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Study techniques that will help you pass

  • Article
a tomato-shaped timer which inspired the name for the Pomodoro Technique.

Whether you’re coming back from a break from studying, advancing your career prospects, or kickstarting your accounting journey after full-time education, you will still find that studying can be very challenging.

Everyone learns differently, and when preparing for an exam, you’ll likely feel stressed or nervous about the big day. This can lead to procrastination, mistakes, and fear that the content won’t sink in.

We’ve put together a list of study techniques that might help you remember all of the content while studying for your exam. Let’s have a look at which ones may be best for you.

The Pomodoro Technique

Focusing for 25 minutes, taking a break for 5 minutes.

The Pomodoro Technique gets its name after a tomato-shaped timer was used to test the method for the first time. This is a great way to maximise your study time while getting the most out of it. For this, you will be encouraged to break up your studying into more manageable chunks by using timed intervals.

During a 25-minute study period, focus on one task without interruption or a break. Afterwards, reward yourself with a five-minute break before returning to studying again. This will make the most daunting topics become more approachable and can make a real difference when it comes to efficiency and productivity.

Spaced repetition method

Studying content repeatedly over time.

If you need to learn new things quickly, the spaced repetition method may work well for you. This is a great technique for memorising and retaining information.

To follow this technique, you will need to study the same material repetitively at increasing intervals of time. So, you’ll take a look at something during your first study session and then review it again a few days later. With each re-exposure, you’ll imprint the information deeper into your memory.

This is a useful way to get additional studying done without breaking away from other study techniques such as the Pomodoro. As you use spaced repetition more and more, let it empower you to remember things quicker.

Note-taking

Highlighting and underlining key points.

Taking notes is probably the most common method of studying. It helps to write notes during lectures or reading material when learning a topic for the first time. You can then try to study your notes by highlighting and underlining keywords and points. Highlighting your notes can help to keep information organised in your mind, which ultimately makes it easier to remember when revising for exams.

However, there are some cons to this method. For example, if you write notes quickly, they can get a bit messy, making them hard to read and understand. Note-form content is also usually a lot shorter than what you’ll find in the textbook or through video content, and you’ll also need to find the balance between highlighting and summarising content with keywords.

If highlighting and underlining keywords is helpful for you, a good way to ensure that you’re taking in detailed content while highlighting and understanding is by using content-specific resources. For example, e-books and printed materials that you can find online through Kaplan Publishing are great for learning relevant information while making notes.

Mnemonics

Using rhymes and phrases.

Memorisation can be tricky, but there's an easy way to make it easier: mnemonics.

Mnemonics involve using simple phrases, rhymes, visual images, and keywords to create memorable connections. For example, if you needed to memorise the colours of a rainbow, you can link them with phrases like "Richard of York gave battle in vain" (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). Using mnemonics makes mastering difficult material much simpler.

One mnemonic that you may find helpful, particularly for ACCA indicators of threats in units focusing on ethics, is ‘FULL STOP.’

FULL STOP for ethics - indicators of threats

Friends and family

Undue fee dependence

Loans to/from

Litigation

Shares in client

Taking gifts and hospitality

Overdue fees

Provision to the other services

Flashcards

Testing yourself by remembering facts, definitions, and keywords.

Making flashcards is a great tool for revising for an exam. They can help you memorise and retain information and are also great to pair with the spaced repetition method.

You can create flashcards by writing phrases, facts, definitions, or other information on one side of a card, and a key word on the other. When reading the keyword, test yourself by trying to remember the facts on the other side. This is a common and effective way of remembering content for an exam.

If you don’t have much time or would prefer not to write your own flashcards, we have plenty of options available for specific courses through Kaplan Publishing. For example, our AAT Principles of Bookkeeping (POBC) Pocket Notes provides a pocket-sized overview of the content that you’ll find in the exam kits and study texts.

For more information read Kaplan’s Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley-Smith, blog about the use of flashcards and the best ways you can use them to study.

The elimination method

Eliminate any unhelpful techniques.

When you’re starting your studying or revision, it can feel like there’s an overwhelming amount of information in front of you. Usually, it’s the amount of content that leads to stress when studying, so the elimination method can help to calm those nerves.

This elimination method helps you sort through the different available techniques and determine which ones are the most effective for you. Write down every strategy and technique, then eliminate them one by one until only the most successful methods for your study goals remain. For example, if you’re looking for a way to stay focused, you may consider the Pomodoro Technique. Whereas if you need to remember processes and rules, the mnemonic technique may be your priority.

Ultimately this method can help you make the right decisions when it comes to studying so that staying focused and productive doesn't feel like mission impossible.

Ready to get started?

Have a look through our range of courses that will help you advance your career, and get into your studies. And if you need more study tips, have a look at our blog for more help and advice.

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