How to train yourself to study daily
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This week, we have a very special guest blogger - Fazeela Gopalani, Head of Education for ACCA Middle East. She's a 'ThinkBuzan' mind mapping licensed instructor so will be going through her revision techniques which helped her passed her ACCA exams. Over to you, Fazeela...
Boredom, tiredness and distraction are things we all experience when studying, and the complexity of some aspects of accountancy study can make finance students particularly susceptible to it.
If it's something that troubles you, we just might have a solution for you. If you haven't tried it yet, mind mapping is a really effective alternative approach to revision.
Mind mapping is the process of charting a topic in a 'map' of connected branches. The idea is to place all of the aspects of a topic onto a single page, with ideas connected to each other by 'branches'.
It's an alternative to more traditional study methods that you might already be using, such as taking notes in an exercise book or using revision cards.
Mind mapping can save you hours of inefficient study time. It forces you to fit a whole topic onto a single page, so you'll need to be brief - no room for long, detailed paragraphs here.
Instead, you'll choose just a few 'magic words' to remind you of a particular point. If you can reduce a complex idea down to a few words, it shows you've understood it, and the process will help you remember it. It makes recall during the exam easier, too.
Mind mapping is easy, and you might even find it more fun than writing traditional notes.
For this example, we'll use The sources and purpose of internal external financial information, provided by business, which is a topic area within the Accountant in Business (AB)/FAB course (available on ACCA-X). The specification for this in the study guide is below:
The sources and purpose of internal and external financial information, provided by business
a) Explain the various business purposes for which the following financial information is required:
(i) The statement of profit or loss
(ii) The statement of financial position
(iii) The statement of cash flows
(iv) Sustainability and integrated reports
b) Describe the main purposes of the following types of management accounting reports:
i) Cost schedules
(iii) Variance reports
Get a blank piece of paper. Draw a small circle in the middle of the page. This is where all your branches will emanate from.
Draw your first branch and work your way around the page clockwise from the '2 o’clock' position.
There are two key areas within our topic. The first is Explain the various business purposes for which the following financial information is required. There are four types of financial information, and this branch will cover all of them eventually.
So along the first branch you just drew, write 'Types of information'.
Draw four lines branching off the end of the line you just drew, each with one of the pieces of information written on. The four pieces of information are:
• The statement of profit or loss
• The statement of financial position
• The statement of cash flows
• Sustainability and integrated reports
We can leave out the words ‘The statement of’ to keep it brief – the first piece of information could be written on its branch as ‘profit / loss’. These are the magic words!
Sticking with our 'profit/loss' branch, you'll need to draw branches from the end of it for each business purpose. The first is 'to show an entity's financial performance'. This can be summarised as 'show financial performance' or just 'show fin. perf.' for short.
Write this along the first branch coming from the end of your 'profit/loss' branch.
You'll then need to continue by drawing a branch for each further purpose of 'the statement of profit or loss', and writing a summary of what it is along it.
Repeat Step 5 for each of the four types of financial information.
Finished drawing all of the branches for the first key area?
Then draw another branch from the small circle you draw in Step 1 for the second key area (Describe the main purposes of the following types of management accounting reports), and begin again at Step 2, building the next set of branches.
Time to revise!
After all that drawing, you should find that you already remember a lot. The optimum number of times to revise the sheet is around five, and usual studying rules apply, so remember to set yourself a time limit, take breaks and drink lots of water for maximum effectiveness. Good luck!
If you want a recap of what Fazeela has outlined in this article, watch her vlog on YouTube.