The purpose of any professional exam is not just to help you get a good job, but also to create a well-rounded, accomplished professional. Passing professional exams can be challenging, expensive and time consuming, but if you follow these top tips you will have a greater chance of success:
- BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
If you don’t believe that you will pass the exam you won’t, you will be defeated before you even start. If you believe in yourself, you are committed to doing your best both in your preparation and in the exam session.
- INVEST IN YOURSELF
Qualification as a professional accountant costs money, but the return on investment is worth it. Becoming a qualified accountant opens the door to a wealth of career opportunities and the financial rewards that come with them. You must invest in the study materials; the e-books, recommended reading and Lectures, if you can, but the most important investment is your time. If you put the work in, then you have the best chance of success, carry your notes wherever you go and read them whenever you have the opportunity.
- PUT THEORY INTO PRACTICE
The underpinning principle of the ICAG qualification is the application of theory to practical situations, relating what you’re learning to the real world. Look for practical ways to apply the knowledge you’re acquiring, this will greatly benefit your understanding of the topics and make it easier for you to tackle case studies in the exam.
- UNDERSTAND THE SYLLABUS AND EXAM STRUCTURE
Your first step in your studies should be to read and understand the structure of the exam you’re going to sit, this will give you a structure for your revision and will help you grasp how all the topics fit together. The syllabus explains how the marks are allocated and how each of the topics within the paper are weighted.
- PRACTICE PAST EXAM QUESTIONS
“Practice makes perfect” and you should practice as many past exam papers as you can. Papers from the last four sessions are available to download from the ICAG page and you should attempt at least one of these papers, as a mock exam, under conditions as close to the actual exam as possible.
- MAKE SUMMARY NOTES
To assist your recall when the exam comes around, make notes from your study materials and books, this can help embed the information in your mind, and gives you something to revise from as the exam approaches, rather than going back to the full book. Write bullet points for important concepts and key ideas which you need to remember
- REMEMBER KEY INFORMATION
Aid your memory of key information and formulas by making use of mnemonics (like SWOT) or by making posters that you can stick up around your home. You could even post it at the bottom of your bed, so it’s the last thing you see at night or the first thing you see in the morning.
- MAKE USE OF YOUR NETWORK
If you’re studying at a tuition center, consider forming a small study group to help you with topics you don’t understand. If you don’t have any other students living near you, you can connect with other students through WhatsApp group. Not only will this help your studying, you can start to build your professional network, which in the future can refer you to job opportunities.
- PLAN YOUR EXAM STRATEGY
You have months to study but just over three hours to pass your exam, so it’s vital you know how you’re going to approach the exam and make the best use of that precious time. Know how you’re going to allocate your time before you get in the exam hall. You should allot some time at the beginning to read the paper through before you begin and then again at the end to check through your answers. The mark allocation indicated in the syllabus will also give you an idea of how long to spend on a question. If you get stuck on a question, don’t panic, move onto the next question and if you have time you can go back to it. The examiner can’t allocate you any marks if you haven’t even attempted a question.
- MAKE THE EXAMINER’S JOB EASY
Examiners will only mark what they can understand and read clearly, so it’s vital that you write clearly and legibly, and that you check your spelling and that what you’ve written makes sense. Examiners have a limited amount of time to mark exams, so it helps if you make your paper as examiner friendly as possible.
Stephen Adu (CA, CCFA, MBA, BED)