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A detailed explanation of the transition from ICB 2014-18 syllabus to the 2019 syllabus

In keeping ICB’s core principles and key objectives at the forefront of what we do, and as part of the integral quality assurance programme to ensure the qualification offering is current, valid and fit for purpose, ICB undertakes a full review of all its qualifications on a 5-year rolling basis.  January 2019 saw the release of the new core syllabuses which have been developed to capture the ever-evolving digital world of bookkeeping and accounting.  With Making Tax Digital (MTD) going live in April 2019, the revised syllabuses encompass these emerging technologies, operating systems and working practices to empower ICB bookkeepers to be the best in their field.

Below is an overview of the assessments and the changes.

You can find the new syllabuses here.


Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping for Associate Member AICB

Level 2 is aimed at the trainee or employed bookkeeper and covers data entry to trial balance. This is very similar in content to the pre-2019 syllabus with a few additions and updates required by the increase in digitalisation and hence, the removal of a few ‘manual’ topics that are no longer as relevant in the current climate. 

Those already registered on the pre-2019 Level II syllabus should stay on it. Pre-2019 exams will be available until 31st December.

The assessments for this qualification do not require candidates to produce manual ledgers as few working bookkeepers now prepare these. However, it is still vital to be able to understand the nature of double-entry bookkeeping as all computerised accounting packages are based around this concept, so an understanding of manual double entry is extremely useful. As the assessments for this qualification will cover the basics of debit and credit entries and how these can arise in a bookkeeping system, most ICB Accredited Training Providers will include this as an important stage in the learning process. The third assessment in this qualification requires the use of a commercial computerised accounts package.

On successful completion of the 2019 Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping qualification (or the pre-2019 Level II equivalent) candidates can upgrade to become an Associate Member, whereas previously they would have upgraded to Affiliate Member.

Existing Associates who have completed the pre-2019 Level III, are being granted new status as full Members. The new minimum membership requirement for a Practice Licence has been increased to Member accordingly.


Detailed assessment content

This qualification comprises three assessments – A1, A2 and A3. All assessments are delivered online and can be taken at home or in the place of work. 

A1 – Basic Double Entry Bookkeeping to Trial Balance.

This assessment is made up of a number of multiple choice or short answer calculation style questions which tests underpinning knowledge of, for example,  business structures, banking procedures, account classifications, business documents and VAT theory. Candidates will be required to complete the calculations on an invoice which contains at least two different rates of VAT (standard, reduced or zero-rated) and may or may not include discounts (both trade and cash discounts). There will be a number of questions that will test the outcome of entering sales and purchases invoices and credit notes as well as receipts and payments into a system.  Candidates will be expected to select the correct choice of debit and credit entries. There will be sections on calculating the balance of an account and also how to treat petty cash under the interest system. The final section of this assessment will ask the candidate to produce a trial balance from a given set of balances and calculate the total of each column. This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 2 hours in which to complete.

A2 – Further Double Entry Bookkeeping to Trial Balance. 

This assessment builds on the A1 assessment and covers further underpinning knowledge theory including some basic ethics questions and further VAT calculations, including a demonstration of an understanding of how EU invoices are treated in the bookkeeping system. Candidates will be tested on their ability to reconcile customer and supplier account balances against a statement, and how to reconcile a bank account with a bank statement. There will also be a section of correcting simple errors (which will not involve the use of a suspense account) and how to deal with the writing off bad debt and how to post a payroll journal.  There will be a trial balance to formulate, which may or may not include the introduction of a suspense account.  In the final section, there will be some questions on the construction industry scheme. This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 2 hours in which to complete.

A3 – Data Entry to Trial Balance using Software.

The final assessment for this qualification involves the use of accounting software packages. The package used is the choice of the candidate, but it must be able to produce the reports as required. The candidate will need to set up the details of the given business, together with its existing list of credit customers and suppliers, some of which will have opening balances to bring in. Once this has been completed, the opening trial balances need to be completed. The case study then requires sales and purchases invoices and credit notes to be entered (which may include EU transactions) and care must be taken to select the relevant VAT code. The final section includes the posting of receipts and payment, a payroll journal and the production of a trial balance. This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 24 hours in which to complete.

The following is a comparison of the 2019 and pre-2019 syllabus requirements with the relevant time allowance shown.

Note: A1 and A2 will return instant results on completion. The result of A3 will be issued within 28 days. 

