Tutor tip: Don't let yourself down with dates

Don’t let yourself down with dates

Time is a funny thing. Sunny beaches and candle-lit restaurants can make it whizz by, whereas, in queues and dentists’ chairs the seconds seem like hours.

However, one thing is certain, time will pass and the days and months will come round – unless, of course, you’re planning for entirely non-existent days.

For example, an accounting period that ends on 31 September or a business that ceases trading on 31 November are simply not possible. Equally, a set of accounts to 30 February or 31 June could only exist in fantasy.

Keep it real with the calendar

It might seem obvious that CAs (or any other accountancy professionals) should not make dates up. However, in the slightly artificial world of workshop examples, classroom exercises and exams, it’s surprising how often these “non-days” crop up.

“Students may well be concentrating so hard on the question and the topic they are studying that they forget to do a common-sense check,” said ICAS director Fiona Winter. “However, in exams, it doesn’t create a good impression if the candidate doesn’t appear to know how many days there are in a particular month.”

It might have been a long time since you thought about this, but the most popular way of getting it right is the old childhood rhyme:

Thirty days hath September,

April, June and November.

All the rest have 31,

Except for February,

Which has 28 days clear,

And 29 in each leap year.

Alternatively, the ‘knuckle method’ can keep you on the right track. It works by counting across the knuckles and valleys of the back of each clenched fists from left to right, not counting the thumbs.

Each knuckle month has 31 days, while each valley months has only 30 days, apart, of course, from February.

Exam questions and exercises might be made up, but they still depend on real-life calendars, don’t get caught out.

Topics

  • CA Student blog

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