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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Chartered Accountant?

Chartered Accountants are Ireland’s leading business professionals who provide essential strategic guidance across all business sectors. They play a pivotal role in modern organisations; as a result, they are seen as the most respected members of the accountancy profession.

Today’s Chartered Accountant typically works in a dynamic global environment in roles as diverse as corporate leadership, management accountant, business analyst or sales management.

Chartered Accountants (ACAs) are members of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

What’s the difference between Chartered Accountancy and other accountancy qualifications?

Chartered Accountancy is the number one professional accountancy qualification in Ireland. Some of the differences between Chartered Accountancy and other bodies include:

  • Better pass rates: our exam success rate is high – in fact more people pass our exams than those of other accountancy bodies. In 2013, the pass rate for Chartered Accountants Ireland students in the final year examinations was 63% – nine percentage points higher than CIMA and eight points higher than ACCA. (Source: Professional Oversight Board, Key Facts & Trends, June 2014)
  • The fastest route to qualify: 78% of Chartered Accountancy students are fully qualified in four years or less – faster than students of other accountancy bodies.
  • Fewer exams when compared with other accountancy bodies.
  • The route to the top of the career ladder – four out of ten of our members are at senior, executive positions in business – CEO, Finance Director, Partner etc.
  • Education is not outsourced to third party colleges, meaning the education delivery is kept to the highest standard, resulting in better pass rates and quicker completion times for our students. With over 6,000 students, Chartered Accountants Ireland is the single biggest educator of professional accountancy students in Ireland.
  • International recognition: with Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) with fellow Chartered bodies around the world, you can take your qualification with you around the globe. Chartered Accountants Ireland is the only UK & Ireland based accountancy body to have an MRA with AICPA, the number one accountancy designation in the United States.
  • Support on the ground – in addition to delivering our own education, our team of student advisors in Dublin and Belfast are here to respond quickly to your queries. In addition, our student society, CASSI, provides academic and social supports for all students.
  • Now with almost 24,000 members, Chartered Accountants Ireland is the biggest accountancy body in Ireland. 3,700 of our members are based in Northern Ireland and over 1,100 of our students are resident in Northern Ireland.

I’m not an accountancy, finance or business graduate – Is Chartered Accountancy an option for me?

Yes, you don’t need any previous accountancy knowledge as we’ll start from the beginning with the basics. Each year a significant number of new students join us from a wide range of disciplines (arts, science, IT, law etc.) and consistently do very well in exams.

Training firms in practice and industry are always keen to interview such candidates as they bring diverse skills and knowledge to their training firms and studies. The starting point for non-business grads is CAP 1 which provides the essential building blocks for more advanced study levels. If your need more info, just contact us today.

What Is the Chartered Business Route?

The Chartered Business Route is a route to the Chartered Accountancy qualification for students who are training in industry, as distinct from practice. Most people working in business and looking for an outstanding qualification will choose our Flexible Option.

What is the Flexible Option?

Previously known as “Elevation” our Flexible Option is just that – flexible and designed with you in mind. It means you can stay in your job, study on your own terms and generate the relevant accountancy experience now or further down the line. If you’re not working in a finance role right now, that’s fine. You can begin your studies with us and use the Chartered Accountancy qualification as a stepping stone in your career.

You won’t need to enter into a training contact at any point, and you’ll have flexible options around your exam sittings and experience requirements.

Who is eligible to join the new Chartered Business Route / Flexible Option?

Graduates, post-graduates, Accounting Technicians, and members of other accountancy bodies. Graduates and members of bodies from outside Ireland are also welcome to join the programme – once you fulfil the entry requirements. You must be based on the island of Ireland for the duration of the programme.

How do I apply for the Chartered Business Route / Flexible option?

To apply for your place on the programme, all you have to do is send in proof of eligibility (confirmation of your degree / Accounting Technicians qualification) along with the Enrolment Form. All degree holders are eligible to enroll and you don’t need a business or accounting background.

If you want to check exemptions, you can do this by completing the Exemptions Form (available July 1) and returning along with the relevant original exam transcripts from your degree course. For more about exemptions, click here.

What subjects are covered and what will I learn?

As well as your practical work experience, you’ll be studying to achieve your CAP 1, CAP 2 and FAE exams. The current syllabus is listed below.

Remember, you may already have covered some of this material in your prior studies, and may be entitled to some exemptions. This means you may not need to study all of these subjects. Check your exemptions here.

