There are two types of people when it comes to ACCA study plans. Find out who you should be if you want to secure that exam day pass.
There are two types of people when it comes to ACCA study plans. Those who say, ‘nope. I don’t need one. Everything I need is in my head”. And those who spend three weeks obsessing over the perfect plan, lovingly colour-coding with brand new highlighters… only to hang it up and ignore it.
For both, the result is ultimately the same. This is a shame because a study plan really does make you more likely to pass ACCA.
Because a good study plan isn’t just about what you do and when. It’s more about building the right habits, recognising that studying is an important and immovable part of your day and committing time towards it.
It might seem like quite a small thing, but we promise. If you build yourself a decent ACCA study plan, you’ll majorly improve your chances of that pass. So, what does a decent study plan look like?
1) Understand what type of learner you are
Are you better at reading, watching or listening? Some students learn better through one; others through another – but try them all to find out which you are. And remember, you all face the same exam in the end. What’s most important is that you’re taking in all the right information.
Learnsignal is set up to give you all the options. You could watch the videos or just listen to the content to build knowledge – especially on the theory-based topics. Then some notes accompany the topics if you like to read.
2) Set realistic goals that split into smaller actions
Most study plans fail because the goals you set aren’t feasible or achievable. That 4-hour revision period before you start work at 9am might seem like a good idea, but how long will you really stick to it?
The best study plans aren’t about looking good. They’re about keeping you on track. So make sure the goals you set are realistic (but also stretching you – there’s no good giving yourself weeks for something you could achieve in days. Work out the right balance for you).
“The best study plans aren’t about looking good. They’re about keeping you on track.”
For instance, you could aim to watch all the videos and complete all the MCQs for a topic over 3 days. You could then break this down further by checking out the total number of videos and MCQs so you know what you’re doing each day.
That also helps you stick to the overall goal. If you know that skipping a video today means double the work tomorrow to hit your goal, you’re more likely to stay on track. The big picture can be scary, so focus on the day-to-day, and you’ll be less overwhelmed – and more likely to complete your goals.
3) Build study time into your daily routine
Humans are designed for routine, which is why habits become easier to stick to when we do them regularly. Think about cleaning your teeth – it’s just ‘something you do’, right? Even if you’re tired or unmotivated – you don’t skip it. Because that’s your routine – you have to do your teeth.
Treat studying the same way. Find a time in your day – like lunchtime, before work or after the kids go to bed – that you always study. Ideally, you’ll have a few smaller slots – like watching one or two videos on your commute, for example, and then another couple on your lunch break.
Making study a part of your routine cuts your chances of falling behind or procrastinating. It just becomes ‘something you do’.
4) Structure your time
We all have busy lives: fitting your study into the mix can be difficult. But structuring your time means you study more efficiently – you make the most of the time you do have.
The key here is to be efficient and structured about your study. You should know which specific task you’re aiming to complete in a given time period, so you have a clear start and endpoint.
Aimlessly reading notes, for example, is the worst way to use your time. You could read notes forever and still not pass the ACCA. Instead, target each study period around a certain area, even if that’s only ten minutes.
If you’re using learnsignal, that’s super easy because our videos organise the course into small, efficient chunks.
5) Create your study space
You can watch your videos on the bus, the train or anywhere that works. But you’ll still need a study space – whether that’s work, home or a cafe.
That’s because practising questions is a major component of a successful result in an ACCA exam, even better if you create exam conditions for yourself.
“Practising questions is a major component of a successful result in an ACCA exam.”
That might only be for one question at a time and only for a few minutes – but for those few minutes, you should have a quiet, uncluttered environment without notes in front of you.
If possible, creating that space somewhere “fixed”, like a desk at home, can be helpful because it’s always there. You don’t have the extra hassle of ‘setting up’, which can be another barrier to getting started.
Some people lay out a yoga mat before they go to bed, so it’s harder to avoid when they get up. It’s that same principle.
6) Take effective notes
Some people prefer to take notes, and some don’t. There’s evidence for both tactics and pitfalls to both too.
The big advantage of taking notes is that you have something to look at again when you revise. But there’s also a pitfall here. If you’re blindly copying out text sections, that’s not helping anyone. And it’s not testing you, which means you’re not really learning anything. Also, there’s no value in writing notes if you don’t use them to help you prepare for the exam. Don’t write them and put them away, never to be seen again.
The approach we recommend is to take notes – or make comments in the margins as you read study materials – but make sure you’re writing in your own words, not just copying. At every point, ask yourself if they’re valuable or if you’re cheating yourself into ‘feeling busy’.
Then keep those notes front and centre, and schedule a time to go back over them when you revise.
7) Catch up if you fall behind
Reality-check. Despite the best intentions, you’re going to fall behind your study plan at some point. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But DO get back on track as soon as you can.
“Don’t beat yourself up if you fall behind. But DO get back on track ASAP.”
There’s nothing as de-motivating as a workload that keeps getting bigger and bigger because you’re not catching up with yourself. That’s also why making a realistic plan is important because otherwise, you’ll keep putting yourself in this situation unnecessarily and feel worse and worse about your progress.
So. Start with a plan you can stick to, but know it’s not the end of the world when you don’t. But don’t let getting behind snowball. Once you’re behind, you’ll feel so much better if you proactively go back to your study plan and reschedule that missed session.
8) Schedule time for you
Don’t forget the most important thing: look after yourself.
Life is hectic anyway, and it can be challenging when you add the ACCA. It can be frustrating because the reward seems a long way away. Choosing not to go out with friends tonight because of an exam in 10 weeks can be difficult, and your morale can start to suffer.
The pass on results day is definitely worth it, but it might not feel like it right now. So include “me-time” in your study plan too – even things like food, and sleep – to make sure you’re looking after yourself. There’s no point passing if you break yourself in the process. Remember, the ACCA is the start of something (your new, brighter career), not the end!
Creating the perfect ACCA study plan might feel a bit like military precision, but that’s precisely what will help you get the result you want. If you create a realistic, precise, achievable plan, then you just need to follow it, and you’ll get your results. It really is that simple.
If you’re a learnsignal member, we include plenty of sample ACCA study plans for each exam. They’re a fantastic starting point and guide you to leave enough time for each topic to secure your pass.