1 Necessary evil
Gone are the days when number-crunching alone could get you through accounting exams. Examiners expect to see evidence of good written communication skills, reflecting the changing role of finance professionals in business. How you present an argument (why you handle transactions in a certain way, or the pros and cons of alternative courses of action) requires you to demonstrate clarity of thought, a rational approach, and an economic but effective way with words. This you can learn.
2 Cunning plan
You don’t have time on your side – so sketch out the main points you plan to cover while putting together a loose essay structure, ensuring you cover everything the examiner has asked for before you begin writing. Download as much as you can from your mind on to paper, then organise only the relevant points into a logical order – so that the marker doesn’t have to jump back and forth to work out what you mean. Practise doing all this – fast – with past papers and under exam conditions.
3 Perpetual editor
As you write, keep an eye out for where you can tighten your sentences, use better vocabulary, or convey your message more effectively. Don’t ramble to give the impression of having covered the question thoroughly – padding is more visible than you think; instead, prune ruthlessly. Put yourself in the marker’s shoes: does what you are writing actually answer the question or have you gone off at a tangent? Nobody scores marks for off-the-wall thinking – stick to the examiner’s agenda.