You will be studying to achieve your CAP 1, CAP 2 and FAE exams. The current syllabus is listed below:

CA Proficiency 1 (CAP 1)

  • Finance
  • Financial Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Law for Accountants and Taxation 1

CA Proficiency 2 (CAP 2)

  • Auditing and Assurance
  • Taxation II
  • Strategic Finance and Management Accounting (SFMA)

Financial Reporting
Final Admitting Exam (FAE)
FAE Core:
Case studies: Simulations and Comprehensive
FAE Elective:
Students choose one elective from:

  • Advanced Auditing and Assurance
  • Advanced Performance Management
  • Advanced Tax

How many examinations are there?

This will depend on your exemptions. There is one exam paper per subject taken:


Three full papers (Management Accounting, Finance, Financial Accounting)

Two half papers (Law, Tax)


Four full papers (Auditing & Assurance, Taxation II, SFMA, Financial Reporting)


Two areas: FAE Core, and FAE Elective

How do I claim exam exemptions?

If you think you may in line for exam exemptions, the first step is to print out the Exemptions / Eligibility Form, which you can download here.

Checking exemptions is free of charge with no obligation to enroll on the course.

To check exemptions:

  • Complete the form, and tick the relevant subject(s) you wish to claim exemptions for on Page 3.
  • Provide original exam transcripts. If your degree is not on our accredited list (see below), you’ll need to include course module descriptors and past papers. These can be acquired from your college records office.
  • Post your form and documents (we do not accept emails) to Admissions Unit, Chartered Accountants Ireland, 47- 49 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
  • You will receive confirmation by letter. Once confirmed, you can then enroll into your chosen study group.

You can find out if your degree is accredited here.

Please allow 10 working days for confirmation of your exemptions. Please note, you will not be enrolled at this stage – you’ll need to return a completed Enrolment Form.

Can I choose how many papers I sit and subjects I take?

Yes – our Flexible Option allows you to choose how many subjects you take and how many exams you sit per year. You can take subjects in pairs, or all together. For CAP 1 and CAP 2, there are two exam sittings per year, in early summer, and in autumn. You can either take all your papers in one sitting, or stagger them between the two sittings.

How many exam attempts am I allowed?

There is a generous number of exam attempts allowed within an eight year period (the eight years begins the year of your enrolment):

CAP 1     (3 years)              (6 attempts)       (Exams twice annually)

CAP 2     (3 years)              (6 attempts)       (Exams twice annually)

FAE        (3 years)              (3 attempts)       (Exams once yearly)*

*This is set to change in the near future to two sittings.

Where are the course locations?

This year, the courses will be delivered in the following locations:

CAP 1: Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Galway.
CAP 2: Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford / Kilkenny.
FAE: Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford / Kilkenny.

Students also join our Distance Learning group (see below).

Students enrolling on CAP 1 and CAP 2 in the Dublin centre may choose from three groups, each with a different timetable structure. Early enrolment is advisable to ensure you secure a place on your preferred group as classes can book out quickly.

Further details about course locations are available on the relevant timetables.

I don’t live near these locations – can I study online?

Yes. With our new Distance Learning option, our students can view lectures online from home, work, or anywhere you wish. You’ll have a full library of lectures available, broken into easily digestible sessions to help with revision.

If you choose Distance Learning, we’ll ask you to attend periodic work-shops with tutors so you can discuss topics and pose questions, as well as prepare for your exams.

Read the full Distance FAQ here.

What are the exam fees? Are there any other fees?

Chartered Accountants Ireland has a single fee structure that covers all costs associated with your education. The single fee provides for all text books, course notes, toolkits, course materials, and access to online education resources.

When paying your fees, you simply pay for what subjects you are taking that year. Fees are priced per subject, as follows:

CAP 1 all subjects: €2,100 or  £1,450 STG
CAP 1 per subject: €420 or  £290 STG
CAP 2 all subjects: €3,180 or  £ 2,160 STG
CAP 2 2 subjects: €1,590 or  £1,080 STG
FAE €4,350 or  £2,955 STG

There are no registration fees, nor any annual student subscriptions. If you are paying for fees yourself, we have phased payment options which allow you to pay your fees over the course of the year. To set this up, you can download the Installment Payment Plan form here, which you should return with your Enrolment Form.

How long will it take me to qualify?

