ACCA course

Which is the Hardest Subject in ACCA? A Comprehensive Analysis


The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the most esteemed and globally recognized professional accounting qualifications. ACCA equips aspiring accountants with the knowledge and skills required to excel in the finance and accounting fields. While the ACCA journey is filled with numerous challenges, one common question that arises among students is, “Which is the hardest subject in ACCA?” In this post, we’ll examine the complexity of numerous ACCA exams and pinpoint the topic that presents the greatest challenge depending on a number of variables. Additionally, we will delve into the cost aspect by examining ACCA course fees.

Understanding ACCA Course Structure

Before delving into the complexities of ACCA subjects, let’s briefly overview the structure of the ACCA qualification. The ACCA qualification comprises three levels: Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional. Each level consists of several papers that focus on different areas of accounting and finance.

1.1 ACCA Applied Knowledge Level

The Applied Knowledge level consists of three papers:

  1. Accountant in Business (AB)
  2. Management Accounting (MA)
  3. Financial Accounting (FA)

These papers provide the foundation and basic concepts of accounting principles and practices.

1.2 ACCA Applied Skills Level

The Applied Skills level comprises six papers:

  1. Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  2. Performance Management (PM)
  3. Taxation (TX)
  4. Financial Reporting (FR)
  5. Audit and Assurance (AA)
  6. Financial Management (FM)

These papers build upon the knowledge gained in the Applied Knowledge level and require a deeper understanding of accounting and finance concepts.

1.3 ACCA Strategic Professional Level

The Strategic Professional level is the final stage of the ACCA qualification and consists of two essential modules:

  1. Essentials Module:
    • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
    • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  2. Options Module (Choose two out of four):
    • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
    • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
    • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
    • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

The Strategic Professional level assesses students’ ability to apply strategic and technical skills in real-life business scenarios.

Factors Influencing Subject Difficulty

The difficulty level of ACCA subjects can vary from student to student, depending on various factors:

2.1 Prior Knowledge and Experience

Students with prior accounting or finance knowledge may find certain subjects easier to grasp, while those with no background might face a steeper learning curve.

2.2 Personal Interests and Strengths

Individual interests and strengths in specific areas of accounting can significantly impact the perceived difficulty of certain papers.

2.3 Complexity of Concepts

Some subjects inherently involve more intricate and complex concepts, making them harder to understand and apply.

2.4 Study Approach and Resources

The study approach, quality of study materials, and availability of resources can also influence how well students perform in a particular subject.

Analyzing the Challenging ACCA Subjects

Now, let’s evaluate some of the ACCA papers known for their difficulty:

3.1 Advanced Financial Management (AFM)

ACCA course fees are frequently associated with the Advanced Financial Management paper due to its demanding nature. AFM explores complex financial management concepts, risk management, and investment decisions. Students are required to have a solid grasp of financial management principles and their application in real-world scenarios. The vast syllabus and mathematical calculations make AFM a challenging paper for many.

3.2 Advanced Taxation (ATX)

Another paper that tends to be considered challenging is Advanced Taxation. ATX covers a wide range of tax regulations and requires students to analyze and apply tax laws to various scenarios. The ever-changing tax laws and their intricacies add to the complexity of this subject. Consequently, students often need to invest significant effort and time to excel in this paper.

3.3 Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

Audit and Assurance is a crucial area in the accounting profession, and the Advanced Audit and Assurance paper evaluates students’ ability to assess and report on complex audit engagements. The comprehensive syllabus includes professional ethics, risk assessment, and audit procedures, among other topics. This paper demands a deep understanding of auditing principles, making it one of the more challenging subjects in the ACCA qualification.

Costing the ACCA Journey: ACCA Course Fees

The pursuit of ACCA qualification comes with certain costs. Let’s explore the financial aspect of the ACCA journey, including ACCA course fees.

4.1 Registration Fees

To begin the ACCA journey, students need to register with ACCA and pay a one-time registration fee. As of my last update in September 2021, this fee was around $115-$280, depending on the location and level of qualification.

4.2 Annual Subscription Fees

Every year, ACCA students are required to pay an annual subscription fee to maintain their student status. This fee is approximately $100-$120 and ensures access to study materials, resources, and support from ACCA.

4.3 Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for ACCA courses can vary significantly based on factors such as the learning provider, study mode (online or in-person), and location. On average, the total tuition cost for the entire ACCA qualification can range from $3,000 to $7,000.

4.4 Exam Fees

Each ACCA paper has an exam fee associated with it. The exam fees vary depending on the level of the paper and the country in which it is taken. On average, the exam fee for a single ACCA paper ranges from $100 to $300.

4.5 Other Costs

Apart from the mentioned fees, students should also consider other expenses, such as study materials, exam resources, and living expenses if they plan to attend in-person classes or exams in a different city or country.


In conclusion, the ACCA qualification offers a challenging yet rewarding journey for aspiring accountants and finance professionals. The difficulty of ACCA subjects can vary based on individual strengths, prior knowledge, and study resources. Nonetheless, Advanced Financial Management (AFM), Advanced Taxation (ATX), and Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA) are often regarded as some of the most demanding subjects within the ACCA curriculum.

Considering the costs involved, students need to plan their ACCA journey carefully. From registration and annual subscription fees to tuition and exam costs, understanding the financial aspects will help aspiring ACCA students make informed decisions and better prepare for the challenges ahead.

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