It’s really hard to juggle work, study and still have to time to eat when you are getting ready to take accountancy exams, be they CIMA, ACA or ACCA.  Accountancy exams of all types are well known to be challenging and require lots of careful study and dedication in order to achieve a pass.  This is why employers particularly look out for accounting candidates who manage to nail a pass first time.  Similar to getting a First Class Honours degree, it immediately sets individuals apart from the rest.  That’s not to say that achieving a pass first time will be the be all and end all of getting the job you want, there’s CV’s to write and interview technique to brush up on first and we’ll be posting articles on these subjects too over the forthcoming weeks.

Many blue-chip employers particularly request candidates for finance and accounting roles who have passed their accountancy exams to date first time, particularly for ACA qualifications.  It’s a scary thought, but if you work for one of the “Big Four” accountancy firms and they sponsor you through your professional qualification, first time passes are expected and your career with them may be cut short if you do not achieve their vision of success.

So why is passing first time so important to employers?

It shows employers that you have a strong academic nature and that could be just what they are looking for.  It shows dedication, in their eyes, if you put as much effort into your job as you do for your exams you will go far.  Students who achieve first time passes will be contributing to the success culture of the organisation they work for.  Many trainee accountants will be taken on and provided with their examination costs covered together with study leave for their first attempt at exams, this won’t be a luxury received for ret-sits.

How can I help to ensure I pass first time?

There are many things you can do to help you achieve success in your exams, some key actions are:

  • Take copious amounts of notes while you are on your training course and make sure you learn key phrases along with their meanings.
  • Try studying with another person, you can often help each other understand concepts and explain problems.
  • Practise, practise and practise sample examination questions.
  • Brush up on exam techniques, one of the most crucial aspects is managing your time in the exam – if you are stuck on a question move on and come back to it later if you have time.
  • Arrive in plenty of time for the exam so that you have time to get your brain into “exam mode,” then you can begin your exam in a calm, collected and productive manner rather than missing the first few minutes while you find somewhere to park…
  • Look after yourself, eat well, do some exercise when you can and you will, hopefully, be rewarded by excellent health on your exam day.

What if I don’t manage to pass first time?

It’s fair to say that you could be at a slight disadvantage for some of the most desirable accountancy and finance roles if you don’t pass first time, particularly for ACA qualifications.  However, all is not lost!  Employers love to see transferable skills and relevant industry experience.  The practical application of skills is particularly beneficial for CIMA and ACCA students who often spend some time in industry before embarking on a professional qualification. At the end of the day, an employer will want finance and accountancy staff that will fit into an organisation with the ability to work as part of a team, hold their own in meetings and deliver their objectives, these attributes will help all candidates achieve success.


Working for Marc Daniels is a unique experience. Throw out any pre-conceptions you may have about what it may be like to work for a typical recruitment consultancy – we are just not like them. We believe in creating long-lasting relationships and that goes for our employees as well as for our clients and candidates.

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