Q: Please tell us in which country you live, and what work you do.
A: Hello everyone! My name is Bhagat Singh and I am from Malaysia. I am currently pursuing the second semester of my ACCA exams (F7, F8, F9) by studying full time at Sunway University. I scored 91% on the F4-Corporate and Business Law paper (Malaysian variant) for the December 2015 exam sitting. I was also the World Prize Winner for the FAU June 2015 exam sitting (CAT). Before commenting any further, I’d like to thank Opentutuion for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my insight on studying for the ACCA exams.
Q: How much time each week did you spend studying, on average?
A: I spent 6 hours a day (on average) self-studying on days when I had no classes. If I were to put an estimate, I’d say this would equate to about 15 hours a week of self-revision i.e excluding attending lectures in college. As I am a full time student, the number of lecture hours amount to around 25 hours a week.
Q: Which study resources did you use?
A: For this paper, I primarily relied on the notes that I had diligently copied from the lecture slides when class was in session, as well as the textbook provided by my college. I also placed heavy reliance on attempting the Past Year Questions (PYQ), the importance of which had been emphasized by my lecturer time and time again. My lecturer highlighted the key exam target areas and various types of questions that were likely to be examined under a particular topic. The PYQ set provided by my lecturer spanned from June 1994-December 2007 sitting if my memory serves me.
Q: Did you get support from your firm?
A: As I am a full time student, I am not employed by any firm. However, I did receive lots of support from my college and lecturer. My lecturer was very helpful in clarifying all my doubts about the subject and her transfer of learning towards me was indeed effective. In terms of support from the college,apart from having monthly Progress Tests and a Mock Exam prior to the final exam, the college had arranged for intensive revision sessions in the weeks leading up to the final exam for each subject (F4, F5, F6), referred to as ‘Exam Driven Course’. During this sessions, we were provided with tons of revision questions to attempt, together with guidance by the lecturers and the provision of model answers. The college had also supported me financially by awarding me a scholarship for obtaining the World Prize for the FAU June 2015 exam sitting.
Q: What was your approach to studying?
A: There are a few fundamental aspects to be considered where studying is concerned. The first key is consistency. Always start your revision from day 1 i.e from the beginning of the exam semester. Consistency also applies to frequency of one’s exposure to a given subject. With that in mind, suppose you are to revise Chapter 1 of a given subject. The next time you revise that particular subject, before moving on to Chapter 2, recap Chapter 1. And during your next study session, recap Chapters 1 and 2 before moving on to Chapter 3 and so on. By the time you reach say Chapter 10, you would have effectively covered Chapter 1 at least 10 times! This is done to familiarize yourself with the subject matter by building a strong foundation from the get go.
Secondly, the studying technique applied must be effective. Different people have different ways of dealing with this. As to how I personally studied for this paper, I used lots of acronyms, mnemonics and stories to memorize the relevant sections and case laws. I also summarized the subject matter by writing down my own notes. Once I had built up my foundation through repetitive exposure of the subject matter, I attempted numerous PYQ’s by completing them within the allocated time. I would then review my answer against the model answer provided to see if there are any deficiencies in my answer or if the quality of my answer could be improved.
One thing that I must emphasize on is to NOT memorize the model answers prior to attempting the question. By doing this, you’re defeating the purpose of reviewing the subject matter that you have learned. That being said, it is unlikely that memory retention would be effective and if the question requirement changes in the final examination, those who have memorised the model answer without knowledge of applying it will be caught off guard.
My advice to all students attempting this paper is as follows:
1. Summarize your notes, this is crucial for you to absorb and process the subject matter mentally. Always check back with your tutor to determine if what you have summarized is in fact correct.
2. Study according to your personal affinity. If you’re a visual person, draw colourful diagrams, if you’re an auditory person, listen to lectures on the subject matter etc.
3. Use mnemonics and acronyms more often- they are effective memory retention tools.
4. Attempt Past Year Questions regularly. Attempt them on a selective basis for topics that you have already covered, compare the requirement from one exam sitting to another to see if there are any differences. Make sure to attempt more questions on your weak areas. Do NOT memorize the model answers prior to attempting the question, in fact do not memorize the model answer at all. It is there to serve you as a guide, compare your answer with that of the model answer and add on points that you have missed out. Answer the questions by timing yourself in accordance with the recommended time allocation.
5. Study consistently. Devise a timetable and make sure that each subject that you are studying is rotated every 2. Say that you are going to study F4 on Monday, be sure to study F4 again on Wednesday and so on. My advice is to study at least 2 subjects per day. As to the number of hours, 3 hours per subject would be a good start. These hours should comprise of both revision of the subject matter and attempting Past Year Questions or Exam Practice Questions.
Q: What would you say was the most important factor that helped you to achieve such a high mark?
A: To me, it is without a doubt God’s grace. Without His grace, I would have never developed a passion for this subject. The passion stemming from me internally had driven me to follow up with lessons that I had learned in class. As such, Corporate and Business Law is indeed a practical paper which concerns itself with matters such as Constitutional Rights, Employment Law, Contracts Law, Company Law etc. which form the basis of regulation of human conduct. The very paper itself is interesting, in the sense that it challenges you to change your perception towards matters concerning the world and to think according to the legal mindset. The scenarios provided in the exam require application of statutes and case laws that we have learned and connecting them to form a conclusion. That sense of practicality is what appealed to me, hence my passion for the subject.
Q: How did you find out about OpenTuition, and which of our resources did you use?
A: I found out about OpenTuition through Google when I was searching for lectures on Management Accounting online. Although I did not use the resources provided on OpenTuition for this particular subject (as the syllabus variant differs), I have watched video lectures primarily concerning themselves with management subjects i.e MA1, MA2, FMA and F5 from CAT to ACCA. I have also used the free lecture notes accompanying the aforementioned subjects. Apart from that, I have posed questions on the relevant ACCA forums on OpenTuition to seek clarification from the tutor concerned. Currently I am watching lecture videos for F9-Financial Management to cope with the syllabus at hand. I commend the OpenTuition team for providing such high quality lecture videos accessible for free, as these videos and lecture notes have made my journey to progress through ACCA bearable and have reduced my burden substantially for self-revising these Management related papers. God bless you guys!!!
Thank you for the interview and good luck in your future exams