What a tutor can learn from a student… Putting into practice what you preach

As an exam expert, and someone who is truly passionate about my job (yes honestly, particularly the ACCA P2 teaching!) I am often advising students on how they should study or approach a particular problem to help them understand how to be successful in their exams. Well now I need to take some of my own medicine… and hopefully share my wisdom with you in the process!

 You may be relieved to hear that I’m not doing my accountancy exams (I assure you I qualified a number of years ago now!) but something rather more, well, crazy. Ridiculous possibly. Impossible? I hope not… I have signed up for a challenge called ‘Tough Mudder’. On the website it says “Probably the toughest event on the planet”. It then says “hardcore 12 mile-long obstacle courses designed by the Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie”. 12 miles, in mud, over/under/through all sorts of things. Oh yes, I have actually gone mad. And I am not what you would currently call ‘athletic’. I may be able to talk until I’m blue in the face (which would possibly take several days) about Financial Instruments or Share Based Payments or Leases. But I can last about five minutes on a treadmill. On a good day.

Soooo, what should I do? Basically pretend I’m a student. And I am going to plan for success. And just in case you were wondering how to do that, I thought I would share my wisdom with you too in the form of my 3 golden rules. Who said tutors make the worst students?

Set a goal
It may sound obvious, but you need to think about what it is you want to do. I can’t just decide to turn up the day before, and you wouldn’t want to just walk in an exam and see what’s going on the day. The goal also needs to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable (apparently this is…), Relevant, Time bound. Essentially it’s about identifying what you are going to do and when. In my case, complete the course without any major injuries or loss of life in April 2014. For you it would be passing your exam in the next exam sitting. Then you need to think about how you are going to get there.

Get Organised
Being a tutor I like planning. (I also like coloured pens and stationery so as a student I was great at revision timetables). This means I sat down with my diary to look at what I could commit to this. How many times a week can I go to the gym? For a bike ride? For a run? And I recognised that although theoretically I could go twice a day, every day, it would probably kill me. Remember my goal? So I had to be Realistic (it needs to be achievable).

So I planned for 5 sessions of activity a week – whether that be a gym class or a run, some sessions can be 20 minutes, some can be longer. That also gave me the flexibility so that when I am teaching day and evening or at meetings for most of a day, I can adapt (rather than just not being able to go to my 6pm gym class and then just doing nothing…). I then put them in my diary. If something comes up I know they can be moved, but it also gives me a reminder each time I look at it of what I’m planning to do.

When studying for your exams you will want to look at when your classes are (if you have live sessions to attend) or when your key milestones and deadlines are (for example course exams, revision, exam entry and so on) and work around those. Give yourself mini tasks – completing the homework or submitting your course exam, and say well done when you have achieved them! In the same way I can’t fit a week’s worth of training into one day, you can’t cram a week’s (or a month’s!) worth of study into a weekend. Try to plan in little and often, and you will find it much easier.

Ask an Expert
I had to be honest with myself. Yes I was reading the blogs / articles / books on training and fitness, but I couldn’t do this on my own, because it wasn’t my area of expertise.  So I went to the experts. I’m cycling to work whenever I can and I have joined Gymbox which is a gym close to my office so I can go to the gym more easily (you need to make it as painless as possible – so you could carry your passcards with you for whenever you have a few spare minutes) and am telling my instructors what I’m training for. I’m listening to their advice and when I get stuck I ask for help. When studying for your exams you need to make use of the resources you have available, so don’t just try and read the study text, ensure you use the course notes and course exams, and get in touch with your tutor when you have a question! You often worry you’re going to be asking a silly question, but it won’t be silly and it is better to check as doing the wrong thing can go horribly wrong (once again refer to my goal…).

 It’s not going to be easy, and it will probably be painful at times (literally in my case I’m sure). But at the end of it I know it will be well worth it. Success is a great feeling, and I hope to hear about yours too.

P.S. If you’re interested you can follow me on twitter @DaviniaBPP for training updates and obviously accountancy related tweets!

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