How to study for success

We look at exam preparation, exam technique, online support and examine how students can best use these to succeed.


Distance learning can be lonely. After a long, hard day at the office, studying yield curves and derivatives at home is probably the last thing you want to do. But, unfortunately, there is no way to soften the blow – it’s going to be hard work. There are no easy shortcuts with professional qualifications and we recommend that you spend at least seven hours a week on your studies per course, upping that amount closer to the exam period.


While we can’t deny that studying is hard work, the good news is that there is plenty of support available. Help is on hand with the Learning Study Site – in addition to your course materials, it contains past exam papers and solutions, a practice question bank and additional study questions.

The Learning study site also hosts the student forum, where you can contact your forum tutor and your course administrator (who are there to answer any questions you have) and interact with other students. Indeed, our experience is that those students who regularly post questions to the forum, or form links with fellow students through the forum or classes, really benefit from doing so. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking any question, no matter how silly you think it seems. You can be sure that there will be other students out there who would also like an answer to that question.

Even if you haven’t posted a question yourself, you should still check the forum at least once a week (more regularly near exam time) to see the kinds of issues that are being raised. Remember that passing your course is not a competition. You have nothing to lose by posting a question that other students will see. In fact, the opposite is true – there is much to be gained by working collaboratively.


Don’t underestimate the importance of exam technique when preparing for exams. Poor exam technique, rather than a lack of knowledge or understanding, is one of the main reasons why students fail ACT exams. Plan your time properly and make sure you answer all the questions. You will find some useful hints and tips on exam technique in the exams section of the student study site.

If you think you’re not ready as the exam date approaches, don't panic. Take a deep breath and sit the exam anyway: it will be good experience of going through the assessment process.

Should the worst come to the worst and you are unsuccessful in your exam, do not give up. Any learning is never wasted and if you stick with it, you are more likely to succeed next time. You can request an overview of your performance in the exam so that you can see where you went wrong by applying for post-assessment feedback (PAF). Think about what you need to do to pass next time; is it a matter of more effort, or a smarter approach? Do you need some help with key parts of the syllabus or your exam technique? If you are not sure what you need to do, be sure to use the online student forum which is available to ask your tutor any questions and discuss challenges with your fellow students.


Studying for an exam is a challenge when you also have to balance that with a demanding job and, potentially, commitments to a partner and children. But some of these strategies can help you achieve your goals:

  • Have a study plan. You will know the times of the day or week you study best: for some, this is an hour of study at the office before or after the working day; for others it could mean working during the train journey home.
  • Keep up the momentum. If you stop studying for two or three weeks, it can be really hard to knuckle back down again.
  • You know the old adage − ‘practice makes perfect’. Go through past papers in the run-up to the exams. Previous candidates have found this valuable.
  • Don’t forget to talk to your employer about what you’re doing. Most employers will be very supportive of your study and it’s in their interests that you do well, so if you need help from them, ask for it.
  • Remember to make use of your business network, especially colleagues or people you know who have previously sat the ACT exams. Get them to share their advice and experiences with you.
  • DON’T FORGET! The Learning website hosts suggested study timetables’ and information on exam dates and revision classes. In addition, you can find a range of resource articles to help you develop your behavioural and business skills.


Never forget why you chose to do these exams! Put the time in now and you will reap the rewards later. As Woody Allen put it: “Eighty per cent of success in life is turning up.”


Source: The Treasurer magazine


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