Peaking at the right time


I’ve sat many exams with varying degrees of success. I’ve gone into exam halls knowing I will fail the exam before I even sat it while other exams I’ve left knowing I’ve breezed it.

You should be looking to peak at the right time and put the hours of study in that will give you belief and confidence to pass. As you can see from my progress, I passed E1 with 59% and just scraped past F1 with exactly 50%.

So I was worried heading into the OCS that I really needed to knuckle down if I was to pass, especially considering I was exempt from P1 due to the transition from the 2010 to 2015 syllabus.

However, I passed the OCS with a score of 102 out of 150 and believe it was down to peaking at the right time. I felt confident entering and LEAVING the exam hall.

In my opinion, there are several key areas you need to balance out and consider to achieve good marks – if you can manage these factors well than you’re well on the way to a good mark.

1. Study Plan – before you get the books out you need to create a realistic study plan. And by realistic I mean allowing enough time to cover the whole syllabus, mock exams and enough time to have a break away from the books. Studying 3-4 hours a night, every night will lead to a meltdown. I also tend to allow a bit of slack as I never stick 100% too it.

2. Vary Your Study – just making pages and pages of notes on the theory will probably lead to a fail, especially in the case study. You need to vary how and what you study. I usually make some notes and illustrations of the key models on A3 paper and stick on my walls in the spare room. Also use YouTube videos, pod casts and forums to discuss the key topics and any problems you have.

3. Exam Practice – I find it a real struggle to do proper exam practice. But if you practice mock exam after mock exam (4-5 weeks before actual exam) you will know what you need to brush up as well having plenty of practice for exam day. If finances are a problem there are plenty of free questions on the CIMA website as well as free mini-mock exams from Astranti.

4. Healthy Body = Healthy Mind – I’m not suggesting you train for a marathon but going for a run is a great way of clearing the mind and feeling refreshed. Sometimes taking your eyes off the text books for an hour or two and doing something else (run, jog, walk) is a great way take a break and put you in a positive frame of mind.

Exam Preparation

Preparing for the exam and exam day is vital in my opinion.

Once you have covered the whole syllabus, you should concentrate on taking mock exam after mock exam to highlight your weaknesses and practice your exam technique.

Personally, on the week of the exam I prefer to do very little work.
No mock exams, just some revision on the key models, scenarios and theories.

And maybe answer a few light questions or even try to relate the subject to anything that is currently happening in the news (tax evasion, marketing etc.)

Finally, the day or two before the exam I will check the examiners report for the previous sitting and see what previous candidates did badly and try not to fall into the same trap.

All of these points are common sense when you think about it. It’s just about finding the time and discipline to stick them all.

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