2019 Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping

Pre-2019 Level II Certificate in Bookkeeping

Changes from ‘B’ papers to ‘A’ Papers

A1
Basic Double Entry Bookkeeping to Trial Balance

Time allowance - 2 hours

B1
Double Entry to Trial Balance

Time allowance - 2 hours


Assessments are very similar with the exception of the removal of questions testing the divisions of the ledger in a manual system

A2
Further Double Entry Bookkeeping to Trial Balance

Time allowance - 2 hours

B2
Further Double Entry to Trial Balance

Time allowance - 2 hours


A2 includes simple correction of errors but the calculation of manual day books and the three columns cash book that were tested in B2 have been removed

A3
Data Entry to Trial Balance using Software

(results issued within 28 days)

Time allowance - 24 hours

B3
Data Entry to Trial Balance using a Computerised Accounts Package

(results issued within 28 days)

Time allowance - 14 days


A3 includes the treatment of EU invoices which has not previously been tested here


Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts for Member MICB

This is the core qualification required by those wishing to become a full Member with Certified Bookkeeper status, which is the minimum membership requirement for a Practice Licence. The content of this qualification is similar to the pre-2019 syllabus but now includes topics that were previously included in the Level IV Certificate in Advanced Bookkeeping and Accounts, which is being withdrawn at the end of 2019.

The Level 3 qualification includes the requirement to clear errors, including those that affect a suspense account, to produce a VAT Return, enter adjustments and produce a trading profit and loss account, plus a balance sheet that can be used to present to a client or a line manager for a variety of businesses. It does not consider accounts for year-end taxation purposes, neither does it cover the production of a set of accounts under UK GAAP, although an understanding of the main concepts of accounting should be fully shown. Candidates will need to understand the format of accounts for a sole trader, a partnership, a not-for-profit organisation, and a limited liability entity. There will also be a requirement to produce relevant ratios for profitability and liquidity.

At this level, there will be no requirement to produce accounts from an accounting software package. The assessments will test knowledge and understanding of how to enter certain transactions (such as journals for adjustments) via an input screen that will simulate an accounting package in a generic format. 

If you have passed the pre-2019 Level II and are now studying the pre-2019 Level III, you may remain on this syllabus and complete the exams up to and including BA7 by 31st December. 

On successful completion of the 2019 Level 3 Certificate in Advanced Bookkeeping and Accounts qualification (or the pre-2019 Level III equivalent up to BA7) candidates can upgrade to become a Member, whereas previously they would have upgraded to Associate Member.

If you wish to transfer from the pre-2019 syllabus to the new syllabus, ideally you should move after BA4. This is because the new Level 3 no longer includes Bank Reconciliation and correction of errors, as these were taken out of BA4 and moved into A3. If you are studying with one of ICB's Accredited Training Providers, you must request to transfer via your training provider. Independent students can request the transfer directly with ICB. This will be done manually and your BA4 achievement will be converted to an M4.


Detailed assessment content

This qualification comprises five assessments – all assessments are delivered online and the first four can be taken at home or in the place of work. The final assessment is taken under invigilated conditions at one of ICB’s approved external examination centres

M4 - Reconciliations and Final Accounts of a Sole Trader.

This assessment covers the reconciliations of debtor and creditor balances and their related control accounts, plus the correction of errors which may or may not include the clearing of a suspense account balance. Candidates will be expected to produce a VAT return from given information for both a standard and a cash-based VAT system, both of which may include details of transactions with EU based countries. Candidates may also be required to calculate the profit or loss on the disposal of fixed assets. Finally, the candidate will be expected to produce journals for adjustment purposes including prepayments and accruals, depreciation and provisions for doubtful debts, and then produce trading and profit and loss account plus a balance sheet for a sole trader.  Questions will be set that involve displaying of an understanding of how various journals would be posted to a computerised accounting system via an input screen that will simulate an accounting package in a generic format but will not need access to any commercial software for the purposes of this assessment.  This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 3 hours in which to complete.

M5 - Final Accounts for a Partnership. 

This assessment builds on the content of M4 but is geared to partnership accounts. Candidates will be expected to produce a trading, profit and loss account from a given trial balance, which may include adjustments including the disposal of fixed assets. They will be required to produce an appropriation account to split profits or losses between individual partners, and a final balance sheet. In a separate section, and not related to the earlier case studies, candidates will be expected to show an understanding of what happens when assets are evaluated, and a change of partnership ratio takes place including the treatment of goodwill. Throughout the assessment, questions will be set that involve displaying an understanding of how various journals would be posted to a computerised accounting system via an input screen that will simulate an accounting package in a generic format. Therefore, you will not need access to any commercial software for the purposes of this assessment. This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 3 hours in which to complete.

