Strategies for success in accounting professional exams

Discover effective strategies for acing accounting professional exams! Learn time management, study techniques & practical tips for success in your professional accounting journey.

Preparing for accounting professional exams can be tough, like going through a horror movie. You might have sleepless nights, feel super stressed and even fearful. But even though exams can be hard, they're something you can't avoid if you want to do well.

Take accounting professional exams, for example. They're like a big puzzle of numbers, formulas and rules. Even the most hardworking students can feel overwhelmed. So, how do you get ready for an accounting professional exam? Well, it's a challenge for many students because you need to understand different accounting concepts.

Whether it's your first professional accounting qualification or your last one, there are some steps you can take to succeed. One of the most important steps is to start early. That means you should study steadily throughout the semester instead of trying to learn everything right before the exam. Starting early gives you more time to go over important stuff and get help if you need it.

Let's look at some important aspects while getting ready for accounting professional exams.

Undertaking professional accounting qualifications

Holding CIMA or ACCA professional accounting qualifications shows that you understand complex financial concepts and can use that knowledge in real-world business situations. These professional accounting qualifications are comprehensive, covering everything from financial reporting and management accounting to auditing, assurance and taxation.

What makes these professional accounting qualifications tough is not just the variety of subjects you have to cover but how well you understand them. Take financial reporting, for instance. It's not just about knowing how to make financial statements. You'll also need to grasp the accounting rules and principles behind them and how they apply in different situations.

To handle this level of difficulty, you've got to be smart about how you study. Plan your study time carefully and focus on understanding the concepts instead of just memorising facts. If you want more advice on studying to ace your professional accounting exams, you can find helpful tips below.

The ACCA professional accounting qualification

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), established in the UK in 1904, stands as the world's biggest and oldest accounting association. The ACCA professional accounting qualification, as the world’s leading qualification of its type, serves as the primary and quickest route to becoming proficient in both financial and management accounting roles.

This qualification is for those who want to become financial professionals. The ACCA professional accounting qualification provides you with the skills, knowledge and values you need for successful careers and to help guide the organisations you work for into the future.

To get the ACCA professional accounting qualification, you need to:

  • Pass up to 13 exams, depending on your previous experience and qualifications.
  • Complete an ethics and professional skills module.
  • Show evidence of three years’ practical work experience in a related role.

Usually, you can gain the ACCA professional accounting qualification in a minimum of three years.

Common challenges faced in accounting professional exams


Getting ready for accounting professional exams can be tough for many students. Here are some common difficulties you might encounter:

  • Understanding concepts: Accounting is more than just dealing with numbers. It involves an in-depth knowledge of complex ideas and principles and your ability to use them in different situations.
  • Time management: With so much to study, figuring out how to best use your study time can be tricky. You can check out our tips on managing your time effectively for accounting exams.
  • Nervousness: Feeling anxious before and during accounting professional exams is something many students go through. It's important to recognise this and learn ways to handle exam anxiety.
  • Practical application: In accounting exams, you might face questions to test your knowledge in real-life situations. Doing regular practice questions and enrolling on accounting courses after graduation can help you improve your application skills.

Understanding the challenges, you might encounter in your accounting exams is your first step. In the following sections, we'll talk about ways to overcome these challenges and how you can study well for your accounting exams.

