Exam preparation tips for accounting students
Your first few months at the university may be the party you’ve always dreamed of, but when it comes down to exams, it’s crunch time. Forget your distractions and take every moment to prepare for your accounting exam as best you can. Unlike high school, taking accounting as a university subject is extremely challenging. It requires the same study procedures as mathematics in the sense that it needs to be practised, so here are a few exam preparation tips to consider for your upcoming exams: Before your exam, don’t fall behind on work Although you might get caught up in your social life, do not get behind with your accounting assignments. Each task will build on the knowledge you’ve learned previously, so missing out could really affect your progress, which ultimately will become a problem when you start learning for exams. If you feel that you are struggling to understand something, jot down some questions to speak to your lecturer about. It is important to complete regular past papers to ensure that you become familiar with different problems. Only learning the theory will not prepare you for the exam. Most accounting past papers include demonstration problems, self-tests and key terms, so ensure that you are familiar with the key terms presented and use the other review material to help improve your understanding of the chapter contents. Focus on the methods before making a decision As mentioned, this subject takes practice and understanding. Before you can complete a calculation, you need to understand the ‘why’ behind each method. Accounting has its own set of rules and only once you’ve learned and understood the basic rules, will you quickly understand how logical this subject is. Be critical in your problem-solving, and again, whenever you feel uncertain about something, rethink it. Writing exams are stressful and unless you train your mind to relax and think properly, only then will you be able to think clearly and develop an orderly methodology for solving problems. Train your brain to read the questions carefully before reacting As you prepare for exams, try and train your brain to read the questions carefully. Accounting concepts are usually broken down into various topics, and when you understand which calculation method belongs with what topic, you will be able to answer the questions properly. Also, another helpful tip is to fish out the most important facts before you action your calculation. Be sure to include the correct format By learning the different formats and techniques, you will still secure a few points in your exam even if you do not know what the exact answer is. For example, the exam marker will still be able to give you marks according to the format you insert. Be it a cash flow statement or a balance sheet, if you know what the right formula is (company name, report name and sub-headings), it can make a difference in your marks. Learn how to time manage your papers Learn to manage your time properly, meaning that before you get started, work out the number of minutes you need per question. Don’t spend a large portion of your time stressing about shorter marks where you could be getting more on longer, more in-depth questions. So, depending on the nature of your learning, do what works best for you. If you prefer the shorter questions and feel more confident in those, do them first but do not waste time on something that is proving to be difficult. Another way to look at it is to prioritise your questions from easiest to hardest. For example, if you find tax easier than cash flow statements, go through your questions paper to get started on the easier ones first. It will save you time. Triple check your calculations Remember that when you’re in a rush, you can make careless mistakes and maybe even write down the wrong figure by accident. Casual errors are often the difference between a fail and a pass, so make sure that you go back and relook at everything you’ve written down before you finalise your paper. Final words Don’t let these tips scare you. University exams are different to what you could expect at school, so really take the time to put the effort in and discipline yourself to ace your degree. These preparation tips take constant practice, and when you’ve put in all the effort to become the accounting technician you’ve always hoped of being, it will pay off. Studying accounting may be hard work, but if you’re smart about your approach, you will reap the rewards of your efforts. The most important thing is to make the most of your university days and have fun where the fun is due, but make time for studying.