1 Reverse engineer: The foundation for passing these exams is to lock in a target exam date and to work backwards from there. Book your objective exams six to eight weeks in advance; for case study exams book six weeks in advance and add an additional three weeks per subject that you have not covered yet due to exemptions.
2 TPM: Theory, Practice and Mocks is the winning sequence of study that I used when doing my exams. First learn the theory, then spend two to three weeks becoming fully immersed in the course theory by whichever medium you prefer (books, videos, etc).
Next, work through as many practice questions as possible. Initially, try not to use the book or the internet to help you. If you are stuck try to solve using the textbook/internet before checking the answer. For objective exams I recommend roughly 250 questions; it seems a lot, but break it up into 40-60 question sessions to make it more manageable.
Finally, two weeks before your exam you need to sit a mock paper that replicates exam conditions. If you don’t do well, that’s fine – at least you know your weak points.
Work through the cycle again on areas you didn’t perform well in and continue resitting mocks until you pass.
3 Create questions: Dedicate two or three study sessions to going through the textbook and creating questions on what you think an examiner would ask you in an exam. This is especially useful for case study exams where there is a large volume of information that can be examined.
Creating questions puts you in the mindset of an examiner and lets you cover off all possibilities on what can be tested. Make sure you have an answer for each question you have created.
4 The night before: I’ve never studied the night before or the day of the exam. Although somewhat counterintuitive, the night before an exam can be used more productively if the time is spent relaxing and resting. You need to be confident in the exam and revising materials the night before can cause you to question your knowledge if you suddenly find that you are weaker on a topic than you thought. Use the time wisely and create a clear and confident mindset for the day of the exam.
5 Practice makes perfect: Practice questions should form 40-50% of your total revision time. Don’t worry about trying to get every question correct, if you get one wrong that’s a valuable insight on an area you need to work on. Always make note of areas you do poorly on and focus the majority your study time on those specific areas.
• Hugh Martin is MD of Belfast-based consultancy Lankill Group