My best piece of advice……………..

Hi everyone,

I thought I’d take the opportunity to give you one last article before the exams start next week.  It’s a little longer than I intended, but I would recommend taking five minutes to read it through to the end.

On and off for the past week I’ve been thinking about what the one single piece of advice is that I could give you, in terms of something that might make the biggest difference between passing and failing an ACCA exam.  Not the sort of thing that gets you an extra mark or two if a particular question comes up, but something that could gain any one an extra 10 or 15 marks across a whole exam.

I pretty much knew all along what it would be, but needed to find a way to describe it to you best, so…


I’m making this available to thousands of BPP students studying towards the  June 14 exams, and I can pretty much guarantee that at some point (and probably more than once) every single one of you will get stuck or realise you’ve made a mistake during your exam, as will every other student in the exam hall.  Every…single…one.

The critical thing here is how you deal with it.  If you are expecting it then when it does happen it will be less of a surprise, and the impact it has will be reduced.  If you can smile and say to yourself “I knew this was going to happen – so now I’m just going to deal with it and keep going”, you are much more likely to pass than a different student elsewhere who is taken by surprise, lets it completely knock them off track, and loses their confidence and concentration and a whole lot of exam time.

By “deal with it and keep going” I mean: –

  • Not being surprised when a question you liked the look of turned out to be quite tricky (as so often happens)…
  • If it’s a working you can’t do, and you need the answer for the next part of the question, make something sensible up and keep going.  If you can’t seem to work out the profit per unit, just write “assuming it is 20% of the selling price of $100, so $20” and keep going.
  • If you can’t do a working and you don’t the need answer for the next bit then just miss it out and get the marks for the next one instead.
  • If it’s a theory or specific model you can’t recall in detail, then read through the scenario again, and the requirement, and see if you can’t structure an answer based around a nice combination of common sense and business sense (after all, that’s what most theories and models are!).  You must directly relate it to the scenario though!
  • If you think you’ve made a mistake…
  1.  And can correct it very quickly – then do so as neatly as possible
  2. Do NOT correct it if it’s one of those you made early on in a long numerical question and now impacts every calculation you’ve done since.  Just write a note to the marker saying “now realise this should have been X not Y” and show the correct working for it if possible, but do NOT go all through your answer crossing everything out, and do NOT cross through the whole thing and start again.
  • And finally – be positive when you move on to the next question by forgetting all about the last one.  The questions are tricky enough without trying to answer one whilst thinking about another.

I could go on but I know how valuable your time is at the moment.  Just remember that everybody will be getting stuck at different times throughout each exam – and promise yourself you’ll be one of those who expects it, deals with it sensibly, and keeps going.  This will put you in the “likely to pass” category.

I hope some of you find this extra bit of advice useful, and again I apologise to anyone who is only reading after the exams, wishing they’d read it before (thankfully with today’s connectivity I’m hoping you’ll all see it!).

I sincerely hope all the hard work you’ve done pays off for you in your exams over the next 10 days.

Best wishes


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