This will vary from student to student. There are three academic years, but it is possible to complete exams in one to two years, depending on your exemptions.

As well as exams, you are required to complete a period of Recognised Experience. The recognised experience requirement is three years for Masters in Accounting students, three-and-a-half years for graduates (of any discipline) and four years for Accounting Technicians Ireland graduates, but this can vary based on any prior work experience you may have. This period of recognised experience is comparable to other accountancy qualifications available.

There is a maximum limit of eight years from joining to being admitted to membership.

How many hours per week are there?

This will depend on how many subjects you are taking, which academic year (CAP 1, CAP 2, or FAE), and which timetable option you choose.

All timetables are available here; these timetables will show you the number of lectures per year, and will allow you to plan your year ahead.

What’s the closing date to register?

We will try to register you all the way up to the lectures starting in October.  Contact us immediately to discuss.

Can I do all my exams before gaining my experience?

Yes, if you have spent at least four years in the workplace, working in any area. If you have less than four years’ work experience of any kind, then we’ll ask you to complete and record one year of Recognised Experience before sitting your FAE exams, meaning you can complete all of CAP 1 and CAP 2 before gaining any experience.

My current role can’t provide me with any accounting experience of the kind I’ll need to generate in order to qualify – any ideas?

That’s not a problem. The Flexible Option allows you to start your professional education, and then gain your relevant accounting experience at a later date. You don’t have to be working in an accountancy environment to enroll with us and start your exams.

In order to qualify, you’ll need to record the same amount of practical experience as every other Chartered student – see above “How long will it take to qualify?” Chances are that once you start your Chartered studies you’re going to be an attractive prospect for employers and many students quickly migrate to accounting-related roles. These roles are not restricted to the finance industry either – there are Chartered trainees in IT, telecoms, manufacturing, retail, and engineering companies.

Our Training Support Unit are on hand to assist you with any queries you have in this area, and can work with you (and your company) to find a solution to any problems you have around gaining experience.

Can I get credit for prior work experience?

Yes, we will consider recognition of relevant prior work experience on a case by case basis. Naturally, certain conditions will apply and it will be necessary to detail your experience, and have it verified by your employer(s). It is important to note that prior experience must be comparable to the kind of experience that will be undertaken during your training.

You can apply to have your prior experience checked after you have enrolled on the programme, by completing and returning a Recognition of Prior Experience Application Form students

I’ve heard that studying Chartered Accountancy is all about audit but I don’t work in audit, and I don’t see my future career involving audit.

That’s no problem. While students will need to exhibit experience across financial reporting and regular exposure to books of accounts, there is no specific requirement to generate audit experience. Chartered Business Route students may not be working in audit, and they won’t be required to do so either.

Many of our members often remark that an ability to understand audit and speak as an equal with external auditors sets them apart in the profession and has given them a real competitive edge. On that basis, you’ll have exposure to audit through your education, and you can choose the audit elective in your FAE.

I’ve heard that for Chartered Accountants Ireland, you need a training contract. Do I have to enter into one?

You don’t have to enter into a training contract and there is no training contract for students under our Flexible Option. You need to get the same amount and type of experience as all Chartered Accountancy students, but you are free to choose your employer and job sector, and modify these as your circumstances change.

Your experience does not have to be continuous, and you can gain your experience in more than one company.

If you qualify through the Flexible Option, your Chartered qualification will be recognised the same as someone who went through a training contract – there is no distinction made.

I would like to secure a training contract. How do I go about securing one?

If you’re a student, contact your college careers advisors for more information on the next ‘milk round’ dates or visit the firms’ websites. Many smaller practices in your area may offer training contract places and will provide an excellent, rounded training environment.

Check out the full list of authorised training firms and those with current positions to fill on charteredaccountants.ie/vacancies and make contact with training firms in your area.

Some companies in industry offer training contracts, though most prefer the Flexible Option. To gain a training contract in industry, contact companies directly or use jobs sites or recruitment agencies that specialise in placing accountancy trainees.

Is the Chartered Accountants Ireland qualification recognised internationally?

Yes – as a Chartered Accountant you’ll enjoy international career prospects in every financial global hub – London, New York, Toronto, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Johannesburg. 3,500 of our 24,000 members are working outside Ireland, many in senior executive management positions.

The Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) we enjoy with international partners means our students can expect unparalleled global mobility upon qualification.

