In my experience, Management Accounting is responsible for more nightmares and tears than any other part of a student’s qualification journey! For a lot of students, this is the killer. This is the hateful, painful, awful subject that threatens to be the monster that prevents them from qualifying. I imagine that there’s a lot of students out there who can picture themselves sitting with their grandchildren one day saying to them “You know, I could’ve been a CA when I was younger if it wasn’t for Man Acc”… It’s kinda funny because it’s kinda true!

If you have yet to experience this, or are only starting Man Acc, then this may scare you. I wrote another article on how to think about Man Acc as you get into it. It will be very helpful for your approach.

I was one of those students too. I got distinctions at UNISA for MAC in undergrad, and then failed Test 1, Test 2 and Test 3 for CTA (BADLY!). Talk about a horror story! No amount of energy seemed to make a difference. I’d sit in part-time classes nodding while the lecturer went through questions. It made sense, seemed do-able. Then I’d get home and try a question. Everything fell apart, I knew nothing, couldn’t get anything right! I’d even try doing the same question we did in class! I couldn’t even get that right! And I’d been sitting right there!!!

I only passed Man Acc in Test 4 because I stopped studying for Auditing (I was fairly comfortable that I could pass Auditing with less revision and had a good yearmark already). By the time the final exam came around, I was terrified. I had only passed it in Test 4, and then only at the expense of another subject. What on earth would I do in the final?

I never stopped studying for Man Acc, but I also never got to the point where I felt ‘enlightened’. Some students found that it all ‘made sense’ somehere during the year. I glared at them with envy. That little light bulb over my head NEVER switched on.

The final exam came and went. I can’t remember much of it. I think my mind blocked off the memory from sheer trauma! I remember crying afterwards. Wondering whether I should bother writing any of the other subjects. Wondering why I dedicated so many years of my life to studying so hard when this was going to bring me to my knees. I had some great support at the time. It mainly consisted of them telling me that regardless of how I felt, I MUST write the other subjects. I argued, but I did it.

My final results showed 59% for Man Acc. Based on my terrible yearmark, it meant that I must’ve gotten 63% at least for the final exam. My first thought was that someone had gotten my results wrong. It took me a LONG time to accept that I had actually passed.

This is a photo of me a few hours after getting my CTA results. Looking back, I felt dumbfounded more than happy. I had passed CTA, first time, but I was so stunned, so overwhelmed, that it took a while to be happy about it!

I keep photos like this because I never want to forget the journey. (I’m sentimental and a bit of a photo-freak as well!)

You can read about the rest of my qualification journey here




My point is this: At no time during CTA did I honestly believe that I was going to pass. All the ‘positive thinking’ in the world wasn’t loud enough to drown out my fears of failure, my doubts about my abilities, and the knowledge that I wasn’t comfortable with the work. This wasn’t a calm, paced marathon. This was a crazed sprint, with lots of falling, lots of tears, lots of walking to get my breath back, lots of looking around at others to see if I was ok compared to them. By the finish line, I felt like I was crawling over the line by my fingernails, gasping for breath, wondering if they’d shut the race down already and all gone home.

What made the difference? Regardless of what I felt, I kept going. I did questions through my tears, laughed hysterically at the mistakes I kept making, threw my stuff down in frustration… then picked it up again. By the time I got to that exam, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t positive or confident, all I knew was that I was going to take a deep breath and give it whatever I could. Leave the emotions at the door, and just do what I could. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but thankfully, it was enough.

This may seem a little melodramatic to some students. To some students it may seem like I’m right in your head reading your thoughts, and others of you may be laughing at how ridiculous I was not to get to grips with Man Acc. Either way, know that you’re not alone in your journey. You may look at others who have passed and think that they had it all ‘together’. They probably didn’t. They were as terrified as you, felt as stupid as you, as unprepared. For me… that’s comforting!

Now go take a breath and get ready to do your best for your Man Acc final. My thoughts are most definitely with you!


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


  1. “Its Man Acc the reason I can’t sleep peacefully at night”

    It feels like this article was written specifically to me.

