I have a weird desire for constant relevant self development and professional exams and/or certifications are sure one of the ways to achieve this.
If you plan on writing professional exams sooner or later, you should read this.
Preparing for professional exams or any exam in fact can be very time consuming and nerve wrecking, it basically takes a toll on your entire life.
You keep thinking about the upcoming exams everywhere and every time, when you’re eating, at work, sometimes you may even dream about it.
You will surely understand the guilty feeling you get when you decide to spend a few minutes relaxing and having fun with friends.
Given the timeless and costly investments towards studying and preparing for professional exams, it is only fair that you pass and succeed.
So what are the Basics of preparing for professional exams?
Well, from my experience I can tell you that these guidelines not only help you prepare for your exams but they also enhance your chances of passing. Yes, you read right.
So lets dive into the basics.
Exam structure and guidelines
The first basic thing you need to do is familiarizing yourself with the exam format and guidelines.
Every exam has it’s unique syllabus, guidelines and requirements, and the more conversant you are with them, the higher your chances of passing.
ACCA for example, has very detailed information and resources on their website to enable students prepare better. They provide access to technical articles, study guides, sample questions and answers and loads of relevant information.
A lot of their resources lay emphasis on the balance between quantitative and qualitative approach to their questions. It is almost impossible to pass their exams without understanding this approach.
This is why it is extremely important to understand exam structure and requirements.
Identify a tutor
You may need a tutor to help you prepare for your exams. The need for a tutor is subjective as many people can study exam materials by themselves.
I have tried both approaches for different courses and for each case, I did a true assessment of my capabilities depending on the course requirements.
Sometimes, it is advisable to use a tutor, especially if they are very experienced as this reduces the time you spend trying to figure out difficult areas on your own.
You can always identify private or public tutors or lecture centers that fit into your study plans and preferences. Of course, based on reviews and referrals you can make an easier decision.
Effective study methods and strategies
The next step is identifying what study method works for you. Some people prefer solo study while others would do better in a group study. So here’s the thing, neither is more effective than the other, it all depends on you.
While it is easier for some people to assimilate better when reading alone, others find studying in groups more encouraging and effective.
Having a study buddy can also drive and motivate you to be more focused and committed to studying.
Most especially, weigh the benefits verses the cons of a group or solo study. If studying in groups distract you , do not do it.
Here’s my story, I personally loved solo study but when I decided to try group study, I then realized that I didn’t have to figure it all out on my own. I had a community who understood my struggles and was ready to share ideas, teach and sometimes even relax.
There are also online study forums that provide resourceful materials and provide a platform for students to share ideas, discuss questions and help each other.
I found the opentuition website very helpful and I recommend it every time to my mentees. Useful for ACCA and other accounting exams in the UK like CIMA.
So yes, you can network and build relationships while studying for the win.
Study time and practise
It is almost impossible to pass your professional exams without adequate study. You are studying to become more knowledgeable and professional, sufficient time is required and should be dedicated to your pursuit if you must succeed.
You can attend multiple classes and still be unprepared due to lack of personal study. The only time I failed an exam was due to inadequate study time.
Your study time should be effectively allocated between actual reading and practise.
The best advise on the most effective way to read for an exam is to have a thorough understanding of the course and not just reading to pass or cramming as the case may be.
When you understand the subject matter extensively, you can attempt any question irrespective of it’s format, this is in fact what makes you a professional.
Invest in study materials, practise questions, flash cards or whatever makes it easier to understand your course. Read broad and wide.
I understand some people thrive on mnemonics, this is not totally discouraged. I found this quite helpful especially for vast qualitative courses like Audit and Assurance.
Effective practise for any exam depends on the first basic point on understanding the exam structure and requirements.
Every exam has time allocations, your speed during your exams are as important as your knowledge. Practise sample questions under time restricted scenarios until you get around attempting the most questions under the allocated time.
It is also strongly encouraged to attempt all questions required in your exams as this gives you a better chance of accumulating as much marks as possible.
Exam Tip: Attempt questions with higher marks allocations first or questions you are more comfortable acquiring more marks in.
Attempt every possible approach to the exam subject matter through sample questions. This includes quantitative and qualitative question requirements, multiple choice or essay type of question formats.
Regular practise and vast reading made it easier for me to pass my exams on first attempt.
This definitely requires time hence why dedicating enough study time is paramount to your success.
Finally, having the right mindset, before and during the exam should never be ignored. Have adequate sleep and do not lose out on life.
Now you know the basics, go and conquer!