"I don't feel ready to do questions"

I hear this from my students on a daily basis, and I remember having the same feeling myself when I was studying. 

Why is it dangerous, and how can you feel more ready?

Bad News... you'll NEVER feel ready

Sorry, this isn’t what you want to hear. 

Most accounting students are perfectionists, which seriously impacts the way we approach the world and tasks we take on (I’ll link a few more articles at the bottom of this article for you to check out). The main issue for this discussion is that we like to ‘be ready’ before we do anything

What are you waiting for?

You’re waiting for that feeling that you know your stuff well enough to answer questions quickly and get the answer right, feeling confident that you know the answer. 

So, you wait. You plan. You study theory. You revise. You ‘collect’ more info, notes, videos, lectures etc… until you reach that ‘feeling’ of readiness and confidence.

You’re not prepared to ‘put yourself out there’ until you’re confident that you’re ready to get the stuff right. You’ll wait until the right moment.

We also like to have the PERFECT plan BEFORE we start. We want to know that our study schedule takes every topic, every week, everything into account properly, BEFORE we get to any studying. We place a lot of importance on the PLAN. Many students I know will revise their study plan, almost more than they study! 

"Yvonne, why do I keep doing this?!"

It can be frustrating to read stuff like this and think “Why can’t I just jump in and do questions? Why do I have to be so weird?”. Relax, there are some perfectly logical reasons you study the way you do!

It doesn't make sense to do something if you know you can't

There’s a logic here. We instinctively feel that it’s irresponsible to try do something when you KNOW you don’t know how to do it. It would be like applying for a job you KNOW you’re not qualified to do.

So, you wait. You prepare. You plan. You make sure you can do it, BEFORE you try it.

We remember how it feels to 'know' the answers!

Thanks to the way that earlier levels of education and assessments are designed, most of my students (myself included!) passed by learning theory, memorising stuff and repeating it. The questions were such that if you had done 5 questions on the topic, you could be pretty sure that question 6 would look like one of the previous 5. You could ‘copy / paste’ the answer from something you’d done before. 

You would KNOW the answers. You had confidence that you KNEW your theory and questions well enough to KNOW whatever they asked you. You remember what that feels like to be that confident. And you’re still working towards that feeling. You want to feel that again. You believe that’s how it SHOULD be.

Study first, then do questions

Again, thanks to the way we were taught, we’ve been taught (pretty implicitly), that questions come AFTER you’ve learnt everything. 

Think about it… when last were you in a class where you got the question FIRST? Before you started the topic at all? 

In most cases, the lecturer will tell us what we’re going to learn, give us all the knowledge we need, and THEN direct us to questions. So, we learn that the way to learn is that you need to only do questions once you have all the knowledge needed to answer the question.

Naturally, you’ll keep this habit. It’s how learning works… right?

In reality, the best way to learn is to understand the problems you’re facing. The ‘knowledge’ is intended to help you solve certain problems… but if you don’t really ‘get’ the problem… then the solution is purely theoretical for you. You don’t ‘get it’. 

Read my article on why fin man is like a screwdriver… it’ll explain it nicely!


Think of learning to drive a car. You can ‘prepare’, plan as much as you like. The only time you actually start LEARNING to drive, is when you get behind the wheel of a car. 

Sure, you can’t drive yet, but this is the only way to learn! The only way to develop and learn practical skills is to actually start doing them. 

As an accounting student studying towards a professional accounting qualification, your exams are trying to simulate the practical environment. A client will approach you with a problem they’re facing and expect you to solve it. This is completely practical! This isn’t ‘theory’! You can know all the theory you like, but you need the skill of applying it to THIS client. You only learn that by practicing and simulating it.

At later levels, your exams are totally different and no longer look like ANYTHING you’ve seen before. The skill of solving THIS new problem is way more important than ‘knowing stuff’.

How do you fix this?

The starting point is to be AWARE of why you study the way you do. 

Read, watch and think about the stuff I say here, and then try decide LOGICALLY which makes more sense for you.

Make the choice, ACTIVELY, to study differently. To do questions earlier. And then set a reminder on your phone EVERY DAY, that this is your CHOICE!

There is no point in making this choice ONCE, and then thinking that it’ll magically change years of beliefs and habits. You have to re-choose ALL the time. You’re going to keep snapping back to what’s old and familiar. 


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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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