    Thank you 🙂

  2. Woooow that is realy an inspiring story ,management is also my nightmare bt I will make it dark or blue

  3. Thank you for this. It’s so hard to find it in me to be positive. CTA has without a doubt been the most terrifying year of my life (so far) every time I get back my test results it chips away my confidence. I’ve never been the smartest or the one to study 14 hours a day but it doesn’t mean I don’t want this.

  4. This. Is literally me in every aspect. I’ve been freaking out about my cta exams coming up in a week – thank you for sharing this! I needed to read this.

  5. You are giving me hope. All the emotions you wrote it’s what I’m experiencing. Sometimes I even feel like giving up but as you said we do it even if our feelings are not feeling.
    Thank you so much

  6. I’m about to write paper 2 of man acc now. I don’t even think paper 1 went well but I have it My best. I’m about to do the same with paper 2

    My biggest nightmare though is acc groups…coming in a week and a bit. I need serious prayers

    • Well done for not falling apart! You just hang in there! You’ve got so many people at your back!! 🙂

  7. wow I will took that as motivation to some of us!!!..I did face some storms too this year with the big 4 module, Audiitng, Fin Acc, Taxation..including Man acc!, Actually I wanted to quit but I didn’t, I kept on going even though I was getting 20%, 18%…now we about to write our final exams, so after reading your story, I believe I can also make it, even though my predicates sucks!! # Thanks Yvonne

  8. Wow this is such a great platform for people like me.
    I’m doing my CTA for the 6th time but I’m not giving up. Manacc is my only problem but I will conquer the devil.

  9. I begin cta next year in 2018. I would really appreciate it if someone could take me under their wing and mentor me. I’m more driven to succeed than anyone on earth! 083 299 6695. If you are embarking on the cta journey I would love to join and start alongside anyone

  10. Doing CTA2 this year, and your msg really got to me. Even getting tears in my eyes. My story is just as long as yours and i just want to say to all the other ppl ready Yvonne posted.

    Never ever give up, i still havnt passed CTA2 even after redoing my 3rd year in 2017 due to my Bacc degree being older than 3yrs. I made a promise to myself, that i will never give up. Lots of freak out moment, crying moment, hating the course especially manacc and consols. My prayers go out to all the other students in the same struggle. Get ppl around you that understand the struggle, and they know exactly how to support you.

    Thank Jesus that my girlfriend soon to be wife is always there to support me.

    • Hi Danie,
      Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been a really tough decision to go back and re-do third year. That takes a lot of courage, determination, and a real vision for your future.
      I really believe effort and perseverance like this will pay off, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
      It really is a blessing to have people so close to you who understand and support you on such a level, I’m glad you don’t take that for granted. It’s one less thing to add to already high stress levels.
      I hope other students draw some inspiration and motivation from your story too. It helps to know that you’re not alone, and there are so many students out there who are struggling with the same things that you are.
      Good luck with your studies!

  11. Dear Yvonne

    Thank you for this post.

    I was on the verge of reconsidering whether I should continue with CTA or just drop it, get married and let it go. Although, deep inside of me, I know that I can do this if I just try harder.

    Your story has definitely given me great courage to pursue and push! May God bless you.

    • Awesome 😉
      You do know that we’re offering CTA online courses at Tabaldi this year? If you’re needing more help 🙂

  12. Thanks a lot for your inspiring words, I wrote Mac2601 last Semester and got a Sup. To be honest I don’t know how I even got that Sup. Because I felt completely lost in my exam, yet I came fully prepared. I am due to writing it in June this year. I am motivated.

    I hope for the best.


  13. Thanks for the the story!

    It’s comforting to know that we are not alone and that everything did not go 100% okay for everyone who passed before us still out here doing CTA level 1.

    Again another valuable article! So thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

WAIT! Download My Mindset & Studies Guide

Did you know that mindset is one of the biggest things that could be holding you back with your studies and you don't even know it?

Your data is 100% secure and will never be shared with anyone. Our privacy policy is here

My YouTube Channel...

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

Recent posts

My Courses