It’s that time of the year again – the December examinations.
Passing the ACCA examinations is not an easy feat, but the rewards are bountiful.
Let’s hear from Wong Jin Feng, a recent ACCA student turned affiliate, on his tips for revising for the upcoming examinations.
When considering your educational options, what were the three things that made you choose to embark on the ACCA qualification?
There are multiple pathways and educational options in accountancy.
Therefore, there will be many things to consider when deciding what course or qualification to embark on.
For me, the top three factors that led me to choose the ACCA qualification were its:
- International recognition
- Flexible study options
- Industry-wide recognition.
You have passed all the ACCA examinations and are now an ACCA affiliate. In your opinion, what were the three things or beliefs/values that helped you get over that first stage of becoming a full ACCA-member?
To me, the ACCA examinations are akin to climbing mountains.
There are altogether 14 mountains and they get tougher and higher as we progress up the respective stages of the qualification.
The first belief I have is that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The mountain may seem daunting but the courage to take on the first step and telling myself that ‘I can do it’ is important. Very often, staying positive and having the right attitude makes a large difference.
Secondly, I believe that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. No matter how difficult or how ‘alien’ the topic is, it is essential to persevere. Whenever I faced difficult topics, I will go through it again and again to ensure that I overcome it.
Thirdly, I believe it is important to have self-discipline and determination. There is really no shortcut to passing examinations.
Lecturers can impart knowledge and study resources can provide guidance. But all these are secondary. Primarily, it is important for oneself to have the drive. Determination opens the pathway while self-discipline ensures that it is on track.
Back to the ACCA examinations, what were some of your secret ‘must-do’s’ the night before the exam and the morning of the exam that helped you ‘get into the zone’?
Before I go to sleep the night before the examination, I would relax my mind and body by taking a good shower. After which, I would recharge my brain cells by having sufficient rest. And just before I fall asleep, I would prepare myself mentally by imagining that I pass the examination.
In the morning, I wake up early to have a good breakfast before doing my last-minute revision. Lunch would be something light so that I do not feel sleepy. Another ‘must-do’ is to reach the examination hall early so that in case there are traffic jams or train breakdown, I would still be able to reach on time.
What was the first thing that you normally did and what did you look out for when you were allowed to start looking through the examination paper on the examination day?
I would first look at the question before reading through the story.
While looking at the question, I would underline the question verbs and quickly jot down key pointers to answer the question.
Did you have a strategy on what questions to look out for and which ones to answer first etc?
Yes. Since it is not required to always start with question 1, I would usually start with the question which I have the most confidence in – (Just a reminder to write the question number clearly on every page).
For papers that have optional questions, I do not choose the one that is short. Because that would mean the question would usually require a lot of assumptions which may make me wander out of the point.
I usually choose those questions which I am familiar with.
Did you have a strict regime for revising? And if so, could you please share this with us?
I started my revision with a timetable, spelling out which paper to revise every day. I would make sure there is sufficient time given to all papers and I would follow that timetable strictly.
I must admit that in reality, unforeseen circumstances usually arise that disrupt the timetable. But still, I would ensure that disruption will not drag me too far away from the plan.
I would switch off mobile data network and wifi when revising. This is to avoid unnecessary interference and distraction from social media.
I would revise all topics as I do not believe in ‘spotting questions’.
I would choose an environment that allows me to focus.
What kind of study resources did you refer to, to supplement your revision?
Typically, I would use all the resources that my school and ACCA provide. i.e Text books, past year papers, examiner’s report and sometimes technical articles.
You are now working in a big 4 accounting firm. Was this what you aspired to be? How does the knowledge gained from the ACCA qualification help you perform your current job?
Yes. I aspired to work in a big 4 accounting firm when I chose accountancy in my polytechnic days. I am thankful to my lecturers who provided me with guidance and advice, including the opportunity to undergo my internship in a big 4 firm.
The knowledge from the ACCA qualification is very relevant to my current job. The robustness of the qualification provides me with the latest knowledge in understanding certain complex issues. The comprehensiveness of the qualification allows me to gain valuable skills such as organisational management which taught me to ‘look at a bigger picture’.
If an aspiring accountant asked you why he/she should embark on the ACCA qualification, despite the well-known perception that the ACCA examinations are very challenging, what would your top 5 reasons be?
- Passing the ACCA examinations is not easy but it is also not impossible.
- The ACCA qualification has many flexible studying options that can cater to the individual’s preference.
- ACCA has a long history since 1904 and has strong track records.
- It is advantageous for a professional to have a qualification that is globally recognised.
- ACCA is a professional body that provide opportunities for continuous development.
We thank Jin Feng for taking time out his busy schedule to share with us his insights on revising for the ACCA examinations.