Accountant Wanna-bes: So What's ICAEW?

My ICAEW Story: Semester X (Sunway University College)

Image from AJMY

With the internship in the middle, I've totally lost count of the semesters I've been in. It should be around semester 7 or 8 now? Let's call it semester x. (Look at how lazy I've got, I don't even care to count anymore.) Currently I'm on my fifth last paper. Why fifth? Because there are a total of 15 papers in this professional programme. I know I could've said 11th paper but I count better when the number is smaller! And yeah, I'm going to be an accountant, you can put your trust in me no worries!

(In case you have no idea what I'm talking about there, here is an old post by me on ICAEW when I was in Semester one!)

If I manage to pass my current paper, I'll be left with four papers to go. Man does time fly!

Some of you (those of you who know me personally/on Facebook or follow me on Instagram) might wonder haven't I already graduated? Well, technically I had graduated. But only graduated from stage one.

So what do I mean by Stage one, how many stages are there in ICAEW? Since I've only briefly discussed this in the old post but never really detailed on this so this is what I'm going to do today! Hence if you're interested to understand more about ME (ICAEW), read on sweeties!

There are three stages in this ICAEW programme that I'm doing namely:

Stage one: ICAEW Certificate level

Altogether six papers in this level. At Sunway we are supposed to take two papers each semester, i.e. two papers in three months. The questions are all objectives and the exams are all computer based. This is the level that I've graduated from. The graduation took place so much later than the actual time I finished all six papers so I was in actual fact doing Stage two by the time I had the chance to don my graduation robe!

The reason why this level has a graduation is because this level can also be called: Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB). The certificate is not as widely recognised in the market compared to other accounting diplomas or CAT (supposedly CFAB equivalent for ACCA) so I don't think many know about it. I should since I'm doing ICAEW but I had to *cough* google *cough* to get its full name right. So... yeap.

Looking back, my kawan (this means friends in Malay) and I used to whine about how difficult this level is and desperately wanted to have our open book exams as soon as possible (or was it just me, I was an idiot) because, who doesn't love the idea of open book?? As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side!

But by the time we stepped up to Stage two, there wasn't even grass to begin with.

Stage two: ICAEW Professional level


No that wasn't a typing/system error. I did type it thrice.

Similarly, there are six papers here as well. All are written exams for the time being (ICAEW is slowly moving all papers to being computer based) and you have to literally write till you break. To be more precise, till your hands/pens break. There was one time during a mock test (it was only a mock test!), I wrote until my middle finger was blue-black. That may sound a little bit exaggerated but frankly I wasn't. 😔 I had to stop and massage my finger before I could continue to make it blue-black again. Maybe if I fail to pass I can become a finger-masseuse, if there is such a job.

At Sunway, only the first four papers are taken in pairs. The exams for these four papers and Business Strategy (BS a.k.a Bull***t) are not open book unlike Business Planning: Taxation (BPT). ICAEW do permit certain texts to be brought into the hall for technical reference but no more than that. So it's important to memorise as much details from the textbooks as possible. Due to this, the exams are "comparatively" easier than the other two and questions are slightly more predictable.

Whereas for the remaining two, they are usually done separately in two semesters as they are slightly different from the rest and are relatively tougher. BPT is an open book exam and is the toughest at this level because since it is open book, anything can pop up, because why not? You have your textbooks to help you!

Now we don't even dare think about the next stage anymore. Whenever related topic is brought up (or when there is an exam) we'll laugh back at those days when we complained that Stage one was the end of the world. If Stage one was the end of the world, Stage two will be the end of the universe. I don't even know what Stage three can end now. No wait, there won't even be Stage three. Everything should be gone by then. *evil witch laugh*

There is no graduation for this stage as it does not have a stand alone title like Stage one. When we're done with Stage two, we usually progress to Stage three to complete the last three papers and our practical training (translation: working full time for three years).

Stage three: ICAEW Advanced level

Yes, LAST stage, LAST three papers! They say if you pass all three you'll get your chartered accountant title. Sounds promising, I like.

Truth is:

In this level, all papers are open book (if I'm not mistaken). I've heard stories of seniors bringing luggage of books into the exam hall and legends of legendary humans passing the papers with flying colours while taking all three papers at one go. *kowtowing*

Since I'm still two papers away from Advanced level, there is nothing much I can say about it. If I safely pass my upcoming papers, I'll make sure to be back here and rant to you how stressful these three papers are! At that time, I'm most likely working full time as well. So, pray for me my lovely readers!

To summarise, here is a chart on the papers that we have to take in order to qualify as an ICAEW chartered accountant:

I am doing the second last paper now, which is BPT and will be doing the last paper, BS in the next semester presuming I pass BPT (update: I passed BPT!!!).  *Fingers crossed*

Phew, all three stages (or at least two) of ICAEW in detail. Hope you guys like it! If you have any questions regarding to this, feel free to ask me in the comments below! I'll be more than happy to answer them. 😃

If everything goes well, I'll greet all of you with my third ICAEW Story very soon. Wish me luck my sweeties! 🙌🏼

Thank you for reading, see you in the next post!

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