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What’s the best way to revise for an assessment?

Worried your last-minute cramming won’t hack it? From studying those topics that scare you to revising the written email answer out loud, exam expert Cath Littler shares her advice on tackling assessments 

Be an ‘active learner’ 

Active learning is where you actively engage with the subjects you’re revising. Don’t just read – take notes and challenge yourself by tackling scenario-based questions. This will help embed the knowledge in your mind early on, meaning it will be easier to access in your brain when it comes to the assessment. 

Repeat it again 

Finding something difficult? Repeat it again and again (and again) until you get it right. If you’re not comfortable with calculating percentages, do the same questions or calculations again – eventually it will embed itself in your psyche. If you’re given 10 invoice calculations, do all 10 of them, don’t just do five and think you’ve got it licked. 

Revise the topics that scare you 

You could spend 10 hours revising topics you find easy, but it would be 10 hours of useless revision because you already know it. Instead, ask yourself: “What do I find difficult?” If there’s anything you don’t want to study because it’s hard, tackle that.

But do it through active learning – challenge yourself by asking difficult questions or maybe using AAT’s Green Light tests. Many students think Green Light tests are difficult, but they’re only hard because they make you think and actively engage. 

Use practice assessments in the correct way 

AAT offers practice assessments through the Lifelong Learning Portal. When you’re marking the answers, see which tasks you’ve done badly in. Then go away and revise that topic area. One of the biggest mistakes students make is that they think they’re okay if they pass a practice assessment.

What they don’t realise is they’ve only done one assessment. You might have answered a question on accruals correctly, but there could be different accruals questions in the assessment itself. If you pass a practice assessment at 70%, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pass the real assessment. 

Practice tricky writing elements 

The assessments have writing elements, such as emails and reports. Nobody likes these, not even the tutors – the reason we got into accountancy is because we like maths, not English. The good news? Anybody can practise these. There is a formula for writing business letters – once you get to grips with writing that formula, you can do it. When revising, it can help if you try to explain what you’re trying to say in the email/letter out loud, even if it’s to your dog. 

Reach out for help 

Some AAT classes set up their own Facebook pages or WhatsApp groups, where they’ll talk about topics/questions they don’t understand. Your tutors are also on email, so get in touch – but don’t leave it to the last minute. If the exam is on a Monday, please don’t email them on a Sunday morning – as they might not be around to answer in time! 

Further reading:

Cath Littler is an accountancy learning specialist working with AAT and Mindful Education. .

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