How to pass ACCA Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

ACCA SBL is a fairly new paper that was introduced after ACCA conducted research on the skills required of ACCA students, affiliates and members by potential employers! This is one of the most requested ACCA articles and I could attribute that to fear of the unknown. ACCA students generally know little about this ACCA paper as it was introduced recently. ACCA did a good job of introducing this paper to ACCA students and availing some resources to aid candidates in passing this ACCA exam. Here I will discuss some tips that will help you pass this ACCA exam!

When sitting for this ACCA exam, ACCA students must be able to demonstrate leadership capabilities and professional skills through an integrated case study. This gives the ACCA students a real feel of the skills that are needed in leadership roles. Leadership roles include being a Finance Director, External Auditor or Management Consultant among-st other roles. When answering ACCA questions in this ACCA exam, you are often required to assume a leadership role hence the tone and structure of your response should demonstrate that.

It is advisable that you undertake this ACCA exam after completing the Ethics and Professionalism module. The ACCA ethics module and the ACCA applied skills papers underpin this ACCA paper, hence an understanding of those prerequisites will help significantly to pass the ACCA exam. If you got exemptions for those ACCA papers, make sure you have a strong background of the topics that make up the ACCA applied skills papers! A regurgitation of knowledge will not help much as this is a highly technical paper. You should be able to apply all the ACCA SBL answers to the scenario. Giving generic responses will score little or no marks in this ACCA exam.

The ACCA SBL paper assesses technical capabilities that potential leaders need as mentioned before, and it focuses on these professional skills and behaviors:

  • Communication
  • Commercial acumen
  • Analysis
  • Skepticism
  • Evaluation

Although marks will be awarded for relevant technical points, up to 20% of the total marks in the ACCA exam will be allocated to these professional skills. The ACCA exam will contain a case study, with all the ACCA questions relating back to the scenario. The total marks allocated for the assignments or sub-parts of the whole ACCA exam will be 100, of which 20 marks will be for professional marks! ACCA students will need to perform tasks using the scenario. This includes analyzing and interpreting data, identifying and resolving issues, and drafting reports and memos among-st other things.

It is important that ACCA students preparing for this ACCA exam cover the whole syllabus. The syllabus for the ACCA SBL paper is broader than any ACCA paper, so it is important that you start revision early! ACCA stated that the exam requires 50% more study time than any ACCA professional exam, and 12 weeks of study that I often recommend is the minimum you must take to study for this ACCA paper! This will ensure that adequate practice for case study assessment is done, and encourages the development of professional skills. Also, make sure that you do not over-study, leave sufficient time for revision.

Practice a lot of ACCA past papers (as many as you can find). Do this under real exam conditions. This will familiarize you with what the ACCA examiner wants and help with time management. Acquaint yourself with the ACCA exam style and this will help you develop your professional skills! 5-6 weeks of revision will help pass this ACCA exam! Review your answers after every ACCA past exam and jot down the areas that you need to improve on! Discuss the problem areas with your tutors and study buddies to cement your understanding of the key areas of this ACCA paper.

Utilize some of the free resources offered by ACCA. These include study tips, ACCA technical articles, ACCA examiner reports and YouTube videos. This will cement your understanding of the ACCA syllabus content and ACCA exam structure. The examiner explained that most ACCA students fail the exam because of the inability to make sufficient reference to the exhibits. Many ACCA students merely repeat the information given to them in the exhibits! It is important that you integrate your answers to the case study, and select the relevant technical knowledge to support the applied points.

Be mindful of time during this ACCA exam! ACCA students must have an effective approach to the ACCA exam. Candidates must spend a sufficient amount of time planning and considering what to write to ensure that answers given are:

  • Structured logically
  • Covering the most important points
  • Not making the same point numerous times
  • Not overlapping
  • Not wasting time on material that does not address the requirements
  • Balanced in both depth of discussion and breadth of points made

Familiarizing yourself with the demands of writing a 4 hour paper is very important. As previously mentioned, practicing ACCA past papers under real exam conditions will help significantly. This ACCA paper requires concentration, thinking, writing and organization of time at a high level, and practice makes perfect! PRACTICE!! PRACTICE!! PRACTICE!!

A good ACCA study and exam technique will help you pass this ACCA exam. Dedicate sufficient study time to pass this ACCA exam (about 18 weeks). It is important to be focused when studying for this ACCA exam, and remember application is important when answering questions! Knowledge only is not sufficient to pass this ACCA paper. I hope this helps! Goodluck…

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