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In this guide we will look at tips for success, covering areas including how to learn and understand the syllabus, how to revise and how to manage those difficult areas of the exam where students often make mistakes.

Study advice

When studying for the Corporate Reporting think of each accounting standard as an individual technical area. In the actual exam, you must be able to work across these different areas simultaneously, pulling together the accounting for and impact of each individual area within a collective theme for the question.

Therefore, studying for this exam is not something to be crammed at the last possible moment. It is essential to progressively develop the required skills and knowledge. In real term this means studying from at an early point and working consistently throughout the months leading up to the exam.

Regular study is essential. Therefore, consider combining extended studying time at the weekends with short blocks of study during the week. This will help to manage home, work and study commitments. Even 30 minutes per day during the week will have a cumulative impact over the weeks and months.

The stronger you are on process, the better able you are to deal with additional complications such as being given figures at the wrong date in the exam. To learn these processes, keep repeating them. Such repetition will drive long term knowledge, increasing your efficiency and effectiveness in producing the required information, leaving you more time to use the information produced and score higher level marks.

Revision advice

Time management is essential for the exam. For example, if you only complete 80% of the exam, scoring 50% overall essentially increases the pass mark to 63%. You must therefore practise questions under timed conditions if you are to finish the exam on time. 

When you don’t have time to complete questions under timed conditions, practise planning your answers around the marks available. Then review the model answer for areas they thought of that you didn’t. Make a list of these and review the list often. You will increasingly have more points to draw on the next time you answer a similar question.

On the day of your exam

Remember that the marks are coming from a combination of narrative, numerical and journals-based work. For each question spend a third of your time reading the scenario and planning your response, thinking about how to use this combination to achieve the mark allocation. Keep checking your time as you deliver your answer in the remaining two thirds of your time.

Tricky areas / areas students often make mistakes

In tricky areas always come back to basics. Think about what you are trying to achieve upon initial recognition and subsequent measurement. What needs to happen on the balance sheet and what needs to happen in the profit and loss account?

Don’t rush reading the question as key dates and key pieces of information are missed when you do. Make use of timelines and plot key pieces of information on that timeline to help you make sense of the scenario.

Always make sure that you have a balance in your answer and that you have not overlooked any aspect of the requirement. Narrative, numbers and journals is a useful checklist to help with this.

Technical areas

Three technical areas that students struggle with are revenue, financial instruments and changes in group structures. With revenue ask yourself what is the product and what is the service? Recognise the product revenue at a point in time and the service revenue over time. With hedge accounting the gain or loss on the derivative must hit the profit and loss at the same time as the business problem. Ask yourself if the problem is happening now (fair value hedge) or in the future (cash flow hedge)? With changes in group structure consider how the relationship has changed throughout the year and time apportion the treatment in the profit and loss account. Consider what relationship is in place at the balance sheet date.

Mastering a retake

Your underlying skill sets will be stronger than the first time you attempted the exam. You will therefore have more capacity to think about mark allocation. Three to four extra marks per question turns a fail into a comfortable pass so as you tackle each question what additional marks can you score? Ask yourself if you’ve addressed all the requirements such as initial recognition, subsequent measurement, balance sheet, profit and loss, cash flow, impact on the business now and impact on the business in the future.