Those writing their exams in June might need to check these carefully gathered tips down for a guaranteed success in their exams.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry . The goal is to ace your ACCA exams and to do this, you have to plan. The ideal from past writers who aced their exams is that your ACCA exams preparation begins immediately you started taking classes. You need to plan ahead on how you intend to study for the exams and work out a reading schedule and stay consistent with it. Draft a flexible timetable and be realistic with it.
Get Familiar with ACCA Syllabus
It is one thing to prepare for your ACCA exams, it is another to be smart with your preparation. To prepare smartly, you need to get familiar with the ACCA syllabus to aid your study. How? You get to have knowledge on examinable topics and makes you understand these topics better.
Study with ACCA’s approved study texts
To be on the safer side, you may need to study with approved texts guided by tutors’ notes.
Understand Concepts, don’t memorise
With a guided and flexible timetable, your learning becomes convenient. So, we advise you understand the concepts and not memorise them. If you don’t understand any, seek help by contacting any of the tutors for more illumination.
Study Past Papers for Practice
If there’s one one technique that all our students and agree on, it’s that the importance of studying past papers can’t be overemphasized when it comes to preparing for ACCA exams most importantly the previous exam sitting. Working through past papers helps you identify technical weak spots, and is also one of the best ways to improve exam technique. According to Accounting simplified, ACCA students are extremely lucky to have Model Answers to past paper questions from the examiners themselves. It is very helpful and vital resource for students as it provides them insight into how an answer may be ideally structured and drafted.
However, care must be taken when studying the suggested answers. Firstly, the answers may only reflect the syllabus, laws and standards in place at the time of the respective examination. Exam kits from ACCA approved publishers may be more appropriate for practice of subjects that are constantly evolving such as Financial Reporting and Taxation. Secondly, do not waste time memorizing chunks of the model answers since they have been provided for the purpose of guidance only. Examiner cannot possibly expect a student to produce an answer of such caliber and depth under exam conditions. However, you should try to learn the general content, logic, flow, style and structure of the model answers and try to reproduce those qualities in exam.
Examiner Reports: Examiner Reports are published on ACCA Global Website after every exam sitting highlighting the common mistakes and problem areas encountered by students. It is surprising how few students actually make use of this resource. A careful read of the examiner reports could assist you a lot in improving your exam technique especially in case you have been stuck with a paper for quite some time now and have not been able to figure out the cause of failure yet (or have been attributing it to bad luck!).
Marking Schemes: Marking schemes can help you in judging the number of distinct points that you need to mention in respect of a given question and the depth of your answer. Studying marking scheme when practicing past paper questions can assist you in understanding the relative marking for different types of question requirements. A typical marking scheme for example would allocate one mark per point for a basic question requirement such as ‘list’, ‘identify’ or ‘define’. More than one mark per point is usually reserved for question requirements that require students to demonstrate a higher capability such as ‘explain’, ‘compare’, ‘distinguish’, ‘analyze’ and so on. An awareness of the likely basis of how your answer will be marked by the examiner can guide you in writing the right number of points in your answers and in appropriate detail instead of focusing on just one or two main points. So for example, if a 10 mark question asks you to ‘list’ certain factors, it would be safe to assume that a brief list of ten, short and punchy, points can secure most marks on offer. If however a question requires you to ‘explain’, it would be better to provide five points with a bit more detail.
Exam Paper Analysis: It may be useful to look at the trend in past examinations. For example, what type of questions are most frequently asked? Which topics are tested most? Has an important syllabus area not been tested in last several attempts? You could use this information to prioritize certain key topics that you would like to focus more on. However, do not rely on pure guesswork. Trying to extrapolate the trend into your next exam sitting may leave you with a few surprises. Just use your analysis as a tool to highlight important areas rather than to eliminate syllabus areas that you feel will not be tested again from your study plan.
Examiner Analysis Interview: ACCA publishes Examiner Analysis Interviews for each exam paper on its website detailing the examiners’ view of the performance of the students in previous examination sessions highlighting the prevailing weaknesses among students and the future focus of examinations. Analysis interviews are very helpful in guiding students on how to improve their performance in exams.
When faced with the exam paper, our prizewinners adopt some sensible strategies to improve their performance. They start by reading the whole paper – not just the core text – so they know what they have to do and can plan accordingly; they also read all the question requirements before starting an answer; and they try to present answers neatly and clearly.
‘It’s also important to finish the whole paper,’ says Vishal Chauhan. ‘If a question is difficult to answer then do your best in the time you have allotted (roughly 1.8 minutes per mark) then move on. There are no negative marks, so you should be writing right up to the end as the more information you provide the more chance you have of gaining marks.’