ACCA SBR: What should you bring from FR knowledge to SBR exam

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

ACCA Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) exam was introduced in September 2018. It is an exam in Strategic Professional Module and all students joining SBR exam should have already passed Financial Reporting (FR) exam in Applied Skills Module, or exempted due to taking same level degree course in their universities.


No matter you passed FR exam or were granted exemption by ACCA, you should have the same level of financial reporting knowledge such as understanding different accounting standards and financial statements preparation.



Many students have perception that SBR exam style is more or less than same as FR exam. SBR exam questions should be mainly contributed by numeric questions. For example, you should be asked on how to prepare consolidated financial statements, goodwill calculation or ratios analysis.


However, it is not correct.


The purpose of this article is to share with you what should you bring forward from FR exam knowledge to studying SBR exam, what are the new knowledge in SBR and what should you expect from tutor in providing SBR tuition.


If you will start your SBR studies very soon, this article is helpful in showing how you can spend the time more efficient in studies.



SBR exam builds upon FR knowledge

When you studied Financial Reporting, you should be familiar with basic conceptual and regulatory framework for financial reporting, accounting standards, preparing financial statements and interpretation of financial statements.


Here are the four areas in FR that you can find the same in SBR syllabus –

1. Conceptual and regulatory framework for financial reporting

2. Accounting for transactions in financial statements

3. Analysing and interpreting financial statements

4. Preparation of financial statements


Only regurgitate the contents of Conceptual Framework, accounting standards and aware of preparing financial statements, it’s possible for you to pass FR exam.


However, the same approach in studying FR exam cannot help you to pass SBR exam.

So, what should you know in studying SBR exam?


Stepping up to SBR exam on basic knowledge

In SBR syllabus, it stresses that basic knowledge learnt from Financial Reporting (or your university course in financial reporting if exemption is granted) is important and you are required to demonstrate a deeper understanding of them. Here are the examples showing how deep you need to demonstrate in SBR exam.


In area of Conceptual Framework, you are not only tested on how you understand the judgements, such as going concern assumption and materiality, but also how you can apply the principles or accounting concepts to transactions or events.


You will be required to link up the judgement to the accounting standards and comment whether two are consistent. You will also be asked how the Framework applies on transactions if no existing accounting standards cover.


Probably you are familiar with different accounting standards, for example, IFRS 15 Revenue and IFRS 16 Leases, when you studied Financial Reporting. At SBR, you need to add this knowledge and will be expected to know further details of each standard –

  • You are introduced new accounting standards that are not covered in Financial Reporting, such as those on pensions, share-based payment and joint arrangements.

  • A wider and deeper application of accounting standards you learnt in Financial Reporting; an example is lease accounting which you are not only required to work lessee accounting but also lessor accounting in SBR exam.

You may be asked on why an accounting standard exists and the rationale for the accounting treatment and criticisms of it. You should also prepare for questions asking you on explaining the accounting treatment to different stakeholders and what’s the view from them.



Performing ratio calculations should not be new to many of you. In previous exams, calculating ratios and commenting on the performance are mainly the requirements for questions on ‘analysis and interpretation’.


But in SBR exam, ‘analysis and interpretation’ means different. You will be required to apply your knowledge in a given scenario, explain the issues to specific stakeholders and probably you need to do ‘additional performance measures’.


An example of ‘additional performance measures’ is adjusted revenue or profit and key performance indicators.