The terminology for accounting varies across different levels of study. Those of you who have moved on to study accounting at tertiary level would agree – terms like debtors and creditors have a different meaning in ICCI, CAT, ACCA and other accounting diploma/degree programs.

The term Debtors used for O’/N’ Level, for example, becomes Accounts Receiveable at the diploma/degree level. The following table lists the difference between the international usage of accounting terms against that which is used and accepted by The University of Cambridge International Exams (CIE).

Please note: GCE O’/N’ Level candidates will not be penalised for using different terms.

International usage Current CIE/UK usage
Balance sheet Balance sheet
Bank (and other) loans/ Interest bearinq loans and borrowinq Loans repayable after 12 months
Bank overdrafts and loans/ Interest bearinq loans and borrowinq Loans repayable within 12 months
Capital or Equity/

Shareholders’ Equity

Cash (and cash equivalents) Bank and cash
Cost of Sales Cost of qoods sold
Current assets Current assets
Current liabilities Current liabilities. Creditors: amounts due within 12 months
Finance costs Interest payable
Finance Income/Investment revenues Interest receivable
Financial Statements Final accounts
Gross profit Gross profit
Income statement Tradinq and Profit & Loss account
Intanqible assets Goodwill etc.
Inventory/ Inventories(of raw materials and finished qoods) Stock
Investment property Investments
Non-current assets Fixed assets
Non-current liabilities Long term liabilities. Creditors: amounts falling due after more than one year
The University of Cambridge International Exams (CIE) released an information brochure on this which is available for download here. [page 19]
A condensed version on the same is available here.


  1. Still I think we should start using Accounts Receivables , Accounts Payables and Inventory. These are common terms that we see in the newspapers. The earlier it is taught, the better

  2. Yes, Esther. I totally agree with you. In financial magazines, prospectus and newspapers, we also read “Statement of Comprehensive Income,” instead of Profit and Loss Statement. and “accumulated depreciation” (which makes more sense), rather than “provision for depreciation” as taught at GCE O/N level.

    There are also other terms which I'd be addressing in the next few posts. =)

  3. If only someone out there who has the “say” can see to this. Will be good for the students, after all these are very basic terms

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