‘Tis the season to be studying! We ask Mark Purdue, product manager for tax products, about his recent experience of ACCA exams. Mark is studying alongside his full-time job here at Thomson Reuters. Get his ACCA study tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy work-life balance while undertaking such a significant task.
How did you fit studying around your work-life balance?
Studying for something like ACCA is certainly a huge commitment, over a long period of time. A usual day for me involves attending a lot of meetings, so my calendar fills up quickly. I therefore ‘book out’ my lunch break to ensure I take it. I always make sure I spend part of my lunchbreak either reviewing previous topics, attempting some questions or watching new webinars. Where possible, I get away from my desk to an available meeting room.
Fortunately, Thomson Reuters have been very supportive in my studies, and so I now work from home twice a week. My normal commute to work equates to just under two hours a day. On my work from home days, I use this commute time as study time.
Together these two approaches give me about 6-7 hours a week of study time. In addition, particularly as exams are approaching, I also put aside more hours at weekends.
Any top tips for studying specifically for ACCA?
Make sure you’re committed to it! One technique I’d never used before, and which I have found useful is mind mapping. Particularly for the ‘non-numeric’ papers (e.g. F1 Accountant in Business and F4 Law), I’ve found it a useful tool to help learn and remember key points.
How have you done so far and did you have a feeling about the result right after the exam?
I’m not too far into the process, having just passed my F3 paper (with a very satisfying 90% I might add!). This means there are a further six papers at the Fundamentals level (one of which my tax qualifications exempt me from), and then four papers at Professional level.
Did you devise a revision plan and stick to it?
With the F1 to F4 papers, there’s a lot of flexibility on exam dates. When I start my studies towards a paper, I plan out how long the course should take me (using an Excel spreadsheet, of course!), consider the time I can commit to, and then book my exam. The training provider that Thomson Reuters uses has a huge amount of revision and question bank resources to help with revision. From F5 onwards, exams are held on fixed quarterly dates, so it’s vitally important to stick to a plan.
Did you see any videos and podcasts which helped you?
Most of the study tools from the training provider are online videos, which are very useful. I was also surprised at how many resources are easily available online. ACCA have previous papers and study tips, and an organisation called Open Tuition has really good content, covering study notes, webinars and question banks which I use to supplement my existing materials. Additionally, there are various mobile apps which incorporate question banks, so you can get some question practice in when away from your laptop.
Have you completed any other qualifications while working?
Before moving over to studying for the ACCA qualification, I passed the level two papers of the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). Many years ago (too many to mention!), I passed the ATT (Association of Taxation Technicians) exams.
Go on, what was your favourite study snack?
I don’t have a favourite study snack, but near where I take the exams in Bristol, there’s an amazing breakfast place. If I pass the exam, I treat myself to a well-deserved fry-up.
About Mark Purdue
Mark is our Making Tax Digital (MTD) expert, and was named AccountingWEB’s 2017 Software Excellence Pioneer for his outstanding contribution to educating the accounting community about the HMRC initiative. Take a look at his blogs on the topic, specifically for accountants in practice: