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!