Key facts:

  • USA – the Chartered Accountants Ireland qualification is fully recognised by the dominant accountancy body in the US (AICPA), the only UK & Ireland accountancy body to be recognised this way.
  • UK – 23% of our members are based in UK or NI and we have Reciprocity Agreements with Chartered Institutes in England & Wales and Scotland.
  • Continental Europe – the Chartered Accountants Ireland qualification has European recognition.
  • Australia – over 1,000 Irish Chartered Accountants work in Australia and we have a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the body there.
  • New Zealand/Canada/Hong Kong/South Africa – Mutual Recognition Agreements.

We’re also a founder member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, a global network of 310,000 Chartered Accountants in every part of the world. To learn more about how Chartered Accountants Worldwide can boost your career, visit the website www.charteredaccountantsworldwide.com.

Can I study from outside Ireland?

Unfortunately not. All students of Chartered Accountants Ireland must be based on the island of Ireland and be able to attend lectures or classroom based revision. As well as this, you must be able to work on the island in order to gain your necessary work experience. All exams must also be taken here.

Therefore, the programme cannot be taken outside of the island of Ireland.

Distance FAQ

Do I need broadband to watch the online content?

Yes, a basic broadband connection is required. Tests show a 1mb connection is sufficient.   Likewise, your computer will require some free video plugins to watch the mp4 file format.

Can I watch the content on my phone?

The courses can only be viewed on a PC or laptop with Internet Explorer installed (preferably Windows 10 or earlier)

Are the lectures downloadable?

No, but they can be watched online at any time.

Is there a track of how much content I watch online?

No, currently individual student online activity is not recorded

Can I attend regular lectures from time-to-time should I feel the need?

Subject to capacity we have no objection to this. Simply contact the course coordinator in advance of attending.

Is the course fee the same?

Yes, the fee is the same and distance students have access to all the same facilities as students taking a non-distance programme.

Are the exams the same as for other students?

Yes, distance students sit the same interim assessments and exams as those on non-distance courses.

What are the attendance requirements?

Students are strongly advised to attend all classroom-based sessions in order that they are best prepared for their examination.

This distance offering is for is for CAP1 and CAP2. Will there be distance at FAE in 2016/2017

Yes, there will be a distance course for FAE in 2016/2017

Will there be assignments throughout the course

Yes. Some subjects have interim assessments that count towards final exam grades, while others have home assignments to give you feedback on progress. Likewise there are mock exams that give invaluable insights prior to final exams.

Will I have interaction with other students?

Yes. Study groups will be setup based on where students live. All distance students automatically become members of their local student society. Likewise, classroom-based sessions will form a bond between distance students.

Will I have one-to-one access to a lecturer?

Yes. Students can request a call-back from a lecturer; ask questions in class, through the online forum or via email. Lecturers are committed to helping you understand the course content and to assessing your progress.

Will I be provided with a week-by-week plan of what lectures I should be watching?

A learning journal will guide you through each subject in sequence and allow you to track your progress.

Will I receive my books by post?

Yes. A courier will deliver your materials to your preferred address.

Do you have exam statistics for equivalent programmes and how distance students’ results compare to those taking a more traditional route?

Chartered Accountants Ireland ran distance programmes until 2006 when growth in numbers saw a large amount of regional centres open; negating the reason for a distance offering. Up to that time, the performance of distance students was equal to those on our traditional programmes. However, the key to success in professional examinations is ongoing structured study. The distance programme actively supports this.

Where can I sit exams?

There are exam centres for final exams in Athlone, Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. Mock exam centres vary by level.

What level of proficiency do I need in English?

The course and exams are only offered in English; therefore students need to have oral and written fluency in Business English.   Likewise, the material is examined in English..    The course and exams will expect students to construct coherent arguments, for which fluent English would be required.

I haven’t studied for some time; will I be able to manage?

Many students return to study Chartered Accountancy after a number of years. The key to success is accurately gauging how much time you will be able to commit to your studies and choosing an appropriate amount of subjects.

What should I do if I find I am struggling to juggle work, life and study commitments?

It is possible to defer exams during the course year. If you find yourself struggling, seek advice from your course coordinator or lecturer.

Who will I be able to contact if I have a query

The Student Services team is available to respond to all students’ queries. There are also several other mechanisms by which you can engage with the lecturing team and fellow students (callback requests, email, online forum, CASSI events etc).  When you enrol on the programme you will be provided with contact details.