When you prepare for your exam, one of things that is most important is the format of the exam.  The reason is, it can vastly alter your exam approach.  For example, if you have a practical problem exam, you will want to spend all your time to doing practice problems in preparation.  It would be useless to focus on the theory behind it, even though it may be useful, it won’t help you when it comes to actually doing the exam.

There are five main formats when it comes to accounting exams:

  1. Multiple Choice Exams
  2. Short Answer Exams
  3. Practical Answer Exams
  4. Case Study Exams
  5. Essay Exams

Or more likely, you may have a combination of these.

When you have a combination exam, you have to alter exam preparation program so you can excel in all the different aspects of the exam.  Most exams during my studies, I’ve found to be a combination of multiple choice with either short answer or practical problems.  Short answer to test your in depth knowledge and understanding and practical problems to test how well you really know and understand the practical concepts and can adapt your approach when given new information.

So when constructing an exam preparation program, focus on what skills you need to acquire to be able to succeed in your exam.  Think of it like this, the approach of an athlete for a 100m race will be different to a 1.5km race.  They include the same skills – running, but the approach to the final race is vastly different.  This is how you need to look at exam preparation, preparing for that race at the end of the semester.

Sometimes, we don’t know what format the exam will take at the beginning of the semester so my approach with that is to use past exam papers as a guide.  The format of the exam will usually be similar to previous years’ and you can use that in preparation.  As soon as you find out there is a change though, be prepared to alter your plan so you do everything in your power to get the best result possible for yourself.

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