Study Tips from the Master

4 weeks to go until exams – Don’t panic

Hi, I’m Courtney, one of the authors for EG, GSL, and SMA, but I am not the Master.

Today, I want to tell you about Russell.

Nearly 9 years ago, Russell and I started an accounting training and consulting business. The only problem was – he had a finance background rather than an accounting background. So, he went back to uni and completed an accounting major, and then enrolled in the CPA program. While studying he was also working full time in our business.

Russell gained a high distinction in every subject, 2 individual subject prizes, and was awarded the International High Achievers Award in 2009 for being the top candidate with high distinctions in all subjects. Since then he has become a CPA author and reviewer, chief examiner, and forum subject expert.

So – here is how he did it.

Study plan:

1. Time how long it takes you to read the first 5 or 10 pages. Use this to calculate an average ‘time per page’.

2. Multiply the time per page by the total number of pages – and this tells you how many hours you will need to read the materials.

3. Plan out your reading hours in your diary, to make sure you get to the end of the materials at least 10 days before the end of semester.

4. Start your revision with at least 10 days to go, so that prior to the exam you are completely calm. Do this by re-reading only the highlighted text, reviewing the objectives of each module to ensure you understand them, and re-attempting every question.

Even with 4 weeks to go, you still have time to put in place a proper study plan, so you don’t leave everything to the last minute. Of course – we think if you sign up with us we can also help keep you on track and master the materials.


1. Read every page and highlight important sections that should be re-read later.

2. Do not go on until you have understood a section. You may need to do some web-searching and other reading to make this happen.

3. Answer every in-text question and Multiple Choice Question properly before going to the suggested answers. Reading someone else’s answer is not the same as testing yourself to see if you could write something.

4. Write your own notes in the margins where you can better explain the section


We will discuss exam technique in a later post – Like our Facebook page to stay updated.


Will this work for you? 

It depends – it is not a magic formula. I actually study in a different way. I like to get a big picture understanding first, and then focus on the details later. If I hit a hard bit I like to skip ahead – to keep my momentum going.  I know that when I come back to the tough stuff later on it might make more sense, because all the extra reading since then has helped make it clear. 

I also summarise the material by typing out each heading and then a brief summary underneath. This takes many hours, but the act of creating the summary makes me focus really carefully on exactly what the material is saying, and what it is the most important, relevant part. Then, if I can turn a paragraph into a sentence, or a page into a paragraph – I feel I truly understand it. 

This means that when it gets to revision time I am only reading through 30 – 50 pages of notes, not a whole study guide. The best thing though – you often don’t need to re-read the notes. The time spent summarising really locks the information into my brain. That’s why I don’t rely on other people’s study notes. Doing this skips over the deep learning that takes place when you do the process yourself. 

Only 4 weeks to go – good luck (and sign up below to watch our videos which explain the tricky stuff quickly and easily).

September 16, 2015

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