see what your helpsheet is like!

Thank you for reading Abs and I hope you like them!

A very informative blog for someone starting to prepare for Case Study! Now I know more about what I’m in for, lol. Thank you for the tips and helpsheets!

You are welcome Anne – I am glad to help!

Thank you for providing the information relating to Case!

I was wondering what made you use ACA Simplified/Paradigm Shift compared to ACA Masters to help with your analysis of the AI?

Hi Guv, you are welcome – others I knew who had sat Case previously used ACA Simplified/Paradigm Shift and highly recommended them. At the time of my studies I actually wasn’t that aware of ACA Masters. They also have great reviews though!

Loved this post. Very informative.

I was wondering what you think is the best way to use the ACA simplified mocks? Obviously sitting the other 2 advanced level exams, there isn’t a lot of time to practice all the mocks to time so I was wondering if you have any tips?

Also, is it possible for me to have your help sheets?

Thank you!!!

You are welcome and in terms of the mocks, I scanned through them and at the time was able to print them out and take in with me. I think this may have changed since I sat them so not sure if this is possible now. I would advise really running through the calculations and understanding them for requirement 2 and 3 – write these out in a way that is easy to understand and could be applicable to your real exam. Definitely is unmanageable trying to do them all but it is worth going through them and seeing if you would be on the right track if similar questions came up in the exam. I have mistakenly just emailed you the audit notes – in terms of the help sheets you will need to join my journey at and they will be with you in a few days. All the best!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Buy Me a Coffee

Automated page speed optimizations for fast site performance

The Student Room Logo

How to pass ICAEW ACA Case Study Exam?

FAR - Full Series

Learn how to ace the aca certificate level exams, financial accounting and reporting (far) , classroom tuition, online tuition.

How to Pass the ICAEW ACA Case Study Exam

Updated: Feb 22

This article offers advice on how to pass the ACA Case Study exam. Written by a multiple prize-winning ACA tutor who scored 92% in the Case Study exam and won the ICAEW prize for the highest score in the world, this is essential reading for any student preparing for their Case Study exam.

How to Ace the ACA Case Study Exam

The Case Study is unlike most other ACA exams as there is very little technical content to learn. Therefore, students who are used to memorising technical concepts and then ‘smashing out the question bank’ will be perplexed when they are presented with 40+ pages of advance information and a Case Study exam paper seemingly testing nothing they have learnt in their other 14 exams.

However, the Case Study is actually very similar to the other ACA exams in that the three exam requirements are always the same, as are the mark schemes. By appreciating the consistency in the exam requirements and the mark schemes, you can develop your exam technique to ensure that you tick all the 'boxes' on the mark scheme and complete your ACA qualification in style.

In light of this, we believe that there are 5 steps to Case Study success:

1. Understand how Case Study is marked

2. Understand what each of the three requirements involve

3. Understand what information is provided in the Advance Information (AI) and what is provided in the exam

4. Learn the Case Study exam technique which ensures that you hit all the boxes on the mark scheme

5. Practice mock exams to master your exam technique

Step 1: Understand how Case Study is marked

The Case Study marking process is objective: there is a set marking key for each requirement and if a student’s report includes a point which is on the mark scheme, they will get the mark. This is not like an academic essay where the examiner forms an overall opinion of the piece of work and then decides whether it is good enough to pass; the Case Study marking grid is rigid. Whilst it can be frustrating that making a valid point which is not on the mark scheme does not score a mark, it does mean that the marking process is very transparent and easy to navigate. Below is an example from a Case Study mark scheme to illustrate what I mean by points and boxes.

aca case study timings

Step 2: Understand what each of the three requirements involve

As explained above, the three requirements are broadly the same in each Case Study exam.

R1: Analyse the financial performance of the company

R2: Evaluate a financial proposal

R3: Evaluate an opportunity or issue

The mark scheme for each requirement is also the same. This makes the exam fairly predictable.

By having a look at recent past papers, you will soon start see the consistency in the requirements and build an understanding of what each requirement involves.

