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The Quick Start Guide for Passing Your Accountancy & Finance Exams 1st Time

Pass1stTime.com ACCA - Essential Exam Report


By Soul Patel http://www.pass1sttime.com Copyright Soul Patel 2009 All rights reserved. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

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Table of Contents
ABOUT SOUL PATEL .................................................................................................3 INTRODUCTION..........................................................................................................4 THE AIDE PRINCIPLES ..............................................................................................5 ACCA STUDENT CHALLENGES ...............................................................................5 A - ATTITUDE ..............................................................................................................5 ATTITUDE DETERMINES 80-85% OF YOUR SUCCESS ..........................................5 DEFINE SUCCESS......................................................................................................6 CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY ......................................................................................6 CONTROL OF RESULT VERSUS PROCESS ............................................................6 I - INTELLIGENT LEARNING......................................................................................7 THE EMOTIONAL CYCLE OF EXAMS.......................................................................7 ASK POWERFUL QUESTIONS ..................................................................................7 DO THE SCARY STUFF..............................................................................................8 MINDMAPS .................................................................................................................8 THE 3 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE LEARNING................................................................8 D - DEVELOPING ABILITIES......................................................................................9 THE COMPETENCE CURVE ......................................................................................9 NEVER SECOND GUESS THE EXAMINER.............................................................10 INTEGRATE QUESTIONS EVERYWHERE ..............................................................10 E - EXAM EXECUTION .............................................................................................10 TALK LITTLE, LISTEN LESS ...................................................................................10 EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED ...................................................................................11 THE 2 SECRETS TO PASSING ............................................................................11 HELP THE MARKER.................................................................................................11 AVOID EXAM DISSECTION......................................................................................12 FINAL NOTE..............................................................................................................12

Soul Patel 2009

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About Soul Patel


I took my first professional finance exam in June 2003. Since then my life has changed A LOT. At the time I had hardly any money, no career, and I was 18,000 in debt. I had to borrow money from my mum to pay for the books and exam, and on the day of the exam, my father was barely out of intensive care after almost passing away during a heart operation a few days before. Now I am what you could call a financial expert. Im both a Chartered Accountant (ACA) and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder. In 2009, at the age of 30, I became financially free through property investing, and in the same year set up www.pass1sttime.com www.pass1sttime.com is a blog, website, and set of products that educates readers about the psychology, strategies, and techniques that are needed to pass accountancy and financial exams 1st time round - and survive! Why www.Pass1stTime.com? I set up the site because Im the only person who has taken the ACA and CFA exams at the same time, completing 6 years worth of study in only 3 years whilst working full-time. I passed each exam 1st time. In contrast, friends of mine were taking just one of those qualifications and they were failing exams. However, as much as I wanted to believe that I was some kind of financial genius (and inflate my head to ten times it's current size) I soon realised that the difference wasn't because I was a genius, it was because I had marched to a distinctly different beat, following principles that others had not. Ive given lectures at the London School of Economics, CASS Business School, and at both consultancy and accounting firms about the principles that I explain in this report. The key difference between me and other teachers is that I finished my exams recently so I have a current view on the pressures that accountancy and finance students face. Other teachers may cover similar information, but theyre doing so retrospectively. They didnt apply modern studying techniques when they took their own exams. I did. Also, theres information here that you won't find anywhere else! So I speak from direct, relevant and recent experience.

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Introduction
Thank you for downloading the www.pass1sttime.com Essential Exam Report. You made a great decision. Im going to show you how to be more effective with your exam preparation. When you apply my techniques, you can expect: ! ! ! Better results More free time Less stress

Some of my advice may seem obvious and some of it may seem new, but all of it is simple and practical enough to implement straight away. Even if you only implement a few of the ideas, youll likely see a difference fairly quickly.
As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Philosopher

This guide focuses mostly on principles rather than techniques. or methods. My products at www.pass1sttime.com/my-products teach the techniques, but before you can use those techniques you must have the correct principles in place. The driving idea behind this report and my other products is the question: Would you rather pass each exam 1st time, or pass with high marks in some and fail others? The key distinction that this question leads us to is: It is more important to pass 1st time.* Passing 1st time leads to huge benefits, particularly for your career. For example, when you apply for a job they rarely ask about your marks, but they almost certainly ask, Did you pass 1st time? And in order to pass 1st time you must stick to the AIDE Principles...

