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Study Zone

Mastering the Certificate level

Here we offer hints and tips on how to approach the six modules of the Certificate Level exams. To get started, here is more on Business and Finance and Mangement Information

May 2017

Think like a business owner, not a student: If you take a bird’s-eye view of the Business and Finance syllabus, you’ll notice that it largely revolves around the needs of a business. Thinking like a student isn’t quite going to cut it.
Put yourself in the shoes of a business owner and think of the challenges you’ll face. Do this while you study for the exam, when you revise, and when you actually take the exam – you’ll find it makes studying and revising easier, and also gets you one step closer to acing your actual exam.
If in doubt, read the question (again): Often students end up picking an answer after just skim-reading a question – this is dangerous and can cost marks unnecessarily. Read the question thoroughly, word by word, sentence by sentence, and then pick an answer. If you’ve any doubt about the answer, or if you think it’s too obvious or too simple, re-read the question and then make your decision.
Never leave a question unanswered, even if you think you have no idea what the answer is.
Of course, studying and revising well will mean you shouldn’t find yourself in this situation to begin with.

Focus on the fundamentals: The syllabus is incredibly vast, so you may feel overwhelmed by the amount you need to know. The great part of it though is the fact that the fundamentals remain strong and consistent for the entire syllabus. In this exam, the fundamentals are that the value of any and every asset/project/firm is always based on the Present Value of its Future Expectations. Another fundamental rule is that profit is not the same as cash flow because of accounting conventions (such as depreciation, amortisation or accruals).
Practise every single question twice: Make sure you practise every single question in the question bank, twice. The first time round, do it chapter by chapter, and only look at the solution if you really need to. The second time round, create “equivalent mocks” by doing the questions in random order, but maintaining the suggested weights of each section/chapter. In this round do not look at the solutions while practising, even if you don’t know the answer. The idea is to simulate exam conditions. Your actual exam will not have questions in a chapter-by-chapter order, so you want to train yourself to be able to jump from different topics instantly. This will also help you see how everything is related.
Do “equivalent mocks” in 80% of the actual allocated time: When practising questions the second time round, try as hard as you can to complete an equivalent mock in 80% of the allocated time. This technique will build your speed incredibly well, and gives you ‘extra time’ in the actual exam to deal with any surprises, mind-blocks, and other concerns.
Before you take a Certificate Level exam, be sure to read the syllabus, access the exam resources, including a sample exam and download the exam guide, go to icaew.com/examresources.
• Thanks to ICAEW for this article

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