Step 3: Understand what information is provided in the AI and what is provided in the exam

In addition to the exam requirements and mark schemes being in the same format every time, the AI is also in the same format every time (albeit a different business with different issues).

By working through past Case Study exams, you will soon start to see that the AI always has the same exhibits with very similar types of information e.g. industry background, prior year accounts, key customers / suppliers, strategic goals and risks. Similarly, all the exams include the same exhibits with very similar types of information.

Having completed the exam, it is important to mark it and reflect on what information came from the AI and what came from the exam exhibits. You will soon start to see that the majority of mark scoring points come from the exam exhibits rather than the AI. You will also learn which types of information in the AI tend to be rewarded in the mark scheme and where in the mark scheme they are rewarded, i.e. which box.

Step 4: Learn the Case Study exam technique which ensures that you hit all the boxes on the mark scheme

Having understood what the exam requirements are and how they are marked, you need to develop an exam technique which ensures that your report includes the points which are included on the mark scheme. Fortunately for you, we have developed an exam technique which does this and it has resulted in two students winning the prize for the highest mark in the world (90% and 92%), another winning a prize for the highest mark in their region (88%) and another achieving the highest mark in their firm (81%)!

Given the practical nature of exam technique, it is not possible to explain this in text so you can watch a free class here which teaches you exactly how to ace Requirement 1 and get a prize-winning mark.

Step 5: Practice mock exams to master your exam technique

By this stage in your ACA journey, you will already know that question practice is key to success. Having learnt the prize-winning technique, you then need to practice mock exams on your case study business under exam conditions so that you master the technique and sign off your ACA in style!

Need Help Passing the ACA Case Study Exam?

Details of our live tuition, video tuition, mock exams and proforma reports can be found here .

About the Author

Kieran Doe is a Senior ACA Tutor at ACA Masters. Kieran won ICAEW prizes for his performance in Financial Accounting and Reporting, Tax, Financial Management, Audit, Business Strategy and Case Study. This is in addition to winning several prizes at university for various Accounting, Management, Business and Economics subjects.

Kieran’s tuition is based around the learning techniques and exam strategies which enabled him to win prizes for all the subjects he teaches. Under his guidance, several of his ACA students have also won ICAEW prizes.

The inside take on grad life in a big 4 firm

Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® banner with discount. Get 10% off with code MYFMVA10. Become a world-class, Wall Street ready analyst (at your own pace) with CFI's online certification programs. Click to learn more!

The ACA Advanced level Case Study (CS) exam is the final exam sat by ACA candidates. 

The Case Study exam is designed to test all areas developed in previous ACA exams. The exam places the student at the heart of a business and gives students a ‘case’ which students are given around 4 weeks prior to the exam.

The case is a fictional information source which contains background, news articles and some financial information about a fictitious business.

The paper itself is actually not very technically challenging. Instead, the exam assesses how students are able to analyse a specific business scenario and apply accounting concepts to solve problems. The exam itself is intended to be written as if it were a report being produced.

A key difference with this exam is the way that marks are awarded. Rather than having to score a percentage of marks in aggregate over the whole paper, each of the three individual questions must be passed in order to pass the exam.

aca case study timings

Method of assessment

The ACA Case Study exam itself is 4 hours and given it forms part of the Advanced level, it can only be sat in one of two exam periods. These are in July and November each year.

As such, in each exam sitting all candidates will be set the same questions.

The exam will consist of three questions, and ethical issues and problems will likely appear in both questions. 

The exam is fully open book and therefore students are permitted to take any written or printed material into the exam – this includes the pre-release.

How to pass ACA Case Study Exam

Without doubt the most difficult element of this exam and the main reason that candidates fail is the time pressure. 

I’m order to pass this exam, you need to be regimented with your time keeping. You need to go into the exam having already worked out how many minutes per mark you are giving yourself, with a plan as to at what time you are going to move on to the next question.