*Please note: If you are a university student reading this then it does matter what marks
you get! The distinction applies to professional accountancy and finance exams. However you can still apply all of the principles described here to help you pass your uni exams.

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The AIDE Principles


The AIDE Principles are the framework for how I approached my exams. At the time I didnt realise this, but after the exams I collected all of the techniques I had used and fit them within the AIDE framework. AIDE stands for: A Attitude I Intelligent Learning D Developing Abilities E Exam Execution This report covers a few of the essentials points for each of the four AIDE Principles enough to get you well on your way. There are many more points not included here so please click on the link www.pass1sttime.com/resources for further resources. These cover the AIDE Principles in more detail along with techniques and exercises.

ACCA Student Challenges


ACCA students face a unique set of challenges compared to other qualifications. Often studying is done at home or part-time without formal classroom training. Other times you do not have access to the best training materials and often have to pay for your exams yourself. For most of you English will not be your first language either. The ACCA is also a very global qualification meaning that you have to compete with students from all over the world, who may have different access to learning materials and teaching to you. This report has been written to focus on the AIDE principles that will specifically help you with your ACCA exams.

A - Attitude Attitude Determines 80-85% of Your Success


In many fields of activity, youll hear that attitude is more important than the methods used - that its a major determiner of success. Maintaining a positive attitude is key for success with your exams. Focus on taking positive action toward your goals and what you can do, rather than on what you havent done yet. Youll slip up on the way everyone does but the key is not how often you slip up, its how fast you recover.

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Define Success
What is success for you? If you havent defined it, how will you know when you reach it? Its like setting off on a journey by car with a map and not knowing your destination - you wont know when youre heading in the wrong direction. Define what success is for you. It could be to pass all of your exams by a certain date, or pass with certain marks. Or, it could be to pass each exam 1st time ( just a suggestion!). Once youve defined it write it down somewhere and refer to it frequently. It will help you stay on track toward your goal.

Create Accountability
Most of the challenges that we take on as individuals we keep to ourselves - we dont tell anyone about them. Why? Usually were worried that we might not succeed and well look like failures to the people that we told. The truth is that telling people about what were aiming to achieve can help us massively. They can hold us accountable for the things that we said that we would do just like holding up a mirror to us as if to say Are you really doing what you said you would? Sometimes having the truth reflected back to you isnt easy, but its very effective. Choose supportive people you know and make the promise to them so they can help you achieve what you want to achieve.

Control of Result versus Process


Imagine Tiger Woods about to take a golf shot. Hes focussed on his breathing, his posture, how he holds the club, how he swings the club, how he is thinking, etc. - the process. After he hits the ball, he no longer has control of where it will land - if a gust of wind will blow it off course etc. - the result. The same is true for exams. The result, the actual pass or fail, isnt within your control, but everything up to that point is. If you ever feel nervous about passing your exams, focus on what you can control: the process to prepare for them.

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I - Intelligent Learning The Emotional Cycle of Exams


Any individual or team taking on a new challenge will go through emotional as well as mental and physical challenges. The emotional challenges are just as important, if not more important, than the others. Understand that youll go through what I call the Emotional Cycle of Exams. Stage 1: Uninformed Optimism: You will start off very optimistic at the start yet you wont really understanding the challenges you face Stage 2: Informed Pessimism: You will start to feel pessimistic and down when you realise how much work you actually have to do and how difficult it is. Stage 3: Crisis Point: This is where the pressure comes together and you literally feel like youre at the edge of a cliff and thinking of jumping off! From here you can either move to Stage 4 or Stage 5 (Stage 4: Defeat: Lets not talk about this one too much. This is giving up.) Stage 5: Informed Optimism: After your crisis you have continued to work hard and can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Theres still a lot to do but you understand what needs to be done, and can see how you could get through your exams. Stage 6 - Rewarding Completion: Exams are over, youre relieved and happy! Think of anything new that you had to learn in your life and youll see that you went through this cycle. The key is to understand where you are and be ok with being in that place particularly at the Crisis Point. For more detail on what to do at each stage please see www.pass1sttime.com/resources

