6 Ways to Look After Yourself When Studying Accounting Exams

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When it comes to professional accounting exams like ACCA and CIMA, it’s important to look after your wellbeing and build resilience early. 

Investing in your mental and physical health is a key part of studying and looking after it will give you the best chance of passing.

Did you know that 83% of our students said that they found their exams difficult?

While that high figure doesn’t surprise us, it shows how hard passing exams can be. Obviously some people come out feeling pretty confident. However, from my own experience you can never be sure of the outcome when you leave an exam.  \

In this blog we look at 6 simple tactics you can use to help keep your mind and body healthy while you study to ensure a better outcome on exam day. 

1) Consider your wellbeing from the start

When people are studying hard they often forget about their wellbeing and the importance of taking time out. Sleeping and eating well are crucial along with relaxing activities such as yoga and walking. 

What you need to keep in mind is that it’s not just towards the end of the sitting where these things are important. The earlier these tactics are built into the study plan, the better. 

Plus, in the first or second week of an exam sitting there’s time to bring that life/study balance into your study plan. As with anything, once a habit is established, it’s much easier to maintain.  

2) Make study a part of your life, but not the only part!

One of the issues with studying professional accounting exams is that it can be all consuming. At learnsignal, we believe that learning should complement and enhance your life to boost your career. 

By using a study plan, students can stagger when they study. So you shouldn’t start off by doing 10 hours a day from the start. What’s key is doing little and often and building up the knowledge that way. 

That way, it’s part of your life not taking it over! So if you go for your walk or to the gym or the cinema, it's never a waste of time.

At the start, it's actually an important part of the study process. Because it's the best way to clear your head and refocus, especially when you're getting stuck or caught up on something.


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3) Choose days & hours that work 

Establishing a routine will help you sustain your study right up to the exam. The worst thing you can do is leave it till the last few weeks and then experience burnout so you’re stressed and exhausted when exam time comes around. 

Look at your life and see what days of the week and times work well. Then build in regular breaks where you leave the desk or couch to stretch or make a cup of coffee. 

For example, you could say that you'll study every Thursday night from 7pm until 10pm. There will be times when it’s a struggle to study at that time because you want to do something else, but the mindset to get into is that it's the set time it needs to be done. 

The hardest part is always the initial starting point, but once you've started and are 5 or 10 minutes in it gets easier. Time will move a bit faster and you will feel you'll feel better afterward. Plus, you will also feel better prepared for exams in the future. 

4) Build resilience 

A big factor in determining whether you're going to pass or fail an exam is whether you can win those daily battles. Because every day in this study journey is a battle with yourself and making those decisions. 

So if your friend asked you to go to the cinema and you want to go but know you should be studying. Do you choose to go? Or are you going to do what you should be doing? Bear in mind, you won’t always do the right thing and there will be bad days, but it’s about resilience. 

Don’t get disheartened if you do make a different choice to studying, just pick yourself up. Recognise that it was a bad day and start again the next one.

We often compare studying for exams to running a marathon. Very few people can just decide to run a marathon and do it two weeks later. Exams are the same as they require building up to training and resilience so you can learn knowledge and apply it. That doesn’t happen quickly. 


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5) Think About the Bigger Picture

What’s also important in the process is to reinforce the bigger picture in your head, especially in the early stages. 

Think about why you chose to do this exam in the first place...

Think about the feeling you will get when you see that word PASS after an exam! Hopefully, that can help be a driving factor to keep your head down and keep going by doing a little bit every day.

If you're serious about becoming an accountant, investing in 1 or 2 years of study in exchange for 25 to 30 years in a career is not a bad trade! That’s what people need to keep in mind especially when things get tough. 

6) Don’t compare yourself to others

External pressures can play a role in making studying harder than it should be. This can be people within your company or peers. 

It’s great to share experiences and advice, but stay away from comparisons. Everyone has their own study style and it’s in the early stages that it’s best to find out what works for you. Some people like to work in frenetic bursts, while others prefer to take their time and spread it out. 

Just remember that there's different ways of doing things. The key is to stick with what suits your learning style and try to stay in a positive mindset when approaching professional accountancy exams.


Ultimately, the most important thing is to learn, plan and stick to your study plan. That way you can fit in other things that enhance your life it such as exercise, a great meal with friends or meditation time. 

Also, be prepared that there will be days where things don’t go as planned. When that happens, it’s about taking control of your own destiny and study.  

Always keep the goal at the back of your mind and think: “Why am I doing this exam?” Treat it as your mission statement and keep going back to it when you need motivation. 

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Topics: ACCA, CIMA