So, remember my last post on how failure is okay? This is a sequel. Yes, you guessed right. I've now completed all 14 papers. It's been a journey of 6 years. It's taught me as much about perseverance as it has about Accounting and Finance!
I studied, re-wrote the exam, and passed this time, and as I looked at the result (ACCA has this odd thing of sending you your exam results around midnight on Sunday night into Monday morning, so your week can either be messed up or amazing), I was relieved to see I had passed. Relieved because I really didn't want to have to self-study with my current schedule. I barely have enough time for myself, and the little I have, I really wanted it for myself.
After relief, I felt nothing, and waited for a realization to dawn on me that this was it. I think this is a normal psychological response, because a few weeks after, I started feeling the relief again, plus a "yup, this is for real" type of vibe.
There are 3 simple things my ACCA journey taught me.
1. You need to be in it for the long haul
Please do not pick up ACCA (or any long, multi exam professional certification), if you are not ready to be in it for the long haul. I mean, ask yourself why you want this and be convinced. Because, there are days you will be tested and it will be logical for you to give up. The difference between giving up and not giving up is how badly you want it, and your mindset when you started.
2. Find What Works For You : What is Your Study Style?
ACCA forced me to learn my study style. Yes, there is such a thing. I started off self studying and at some point began classes. But I very quickly realized, structured classes simply don't work for me. I think it’s a mixture of my short attention span and the fact that I have way too many questions to thrive in a structured class setting. So I realized online videos, textbooks, technical articles and past questions worked for me. Once I realized this, I quickly stuck with this and used it as a winning formula. It didn't always work, because sometimes I simply hadn't studied enough or practiced enough past questions but fundamentally, this was my most effective way of learning. Find yours.
2. You Don't Have To Do It Alone: Find a Study Buddy
There is a point where you simply get tired. A support system is invaluable when this happens. I had study buddies who helped maintain motivation during the process. We studied together, held each other accountable and pumped each other up when we saw results we didn't exactly expect.
Here are some resources that helped me.
1. OpenTuition: A free online resource with lecture videos, lecture notes, revision notes, revision videos and flash cards. God bless the institution behind this website. They've positively impacted so many lives.
2. ACCA technical articles: For some papers, when examiners updated technical articles it was a pretty strong signal that that area of focus was probably going to be tested in the exam. It wasn't always so, but technical articles have helped more than they have hurt throughout my journey
3. My personal exam schedule
1. Draw up a study plan (Google Sheets. Sample here) - Roughly 3 months lead time.
2. Two months studying course content on OpenTuition videos/notes/ BPP textbooks
3. 2 weeks revising course content holistically
4. 2 weeks doing past questions + revising technical articles
5. Exam time!
Usually study time was around 2 hours every day. Which is a lot. So I would mostly divide it between mornings and nights. Breaking it down to an hour in the morning and an hour at night made it bearable.
I wish everyone who is still on the journey and almost at the finish line, all the strength in the world, and those who are about to begin, long suffering resolve. Finally, to those who have just finished, a massive congratulations; you should be proud!
P.S. In retrospect I could and should have devoted a lot more time to solving past questions on the schedule, so maybe you can adjust for that. I'm now thinking of taking CFA, after a much needed break!