The last article focused on the power of resilience and never giving up on your dreams, especially when you embark on the path to becoming a CA(SA). This article will share practical tips that can make your academic journey less difficult.
I have spent 13 years as a tutor. I have had the privilege of working with students across various disciplines from first-year to postgraduate accounting students. Across these levels, the number one reason for students falling short of their potential was not due to a lack of knowledge: they simply didn’t know how to maximise their academic day.
In my book Study smarter! A guide to improved test scores and more free time, I mentioned three things every accounting student should do each day in order to derive full value from their academic day. They are:
Read the lecture slides for the next day, the night before the lecture − By reading the lecture slides the night before your lecture and noting difficult concepts, you are able to familiarise yourself with the content that will be taught the next day. In doing so, you will uncover exactly what aspects of the lecture you don’t understand and are thus forced to pay attention.
Fully understand the theoretical concepts in the lecture − How do you derive value from the lecture? By listening intently. No phones. No distraction. Your mission is to focus on summarising the key concepts of the lecture in the spaces next to the lecture slides. You also need to clarify the items you marked for attention the night before. Once lectures are done for the day, you should not leave the lecture venue until all your questions have been answered. If you can clarify every concept every day and do that for the whole semester, then that means you understood the theory for the whole term. That is how I made sure I was never stressed about the work.
Practise past papers after the lecture − Practice makes perfect. This is the most important part of the day. Most students I found would spend countless hours re-learning the theory after lectures. I would personally only spend 10 minutes per module verbally summarising five hours’ worth of lectures. All you need to do is summarise the key points mentally to keep them fresh. The rest of your time post lectures should be spent doing practice papers. In Honours I aimed for four questions per day at a minimum including marking and understanding where I went wrong. Think about it, if you can do past papers then you are demonstrating an understanding of your theoretical principles. The more you practise, the more confidence you gain. The more confidence you gain, the better your mindset is for the exam.
The points above will put you in control of your never-ending workload and will allow you peace of mind knowing that you maximised your day, thus removing feelings of guilt for not working enough. You will find a balance which will lead to increased confidence and better exam results.
The next article will focus on exam-specific techniques to prepare you for success.
Good luck, dear reader!
The three-step approach
The first thing I did when I met new clients was understand their current study routine. What I found was that students who were in the first to fourth year of their accounting studies, and who averaged around 40% per module, often didn’t have a study routine. Studying for them meant long hours behind the books without much of a plan. Once we implemented the three-step approach into their daily study routine, their results suddenly jumped to the 60% mark. Now isn’t that a good return on investment?