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Six-monthly reviews: A guide for ACA students

This guide gives students more information on how to prepare for a six-monthly review, the topics to cover during a review and how to submit your training file at the end of your training agreement.

It is a mandatory requirement of your ACA training agreement that you meet with your qualified person responsible for training (QPRT), counsellor or principal at least every six months. The meetings provide an opportunity to discuss and monitor your progress through all components of the ACA qualification, they include: 

  • recording at least 450* days of practical work experience across three to five years;
  • evidencing 52 professional development skills using the ICAEW professional development ladders**;
  • completing the ethics professional scepticism training; and
  • passing (or receiving credit for) all 15 ACA exams.

It is your responsibility to organise each six-monthly review and to ensure that your training file is kept up to date. Get your six-monthly review meetings in the diary early. Schedule them to occur at each six-month point of your training agreement and remember to invite your QPRT, counsellor or principal. This will help you to work towards each review date and ensure that you continue to monitor and record your ACA progress.

Your training file is easy to navigate and available online 24/7. Ensure you don’t miss a step by watching the guidance video, to provides everything you need to know. Watch it on demand at icaew.com/how-to

Please note that if your employer’s internal professional development and/or ethical programmes have been accredited by ICAEW, you will follow your employer’s programme(s). Your employer will still discuss and record your professional development and/or ethics progress at each six-monthly review.

We also run random checks every month to ensure that students are keeping their training files up to date. If we check your file and six-monthly reviews are not taking place, we’ll be in contact with you. An incomplete training file is not compliant with ICAEW regulations.

How to prepare for your six-monthly review

Here is a summary of what you need to do to prepare for a six-monthly review with some useful tips.

Log in to your online training file at icaew.com/trainingfile

Professional development*

  • Read through the 52 professional development skills within your online training file. Add examples to demonstrate your competence in all the skills that you believe you have achieved over the last six months.
  • Critically review your examples and check that they sufficiently describe the:
    - situation you faced;
    - action you took; and
    - positive outcome as a result of your action.
  • Identify any outstanding skills that you cannot yet demonstrate. This will allow you to have a productive conversation with your employer about your development over the remainder of your training agreement. 

Ethics and professional scepticism

  •  Read through at least one module from the Ethics Learning Programme
  • Watch the accompanying Practicing Ethics webinar
  • Make notes on the situations you were presented with during the Practicing Ethics webinar so you can discuss them at your review.

Practical work experience

  • Calculate the number of practical work experience days you have accumulated during the six-month period.
  • Ensure that your calculation agrees with your timesheets or other diary records and excludes holiday, downtime/office administration, illness or time spent studying.
  • Log these days within your training file by clicking ‘add practical work experience’.

Audit Qualification

(applicable only if you are carrying out audit work at an audit registered and approved training firm)

  • Calculate the total number of days you worked on audit engagements within the six-month period.
  • Ensure that your calculation agrees to timesheet or other diary records.
  • Log these days within your training file, splitting them appropriately between “statutory” and “other”. If in doubt, ask your employer. 

Exam progress

Reflect on your exam performance, and consider your plan for completing the remaining exams.

Topics to cover during your six-monthly review

Ensure that your review meeting allows enough time to cover all of the areas below and that your training file is updated during the meeting. Access your online training file using a tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Log on at icaew.com/trainingfile

Practical work experience

  • Ask your employer to verify that your practical work experience days are accurate and add their name to your training file.

Professional development ladders**

  • Talk your employer through each professional development skill that you believe you have demonstrated over the last six months.
  • Ask your employer for direct and constructive feedback on each example.
  • Type this feedback into your training file, ensuring that you use complete and structured sentences. You must not use generic responses such as ‘agreed’ or ‘completed’.
  • If your employer feels that you have not demonstrated a skill, remove the example and discuss how you will develop the skill.

Ethics and professional scepticism

  • Discuss the areas that you have covered in the Ethics Learning Programme
  • Provide an overview of the ethical scenarios that you studied during the Practicing Ethics webinars, and discuss the potential responses that you could adopt.
  • If possible, discuss a real ethical scenario that has occurred in the workplace.
  • Add an ethics review to your training file. This must
    - confirm the modules and webinars that have been covered;
    - confirm whether you have attempted the ethics assessment;
    - cross-reference any professional development skills achieved in the period that relate to ethics;
    - confirm that the ethical scenarios have been discussed; and
    - detail an ethics action plan for your next six-monthly review.

Please note that you are required to gain minimum of 70% at the ethics assessment.

Audit Qualification

(Applicable only if you are carrying out audit work at an audit registered and approved training firm).

  • Ask your employer to verify that the number and split of your audit experience days is accurate.
  • Ensure that your employer adds constructive feedback to your file to confirm that you are competent. This must be done by the person responsible for audit training at your firm, via their own log in.

Exam progress

  • Discuss your recent exam performance and your study plans for the next six months.

Planning your next review

  • Confirm the date and time of your next review.
  • Agree how many professional development skills you will aim to complete over the next six-month period.
  • Agree which module(s) of the Ethics Learning Programme you will complete over the next six-month period and whether you are ready to sit the ethics devolved assessment.

How to submit your training file at the end of your training agreement

You must submit your training file for final sign off when the final day of your training agreement arrives, if you have completed all elements of the ACA. You simply submit it online and your employer logs into your training file to confirm the final sign off. If elements are incomplete, for example, you have not achieved all professional development steps or your ethics assessment score is below 70%, you will need to finalise these elements, gain 70% or more at the ethics assessment and show how you have demonstrated each professional development step, before submitting your file to your employer for final sign off.

If on this day, you still have exams to pass, but all other elements of the ACA are complete, you can still submit your training file. There is no need to wait until you have passed all exams. Your file will be placed in the system to be processed and will be verified once you have passed the exams. 

Please note that you only have 12 months after the your training agreement end date to access your training file. After 12 months, your file will be closed.

Once we have verified your training file and all your exams are completed, you will be invited to apply for membership by email.

In order to claim your audit experience towards the Audit Qualification, you must seek final approval from the authorised audit individual at your organisation before the end of your training agreement, and before you submit your training file. This applies even if you have not achieved the full 240 audit days within your training agreement period. Your experience may be put at risk if you submit your file before the final approval is in place. 

Further guidance

For additional help and guidance speak to your QPRT, counsellor or principal or contact our student support team, call +44 (0)1908 248 250 or email studentsupport@icaew.com

You can also speak directly to an adviser by adding your question to a live help box while browsing our website.

*You may be eligible to work towards a reduced 300 day requirement if you already hold a recognised professional qualification.
**Your employer may be accredited by ICAEW for professional development. If this is the case, you will not see the professional development tab within your training file as you will follow your employer’s professional development programme.