How I passed the ACCA professional exams


As part of the professional level exams as my optional papers I sat P5 – Advanced Performance Measurement and P4 – Advanced Financial Management. I didn’t attend any lectures but did use free online lectures. I received 1 week of study leave from my company for each exam. I did fail exams a few times and below is the advice I would give myself when first started studying the ACCA.

General Advice
  • Use OpenTuition, the tutorials on that website are very good. In particular the lectures for P2 and P4 are exceptional.
  • Practice under exam conditions as much as possible using past papers.
  • Use the syllabus to focus your study
  • Look at the questions from past exams first before studying a new topic on the syllabus and try to answer them
  • Don’t try to guess what will come up or leave gaps in the topics you study – I tried skipping topics, they came up on the exam, I failed.
  • Learn each topic at a high level then learn the detail. If the question comes up at least you can write something.
  • Make sure your answers are laid out neatly for the examiner to correct.
  • Start studying at least 6 months before the exam but just do a few hours each week
  • Make sure you are exercising and meeting friends in the days leading up to and during your exams.
  • Use audio books as much as possible. I found this useful for learning the P2 standards.
Sit P3 & P5 at the same time

P3 and P5 are very similar. There is a significant overlap between the two subjects. By studying both at the same time you save yourself a significant amount of time and increase your probability of passing.

P2 is very difficult

P2 is a very difficult exam. Its difficulty is based on the technical aspects of the exam and the time limitation of the exam. I failed this exam twice. On the third time I did two things differently. One was to download all of the accounting standards as listed in the syllabus as an mp3. I would listen to them while walking to work and walking home. One of the standards that came up in the exam was IAS 8 – Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors. I was only able to write something because of what I had learned through listening to the standards I had on mp3.

The second thing is to spend as much time as possible practising under exam conditions. The time constraint is a massive challenge. The only way you can get better is by practising as much as possible under exam conditions.

Lastly if you are doing P2 I would not recommend studying any other subject at the same time. There is a lot of material to cover. Also, you need to spend a lot of time practising exam questions under exam conditions to get your technique right, this takes a significant amount of time.

P4 is also very difficult

P4 is a good subject if you like math. In a way it does enable you to get good marks. But because it’s a technical subject you cannot make things up. You either know it or you don’t. The lectures on OpenTuition are exceptional and helped me a lot. I would not have passed this subject with out them.

Similar to P2, you need to spend a lot of time practising answering questions under exam conditions. Mainly you need to be able to layout your answer clearly and perform calculations quickly.


I passed this exam first time just using mostly the past exam papers. When I sat the exams the same questions repeated themselves a lot. I can’t offer much advise beyond this on the subject.