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ACCA Exam Shake-Up: Are You Ready for the New SBL Format?

ACCA Exam Shake-Up

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has recently introduced changes to the Strategic Business Leader (SBL) exam, which will affect students preparing for the ACCA course in Nepal. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you understand the changes and how to prepare for the new format.

Changes to the SBL Exam

From September 2023, the SBL exam will have some significant changes:

  • Students will have access to pre-seen material two weeks before the exam.
  • The exam duration will be reduced from 4 hours to 3 hours and 15 minutes.
  • The number of exhibits will be significantly reduced.
  • The exam will now have three compulsory tasks, with each task having a varying number of parts and total marks.
  • Each professional skill will be tested only once and will be worth four marks.
  • The exam will no longer be answered as a single requirement in one Word document.

Pre-seen Element

The pre-seen material is designed to help students become familiar with the business activities of the case study organisation and the industry in which it operates. Students should read the pre-seen content carefully to understand the activities of the fictitious organisation and the industry in which it operates. Planning ahead will help students better demonstrate professional skills in the exam and support stronger exam performance.

How to Prepare for the New SBL Exam

To prepare for the new SBL exam, students should:

  • Familiarise themselves with the pre-seen material, including the industry and organisation information.
  • Spend time becoming very familiar with the information in the pre-seen.
  • Do some research to better understand the terminologies and activities of the industry.
  • Use the exhibits provided on the exam day to help answer the exam tasks.
  • Practice mock exams and question practice.

Resources for Preparing for the ACCA SBL Exam Shake-up

To help students prepare for the new SBL exam format, ACCA provides various resources, including:

  • Exam Planner, which will make the pre-seen content available two weeks before the exam.
  • Guidance on how to use the pre-seen effectively.
  • Specimen exams and practice questions are available on the ACCA Practice Platform.
  • Examining team guidance documents discussing the pre-seen and tips for preparing for and sitting the SBL exam.

ACCA Courses in Nepal

In Nepal, students can pursue ACCA courses from various institutions, such as the Certified College of Accountancy (CCA), The British College, the International School of Management and Technology (ISMT), and the NCA College of Management. These colleges offer a range of ACCA courses, including the ACCA Professional Qualification, ACCA Foundations in Accountancy, and ACCA Diploma in International Financial Reporting.


The ACCA SBL exam shake-up introduces new changes to the format, including the pre-seen element and reduced exam duration. To prepare for the new SBL exam, students should familiarise themselves with the pre-seen material, do some research, and practice mock exams and question practice. ACCA provides various resources to help students prepare, including the ACCA Practice Platform and examining team guidance documents. Students can pursue ACCA courses in Nepal from institutions like CCA, The British College, ISMT, and NCA College of Management.

Additional Points

  • Ethics and Professional Skills Module: Students who complete the Ethics and Professional Skills Module (EPSM) in advance of sitting Strategic Professional exams have a 25% better success rate.
  • ACCA Study Hub: The ACCA Study Hub is your ultimate study resource, providing access to ACCA-produced study chapters, flashcards, practice questions, and more.
  • ACCA Learning Community: Connect with the ACCA student community to ask exam-specific questions and support each other with study and motivational tips.
  • Pre-seen Information Structure: There are two parts to the pre-seen information: the industry information and information that relates to the organisation.
  • Using Pre-seen Materials: Students should not spend too much time on the pre-seen at the expense of revising areas of the syllabus and completing practice mock exams.
  • Effects of Covid-19: The pre-seen and the SBL live exam will not consider any specific Covid-19 related situations affecting any industry, organisation, and government.
  • Question Practice: It is vitally important to take time to read and understand the pre-seen material before attempting practice exams.
  • Study Plan: Students should have a study plan that includes familiarising themselves with the pre-seen, practising mock exams, and reviewing their own answers critically.
  • Underpinning Knowledge: Students should prepare to bring in relevant knowledge and skills from earlier exams and refresh their knowledge.
  • Study Buddy: A study buddy can help students discuss ideas and approaches during their study, build up professional skills and confidence, and provide feedback on practice answers.

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