Ask Powerful Questions


Your brain is a mechanism that is driven to find answers. Ask it a question and it will find an answer for you, even if that answer isnt true. In the middle of a frustrating time you might ask yourself, "Why can't I get this? Whats wrong with me?" and your brain will dutifully find an answer like, "Because you're an idiot!" or something along those lines! When youre frustrated or nervous ask more powerful questions such as "How could I prepare better for my exams?" You'll be surprised at the quality of answers that your brain gives you. Try it now.

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Do the Scary Stuff


Theres a great phrase that I once read up which says What you fear most, is what you most need to do. Usually its the difficult topics that are the scariest because within those areas there is a feeling of failure, or the fear that you wont be good enough. Lets face it; it doesnt exactly feel great when youre trying to learn something that you just cant get. However, as youve probably already figured out, avoiding things that you find difficult or scary just makes the problem worse. For me, this was learning about tax! I hated learning all of the detailed rules. It bored me completely! But I also knew that if I was going to achieve my goals, I had to focus on studying tax, so I spent hours learning and doing question practice. So to repeat do the scary or difficult work because your success lies there.

Mindmaps
Mindmaps are a proven learning technique - one of the most effective ones in existence. Theyre based on how the brain collects, stores and recalls information. Theyre a great tool to use when you prepare for your exams. By Mindmapping you give your brain a framework for attaching and sorting all of the information that youre taking in. Instead of a tangled mess of rules, techniques, and tips, your brain will be able to put new information into the relevant buckets. This will help you with both learning and recall. Start by mindmapping your whole qualification on a large sheet of paper and then work down.

The 3 Steps to Effective Learning


There are three proven steps to effective learning. Immersion Human beings learn best when immersed, or fully involved. Its better to learn one new skill with full focus instead of learning five different things at once. Use this when studying - only focus on one topic or area for an extended period of time. Spaced Repetition When you learned something new and then didnt look at it again for a week, what happened? Yes, you forgot most of it. The human brain works

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on the principle of spaced repetition, which means that you have to review what you learned at regular intervals to fully remember it. If you make sure that you keep the intervals short at the beginning, youll be able to space them further apart as time goes on. Peer Group The final step to effective learning is to have a peer group, or group of friends, around you for support. Successful teams work on this principle team members support each other during difficult times and challenge each other to be their best when necessary. Find a group of people who have the same aims that you do so you can help each other achieve what all of you want to achieve. For a powerful peer group of people who understand the principles in this report come to www.pass1sttime.com/mastermind and join the community.

D - Developing Abilities The Competence Curve


Think of learning to drive a car (even if you dont know how to yet). When you first get into the car you wont know that you cant drive a car Unconscious Incompetence. Very quickly youll understand all of the things that you need to do to drive the car and youll be very aware of how useless you are at driving! Conscious Incompetence. However, after some time youll be able to drive but youll have to concentrate very hard to do so Conscious Competence. And once youve been driving for a while youll reach a point when you can get into a car, drive from one place to another, and not even think about it Unconscious Competence When preparing for your exams, youll go through the same cycle. The key is to understand where you are and be ok with being in that place particularly at the Conscious Incompetence phase. For more detail on what to do at each stage please see www.pass1sttime.com/resources

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Never Second Guess The Examiner


This is one of the best tips that I can give you for your exams STOP looking for tips on what might come up in the exam! Many students seek advice and tips from other students, tutors, and examiners about specific questions that are likely to come up in the exams. Not the general topic, the kind of tip that says, this specific question hasnt come up in the last three exams so its very likely to appear in the next exam. The danger in seeking that kind of tip is that you risk not preparing for other questions as well as you should. Youll also have the psychological fear What if this doesnt appear in the exam?! A better way is to approach exams is thinking that you have to know as much as possible or even ALL of it! That way, it doesnt matter what questions come up, youll be able to deal with all of them.

