Mariliss Timma, an Audit Assistant at Accountancy firm Smith Cooper recently scored 97% in ACA’s BPT exam. By many, this is regarded as the hardest exam on the course. Here she tells us how she managed such a feat in these challenging times.
To be honest, when I was doing the exam (BPT) I thought I’d ran out of time, so I was really surprised by my result!
It’s such a hard exam. It requires practical examples, not just an understanding of theory. So you always worry that there’s little details you’ve missed. You always think you can say more.
I thought I’d spent too long on the first question because of the way they weigh the marks. Looking back though I think my second answers were more focused, so I must have said enough.
Overcoming low confidence
As you can probably tell, I was not confident at the time.
It must have been a case of quality over quantity because I felt I had missed a few small points. However, I did manage to recommend several courses of action and develop the arguments within the wider context.
With everything going on in the world, writing my targets down helped me stay focused!
Motivation in strange times
We had 5 months from the start of lockdown until my next exam. At first it felt like it was ages away and I had loads of time, so I didn’t give it too much thought. I put it to the side for a few weeks while I was busy dealing with being furloughed. You know, busy life stuff!
But I knew I shouldn’t put it off too long.
So after a couple of weeks, to stay motivated, I created a timetable for myself. This mainly focused the study times around the weekends and in the mornings (this is when I’m most productive).
I set regular time aside to learn, and broke it down by module. I was pretty strict with myself, setting the aim of doing a mock exam every weekend and I made sure I had enough time for the exam.
I know time management and being organised is one of my strengths so I had to make the most of that to succeed in these circumstances. And with everything going on in the world, writing my targets down helped me stay focused!
I’m now getting a sense of what’s best for me when learning from home.
Moving from classroom to online
I was supposed to be in college for everything, but that all changed with covid. Everything shifted to online and for me it was a huge change! I went to college for the technical phase in the first couple of weeks, but the final two phases were run from home.
I’ve had some teething problems with the online classroom interactions. With asking questions, I had been a little hesitant at first as I have been unsure how to word them in this format. But I’ve kept in touch with some of course mates through Whatsapp, and that has worked for me.
To adapt, I’ve had to change some of my habits. I’m now getting a sense of what’s best for me when learning from home.
The new normal
I am now at the point where, in my job, around 80% of the audits that I am working on are performed remotely. I could see this continuing for at least a few more months.
Despite missing the office environment, and being able to speak to colleagues and clients face to face, I have felt the benefits of home-working. It has allowed me to have a better work-life balance and discover more efficient ways of working.
I’ve just under a year of study left and then I will be qualified!
I plan to stay in audit though. I love this role and really enjoy being at Smith Cooper. If I did move away from this role one day I would be interested in forensic accounting as I have a good eye for detail and like to ask questions.