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The exam countdown blog is back! This time last year I wrote a weekly blog helping students to prepare for the ACCA exams in the December sitting.  Apparently, some of you liked it so I am back, and over the next 11 weeks I’ll be sharing with you some advice and tips to improve your chances of success in the exam.

The study plan

This week I want to focus on putting together a study plan.  We all know that old adage “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”, and it remains true for studying.

My Taxation and Financial Management students have just started their courses and in our live classes I have been sharing with them the importance of a study plan. So let me share with you what I think creating a study PLAN means:

  • Put aside sufficient time
  • Look for opportunities to study
  • Assess how you like to study
  • Notify your friends and family

Let’s consider those steps in more detail.

  • Put aside sufficient time

There are 11 weeks between now and the exam week, and you need to split that time between a Tuition phase and a Revision phase. I’ll talk about revision in a later blog.

As a guideline, at AVADO, we have 7 weeks of tuition followed by a self-study week, and then 3 weeks of revision. This means you could assume 8 weeks to learn and understand the material, and 3 weeks to recap and revise.

Count the number of sessions in your study material and divide that by 8.  That will give you the number of sessions to complete each week.

Next look at your diary. Block out time each week and allocate sessions to that time. Be realistic though.  No one can study for hours at a time. Instead it is more effective to break the time into bite size chunks.  I usually suggest about 45 minutes before you need to stop for a short break, before carrying on.

  • Look for opportunities to study

You may have already realised there may be a shortfall of time to complete all the work necessary.

Be creative as to when and where you study.

For example, if you travel to work by bus or train, do some active reading on the way. Over lunchtime why not watch a tutorial video. They are often only 5 to 10 minutes, but you can still learn a lot in that time. Or perhaps select a few questions to work through. Consider what you were studying the previous evening and find suitable questions to check your understanding.

Or why not get up half an hour earlier. Over the course of a working week that’s another 2 ½ hours of valuable study time.

  • Assess how you like to study

We all have our preferred learning style. Personally, I prefer being taught how to set out a calculation or how to interpret a question. Others are more self-motivated and prefer reading and researching to learn.

Check out the resources available from your learning provider such as online reading, video tutorials, practice questions, live classes, tutor support, etc and use those that work for you. Put to one side any that don’t add value to your learning experience.

Knowing how you learn best will ensure you make the most of your (limited) time available.

  • Notify your friends and family

It’s great having a plan but don’t let others sabotage it. Over the coming weeks there are bound to be distractions that will eat into your study time. Tell your friends and family up front that you are busy studying and that you won’t be able to join in with every activity.

That said, do make sure you have time for fun too! Just be selective about how you choose to spend your spare time and include time for socialising with friends and keeping fit. Being happy and healthy will help to keep you mentally alert too.

That’s all from me this week.  I hope the advice helps and I’ll be back again next week.