Integrate Questions Everywhere


Practice questions are one of the most effective ways to prepare. Theyre also the least pleasant because we come face-to-face with the fact that we dont know what we thought we did! Here is how to integrate questions at every point of your learning: after youve learned a new area, find the questions that relate to that area, not the full exam questions - the short examples that usually follow in your textbooks. Do them. Youll realise that you dont know the topic as well as you thought, but thats ok - better now than in the exams. Review and relearn.

E - Exam Execution Talk Little, Listen Less


On the day of the exam, talk little before the actual exam. The worst people to talk to are people who are discussing the content of the exams Have you learned this? Do you know how this works? Those kinds of conversations are only going to make you more nervous and less focussed. The best thing that you can do is to talk to loved ones, your peer group, and/or your close friends for good luck wishes and supportive comments nothing more. That way you can go into the exam knowing that you have the full support of your friends and family.

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Expect the Unexpected


I often see letters in accountancy magazines talking about less than perfect exam conditions. For example: the room was noisy, too hot, too cold, the desks were too small. The person complaining may have a point, but heres the thing it wont make a difference in the outcome of their exam. Its highly unlikely that the exam body will change a mark based on such factors. So what can you do about it? Expect such things to happen and be mentally prepared to cope with them. That way it wont matter what happens youll have a plan and be able to execute in the exam

The 2 Secrets to Passing


There are two secrets to passing your exams (only two?! I hear you say!): ATFQ and AAQ. ATFQ Answer The F****** Question! Excuse my language, but this is a major complaint from examiners that students didnt answer the question asked, instead they answered the question that they hoped to get. Instead of understanding what the examiner wanted, the student dumped all of the information they knew on the topic and hoped to get a good mark. This approach is not only likely to get you a bad mark for that question, it will also lower the examiners impression of you. Remember ATFQ!! AAQ Answer All Questions The easiest marks to achieve are the first few marks in a question. E.g. its easier to get the first 5 marks of a 20-mark question than the last 5 marks. This means that when youre in the exam you must be very strict with your time management. Its better to leave a question when your time for that question is up and move on, than try to get the last few difficult marks. Leaving any question unanswered is a big factor in making you fail.

Help the Marker


Ill let you in on a secret: the marker is not the examiner. What do I mean by that? I mean that its unlikely that the person marking your exam is the person who set the exam. Markers are people who take on marking work as an extra source of income. They usually have a full-time job so often theyll be marking your papers in the evening, late at night, or on weekends.

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Imagine what it must be like for them to come home after a hard days work to a huge pile of exams scripts on their desk. Yours might even be at the bottom of this pile. After 3-4 hours of marking late into the night, they get a dirty, messy exam paper with text that they can hardly read. If this was you, would you make an extra effort to search through all of it to find the bits of information that will help that person pass? I wouldnt either. Keep your answers clear and readable. Use tables and diagrams where possible. Make it easy for them to give you the marks you deserve.

Avoid Exam Dissection


Final tip for this report: Avoid analysing the exam after youve taken it. This is one of the worst things that you can do. The reality is that you cant do anything about it. The exam paper has been handed in. Talking about it and possibly realising what you got wrong will affect you for the next exam that you have to take. It will also ruin your celebration when youve finished all of your exams. Once youre out of that exam room, its over youre done with that exam so its time to move on to whatever you have to do next.

Final Note
I hope that the information in this report helps you to prepare for your exams. Starting now, implement as many of the principles Ive described and see how they work for you. If you appreciate the information Ive shared, please refer to the resources at www.pass1sttime.com/resources for further explanation of the AIDE Principles, and more in-depth techniques that you can use to pass 1st time. To your success,

!oul Pa"#
PS: Congratulations on completing this report. To reward you please click on the link for your FREE BONUS Report! http://www.pass1sttime.com/report-bonus Plus an EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL OFFER just for you... Watch the video!

Soul Patel 2009