Reading the case study in an exam can take up valuable time, so it’s crucial that you get the maximum value from this process. Every minute that you spend on this must be worth marks to you, otherwise you’re wasting your time!!

To begin with, you have to make sure that you read the information ‘actively’ rather than ‘passively’. This means that instead of reading it like a story, you need to be actively interrogating the information and constantly asking what it means to you.

Active reading is NOT just highlighting or underlining the important keywords in the case study. Highlighting just tells you that you think the information is important… it doesn’t identify WHY you think it’s important, or what you plan on doing with it. If I asked you why you highlighted it, you’d have to READ IT AGAIN in order to tell me why it’s important… and that’s going to waste time.

When you’re working through case studies… put the highlighter away and make little notes about the information you read. Abbreviations that tell you what you will do with the information.

Eg: For Auditing:
“RFS” = Risk at Financial Statement level
“RInv” = Risk at assertion level for Inventory
“MAF?” = Masterfile Amendment Form controls seem to be weak
(Although these are Auditing-related… the same applies to all your subjects. Fin Acc should have timelines, Man Acc should have triggers of components that will affect your calculations, Tax should have references to theory-specific sections, issues that will impact your calculations / inclusions / exclusions)

You are the only one that needs to understand your abbreviations, but you need to make sure they identify the IMPACT of the information, not just that you think it’s important. If you can’t identify WHY the information is important, you won’t know what to do with it in the exam.

Instead of spending your ‘reading time’ focusing on reading the information only… you need to make sure that you’re THINKING at the same time. Actively asking yourself what each sentence means to you, how it will affect your calculation, discussion, risk, valuation, costing, tax calculations etc. This will force you to find more valuable and relevant information in case studies.

So… get rid of the highlighters! When you’re studying, read every line with the question in the back of your head asking you… WHAT DOES THIS INFORMATION MEAN TO ME?

If you can relate, or have a query...

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Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

I coach accounting students who are struggling with their study habits and mindset, and want their studies to be as effective as they used to be. See more on my about page

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