Accountant entrepreneur: the study habits that worked for me

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Our guest blogger this month is ACCA member and entrepreneur Bitania Amare from Ethiopia. Having previously worked at Ernst and Young, she co-founded an online ordering platform WeDeliver in 2016.

Read about her qualification journey and check out her advice to accountancy students including her top study habits. 

At the start

While I was completing my B.A Degree in Accounting at the Addis Ababa University, I used to hear stories about how hard the ACCA Qualification was and how it would take very long years to complete the qualification. I however did not let the stories affect me and my plans to complete the qualification. I had a very positive attitude from the outset.

Me and ACCA

If I told you that I was the top scorer (in Ethiopia) for P1 in June 2015, that I completed my ACCA qualification in three years with no failed attempts, and that I was honoured as a Top Affiliate at the member recognition event this year, you might be impressed. But I believe you can achieve more.

If you believe in yourself and put in the work, there is no way you cannot complete your ACCA Qualification in good standing and within a reasonable time limit. You can also take advantage of the increased number of ACCA exam sessions to take more exams during a year.

ACCA Qualification is not just an accounting certification - it is a well-rounded qualification that equips an individual with business acumen. I say this because I believe that my ACCA Qualification along with my experience at Ernst and Young gave me the confidence and courage to run my own business.

My online startup - WeDeliver

I am currently the General Manager of a company I co-founded called Empire Courier Services PLC (WeDeliver). We developed an online ordering platform, WeDeliver with the aim of providing convenient and time saving services to city dwellers. It is one of the first online same day delivery companies in Ethiopia.

I believe, with the ACCA Qualification, you will have a better shot of improving your career and of achieving anything you set your mind to.  

My highly effective study habits

I would like to share with you some study habits I used which I believe have had tremendous effect on my qualification journey.  I urge you to try them out and see the changes this routine might have in your ACCA experience.

1. Try to relate each study topic to tasks at work

For example, I took P4 - Advanced Financial Management in September 2016, a few months after starting my own company. Every topic I read, I would think about how it can be applied to my own company. I took P7 while I was working at Ernst and Young, and I would always think about the audit procedures we used on audit projects and how the various topics relate to the audit issues I faced at work.  

I always adapted the topics to my own situation, which I believe helped cement the subject matter in my mind.  

2. Go through every practice question

If I come across questions I was not comfortable with, which I usually do, I would go back to the course content and read that specific section again. I would work on questions repeatedly, until I was sure I could tackle a question on my own without referring to the course content or to the answers. Working through a question on your own and exercising structured answer layouts gives you the confidence to tackle any kind of exam question. 

3. Read technical articles and watch tutorial videos

Once I was satisfied with each topic area and was convinced I could tackle questions on my own, I read technical articles found on the exam resource section of the ACCA website. The articles are a great resource that should not be overlooked - they offer a wide range of support for a student. I would also watch tutorial videos whenever I could. 

4. And, finally, work on past exam papers

This was the most important step for me. I would always work on past exam questions as if it were a real exam. Timing oneself and practicing answer layouts is of paramount importance to passing an ACCA exam. I recommend watching exam technique videos available on the ACCA website as well as on other resources to improve your answer layouts. It is said that unreadable handwritings and unstructured answers could be reason to getting low marks from markers.

Things I could have improved on

I wish I could have given myself more time to prepare for my exams. I believe I could have scored more if I had started preparing for exams earlier than I normally did.

Being swamped with work or other activities may hinder us from preparing for exams with the optimal amount of time, but I highly recommend you start your preparation as early as possible. Do not procrastinate.

I skipped a couple of exam sessions during my three years qualification period - I cannot help but wonder how soon I would have finished my qualification if I had not done so.

Even though these limitations were caused by my own doing, I am proud of my achievements, and being a Top Affiliate was the cherry on top. I urge you all to try out the steps that worked out for me and determine if they work for you. Please also take lessons from my mistakes.

Let me leave you with one inspiring story

During the member recognition ceremony held this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, one of the new members, Sintayehu Demissie was recognised for completing his qualification in record time. It only took him one year and three months.

Sintayehu is a full-time lecturer at the Addis Ababa University, but he managed to take two to three exams per session. He even obtained a Diploma in IFRS from the ACCA within that one year and three-month period.

He was committed to completing his qualification and did not let anything hinder his goals. He is living proof that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

Stay committed and good luck!

- Bitania Amare


Further information

ACCA-X courses prepare you for ACCA exams. If you would like to work towards achieving a certificate please register with ACCA as a student and enter for the relevant exams.