As I’m sure you well know, there’s a difference between sitting and looking at notes and concentrating. Forcing yourself to pick up a book is the easy bit, but getting your head in the game can be a whole lot more difficult.
From allowing distractions to learning by rote, last minute cramming to a late night chocolate binge, these are the 7 worst ACCA study habits. Learn how to avoid them and the time you spend studying will actually be time well spent.
Not drawing connections
Instead of viewing each paper in isolation, when you revise for the ACCA it’s important that you draw connections between other elements of the course and your practical experience.
These connections are important from the F4 paper onwards, where you’ll be expected to have a breadth of understanding across the entire ACCA syllabus.
Keep previous revision notes to hand when you revise and make a conscious effort to draw parallels. Your aim should be to give yourself a real-world understanding of the concepts in action, rather than learning the textbook.
Studying in the wrong environment
Studying in the wrong environment has to be one of the worst ACCA study habits, as it’s complete self-sabotage. You might think you’re doing the right thing by heading to the library at the weekend, but if you feel like you’re choking in the silence and it’s kept so warm you keep dozing off, that’s not productive.
This is about being able to self-assess, as everyone works best in different environments. My personal preference has always been to listen to free online noise generators like Rainy Mood or Coffitivity but each to their own.
Studies have actually shown ambient noise to improve focus and aid productivity though, so it’s worth trying if you haven’t already.
There’s a tendency to assume you’ve got loads of time left to revise… until suddenly there’s only two weeks until the exam and you haven’t touched your notes.
If you leave your ACCA revision until the last minute you’re not giving yourself time to get to grips with the course material. Given that almost all of ACCA marks are for applied knowledge rather than verbatim knowledge, this isn’t a great study habit.
The solution to this is good old-fashioned time management. Write a comprehensive revision timetable to ensure you have time to cover all the relevant areas – and stick to it.
At one end of the spectrum are the crammers and at the other, those who go completely overboard. It’s counter-productive to spend every waking moment studying, even when you feel like there’s an endless list of things to learn.
If you completely forsake your social life, you’ll be more susceptible to stress, more likely to burn out, and less likely to retain the information you’re studying. This is true on a micro and macro scale – take breaks regularly throughout the day, and be willing to take an evening off now and then.
Memorising, not studying
Revision should be about learning and absorbing knowledge, not about memorising by rote. Certainly there are facts, formulae and mnemonics you need to memorise, but your focus should be on understanding and contextualising.
One of the worst ACCA study habits is rewriting for the sake of rewriting. Reviewing and condensing your notes can be a valuable revision technique, but endlessly copying out chunks of text verbatim isn’t productive.
Instead, try reading through your notes and repeating the key points back to yourself verbally, then writing summary notes from memory later that day.
It starts innocently enough. Maybe you’re reviewing your course notes and you want to have a quick look at the ACCA Examiner’s Notes on that topic. You head online and BAM – suddenly it’s 7pm and you’ve spent the last four hours browsing ‘People You May Know’ on Facebook.
If you’re revising offline, stay offline – and turn off your Internet. If you’re online, use a tool to block access to certain websites for a specified amount of time.
FocalFilter has always been one of my favourites because it’s difficult to ‘cheat’ if you change your mind and want to undo the block.
FocalFilter only works with Windows though, so if you’re using a Mac the free Self-Control app is a great alternative.
Not looking after yourself
It’s late, you’re tired and you’re trying to spin too many plates. Keeping the fridge well stocked was one of the things you let slide, and suddenly spaghetti hoops from the back of the cupboard aren’t looking so bad.
The problem is that your diet has a surprisingly big impact on your ability to concentrate.
You’ve no doubt heard that you should eat more fruit and veg (the antioxidants in help protect your brain cells) but the big one that you’re probably not getting enough of is omega-3s fatty acid. Found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines as well as in non-fish sources such as walnuts, flaxseed, kidney and pinto beans, broccoli and spinach, omega-3s are massively beneficial to your brain health.
It’s late, you’re tired and you’re trying to spin too many plates. Suddenly spaghetti hoops from the back of the cupboard aren’t looking so bad… but that’s where bad ACCA study habits start!
Green tea is another brain super-food as it contains polyphenols which protect your brain cells from damage. Regular consumption has been shown to improve memory and mental alertness, so it’s definitely worth trying.
If you change anything in your diet, cut down on saturated fats such as butter, cheese, whole-milk and so on. These have been shown to have a negative impact on concentration – not good news for your ACCA studies.
I do have some good news though. Small amounts of wine have been shown to improve memory by boosting blood flow to the brain. Crack open a bottle in the name of revision, just make sure to limit it to 1 (women) or 2 (men) glasses a day.
If you’re not able to concentrate, you might as well not be stuck inside studying. Make sure your time is productive by avoiding these 7 ACCA study habits, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Anything you’d add? Get the conversation started below.