Click on the questions below to see the answers.
If I get a place on the programme, what will you offer me?
Initially we offer a 24-month contract to study for the Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB). On successful completion of CFAB, we will offer you a 28-month contract to complete your studies towards becoming a fully qualified accountant through the Association of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). If successful, we are likely to offer you a permanent position as an Audit Principal, though this depends on your job performance and the availability of posts.
What if I don’t achieve ICAEW membership during the term of the training contract?
Your contract states how many examination attempts you can make. If you fail to pass your exams within this number of attempts, or otherwise fail to complete the terms of your contract, your employment will be terminated. In exceptional circumstances (e.g. for reasons of ill-health or bereavement of a close relative) your contract may be extended by the period you need to complete your exams within the allowed number of attempts or to finish your approved work experience.
Will I have to contribute to my training costs?
No, the NAO will pay for all your training and exam costs as well as your professional subscription.
Do I get study leave?
You will be given time off to study for your exams, however you will also need to do additional studying in the evenings and at weekends as you near your exam period.
Do I need to have studied specific A levels?
No. You’ll need 300 UCAS points from your top 3 A levels (not including general studies). We appreciate some people will have narrowly missed our threshold of 300 UCAS points but still did remarkably well to achieve 280 points in the context of their educational and personal circumstances. Our use of the Rare Contextual Recruitment System enables us to identify people who’ve over-performed in their particular context and adjust our eligibility criteria accordingly. If you have 280 UCAS points (or equivalent) you may be eligible to apply based on the context of your educational and personal circumstances – please contact HRServiceDesk@nao.gsi.gov.uk for further details
Do I still need 300 UCAS points if I’ve got some relevant work experience?
Yes. We aim to recruit people that we feel have the best chance of passing their accountancy examinations. Research conducted by the ICAEW indicates that there is a strong correlation between A level results and subsequent performance in the ICAEW’s examinations.
What if I completed my education overseas and did not sit A levels?
Provided you meet our nationality requirements we are interested in those who have the overseas equivalent of our minimum education requirements. We might ask you to provide evidence of this if we are unable to translate your qualifications to the UK equivalent.
Do you accept mitigating circumstances from candidates who do not meet the minimum academic criteria?
In some exceptional cases we may be able to consider applications from candidates who do not meet our academic requirements, if the applicant can provide strong evidence of mitigating circumstances. If you believe you have a case for mitigating circumstances, when you apply you should include this information – and details of any supporting evidence you can provide – in the ‘Additional Information’ section of your application form. We will ask you to provide the supporting evidence if you are invited to the first stage interview.
What if I am already part ACA qualified or have other accountancy qualifications?
We will consider applications on a case by case basis. If you have part completed the ACA at another employer, please email us to confirm the name of the organisation, the exams you have completed and the scores you achieved, before submitting an application and we will confirm whether you will be eligible.
If you are unsure where you stand in the above, please contact us and we will confirm.
Do I have to be good at numbers and figure work?
An aptitude for figure work is desirable but the mathematical knowledge you demonstrated at GCSE is likely to be sufficient. In some cases, particularly those who have not taken A levels, your maths might be a bit rusty. For this reason, we ask everyone to complete a numerical test at Stage 1 assessment. How well you do is another indicator of your likely success in the accountancy exams, so if you do not achieve an acceptable score, your application will be rejected. You may find it helpful to do the practice numerical reasoning test before completing the test for real
Will I have to travel?
Some of our audit clients are based in London, but others are based around the country. You will, therefore, have to travel with your audit team and this will involve overnight stays away from home, which could be for a week at a time depending on the client.