Habits that can lead to failure in ACCA exams

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While preparing for the ACCA exams, distractions can be troublesome. To prepare well, last-minute mugging-up, late nights, and poor planning might do more harm than good. One of my key study tips for you will be to steer clear of some of the worst study habits that anyone can have. You will be able to effectively use your time if you can figure out how to avoid making these blunders. In this article, we've discussed some of the worst study habits for ACCA students and how to successfully avoid them.

failing acca exam reasons
Here are 10 of the worst study habits to avoid to help you prepare for your next ACCA exams:

Having your mobile phone on:
Study time is meant just for studies. Make it clear to your family members and friends that for next few hours, unless the house is on fire, you should not be bothered. A mobile phone is a terrible distraction. Switch it off!

Environment:
Studying for one hour in a library is way better than studying for four hours in the TV lounge. I once had a student in my class who always used to put on her headphones and crank up the music while studying. She failed all her exams and had to quit her ACCA eventually. Make sure your study space is distraction-free, silent, and has the ideal temperature.

Stuffing in too much information:
Some students have a ‘hobby of collecting study materials’. They purchase study texts and exam kits of all the publishers, ask their teachers to share study notes with them and also download number of examiner articles and other resources from the internet. Still, they end up getting failed in the final exam. I think the reason is obvious, they try to absorb too much information than their mind can digest, adding more to confusion and doubts. Stick with the study materials recommended by your teacher.

Don’t get overwhelmed:
‘Learn it all in one go’ approach doesn’t work in ACCA, unless you have some super powers. I have seen some students trying to finish the whole syllabus in quick time and then getting upset as result of not being able to do so. So simply don’t get overwhelmed by all the information you have, thinking that you HAVE to learn it all immediately. Do it ‘bit by bit.’

Viewing answers before attempting the question:

One of the strange things I have noticed is when practicing the exam questions some students open the answers immediately after reading the questions. They read through the answer and then they move to the next question assuming they have ‘understood’ the answer. By doing so you may save some time but will never gain the confidence which you feel after attempting the question yourself. Remember answers will not be provided in the exam for cross reference. So, best practice is: read over your notes, the requirement, and the scenario, attempt to write the answer yourself as much as possible, then use your notes as a
supplement, then look at the answer. I guarantee that the second time you attempt the questions you will not need your notes or the answer.

Procrastination
Many students specially those who are in the initial stages of their ACCA qualification consider it as a qualification just like other college or university courses. Its possible to pass some exam by just putting some extra efforts near the exam. But believe me in ACCA you can’t pass your exam in this way. I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it later. Guys – make a timetable and stick to it. The “pain of sitting revising for a few hours and sticking to your timetable is a lot less pain than you will feel later down the line when you have months of lectures to learn in a week.

Ignoring theoretical parts of the syllabus:
ACCA exams are often a combination of numerical and descriptive questions (some of the exams only have theoretical questions only). However, it has been noticed that many students don’t take the theoretical parts that seriously and spend most of their preparation time in practicing numerical questions. It is one of the biggest reasons behind low pass rates in papers like MA, PM, FM etc. Make sure that you practice descriptive questions while preparing for your exams. Remember, just reading through the topic is not sufficient, you need to practice it in writing.

Having a heavy meal before study:
We all love having a KFC or McDonald’s but perhaps it’s not a good idea to have one just before your study time. It can make you feel lazy, uncomfortable and agitated. Your body as well as your mind both need to be in the right frame. So, have a light meal, wait a little time to digest it – and then hit the books.

Studying whole night:
We are human beings, we all need to take rest, spend time with our loved ones, go to work, and fulfill our other responsibilities. A study session that will need you to stay up all night or for the majority of the it is a bad idea. The key is to plan ahead your study sessions and breaks in such a way to ensure effective reading without compromising the other needs; a sound strategy will help you a lot.   

Ignoring the exam format:
Whenever a student comes to me saying, ‘my exam preparation was excellent, still I have not been able to get the required marks’. I ask him/her ‘how many section A and section B questions (short questions) you practiced during your revision’? Most of the times the answer is ‘I didn’t, I was focusing on long (section C) questions only’. For PM to FM exams, 60% of the marks are for MCQ’s and MTQ’s. Make sure you practice these questions also when preparing for your exam.

ACCA exams are no doubt a challenging task but you can surely pass them by adopting to the right study habits. Be confident and believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you put your mind to. Best of luck!!

Author: Muhammad Shoaib
ACCA Senior instructor

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