Dos and don'ts of completing achievement logs
Some students find making time to update their achievement logs difficult and tend to put it off, particularly when exams and work issues demand attention.
The achievement log isn’t just a hurdle at the end of the training contract - they are your personal account of everything you’ve learned and achieved at your training firm. Here are some useful tips and tricks to help make completing your achievement log that little bit easier.
It’s down to you to complete your achievement log – no-one else. Without a valid achievement log in the bag your training contract can’t be signed off. It’s a pretty important document if you want to be a CA, so it makes sense to be proactive and get to grips with what’s expected of you early on.
The biggest problem we see with achievement logs is that students put them off for far too long! When this happens, students are faced with a long period of time over which they need to develop clear records for. Although you’ll probably not start attaining ICAS competencies until the second half of your training, this doesn’t mean you can ignore your achievement log in the early months of your contract.
Your log should tell a complete story of all the experience you’ve gained whilst in training – and like every good story you need to start right at the beginning. We recommend that you start your log as soon as you start working. If you leave everything too late it will probably delay your admission to membership and this could hold up promotion or career opportunities.
Get into good habits
Updating your achievement log on a regular is a great habit to get yourself into. Once you become a CA, recording your continuing professional development (CPD) is mandatory, so it makes sense to get yourself familiar with how to do it early on in your career.
Find out what works best for you when it comes to recording your work in your achievement log. For example:
- Plan your activities by looking at each week systematically, identifying relevant opportunities for your achievement log and scheduling in enough time enough time to record what you’ve done. What projects or client accounts have you been working on, and what competencies do these address or work towards?
- Break it down into manageable pieces of work which can be spread out over a period of time. Block out time in your diary (e.g. an hour a week is recommended). Work on your achievement log at a time that suits you best e.g. at the weekend or at a set time each week.
- Jot down ideas and thoughts soon after you undertake each activity, as this can help with documenting things in your achievement log, such as new skills you have acquired and how these have been put into practice, or problems and challenges you faced and how you overcame these.
Read up before you start
Save yourself some time by understanding what ICAS expects from your achievement log before you start.
We provide lots of useful, practical information about how you should tackle your achievement log entries. As well as explaining the process we use for submission and review of your achievement logs we also look at some of the common errors that students make when writing their achievement logs, and how you can avoid them. Reading up on this can save you a lot of time later on.
When writing your achievement log it’s important to be honest. The external reviewers are looking for a personal account of what you have learned during your training contract. There is no need to overcomplicate things by listing lots of competencies early on, or by trying to justify competencies which have little or no bearing on what you’ve been working on. It’s best to keep things simple and straightforward!
As a general rule of thumb, ICAS expects that bulk of your competencies will tend to be recorded in the latter half of your training contract. Remember that it is normal for a number of competencies (particularly the specialist ones) not to be completed until the last few months of your training contract.
Go it alone
If you are finding it difficult to get started with your achievement log, or have a specific query about how best to represent a particular competency, there is lots of help and support available. Don’t just rely on speaking to other students, as they might not necessarily be the best or most up-to-date source of information.
Speak to your line manager about your achievement log, and ask them for feedback and guidance on a regular basis so you know what’s expected of you. Contact ICAS if you need help at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wait for somebody else
Your achievement log is your responsibility as a professional to complete. If you wait for somebody else to remind you to do it you will likely find yourself with a delay at the end of your training contract.
Generally you’ll need to get your achievement log reviewed by your manager within three months of the anniversary of your contract date. For example, if you started your contract in September 2014 you’ll need to have your line manager sign off your first year by the end of December 2015. This needs to be done every year and if you don’t keep it up to date it can really delay you getting into membership. It’s your responsibility to arrange for your manager to do a sign off so don’t expect them to remind you and chase you up.
Some school-leaver routes have slightly different sign off dates, if in doubt you should review the information available online.
Find out more
Remember that you can find lots more help and guidance on the achievement logs section of the website.