Practical tips to pass your accounting professional exams

  1. Schedule your study time: A good way to start your study plan is to create a schedule. Research shows that short study sessions with regular breaks work best. Mix up different subjects during the day for variety. Also, set clear daily, weekly and monthly goals to track your progress leading up to the accounting exam.
  2. Concretise your learning with visual aids: Make colourful learning maps. Get creative with mind maps, Venn diagrams and topic trees to clearly organise what you need to study. This helps you see the topics visually and understand how they connect.
  3. Choose the right study place: Find a study spot that suits you. It could be a quiet place with few distractions, like a library or a small café. Everyone's different, so pick a place that works best for you.
  4. Strategise: If you're a full-time student pursuing accounting courses after graduation, you may have the whole day for studying. However, it's essential to have a strategy. Too much study time can be overwhelming and it's okay to take breaks. On the other hand, if you have work or family commitments, study when you can afford the time. Even if it's intense, structure your sessions with breaks and time for reflection.
  5. Practise with past papers: A key tip is to practise answering exam questions regularly. Here's a good strategy: Before fully revising a specific subject, take a look at past papers. Don't attempt them just yet; just familiarise yourself with them. After a thorough revision of the subject, start attempting the papers. These practice papers are helpful closer to the exams. Set a time limit and grade yourself as objectively as you can.
  6. Create summary notes: It might seem obvious, but not everyone does it. Summarise theories and information in your own words using notebooks or flashcards. Writing in your own words is an excellent way to understand and remember theories better.
  7. Study with others: Team up with students studying the same subjects as you. Studying with others can offer support when you're stuck, keep you motivated and be a social way to take breaks together.
  8. Take care of yourself: As mentioned earlier, taking breaks during study sessions is crucial. But don't forget the bigger picture. Make sure to rest well and don't feel guilty about spending spare time on non-exam activities. Also, think about eating healthily and exercising. It's not just for physical health; it's proven to support brain performance, reduce stress and boost confidence.
  9. Reward yourself: It's okay to treat yourself, even before the accounting professional exam, but only if you've been hitting your revision goals. The type of reward is up to you – it could be a movie, a night out with friends, or some shopping – just make sure you've earned it.
  10. Short vs long-term memory: Hopefully, you will have thoroughly learned the main concepts and theories and filed them away in your long-term memory. With the exams close by, now is the time to focus on past papers and boost your short-term memory with exam strategies and important facts to strengthen your overall understanding.
  11. Easiest questions: First In the exam, start with the easy questions. It boosts your confidence and helps you get into the flow of the exam.
  12. Stay on track: When answering a question, stick strictly to what the question asks. Avoid giving more information than needed; it can waste time and weaken your answer.
  13. Move on if stuck: If you're struggling with a question, don't worry. Move on to a different one, regain confidence and then come back to it later.
  14. Stay hydrated: It might seem small, but it's important – especially if you easily get nervous or live in a hot country. Drink plenty of water because your brain likes it. Dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness and fainting.
  15. Don't leave early: If you finish early and still have time, don't leave! Review your answers, check for spelling and grammar, cross-check your responses and find ways to strengthen your arguments. There's always something you can do until the end.

Remember, it's normal to feel unprepared, especially at first. Don't let it bring you down. Keep working hard, stay positive and with the right effort, you can increase your readiness and improve your chances of success.

Summing up everything mentioned, you can approach your accounting professional exam with more confidence and clarity by setting clear goals, using your knowledge effectively and creating a study environment that keeps you focused and helps you absorb information quickly.

To boost your preparation for the accounting exam, the GBS accounting course is an excellent resource. It's the best way to increase your confidence while getting ready for an accounting exam. Plus, this course significantly contributes to securing a stable career.

Start your accounting career with Global Banking School (GBS)


GBS is one of the leading institutions in the UK, known for its industry-specific courses in fields such as finance, healthcare, business and more. With a wide presence in major cities of the UK, the institution is dedicated to its mission of “changing lives through education”.

Accounting course by GBS: BSc (Hons) Accounting & Financial Management

The BSc (Hons) Accounting & Financial Management is a four-year course with a foundation year. It's taught at different campuses in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

If you're interested in a career in accounting and financial management or want to start and manage your own successful business, understanding numbers is crucial for your success. This course provides you with the basics of the latest principles, theories and practical skills in the exciting field of accounting and financial management.

This course focuses on the industry, giving you the knowledge and skills needed for a professional, managerial, or business career in accounting and finance. It will also give you sought-after skills that employers value, opening opportunities for career growth.

You'll learn both theory and practical skills, covering various topics such as:

  • financial reporting
  • managerial accounting
  • auditing and assurance
  • taxation
  • law
  • corporate finance

Graduates of this course are eligible for consideration when applying for membership with the Institute of Financial Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Frequently asked questions about accounting professional exams

To study for accounting professional exams, create a focused study schedule, practise with past exam papers, summarise key concepts, join study groups for support and take regular breaks to stay refreshed and focused. Additionally, consider utilising resources like textbooks, accounting courses after graduation and exam prep materials to enhance your preparation.

The ACCA professional accounting qualification is a globally recognised certification that equips individuals with the skills, knowledge and ethical standards needed for successful careers in financial and management accounting.

Pursuing accounting courses after graduation offers benefits such as increased job opportunities, higher earning potential, specialised expertise in financial management and the ability to pursue professional certifications, enhancing one's career prospects.

Here are the prominent professional qualifications that open doors to the rewarding field of accounting: ACA, ICAS, ACCA and CIMA. These certifications, recognised worldwide, typically take three to five years to complete and are usually pursued alongside your graduate employment.

Yes, taking accounting courses after graduation is worth it. It opens job opportunities, allows you to earn more money, gain specialised skills and even get professional certifications.

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