Test of Relevant Expertise (TRE) Reflective Essay Questions

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The pathways route allows members of an approved accounting body the opportunity to become a member of ICAS and use the exclusive ‘CA’ designation. The Test of Relevant Expertise (TRE) route provides highly skilled professional accountants with seven years post-qualification experience with a competency-based route to becoming a CA. Currently, this route is available to CIPFA and ACCA members.

CIPFA or ACCA members who have at least seven years of continuous membership post-qualification of their original institute and meet the eligibility criteria can become a CA through completion of a competency-based self-assessment consisting of five questions that use a holistic, attribute-based model set as outcomes.

Test of Relevant Expertise:

May 2019 Diet essay questions

All applicants are asked to submit FIVE short reflective essays based on their professional experience.

With reference to your relevant professional experience since your admission to CIPFA/ACCA membership, evaluate scenarios where you:

  1. evaluated decisions in business using an ethical framework and, if relevant, specific legislation;
  2. applied the concept of lifelong learning;
  3. critically appraised complex business performance data using appropriate technical skills and knowledge and where appropriate including the use of theoretical models;
  4. used an even-handed and tolerant approach with an awareness of cultural, diversity and language issues;
  5. evaluated contradictory information to make informed and balanced judgements in the absence of consistent data.

Essay Content

For each of the five requirements, eligible candidates are required to submit a short, reflective essay based on their professional experience since admission to membership of CIPFA/ACCA. Each essay has a minimum word limit of 700 words and a maximum word limit of 1,000 words.

Each reflective essay must be based on a candidate’s own professional experience and as far as possible, direct involvement in the scenarios described. Candidates are asked to ensure that, at a minimum, their reflective essays are structured to include:

  • Background and context to the scenario(s) identified in the essay;
  • A description of your role and responsibilities in the specific scenario(s);
  • An evaluation of the particular professional skills used and developed in the context of the scenario(s) including where relevant judgement and decision making; and
  • A critical examination of the lessons learned by you and the organisation from the experience.

Please note that normally a different scenario should be used to address each requirement. If a candidate chooses to refer to the same scenario in two different sections, then care should be taken to avoid repetition and to ensure that the scenario is relevant to the essay question. To enable applicants to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their experience in relation to the assessment requirements, responses will by necessity require confidential information to be provided. ICAS will respect the confidentiality of the application. Applicants are advised that they should not name their employer or any clients in their five Reflective Essays. Applicants should make reference to generic bodies or companies, for example, a “Health Trust”. This is to ensure the application process is anonymised and that there is no unintentional bias in the marking process. To ensure the necessary depth of evaluation and critical reflection within each essay, candidates are advised to consider whether it is appropriate to reflect on multiple scenarios.

Once you have completed your five reflective essays, make sure you have passed these to your sponsors for verification.

All candidates are also required to submit a detailed CV (no more than four sides of A4) in support of their reflective essay submissions. Prior to the marking process, all applications will be anonymised.

Submission Formatting

The five Reflective Essay questions must be submitted to the online system called Turnitin. Turnitin is an academic plagiarism checker and will only allow submission of ONE Word document for the TRE application process.

Therefore, the five Reflective Essay questions should follow the following format for submission to Turnitin:

  • The five essays are submitted in one Word document
  • The document must only contain your candidate number and no other personal identification (such as your name)
  • Each essay must be clearly headed and numbered in accordance with the essay question above and a word count must be included at the bottom of each essay
  • All pages of the word document to be numbered
  • Each essay has a minimum word limit of 700 words and a maximum word limit of 1,000 words.

If you would like the Commentary on Performance for the May 2018 Diet for guidance on what is expected for content and format of the reflective essay questions please email pathways@icas.com.

Grading of assessments

ICAS has established a method for grading the assessments based on the approach used at its Test of Professional Expertise multi-disciplinary case study. Each reflective essay will be graded across the following categories:

  • Highly competent;
  • Clearly competent;
  • Competent;
  • Approaching competence;
  • Not competent.

ICAS will derive descriptors for what an assessor might expect to observe within a reflective essay under each of these 5 categories. These descriptors will be used to evaluate the submitted responses. The competency level identified will then be converted into a mark and this will determine the pass/fail decision. All reflective essays will be assessed independently on at least 2 occasions.

Submitting your application

Full details on submitting your application will be made available nearer the time. In broad terms though, when the Submission Window opens, your application for the TRE pathway has three steps:

  • Submitting to ICAS your completed application pack (Remember you will need to have sent your answers to the five essay questions to your sponsors in order for them to complete their part of the application)
  • Making payment
  • Receive your candidate number which will be provided to you to upload the five Reflective Essays for the examination component (this will be made available on receipt of the above)
  • Receive login details for Turnitin to submit the five reflective essay questions in one Word document.

Please note it can take up to five working days for your candidate number to be released to you and you will have a minimum of seven days to submit your essay questions on Turnitin.


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