Three top tips

1. The (potential) problem of being rusty on the basics:

Those of you who studied the lower level FR/F7 paper some time ago, or even got an exemption from your university studies, may well be rusty on your basic knowledge of accounting.

The solution is to get up to speed on the basics of group accounts; cash flow statements; and the key accounting standards, such as impairment (IAS36), provisions (IAS37) and intangibles (IAS38), etc, before diving into the brand new areas of SBR. Make sure you study from up-to-date and ACCA approved material.

This way you will be learning the new version of the lovely and essential IASB Framework for Financial Reporting, as well as the latest standards on revenue (IFRS15) and leases (IFRS16).

2. There’s lots to learn:

SBR has a wide syllabus that contains a raft of accounting standards that you will not have seen before – the ACCA have saved the tougher ones for this paper!

There is no easy solution; no quick short cuts to learning these more technical accounting standards. This is because the accounting for pensions, financial instruments and overseas subsidiaries are just not straightforward matters.

This challenge can only be overcome by you putting in some hard graft. You will need to read textbooks and articles, listen to a lecturer, make your own notes, practise illustrative examples, reflect with a study buddy how the topic relates to the IASB’s Framework, and also review real-life financial statements to see how the standards are actually applied. Mix it up.

3. Explanation of principles and application to scenarios:

Having hopefully learnt the necessary knowledge, the next challenge is to appreciate how it is examined. SBR basically requires written answers.

The examiner’s reports stress again and again that it is never going to be good enough just to copy out (rote learn) definitions. You will need to be able to demonstrate your understanding by explaining principles and applying your knowledge to practical scenarios and by giving appropriate professional advice.

The key here is past exam practise, but it does not end there. You will need to review your answers and think about how you can improve.

ACCA have published some very useful videos debriefing past SBR exam questions and have published the article ‘Read the mind of an SBR marker’ that gives invaluable insights to help you reflect.

The optimum, though, is to attempt an original SBR mock exam, including questions on current issues that have yet to be examined (eg on how to account for crypto currencies such as bitcoin). Get it marked by a lecturer who will give you advice as to how to earn more marks next time. This is exactly the service I can offer you for SBR through