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Student Insights

My ACA journey – the learning curve

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 04 Mar 2022

ACA journey main

For audit trainee and ACA student Ashwini Poopalasingham, studying for and sitting her third Certificate Level exam turns out to be a far more positive experience.

I sat my third Certificate Level exam, Law, a couple of weeks ago – and I passed. Going into it, I definitely felt I’d learned from my past mistakes, particularly the experience of sitting the first two exams in October. Law was a self-study module for me, so I had three days’ study leave from work, and I used the weekend leading up to it to give myself a bit of a head start, which I think really helped. Once the study leave started, I dedicated my time to it fully and made sure I understood everything.

My final year of university was all online, so the prospect of self-study didn’t faze me. In a way I actually preferred it, as I could create my own structure and work through it logically: once I’d learned each chapter, I did the questions related to that chapter. I’ll admit my routine may have slipped slightly though – obviously with college you have to be there at a certain time, whereas my study days at home didn’t start until 9.30 or 10am! But I was still disciplined, and did six or seven hours each day.

By the end of the study leave, I made sure I knew everything, then it was just a case of practising in the run-up to the exam. That was one of the differences this time around – with the Accounting exam in particular, I felt like I was having to relearn stuff again. That’s not ideal, especially in busy season – you’re just going to tire yourself out. With the maths-based modules, the revision is more about practising the calculations, whereas with topics like Assurance and Law, there are a lot of facts to remember. So I wanted to make sure I had learned all the key facts by the end of the study leave.

Because there were so many facts to remember, particularly with one of the topics, a colleague and I exchanged notes and shared our knowledge to make sure we understood it all properly, which really helped. I also wrote anything I found confusing on a whiteboard so that I could always see it when I was revising. As soon as I was back in the office it was really busy, so there was no time for revision during the day, but my managers let me work from home so that I didn’t have to commute and could use that time once my work day was finished.

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