Whatever qualification you are studying, receiving exam results is always nerve-racking. For some students it will be good news; they will have passed, and are able to progress with their studies as planned. For others the result will be more disappointing and they will need to work out how to tackle a resit and determine what impact that has on any current studies.
Let me share my three-step approach of Reflect/Revise/Redo to help you decide what to do.
It is disappointing to fail an exam, but it is not the end of the world. You may be feeling a range of emotions – anger, disappointment, sadness, anxiety – and it’s OK to acknowledge those feelings, but don’t let them overwhelm you. Yes, these are important exams and of course you want to do well, but just because you were unsuccessful this time doesn’t mean you won’t do better next time.
That’s why a period of reflection is useful. Take the time to consider why you failed. Be honest with yourself in assessing how well prepared you were for the exam, such as:
• Did you cover all of the topics in the syllabus?
• Did you understand the subject – could you answer questions without referring to your notes?
• How much time did you allow each week for studying? Was it enough and was it the right time of day to gain the most benefit?
• Did you ensure you had time to revise the material ahead of the exam and work through at least one mock exam?
You may find it useful to talk through with your tutor, a colleague, a family member or friend how well you felt you were prepared ahead of the exam. They may be able to help you in your assessment as they can identify what you did well (keep doing that) and what didn’t work (stop doing that!).
Having analysed your last performance, remind yourself of why you are doing these exams and ‘get back on the horse’.
ACCA results are issued about seven weeks before the next exam sitting so time is of the essence to ensure you have enough time to be properly prepared for the exam.
It’s worth pausing and considering what do you do about your new subject. Chances are you have already started studying for a new subject and now you need to decide whether to a) just focus on the resits, b) just focus on the new on and defer the resit, or c) do two papers.
As a general rule of thumb, only do two papers if your fail was marginal and you are confident that you have enough time to study for both. If you were several marks away from a pass then it is sensible to just focus on one. It is usually worth doing the resit first, while it is still fresh in your mind – but you may decide a new subject is going so well you want to carry on.
Having decided which exam(s) you are taking, it’s now time to revise. To me revision means two things: recap and question practise. Recap is where you look back over the topic to refresh your memory of the key points. You will probably be surprised at how much you can remember.
However, don’t spend too long making lots of notes, because you want to focus on question practice. The key to success is exam standard question practice. This is where you attempt the question to time and then use the marking key to assess your answer. You may then need to review your notes if you are failing to score well.
Check with your tutor which questions they recommend. Work through a question bank. Attempt the past exam papers and review the examiners’ feedback. There are lots of resources available. Keep working through the loop of recap – question practice – recap until you are able to tackle all questions on the topic confidently.
Although this is a resit treat it as a new exam and a new chance to shine. The marker will be looking for evidence that you should pass and this time you will be ready to prove just how great you are.
• Caron Betts is an ACCA tutor with AVADO