George Njari – ACCA’s head of education, Eastern Africa speaks on effective and efficient exam preparation.
To effectively prepare for any exam you need to study effectively and efficiently. An important part of this is time management. Your time is a scarce resource with many competing needs and wants: your family, your friends, your hobbies, your sleep, your studies, etc.
In your studies, you may be inclined to spend more time on papers/topics you like or find interesting at the expense of others. You therefore need to prioritise your activities, and, on that basis, allocate the 24 hours you have in a day. Regardless of the number of papers you are preparing to attempt at the next session, you need to establish the following:
• How much time do you have between now and your exams? Two months, four months?
• How many topics do you need to cover in all the papers that you are attempting?
• How much time do you need to allocate per topic? (Keep in mind the relative difficulty of each topic.)
The answers to these questions should lead you to developing a weekly and daily schedule or timetable. Some things to consider:
• Some topics/papers are more numerical, while others are theoretical and only require reading. Hence, it may be more sensible to schedule theoretical topics/papers in the morning while you are still fresh.
• You may be more inclined towards certain topics/papers depending on your interests. It makes sense to schedule less interesting topics/subjects in the morning, with more interesting ones – when your attention may be low – in the evening or afternoon.
• Study is a habit and just like any other habit it requires repetition and time to perfect it. If you are just beginning to develop a study habit, your concentration span may be short and your sessions should ideally be chunks of 45 minutes with five-minute breaks. In the afternoons and evenings you may need longer breaks depending on how tired you are.
• Ensure you provide for adequate rest and sleep in your schedule. Most doctors recommend seven to eight hours of sleep daily. This will increase your concentration span, how quickly you grasp concepts and also your memory. Hence you will need less time to cover topics – much more efficient!
• If you are studying full-time, make it your target to put in six to eight hours per day of study with a little bit less on a day of rest.