Prize-winning advice to help you progress

Every little helps when it comes to exam preparation, so who best to ask for advice than some of our March 2022 exam prize winners? Read on to discover their tips as you prepare to make progress with your ACCA studies.

Continuing your ACCA journey

Gold medal winner

Looi Mun, business consulting associate, EY Advisory Services, Malaysia
'In general, I would say that there is no short cut to exam success, so starting early is always a good idea. Good time management and self-discipline can be easier said than done, but if you can manage both, then this will help you achieve your ACCA goals within your timeline.

'More specifically, Advanced Financial Management was my final exam and, to do well in this exam, it’s important to understand the fundamentals underlying the calculation methods being used, which can be done by attempting different types of questions. It’s also important not to disregard the potential contribution that the discussion and theory questions can make to your final mark.'

Bronze medal winner

Reylene O’Brien, trainee, BDO Limerick, Ireland
'Being organised and managing your time well are critical, so try to maximise your use of available resources. For example, there are lots of videos covering ACCA content online that you can listen to while walking or travelling – even a small step like this helps consolidate knowledge when you have a limited window of time available for study. My best tip is to practise as many questions as possible and make sure to answer these under timed conditions as you get closer to the exam. In addition, make sure you are very familiar with the CBE format so you don’t have any surprises on exam day.'

Performance Management exam

Riya Manandhar, full-time student, Nepal
'Firstly, start preparing early for your exams. Don’t wait until the last two or three weeks as you can run into trouble and find it difficult to achieve a good result. Make your own notes on each subject, practise as many questions as possible, and don’t restrict your studies to key areas, as selective learning is not good.

'Overall, commit a certain number of hours every day to your studies but also spend quality time with your friends and family, and with yourself. For the Performance Management exam, it’s very important to understand the concepts properly and plan your study wisely. Rote-learning will never be effective.

'When you practise past exam questions make a note of any mistakes and go back over them later. The technical articles and examiners’ reports provided by ACCA are also very helpful – they deepen our knowledge of the syllabus and make us aware of the mistakes we are likely to make in the exam.'

Taxation exam

Varun Thakkar, full-time student, Finplan International Education, India
'For the Taxation exam it’s important to get all the concepts clear in your mind and to revise and remember the formulas and definitions – ideally off by heart for the most important, and in your own words for the rest. Also, don’t try and rush your exam progress especially if you also work. ACCA is a professional qualification that demands a combination of hard work and a smart approach to efficient study.'

Financial Reporting exam

Luke Ayieko, full-time student, Strathmore University, Kenya
'I found it demanding to combine ACCA with a university course, and also to prepare only for CBE exams. The key is a lot of practice alongside gaining a good mastery of the content. You must also perfect your strengths while working more on your weaknesses.'

Audit and Assurance exam

Keng Huat Chai, full-time student, Sunway TES, Malaysia
'For this exam, I believe that practice makes perfect, as the more we practise, the more we will master the subject. It’s also a good idea to look at the examiner’s report as this will highlight the most common mistakes made by exam takers.

'As I progress through the exams I have definitely found each to be more challenging, with some questions not just repeats of those in previous exams but with additional twists and turns. It’s therefore very important to make sure you understand the question requirements before you even start to answer the question itself.'

Financial Management exam

Umme Bohra, full time student, PwC Academy Dubai, UAE
'In my opinion, to ace any ACCA exam you need to be crystal clear about the concepts covered by the syllabus, and ensure you have the necessary exam technique. It’s also about balance, so take the time to create a proper schedule and, if you stick to it, you should be good to go.

'In the exam, spot-on time management is particularly important in order to finish the exam in the time allowed.'

Rongrong Shentu, full-time student, Golden Online, China
'I think the most important thing is to be familiar with all the core knowledge within the exam syllabus, and to revise those points about which you remain confused. When it comes to answering questions, I’m not sure that finding the right answer by elimination is a wise choice. When preparing for the Financial Management exam I found mind maps very useful and, for the sections on net present value (NPV) and risk management, it’s quite useful to do more exercises and to summarise solutions for the same type of questions.'

Strategic Business Reporting exam

Isabel Hardaway, consultant, FTI Consulting, UK
'Something that works for me is to create a rough study plan, a month or two before the exams, on A3 paper. This helps me visualise what I will be studying each day and how much time I have. It really helps me feel in control and reduces my stress, as I just have to follow the plan.

'I highly recommend asking questions if you are unsure about anything, to make sure you truly understand the concepts covered in the syllabus, and to build your confidence for the actual exam. Also, find ways to keep motivated when studying. For me this was having a small break for exercise every day (such as cycling), which gave me something to look forward to and really helped me to stay focused.

'If, like me, you’re also working, then make sure your manager and colleagues know you have exams coming up and that study is a high priority. For me, the most effective time to study is in the morning before work as I find it easier to absorb information when my mind is fresh, and I’m also motivated to do as much study as possible in the time available. From a practical perspective, I rarely receive emails or calls before work, so I have fewer interruptions, and I’m also not expected to start work early while I can often expect to work late.'

Isobel Lai, full-time student, Sunway TES, Malaysia
'In my opinion, good time management is key to doing well in any ACCA exam, and timed question practice is the secret to honing this skill. In the exam it is very important to allocate time to each question to make sure you can attempt everything. If you exceed the time limit on a particular question, it is better to move on as you may be able to score more marks from subsequent questions.'

Advanced Financial Management exam

Zoe Bushell, accounts assistant, Godfrey Wilson Ltd, UK
'I get most benefit from practice questions and by checking my answer against the marked example to see how I could have scored full marks. I advise getting a book of practice questions to work through and completing all the exams on the ACCA Practice Platform.

'I find ACCA technical articles very helpful as they cover many areas, which can be useful for longer discussion-based questions, and they give a good idea of the key points to put into your answer. I also advise finding a study routine that works for you and then sticking to it. For example, as I also work, I prefer to study in the evenings for about four hours a week and keep my weekends free until nearer the exam. However, I have colleagues who prefer not to study in the evening after a full day at work, so the study at the weekends instead.'

Advanced Performance Management exam

Katie Howard, finance graduate, Paddy Power Betfair, Ireland
'Planning is key, so allocate your time with a daily study plan. I find writing out my own notes is very useful preparation and I make notes based on the exam-style questions. I also always use the ACCA Practice Platform and aim to complete as many questions as possible.'

Advanced Taxation exam

Kamil Przybyla, Treasury Analyst, XPO Logistics, UK
'My main advice when preparing for Advanced Taxation is to revisit the Taxation syllabus as it will help you pass the exam. More generally, it’s important to attempt as many exam-style questions as possible, either from exam kits or by using the ACCA Practice Platform. Also, be sure to rest properly as it can be very difficult to study if you are feeling stressed or tired.'