ICAEW Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) – alternative forms of assessment

I am aware that many of you are working to put plans in place for alternatives to invigilated exams and need clarity from ICAEW with regards your accreditation status.


As you may know we have been consulting with our main regulator (the FRC) to understand their position before issuing any guidance. Our approach is to ensure that any change to our rules is sanctioned by our regulators in order to ensure all ACA students afforded CPL retain eligibility for the UK auditor qualification.


The FRC have now outlined their position. They are keen to emphasise that the quality of the chartered accountancy and audit qualifications remains paramount. In their opinion written exams forming a substantial part of the assessment of university students is important, stating that such exams provide an assessment of a student’s own work and understanding of a subject and are a more rigorous test than course work. However, in these exceptional circumstances a pragmatic solution is required.


They agree that exemptions may be granted (temporarily) for university qualifications where less than 50% of the marks awarded for a degree module are by written invigilated exam on the following conditions:

  • The temporary relaxation of assessment regulations, in the first instance, relates to modules examined up to 30 June 2020 (this has subsequently been extended to 31 December 2020).
  • Their preference would be for exams for first or second years of a university degree course to be postponed until written exams can be held, wherever possible.
  • The Recognised Qualifying bodies (RQBs) document the assessment process that they have followed and the basis of their decisions reached on exemptions.
  • The FRC (Professional Oversight) will review the exemption processes of the RQBs in 2021.
  • The relaxation relates only to the method of testing – hence if there are parts of the syllabus of a module that cannot be tested at all, or the syllabus is modified in some way, then we would not expect an exemption to be awarded.


I’m sure that this is welcome news and we are grateful to the FRC for this flexibility and the speed with which it has reached its decision.


ICAEW as an RQB has a responsibility to continue monitor syllabus coverage and assessment. In order to facilitate this I would request that a representative from each accredited institution provides an outline of the form of assessment to replace the planned invigilated exams for each accredited module. Our preference would be for the planned exams to be issued to students remotely and returned under timed conditions for marking


Please email judy.dimmock@icaew.com