There are huge benefits to studying for the ACCA while working – not least that the practical experience you gain will help in the exams, and enable you to fulfil the practical experience requirements. However, it is stressful and balancing your workload can be difficult.
In between probable 10-hour working days and 2 or 3-hour study days, you can feel like there aren’t enough hours to study effectively.
Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. We spoke to some of our ACCA revision course students and asked for their top tips on studying for the ACCA while working.
Without further ado…
How to Stay Sane Studying For The ACCA While Working
This was the tip that came up most frequently amongst our ACCA revision students. There’s no two ways about it: if you’re trying to balance work and study, you need to be incredibly disciplined about managing your time.
If you haven’t already, read our tips on creating an effective study plan to guide you through the course of your studies. If you’re already approaching the exams, our piece on creating an ACCA revision timetable will be more up your street.
The most important thing is not to wing it and hope for the best. Studying for the ACCA while working demands a structured approach. If you don’t proactively schedule study time, it’s unlikely ever to get done.
There’s no point creating a study plan if you don’t stick to it once you’ve made it, but there’s also no point scheduling in study for every spare moment, or you’ll likely burn out.
If you continually choose social life over study life you’ll struggle to pass the ACCA exams. At the same time though you do need to have some flexibility. With the best of intentions things are going to come up, and you need to be able to accommodate them.
When you’re creating your study plan, try and build time in to allow for the odd evening or weekend off. That way, you know you’ve got some time to play with if you get an offer you can’t decline socially. At the worst, you don’t use it and you’ve got extra studying time – so a cushion is never a bad thing.
Track Your Progress
One good way to ensure you get the work/study balance right is to create a timetable of everything you have to achieve that day, week and month and track your progress.
As we’ve said before, set objectives here rather than purely time goals as this will ensure your studies are efficient. Do include a rough estimate of how long those objectives should take you though, as this will allow you to schedule work or down time in more effectively.
Then you can tally how much progress you’ve made and how much time roughly you have left to do that week to meet your goals. This gives you a concrete way to decide if you can ‘afford’ to go out with friends and if you do, how much you have to catch up with. It also gives you a real sense of achievement, which can help make those long days worth it.
Look, let’s be frank. If you’re studying for the ACCA while working, you simply don’t have time to be inefficient. If you’re studying, you’re studying – you need to be able to get the most out of it.
Firstly, this is about how you study. Read our piece on hyper-effective study techniques if you haven’t already and figure out how best you should study.
Read more: 6 Hyper-Effective ACCA Study Techniques
Secondly, it’s about where you study. Effective learning demands a certain environment – and that environment is different for everyone. Work out where you work best and you’ll be a more efficient student.
Lastly, it’s about when you study. If you’re already tight on time (and you are, or you wouldn’t be reading this) then you need to make the most of the time you do have. Work out ways to incorporate your ACCA studies into ‘dead time’ in your day: your commute, for example.
The rise of online learning means you can take your studies with you, wherever and whenever you need to. We’ve designed our ACCA revision courses specifically with that in mind, to allow you to maximise your time during the day. Be creative – you don’t need a four-hour block of time to study effectively.
Be Kind To Yourself
You’re trying to juggle a lot – sometimes we all need a reminder: be kind to yourself. We all have off days. We all have evenings where all we want to do is crash into bed instead of picking up the textbook. Those aren’t a disaster.
Stop telling yourself that you’re a failure, or that you can’t do it, or forcing yourself to do it anyway and staring blankly at a screen for hours without taking anything in (and then beating yourself up for being a failure… and so on, ad infinitum).
Give yourself a break, mentally and physically. You’ve taken on a huge undertaking and you should be proud that you’re facing the challenge head on.
Being kind to yourself also applies to your physical health. When we’re flat-out, living a healthy lifestyle can seem like one effort too many. You’re not going to be successful studying for the ACCA while working though if you’re also run-down, undernourished, dehydrated and lethargic. Look after your body and mind and you’ll be better able to cope.
The key to effectively studying for the ACCA while working is to get a balance between work, study and life. If you throw yourself too far into one or other of those areas, you’ll suffer in others and either you’ll be less likely to pass, or you’ll burn bridges professionally, or your health will suffer. None of those are optimum outcomes. You’re given a long-time to complete the qualification for a reason, so don’t kill yourself to make the next exam session if that’s not feasible.
Are you studying for the ACCA while working? Any tips you’d share? Any horror stories? Sign up for your free 7-day trial of LearnSignal here now and we’ll help you pass the ACCA.