Top tips for studying accountancy

Studying accountancy isn’t easy. Along with the numbers, there are a host of acronyms, terms and formulae that need to be learnt and memorised. In the first of a two-part post, AAT student Amanda Ward offers her tips for making sure you never forget what you’ve learnt.

Studying doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down and reading a book for hours and hours – there are more effective ways. I know it isn’t the most exciting way to spend a weekend, but it certainly doesn’t have to be boring. Far from it.

Here are some of my own study tips which will hopefully help you study effectively and pass your assessments.

Review notes regularly

If you’re in a tuition class, regularly review what you have learnt.

If you don’t, then you may find that as you get to the end of tuition you’ve forgotten what you learned on the first day.

In the week after your lesson, do any homework you’ve been assigned and try to summarise on a sheet of paper – this will also help when it comes to making revision notes.

Get a study buddy

Memorising information is never fun.

If you can buddy up with another AAT student, try testing each other on formulas and the advantages/disadvantages of different techniques.

For my Financial Statements assessment I produced a list of the IAS/IFRSes that I needed to know and discuss, handed it to family members, and at random moments during the day they had to give me the number of an IAS/IFRS.

I then had to recall what the standard was and explain it briefly.

Of course, your family may not understand accounting standards, but being able to recall information on the spot is good practice for when it comes to the assessment.

Don’t leave the remembering part until the day before your assessment either – keep looking at what you want to learn.

Key tip: Post-It notes on the bathroom mirror to look at when you brush your teeth in the morning and evening is a great way of learning a formula.

Memory techniques

Another good tip for remembering information is memory technique.

I recently attended a session on memory techniques and took away a very useful piece of information – we remember the bizarre.

Throughout my studies, I had a tutor who would use scenarios to explain concepts to us – some not always classroom appropriate, but I could definitely remember them in the assessment.

Create stories, your own examples, and be as creative as you like – whatever works for you. You don’t necessarily need to tell others what you use to learn things, as long as you remember them in the assessment.

Study in a quiet environment

In a perfect world we’d all have our own quiet space in which we can study free from distractions but that isn’t always possible. Studying at home may seem like a good idea but you’re surrounded by distractions.

Consider taking your books and studying at the local library instead. Many libraries have quiet study areas, and without a TV and no mobiles allowed your chances of concentrating are far greater.

Highlight key notes

Highlighters are your friend.

During the learning phase, highlight key points that you can easily come back to, and also highlight formulas that you’ll need to learn, as these are not always given in assessments.

Underline key words, make notes, and make anything that you think might be important stand out.

Pro forma – learn them

The key here is to keep practicing with questions until you become so used to writing them that you know how to layout your answer.

If you can learn the pro forma of the balance sheet (statement of financial position) and the profit and loss account (income statement) early on in your studies, you’ll be in a better position when it comes to Level 4.

If you want to go on to further accountancy study, these become absolutely vital as you’ll be expected to know these. Again, keep practicing the questions until it becomes second nature.

Read more on studying accountancy with AAT;

Browse the full range of AAT study support resources here

Amanda Ward is a former AAT student.

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