M6 - Final Accounts for a Not-for-Profit Organisation. 

This assessment also builds on the content of M4 but is based purely on small not-for-profit organisations (which can include small charities). It concentrates on producing a set of accounts for the committee or trustees of such an organisation, for internal use only, and will include the need to prove an understanding of the nature of income including subscriptions (both paid and owing), fundraising and donations. Candidates will also be required to calculate the value of an accumulated fund from given information. This unit does not cover the requirements of the Charities Commission or any related Charities’ SORP so successful candidates will not have the requisite information for producing final accounts for submission as part of a trustees report. Successful candidates who go on to gain a practice licence with ICB may also carry out an independent observation of a set of accounts produced by another person provided that the level of income is below that required for formal audit purposes. This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 3 hours in which to complete.

M7 - Final Accounts for Incorporated Businesses. 

The assessment for this unit concentrates on the production of a set of internal management accounts (profit and loss account and balance sheet) for an incorporated business (which could include a Limited Liability Partnership). However, this assessment does not require any knowledge of the production of a set of accounts under UK GAAP for taxation purposes and to this extent, builds on the knowledge gained in M4, simply extending this to limited liability entities. Candidates will need to show an understanding of the treatment of different levels of partner in an LLP, and how to deal with shares (fully paid up only) and the appropriation of profits including the treatment of the announcement of or payment of dividends and the posting of a corporation tax liability for a limited liability company plus transfers to reserves. Candidates will not be expected to calculate either dividends or CT but will be given figures which will need to be posted to the accounts. Questions will be set that involve displaying an understanding of how various journals would be posted to a computerised accounting system via an input screen that will simulate an accounting package in a generic format, but will not need access to any commercial software for the purposes of this assessment.  This assessment will have a maximum time allowance of 3 hours in which to complete.

M8 - Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts Final Assessment. 

This assessment will be taken at an external examination centre under invigilated conditions and will last for a period of 2 hours. Candidates will be tested across the whole of the knowledge requirements of both the Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping and the Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts, but questions will be set that are either multiple choice or calculation answers.

The following is a comparison of the 2019 and pre-2019 syllabus requirements with the relevant time allowance shown.

Note: M4 - M7 will return instant results on completion. The result for M8 will be an instant notification of either a Pass or a Fail at the exam centre. Results will be uploaded from the exam centre to ICB overnight and the final result (Fail, Pass, Merit, Distinction) issued within a period of 24 hours.  

2019 Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounting

Pre-2019 Level III Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounting and Level IV Certificate in Advanced Bookkeeping and Accounting

Changes from ‘BA’ and ‘ABA’ papers to ‘M’ Papers

M4
Reconciliations and Final Accounts of a Sole Trader

Time allowance - 3 hours

BA4
Reconciliations and Final Accounts of a Sole Trader

Time allowance - 24 hours

(results issued within 28 days)


The content of the assessment for both syllabuses is the same with the exception that the skill of making entries into a commercial software package has been replaced by the requirement to make such entries via a generic online package. Results will now be instant for M4.

M5
Final Accounts for a Partnership


Time allowance - 3 hours

BA5
Bookkeeping and Final Accounts for a Partnership

Time allowance - 2 hours


M5 covers the same content of BA5 but includes the treatment of a change of ratio of a partnership which was previously tested in ABA8

M6
Final Accounts for a Not-for-Profit Organisation

Time allowance - 3 hours

BA6
Bookkeeping and Final Accounts of a Not-for-Profit Organisation

Time allowance - 2 hours


Content of the two papers remains unchanged

M7
Final Accounts for Incorporated Businesses


Time allowance - 3 hours

ABA8
Advanced Bookkeeping and Final Accounts for Incorporated Businesses

Time allowance - 24 hours

(Results issued within 28 days)


Similar in content but with the removal of the topics on incomplete records which is no longer in the syllabus. The skill of making entries into a commercial software package has been replaced with the requirement to make such entries via a generic online package. Results will now be instant for M7.

M8
Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts Final Assessment

Time allowance - 2 hours

Centre-based synoptic exam

BA7 and ABA9
Level III Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts Final Assessment and Paper Level IV Certificate in Advanced Bookkeeping and Accounts Final Assessment

Time allowance - 2 x 2 hours

2 x centre-based synoptic exams


A combination of both papers from the pre-2019 syllabus (excluding removed syllabus content) but with the exception that questions will be shorter and the need to produce a detailed profit and loss account and a balance sheet with long calculations has been removed.

 

 

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