All About ACCA SBL Paper

Strategic Business Leader (SBL) paper is a part of ACCA's Professional Level papers. 

Introduction to Strategic Business Leader

The Strategic Business Leader exam is designed to mirror the workplace and requires you to demonstrate a blend of technical, ethical and professional skills. It tests your ability to function as an accountant in a simulated workplace and asks you to respond to requests from people in various roles. It won’t only be the technical quality of your answer that matters, but how professional your response is.

Are you ready for SBL? 

An important factor in SBL exam success is the building on the knowledge studied earlier in the ACCA qualification, including governance, ethics, risk management, internal control, strategy and leadership.  So, whether you are new to ACCA, haven’t studied for a while, or just want to check how well you know the core materials, we have created 5 self-check quizzes to assess your underlying knowlegde and get personalised advice on your next steps and how to study for SBL efficiently. Access the SBL self-check quizzes now.

We know that students who have completed the Ethics and Professional Skills module are significantly more likely to pass SBL so make sure you plan EPSM into your studies. Find out more about how EPSM can help you pass SBL.

To purchase ACCA SBL Video Lectures and Books- Click Here.

SBL top tips:

  • plan to study the syllabus content as quickly as possible
  • start practicing case study questions as soon as possible 
  • work on your professional skills from the outset 
  • attempt each specimen and past exam content in full and to time

SBL Exam Structure

It is a 4 hours exam. In addition, SBL exam features include -

  • Single case study​

  • Knowledge from previous level papers required

  • Case materials include 12-18 pages of information

ACCA SBL team sets the exam structure in 4 hours including 40 minutes of reading and planning time.

You need to plan well how to spend 40 minutes reading the case materials, all requirements of each question (no optional questions anymore), and planning what you have to write.


There is a total of 9 sections in the syllabus, 8 of them are on technical content and 1 section on professional skills.

SBL syllabus also combines the main functions of organizations in the context of leadership capability, and previous level exam's core content are embedded such as –

  • Governance

  • Internal audit

  • Control

  • Risk

  • Finance

  • Ethics

  • Management

Different from other strategic professional level exams, 20% of total marks in SBL is from professional skills.

You have to master the professional skills to help you to pass the exam. (More about professional skills are discussed below.)

Planning your study

Preparing to study for an exam can be a daunting prospect, but with some clear planning, you can design a strategy for your study that maximizes your chances of success. ACCA's Compass study planner will then help you organize your time and reflect on your progress as you work towards the exam day.

Compass: Your ACCA study planner

The new Compass planner lets you organize your study tasks and reflect on your progress as you work towards the exam day. Log in to update your overall study plans for the next 12 months, then build up your detailed plan with daily tasks and milestones. Here are some tips to get you going:

  • Start by blocking out time between now and exam day when you know you'll not be available to study
  • Review the suggested initial tasks and then set your own milestones
  • Be realistic and consider when you are best able to study – maybe early mornings work better for you or perhaps shorter, more frequent study periods throughout the day
  • Consider building in an extra study period after every few chapters to review and consolidate your learning
  • Take a 5-10 minute break every hour to help maintain motivation and concentration
  • Once you have prepared your plan - try to stick to it where possible
  • But review your plan weekly to make sure you are on track - and then make any necessary adjustments

Hope you can find this article helpful. If you did like this Blog then Share it with your friends who are preparing for ACCA Exams or who will be giving their ACCA Exams in the near future.


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