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Two time ACCA Prizewinner shares his tips for success

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Adam Sibley is an ACCA student who studies at our Milton Keynes centre. Adam first became a Prizewinner when he achieved the highest mark in the world for P7 in June 2015, and then became a second time prizewinner for the P6 paper in December 2016. We caught up with Adam to find out his tips for exam success.

Hi Adam, congratulations on becoming an ACCA Prizewinner for the second time. Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your career and why you decided to start the ACCA qualification?

Well, I am twenty-three years old and have been working for a small accountancy practice for over five years now. My role involves both financial accounting and tax aspects for small to medium sized businesses.

Becoming a Prizewinner involves an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to your studies. How do you maintain a work and study balance, whilst still finding time for yourself?

I sat my exams in June and December each year, taking two papers at each sitting – this allowed me to take a ‘three months on – three months off’ approach to studying.

This kept me motivated as the end was always in sight, and I would always make plans for after the exams so I always has something to look forward to.

Whilst I was studying, I tried to get in a routine which normally involved studying for a couple of hours after work. On the weekends, I would be far more productive in the mornings so I would wake up early, and so all the studying I needed to do in the morning, meaning I had the afternoons to myself.

Did you know?

In August 2017, Rowena Evans won the Affiliate Gold ACCA prize, and she studied with Kaplan for two years. Her best advice? To understand the subject instead of just memorising key points.

Could you share any tips or advice on how to achieve exam success?

If you put in the hard work, you will pass - there is no big secret. The things I tried to do for my exams were as follows;

  • I would put in the hard work early, in the tuition phases of the course rather than cram everything into the revision stage when you will be most stressed.

  • By putting in the work early, you will feel far more comfortable answering exam style questions when you get to that stage.

  • As all my tutors said, the best way you can prepare for an exam is to practice past exam questions again and again – I would answer all the questions in Kaplan’s exam kit, making a note of the ones I struggled with, of which I would attempt again before the exam.

What is your revision process, and do you have any tips you can share?

As above, my revision mainly consisted of completing past exam questions – this would highlight any areas of the syllabus I needed to improve on.

Also, for most exams, especially the professional level exams, I bought hundreds of revision cards from my local stationery store which I used to test myself each night. I would write the topic on one side of the revision card, and on the other I would make notes that I needed to know for the exam. I would test myself by trying to remember as much as I could before turning the card over. This was recommended by one of my tutors at Kaplan, and I found this method of retaining information really worked for me. 

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of your ACCA studies so far?

I would say staying motivated and not giving up is the hardest part of the ACCA qualification as over the three-year period there will be moments when you don’t want to get up and study, or attend college.

However, all the hard work is 100% worthwhile in the end, as once you get the ACCA qualification, the world is your oyster!

Have you faced any obstacles or difficult times whilst studying, and how did you overcome them?

Fortunately, my road to qualifying was fairly smooth.

The main difficulty is the time that studying for ACCA takes up. Before ACCA I would go to the gym after work, five times a week without fail, once I started ACCA, after work I had to spend this time studying – but I am trying to make up for lost time in the gym now!


Finally, if you had just one tip to share with other Kaplan students on how they could become a Prizewinner, what would that be?

Make an achievable revision plan and try your best to stick to it – don’t make an unrealistic revision plan as you will never stick to it!

Thanks Adam!