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Pathways Examination of Experience

To demonstrate that you are qualified by experience and that you meet the appropriate criteria for membership of ICAEW, you are required to complete the Pathways Examination of Experience. This must be fully completed by all eligible applicants.

This Examination is a rigorous assessment that requires you to demonstrate the same professional skills as those that are examined in the ACA Case Study – the final exam taken by ACA students before being invited into ICAEW membership.

It consists of a series of questions, which you complete in your own time, and submit in the required template format by the specified submission deadline. The questions will assess your:

  • past experience and achievement
  • planning and analytical skills
  • ethical awareness and professional judgement
  • quality of thought
  • awareness of current and technical issues

You are required to reflect on your experience and skills over the last five years. Do not include examples that are more than five years old – as these will not be marked.

All examples will be treated as private and confidential. If you prefer (or are limited by a non-disclosure agreement or similar) to naming a particular company or client in your work example, then you can simply refer to them as Client AAA or Company BBB. However, if you intend to do this, you should add some context to assist the examiner. As an example, you could say: ‘Client AAA, a market-leader in the international automotive trade’ or Company BBB, a local family-run business in the retail sector’.

Permitted attempts

All eligible applicants are entitled to a maximum of up to four attempts to pass the Examination of Experience – while the route remains open.

If you submitted an Examination of Experience attempt under the previous Pathways scheme (ie, at any point before 2017), then any of your previous attempts will be counted as part of your maximum four attempt allowance. As an example, if you attempted the Examination of Experience three times before 2017, then you now only have one attempt remaining at this Pathways route before you reach the maximum of four attempts allowed.

Plagiarism

Applicants and sponsors should be aware that applicants are not permitted to plagiarise the work of others, whether published or unpublished and in whatever format or medium. This includes ICAEW's illustrative answers to Pathways questions. Failure to comply is considered to be misconduct. Where ICAEW believes misconduct may exist, the case will be referred to ICAEW Assessment Committee for investigation and potential disciplinary action, and referral to the candidate’s current professional body.

Why might my application be rejected?

Your application may be rejected from submission if:

  • you do not fully meet the applicant criteria, and/or
  • your sponsor does not fully meet the applicant criteria, and/or
  • your application/Examination of Experience is incomplete, and/or
  • your application/Examination of Experience was submitted after the specified submission deadline, and/or
  • your Examination of Experience has not been submitted following the required template, and/or
  • it has been advised or declared, that you have demonstrated inappropriate conduct which has been deemed unacceptable by ICAEW.

Why might my application fail?

Your application might fail if:

  • your Examination of Experience contains fewer than 3,000 words, and/or
  • your Examination of Experience exceeds 6,000 words, and/or
  • you fail to pass the Examination of Experience

Examination questions, templates and guidance

You cannot submit a Pathways application without an ICAEW candidate number. You need to be registered with ICAEW as a Pathways candidate to be allocated an ICAEW candidate number.

All eligible applicants need to complete the Pathways Examination of Experience questions. There are templates to follow and forms to complete as part of the application process. There is also plenty of guidance to help you succeed at your application. We strongly recommend that all eligible applicants make full use of these free resources. Those who do tend to perform better at the Examination. Guidance includes:

  • sample scripts;
  • comprehensive guidance from the examiners about exactly what they are looking for in your answers;
  • a webinar recording and/or presentation slides which explain what is required at the Examination of Experience; and
  • frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Your application checklist

All applications must be received and completed in full by 4pm (UK time) on or before the specified submission deadline. Incomplete or late submissions cannot be processed.

You must have registered as a candidate at least 24 hours BEFORE you intend to submit your application. This is to allow the system sufficient time recognise you, and to enable you to complete your application. Do not leave it until deadline day to register as a candidate.

We therefore strongly advise that all eligible applicants submit their completed applications at least seven days before the specified deadline date.

To complete your Pathways application, you will need to include the following through the online examination submission process:

  • The Examination of Experience – following the required template format.
  • A letter of good standing from your professional body – to be issued and dated within the last three months before the deadline you are submitting at – to confirm your membership AND the date you were admitted into membership as a fully qualified member AND that you have a good disciplinary record AND that your membership has been gained by the normal education and training route AND that you are compliant with the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements of that professional body AND that your professional body knows of no ethical or other reason why you may not be admitted to ICAEW.
  • Signed Sponsor Form.
  • Sponsor letter of good standing – a letter of good standing from the relevant IFAC member professional body that entitles your sponsor to serve as sponsor – to be issued and dated within the last three months before the deadline you are submitting at. This letter needs to confirm their membership of that body AND the date they were admitted into membership as a fully qualified member AND that they have a good disciplinary record AND that their membership has been gained by the normal education and training route AND that they are compliant with the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements of that professional body AND that they know of no ethical or other reason why you may not be admitted to ICAEW. (Please note that if your sponsor is an ICAEW member, then they do not need to provide a letter of good standing as we will be able to check all the required information on their member record).
  • Payment of £260 for your Examination attempt – this is done online as part of the Examination submission process. This is payable at each exam attempt and is non-refundable.

Start your application

Please make sure that you meet all of the full eligibility criteria before you start your application. Before you can apply for Pathways, you must be registered with ICAEW and have an ICAEW candidate record code.

Please visit the start your application page for step-by-step instructions.

Not eligible for Pathways?

If you are not eligible to apply for Pathways, there may be other options for you to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. Learn more.

Submit your Pathways application

You cannot submit a Pathways application without an ICAEW candidate number. You need to be registered with ICAEW to be allocated an ICAEW candidate number. Please read the below carefully:

  1. If you have an existing ICAEW record number (eg, you are an ICAEW General Affiliate, Faculty member, ACA student or have studied or hold one of our other qualifications) then you MUST use your existing ICAEW record number to apply for Pathways.
  2. If you are new to ICAEW, then you need to register with ICAEW first to gain an ICAEW candidate record number. You need your ICAEW record number to submit your application. You cannot register and submit a Pathways application on the same day.  

Important: You need to submit all your Examination documents in one go. The online exam system does not allow you to add one or two documents, save your application, and then go back at a later time to add the rest of your documents. You need to submit all relevant documents at the same time. Use the checklist to make sure you have all the documents you need.

If you do not include all of the required documents, the exam system will not let you progress to the next step which may prevent you from submitting an application.

You need to submit your application by 4pm (UK time) on deadline day.