In addition, make sure that the case that you have been given is tabbed up and organised, so you are able to flick to a particular area very quickly. I found a good way of doing this was to create an index which was colour coded. This was the way I found easiest to find pieces of information as I needed them.

Finally, make sure that you practice the first question over and over again. The first question of the paper is virtually the same in every sitting in that you are required to calculate year on year variances against the financial results presented in the pre-release case. This can be an easy way to pick up some marks without using up too much time.

How hard is the ACA Case Study Exam? 

As Case Study is the final exam, many would expect this to be the hardest exam of all. However, especially in terms of content, this is not the case. 

The difficulty here lies in the time pressure and the very specific mark scheme which comes with this exam. As such, timed practice papers are key to passing this exam.

That said, assuming preparation has been thorough, this exam is certainly passable.

I would give this exam a 4 out of 5 for difficulty. 

The pass rate for this exam is 76.83%

Financial Analyst Program

Related posts

aca case study timings

How to get qualified in a big 4 firm – How hard is the ACA?

aca case study timings

Why working in Big 4 audit is the best way to start your career

aca case study timings

Benefits of Working in the Big 4 – Why Leaving is so Attractive

aca case study timings

How much do you get paid in the Big 4?

aca case study timings

What do auditors actually do?

aca case study timings

Is being an auditor REALLY that boring?

Item Ended

Bottom panel for Description

Description, item specifics, item description from the seller, business seller information.

Return policy

More to explore :.


  1. ICAEW ACA Case Study

    aca case study timings

  2. CASE STUDY 1. FROM DAAI to ACA. Transforming HMI into ACA (Applied Cultural Anthropology)

    aca case study timings

  3. How To Pass The ICAEW ACA Case Study Exam

    aca case study timings

  4. McGuireWoods Consulting

    aca case study timings

  5. E-Conference Case Study: ACA 2021

    aca case study timings

  6. Cracking Case

    aca case study timings


  1. SSC CHSL Previous Year Paper

  2. Identify fraud through financial statements (final)


  4. Mamie Conteh

  5. Welcome #INTEGRABLE-C22 Conference ▸ Mark Bowick (KITP)

  6. Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sheds Tears



    Hey! Here are my tips on how to pass the CASE STUDY ICAEW ACA exam.Check out the notes I used that helped me pass the ACA exams:

  2. ACA dates and deadlines

    2023 ; July, Case Study, Tuesday 30 May ; July, Corporate Reporting, Monday 29 May ; November, Case Study, Tuesday 19 September ; November, Corporate Reporting

  3. How To Pass The ICAEW ACA Case Study Exam

    The ACA Case Study exam is 4 hours long. This is the single longest exam within the ACA course with the other two advanced level exams (Corporate Reporting and

  4. ICAEW Case Study Made Easy

    To briefly touch on timings, the ICAEW Case Study is four hours as mentioned. Believe it or not but it is very time pressured. There are many

  5. 5 Essential Tips Going Into Case Study (Exam Technique)

    Have four bullet points for each box with nothing written next to them and as you go through the exam, tick each box when you've made a point

  6. How to pass ICAEW ACA Case Study Exam?

    By focusing on other mocks and mocks for your AI you'll spot the patterns, the recurring points and you'll not be surprised by anything that shows up on exam

  7. How to Pass the ICAEW ACA Case Study Exam

    The Case Study is unlike most other ACA exams as there is very little technical content to learn. Therefore, students who are used to memorising

  8. ACA Case Study

    I'm order to pass this exam, you need to be regimented with your time keeping. You need to go into the exam having already worked out how many minutes per mark

  9. How to Pass the ACA Case Study (July 2016) by ACA Simplified The

    Cracking Case - How to Pass the ACA Case Study (July 2016) by ACA Simplified The ... giving you 5 opportunities to practise your timing and technique whilst

  10. CFAB / ACA (ICAEW)

    To find out more about our Advanced Case Study Resit Courses please click here. Students studying Certificate Level must sit their exam in the