Excited or daunted?

Cath Littler Head of Learning - Accounting

Starting a new course or programme of study is always exciting, but also a bit daunting. The excitement is because of the new challenge or the expectation of career progression, the daunted bit comes when you look at just how much work you will have to put into your studies.

Even if you have recently studied, it is likely that either the subject is new or that you are moving up a level, say from Level 2 to Level 3, so you will want to be as prepared as possible.

Manageable study sessions

The first thing to consider is your study time.  How much time per week do you need to allocate to study? How will you split it up into manageable study sessions? How much extra time will you want for exam preparation?  Everyone is different, but a Level 2 AAT student may need 6 hours a week, doubling that by the time they reach level 4.

The duration of your study sessions should be shorter for lower levels, only an hour or two at a time for Level 2, becoming longer as you study more complex material. Remember also that Level 2 is equivalent to GCSEs, Level 3 is A levels and Level 4 is university level study, so the degree of difficulty jumps up significantly between levels.

The amount of time you will need to devote to exam preparation will depend on how effectively you study the unit as a whole. Learners who ensure that they understand each chunk of study as they go, will find assessment preparation easier than those who say to themselves ‘I’ll pick it up in revision’ – a recipe for lower-than-expected exam marks!

Studying effectively

Having planned when you are going to study (and where), you now need to consider how you are going to study.  Turning up to lessons and/or following a set programme of study provided by your training provider seems obvious, but how are you going to make the most of what has been provided?

There has been a lot of hype in the past about whether someone might be an auditory, visual or kinaesthetic learner, but that concept has been long discredited in research literature.  What research is saying to us is that to learn effectively, you must actively engage.  So how do we do that?  Well, there are three sure fired winners that we can do:

Firstly, take notes when listening, reading or watching videos and build your own textbook based on your notes and example calculations shown.

Secondly, attempt all practice questions without looking at or revealing the answers. If you are not sure what the answer is or how to do the question, study your notes until you find some help, or ask your teacher if you have one.  If you do genuinely try the question (rather than just guessing) then even if you get it wrong, you will learn from it.  Once you have completed the question, then check the answer and correct any errors, working a longer task through again.  Don’t let anything go past you without full engagement.

Thirdly, and really importantly, make good and detailed attempts at all written questions that you are provided with; practice makes perfect and that includes writing skills.

Apply these three simple rules to your studies and you are sure to be a success!

Posted on: 5 October 2023

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