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Training as an independent student

If you’ve not been able to secure a training agreement, but want to take steps to qualifying as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant you are able to register as an independent ACA student. You will still need to complete the required work experience and professional development at an ICAEW authorised training employer, but you will have the opportunity to start studying the ACA and take exams.

Entry requirements for independent students

If you choose to start your studies by completing ICAEW’s Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB), which covers the first six modules of the ACA, there are no formal entry requirements.

If, however, you want to register as an ACA student straight away the minimum entry requirements are:

  • GCSEs in Maths and English at A*-C (or international equivalent); and 
  • Two A-levels (or international equivalent). 

Starting the ACA as an independent student

Once you have chosen whether to start your studies with ICAEW CFAB or by going straight to the ACA, you complete an online form to register as an ICAEW student.

After you have registered you will be able to start your studies and take exams.

As an ICAEW student you will gain access to a wide range of resources, including:

  • the latest syllabus, past papers and examiner feedback;
  • the online student community;
  • regular enewsletters with the latest student news, reminders and exam resources; and
  • ICAEW’s student support team.

If you have previously completed finance or accountancy related qualifications you may be able to apply for credits for some of the ACA exams.

Find out whether you can apply for credits for prior learning

Costs of studying the ACA independently

While students in a training agreement may have the costs of the ACA covered by their employer, as an independent student you are responsible for covering these costs.

There are two types of costs:

  • those that are payable directly to your tuition provider; and
  • those payable to ICAEW.

Fees payable to ICAEW include:

  • an annual student fee;
  • exam fees;
  • costs of learning materials; and
  • fees for credits for prior learning. 

Read a detailed breakdown of the costs.

Roshan Ramesh, Independent ACA Student

Roshan RameshIndependent ACA student

Location: Dubai, UAE

Completing the ACA

While you can start to study the ACA exam modules independently, you cannot become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant without fulfilling the practical work experience, professional development, ethics and professional scepticism requirements of the ACA with an authorised training employer (ATE) or principal (ATP).

Many ATEs list the training opportunities available at their firm on ICAEW's dedicated website: icaewtrainingvacancies.com. 

Already employed?

If you are already working in a finance-related role for an organisation that is not an authorised training employer and doesn't employ an ICAEW authorised training principal, it is easy and free for them to become one.

Find out how your firm can become authorised by ICAEW.

Find your route

There are a number of different routes to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. You can start your journey straight from school, while you're at university or after you have graduated. Find out which route is right for you.

Find your route