This article “Making the most of your ACCA revision – tips from an LSBF tutor” has been specially prepared for OpenTuition by Rob Sowerby, Director of Professional Courses at London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)
ACCA revision courses are very popular as they tend to mainly focus on repetition of knowledge, exam question practice, building confidence and managing time. Assuming that you have some basic knowledge, proper ACCA revision should help in the following four areas:
You need to know something to pass most exams and the core knowledge base is best learnt by repetition and developed by applying that knowledge to exam questions. The more you write about theory, do a specific calculation or present an argument, the better prepared you will be.
It’s not just numbers
Paying attention on the written word is absolutely crucial. Too many students focus on the numbers at the expense of the written parts of the exam. If you were to look at most exams, they require 50% or more on essay rather than computational answers.
There is a limit to how many marks you may get on a computation, a relatively straight forward calculation will probably gain you full marks, and unfortunately this is the same for everyone! A more difficult question will leave you with some or no marks almost regardless of the amount of hard work you put in. With written questions, however, it is normally relatively easy to score some basic marks. Your chances of passing should be improved if you more time on revising essay questions, either by preparing essay plans or writing some of them in full.
Understanding the question set
Remember that for every specific question there is a specific answer. Too many students make the mistake of focusing on demonstrating their knowledge, which is not what is required by the examiners. By writing everything you know about a subject, you simply waste precious time and give yourself the misguided idea that you have ‘done something’.
Instead, you must consider the requirement to ensure that you fully understand the instruction (or verb) and the subject area (or noun). When it comes to approaching questions with multiple instructions and subjects, you should try and break up the question and better understand what you have to do and possibly how to ‘weight’ your answer.
“Discuss, in respect of the extension to the factory and the new African subsidiary, the strengths and weaknesses of DEC’s management information system. (9 marks)”
Instruction = Discuss
This means that we have to talk about a range of issues and typically we have to consider as this question is probing the pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses. Discuss is one of the most typical requirements alongside explain.
Fundamental subject = MIS
Everything must relate to a MIS to gain a mark allocation
Subordinate subjects = Extension and African subsidiary
Note the word and. This word is the most powerful word that you see in any requirement as it typically splits the requirement into two
Answer plan (9 marks)
Instruction : Discuss
Subject : MIS
Extension -> – 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses (4-5 marks)
African sub-> – 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses (4-5 marks)
This is where many well-prepared students fail – after knowledge, time management is critical to exam success. To manage time in the exam you must practise managing it when revising. During your revision period you should time how long you take to do all questions and also practise at least one mock exam in timed conditions. It doesn’t matter if you run out of time in the mock exam providing that you learn valuable lessons that will help you in the real exam.
If you have dedicated time to prepare for the exam, you efforts will show in the results. Revision either in college or at home is designed to give you that edge. Students who revise properly learn more than just the subject matter – they gain a better insight into how to convert their knowledge into marks.
Good luck in your ACCA exam!
Rob Sowerby is an ACCA tutor and director of professional courses at the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)