How to get the most out of your revision phase

What are the behaviours you should be adopting right now in your September exam preparations?

Sean Purcell

Not long to go now, and I hope you are keeping focused and feeling confident and motivated. I know many of you are really benefiting from the learning advice I’ve given in previous articles and now it’s essential to keep going right up to your exam day. In this article, I want to cover the kind of behaviours you should be adopting now as you move into the revision phase of your studying.

In the same way that you’ve been structuring your lives using a study planner for your ‘learning phase’, for your revision phase we need to create a similar habit structure. We may, however, need to flex it so your timings reflect the actual time needed to do real exam questions.

Many of you will be taking exams in a CBE format. If you are, it is vital that you are fully aware of the CBE functionality. Even if you have done a CBE before, it is essential that you practise exam questions on the fantastic ACCA Practice Platform, which replicates the real exam environment.

The Practice Platform contains a selection of content for you to practise, generally one specimen and two practice exams for each subject. You are also provided with detailed answers and marking guides to help you self-mark your answers and evaluate your performance.

The approved content providers produce revision kits with clear summaries of recent exam questions. Having access to these can help you organise your revision more easily as they will provide past question summaries under syllabus specific topic headings.

Whatever your exam format, it is important that you practise answering questions to the actual time allowed in the exam and, if you are doing a CBE exam, try answering the questions on the ACCA Practice Platform. It is also a good idea to look at what the examiner reports said about the question you’ve attempted as these give great insights into best practice when writing your exam answers and how they can be improved.

If you are studying with an Approved Learning Partner, your tutor should be providing you with extra practice questions – please make sure you do all of these where you can.

Debriefing your answers

When debriefing your answers you will be using suggested model answers. Remember the criteria via which you are judged as a pass or fail is your ability to score over 50% on the actual exam day. Remember that the suggested model answers are just that. They are not intended to be representations of what a student would be expected to deliver in a real exam as that would mean an expectation of 100%. You should also use them to help your knowledge development. Keep these points in mind if you feel your answers are not as good as the official answers.

Get the most out of your revision time

Make sure you maximise the benefit of all the great work you’ve done so far. You should be proud of all the effort which you have put in and it is important to keep going.

You may be aware of some of the quotes of Thomas Edison, whose famous inventions included the lightbulb, the telegraph, the movie camera and film, among other things. He lived by the mantra that success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

He also said: ‘Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’

So, when you are struggling with a question, think about those quotes and keep going.

So, to summarise the key things you need to be doing:

  • Create a plan of action for your revision to maintain your study habit – think which questions you are going to do, when and how long you are going to spend on them.
  • Make it as convenient as possible to revise; make sure all your notes are organised and indexed for easy retrieval. Tidy up at the end of your study session and lay everything out for your next session.
  • In times when you are struggling, remind yourself of the rewards you will gain.
  • Ensure you check that you are studying in the most effective way.
  • Make sure your revision preparation is as effective as possible.
  • Make sure you are utilising all the great study resources I have highlighted in this article, especially if you are taking a CBE for the first time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do this and for you not to do so would be like preparing for your driving test by not actually doing any practice in a car – that would be crazy, right?

Keep up the great work and next time I will share my experiences of working as an expert tutor for nearly 25 years on what to do in the exam itself so that you score the best mark you possibly can.

As always, if you have any of your own tips that work well, please let me know via LinkedIn and I will try and include them in future articles.

Sean Purcell BA ACMA CGMA is an ACCA expert tutor who regularly contributes to ACCA programmes around the world. He was recently voted 2020 lecturer of the year by PQ magazine.