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Meet the experts: Rachel Harrison - Tutor and Academic Support

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Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Kaplan and what sort of responsibilities you have?

I have been a ACCA/CIMA tutor at Kaplan Distance Learning since 2009, and am currently the acting ACCA/CIMA tutor team manager. I answer student queries on all ACCA and CIMA papers, and also provide general exam guidance to students. I also get involved in writing material for our new courses, and running Webex sessions for the CIMA Case Study papers. In addition to this, I head up the Oxford Brookes mentor team here at Kaplan Distance Learning, and have mentored many students through their ACCA/Oxford Brookes BSc in Applied Accounting.

What was your background before joining Kaplan?

I completed a degree in Modern Languages, and then decided to train as a chartered accountant as I wanted to work in business. I completed the ACA qualification whilst working in audit, and then continued to work in that field for a further 2 years, before leaving to start a family. While my children were young, I carried out freelance accountancy work from home, and also marked for Kaplan and the ACCA. When a tutor position opened at Kaplan Distance Learning I was thrilled to be asked to apply!

How have you used your previous experience when teaching to help students?

All of my experience has been really useful when teaching at Kaplan. The essay writing skills I gained as part of my degree are really helpful when advising students how to structure written responses, as this is something those with a more mathematical background can find hard. My auditing experience has enabled me to give real life examples to students of how auditing works in practice, which then brings the theory to life. My experience as a marker has been particularly helpful in assisting students who have scored a marginal fail in an exam, as I can then give them some personalised feedback on how they could improve their scripts to pick up those extra marks needed to pass the exam.

About the experts:

We wanted to give you an insight into some of the work that goes on behind the scenes, so you can see how everything comes together to make sure that our courses give you the exam confidence you need.

How do Kaplan help students feel as confident as possible for their exams?

Kaplan students have a wealth of exam standard questions which enables them to apply their knowledge: question practice is the best way of preparing for the exam and helps identify any gaps in students' knowledge so this is an invaluable resource in helping students be exam-ready. The tutor team here are always able to provide advice with last minute nerves too - even if it is something simple like what needs to be taken into the exam, or what type of pen you should be used. Having someone to answer these questions helps students feel as confident as possible.

How does the work you do impact our students and improve their overall experience of studying with Kaplan?

I think that the advice I give as a Distance Learning tutor, especially to students who have failed an exam in an earlier sitting, is invaluable: it really can give them the confidence and the tips they need to score that all important pass so they can move on with their studies. For example, giving a student some further advice on how to improve on their Case Study mock exams can really make the difference.

What has been the biggest development or improvement that you’ve seen since joining Kaplan?

The resources online are fantastic: they provide a different way of learning from simply reading a book, and mean that students can choose different ways of studying to keep them motivated: so they can read a chapter in the study text and then look at some of the resources online to break up their study time.

What sort of academic support is available to CIMA students?

The academic support team will answer queries within 4 hours, which means that students won't get held up in their studies if they are stuck on a question. Students will also be able to use LiveChat if they have a quick question to ask a tutor, which allows them a speedy response. This will all mean that if students have set aside some time for studying, they can get help from a tutor as and when they need it.