How do you best prepare for your exams? Stuart Galloway, one of our first-year trainees, shares his very own tips and tricks with us today.

LibraryAfter finishing the first six ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) exams, I was talking with a colleague about finding the best way to study. He said I should write a blog post about it, so here goes. Finding your best way of studying is a personal thing – everyone’s different and this sort of thing comes best from experience – but here’s a few thoughts.

Staying late at college

College finishes around 4pm, but they are tiring days and there’s plenty of question practice to do in the evening. I found it tough to start work again after my commute and dinner, so I started staying at college for a few hours in the evening. This worked out much better for me. There are a number of college locations across London to work in, and the NAO office stays open late too.

Following online lectures

We studied two of the six modules online instead of having lectures at college. Some people got together and booked an office meeting room to watch the online lectures together. Others used the books rather than the lectures. I found my preferred way was to follow the online lectures, but do plenty of question practice throughout the day. The online learning environment gives you the opportunity to do “Practise & Apply” questions as you work through the lectures. I found these helped to cement the learning as I went, rather than leaving all the question practice until I finished the day’s lectures.

Making use of the office

Have a think about the place you’d work best in for those online modules. Some worked well at home or a local library and enjoyed not having to commute. I found that coming into the office worked best for me. It meant I had a stable place to work in, without the distractions of home, and with internet that actually worked properly! With the office staying open late, it meant I could be flexible about my timetable, staying later in the evening, and not feeling guilty about having an extra long lunch break.

Learning to master those little things…

On a much more specific note, it took me ’til the last two modules to realise that I could use the screen clipping tool on my work laptop to copy the diagrams and formulas from the PDFs of the course notes. This meant I could easily make revision sheets for the bits I found most difficult to remember. Sometimes it’s those little things that can make all the difference in the final cramming and pick you up those vital extra marks.

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