Top study tips: Part one
We asked ICAS and BPP tutors to tell us their top study tips for CAs. Here we round-up some of the best ones. Look out for Part 2 of this series coming next week on the CA student blog.
1. If you are stuck… answer using your notes
If you are struggling with a question try to answer first using your notes instead of jumping straight to the solution. This is a good initial approach to tackling questions early on.
It puts some context to the areas that you are covering and helps technical points sink in a bit better.
If you adopt this approach it helps ensure you are picking out the correct areas from the notes and expanding your knowledge as you go along. Once you feel comfortable with questions you can tackle them without your notes to see if you are retaining knowledge.
This will help to tailor your study to focus on weaker areas. If at this point you are still stuck then don’t be afraid to ask a tutor.
Alistair Millar, Financial Accounting Subject Controller, and Catherine Devaney, TPE Level Controller, ICAS.
2. Do lots of question practice
It’s essential to use practice questions as an integral part of your studies. Just re-reading your notes is OK, but it isn’t the most effective way to study.
Make regular question practice the main focus of your study time, as this helps you understand how the material will be tested in the exam and also helps with your time management too.
Hannah Taylor, BPP tutor.
3. Keep a record of your questions
Get a small notebook. Every time you find something you don’t understand write it at the top of a new page. You’ll often solve your own questions as you read on and practice more questions.
If you do then write the answer at the bottom of that same page – it gives you a visual reminder of how much you have learned. If you have unanswered questions, take them to a tutor.
Tutors will happily help you – and can be much more effective when you have focused questions.
Fiona Winter, Director, Education, ICAS and Bethan Boyd, BPP tutor.
4. Use mnemonics when studying
For example, if you are studying audit you can use the ‘SODIT’ mnemonic to help you remember key facts about relying on the work of internal auditors. Here’s how it works:
- Scope: What was the scope of their work, did it cover the required amount for the auditor’s required comfort.
- Organisational Status: Are the internal auditors respected, are recommendations actioned promptly.
- Due care and skill: Was sufficient and appropriate evidence gathered, does this support the conclusions reached.
- Independence: Are measures in place to maintain internal auditors independence, e.g. not letting them implement controls, keeping them separate from those they audit.
- Technical competence: If not qualified are they experienced, have we any previous experience of their work.
Alex Wakeham, BPP tutor.
5. Keep up with your studies
Keep up with the work as you go along. The best way to keep things going is to try and do some home study almost every day, allowing yourself a day or two off per week. Follow up with your tutor ASAP if there is anything you don’t understand.
For intensive and modular style courses, we recommend three hours study a night, and one full day study at the weekend to stay on top of the material.
Lauren O'Brien, ICAS tutor.