Many of these 500,000 students are choosing to take tuition from an ACCA approved learning partner - a journey through the ACCA exams we strongly recommend - and for many reasons. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what ACCA students past and present who have studied ACCA with an approved learning partner have to say about their experiences.
Studying to become an ACCA member is flexible, and it opens up a world of opportunities. With over 500,000 students studying in a variety of ways, we know that flexibility is key to a successful ACCA journey.
More resources, more support
Stefan Petkov, a finance manager at Experian in Bulgaria, undertook several modes of study during his ACCA journey, but found self-study the most difficult. ‘I tried this for several exams and I failed some for various reasons – either I was not organised enough, or I told myself I had more important things to do at work, or I simply did not know how to approach the exam, what to focus on, what not to do – essentially how to pass.’
What worked best for Stefan was a combination of online study with classroom revision courses, which gave him the ever important flexibility we all need in our modern lives. ‘At the same time, it is structured so that I do not easily get behind schedule with my studies. Revision courses actually give me the opportunity to get a feeling of how well I have managed to master the materials and most importantly I receive guidance from tutors on how to pass the exam.’
Mira Gospodinova, a senior compliance and reporting officer at EY Bulgaria, also enjoys the high level of support she receives from her learning provider. ‘You receive a lot of help and it’s always easier to understand a topic when someone explains it to you in a comprehensive way. You always have someone to ask questions, someone to explain the solution of a complicated problem. You also have access to different resources – tutors' experiences, recorded tutorials, libraries or online resources.’
For Ge Yingzhou, who studies a joint programme at Hunan University of Commerce and Kaibo Financial Training Company (KBF) in China, the chances of success and achieving her goals are greatly increased by studying with a learning provider, thanks in part to the extra career development support and resources she has access to.
‘The tutor makes all the difference during a course,’ says Petkov. ‘Tutors have the hard job of making sure you exit the course confident and at the end of the day you pass the exam. They know the key elements of each exam, focus your attention and make sure you know how to handle them. Expert tutors are well aware of how the examiners think and how to help you score marks, and what you should and what you should not do during the exam.’ Petkov recalls one of his tutors George Kirilov at learning provider MDV. ‘He was one of the first tutors I met when I began studying for ACCA and I was really impressed by the way he was able to make some of the boring materials interesting. George combined the exam material with stories from his own experience as well as other real-life examples and this was catching everyone’s attention and made it simple. I still believe I managed to get a job due to what I had learned about cost of capital during the Financial Management course.’
Gospodinova’s remembers Lincoln Miles, also at MDV in Bulgaria. ‘His style of teaching really suited the way I learned. It’s very important for a tutor to be able to set the balance in the detail of his explanations and Lincoln always knew exactly how detailed an explanation a student needed. His technique of solving exam questions with students at class was also very good – he gave us enough but not too much time, he managed to encourage us to participate in discussions to find solutions and he could explain anything that would otherwise remain not fully clear.’
‘All my ACCA teachers from KBF thus far have been awesome,’ says Yingzhou. ‘Daniel Zhou is a very charismatic and humorous teacher. I passed the Auditing and Assurance exam even though I had no practical work experience in audit. Being an auditor himself in the past, he shared his experience of audit processes, which has greatly stimulated my interest in auditing. Then there’s Sophia Jiang, our Taxation teacher. She is particularly good at teaching subjects with logic and computational frameworks. She makes complex course content very easy to understand..’
Collaboration and network-building
Of course, having good quality tutors with years of professional experience is important, but so too are the resources sat next to you, virtually in a digital classroom or physically in a real one. Collaborating with fellow students is a great way to stay motivated when times are tough, are there to help with tricky concepts and can make the learning process more enjoyable and less solitary.
‘I’ve made a lot of friends from different schools while studying ACCA,’ says Song Anqi, who studied ACCA at Guangzhou Zhongbo Education in China. ‘We can study together and discuss questions we have. Sometimes if I have missed the face-to-face class, I turn to my classmates for help, such as giving me materials the tutor handed out in the class or lending me notebooks etc. When I’m going to take an exam, I’m aware that I’m not alone. I have a lot of classmates to pass exams with me. I think this feeling is valuable.’
Petkov finds being in a room with other students helpful in passing exams. ‘I was able to benchmark my knowledge; I was motivated to fill the gaps where others were more prepared than me; when everyone was struggling the tutor spent more time explaining; and I could learn from others and from examples they shared that were closer to me than the examples in the study test.’
Additionally, as Bulgaria is a small market with a small corporate scene, Petkov’s professional network was very important and he has been able to boost it through making friends and contacts at his school. ‘I have expanded my network thanks to the courses and the events that the learning provider regularly organises.
Structured learning and great facilities
Having structure through a learning provider, says Gospodinova, makes it easy to plan her studies, especially while working a full-time job. ‘I always know when I should start preparing and I have a plan that to reach a specific step. This is especially valuable for people like me, who work full-time and when the opportunity for studying is limited. Instead of spending time planning, you can use all the time you have and focus on preparation for the exam.’
ACCA exams can be easy to underestimate, especially in the time needed for preparation, says Petkov. ‘I’ve been combining work with study and I am so busy. Having structured learning has saved me a few times by making sure I prioritise the study early enough.’
As well as structure, the resources provided by a learning provider are invaluable. Of course, you have access to tutors and all their experience, but technology and the internet also play a key part in the experience of studying with a learning provider. ‘Having the tutorials and resources at the tip of your fingers any time is a huge advantage,’ says Petkov. ‘It is so flexible that you rarely find studying conflicts with your job or other priorities.’
Flexible, global and virtual classrooms
Indeed, Ricardo Herrera-Delgado, a capital accountant for Kent Police in the UK who studied ACCA online through BPP, says he was able to learn at his own pace and he could study after finishing work and when his family were in bed. ‘The course gave me access to great technical sessions, with examples that I could follow at my own pace, and I could go back to the lessons anytime I felt I had not grasped the subjects well enough. Due to the fact that I was juggling work and family demands, the BPP online course perfectly fit my requirements. In addition to that, I had access to a BPP tutor 24/7 who was very helpful and supportive.’
Michelle Gurung, SSAT compliance at the UK Ministry of Defence who also studied at BPP, found what worked best for her was a combination of classroom-based tuition and revision courses at the weekend, as well as day release and online tuition provided by BPP and FTC Kaplan. ‘Both learning providers followed similar tuition styles, so it was easy to switch between both without feeling I was starting afresh. This gave me the flexibility to study both in the UK and overseas (Falkland Islands, Kosovo and Afghanistan) and also gave me a short much-needed break in between exams.’
Applying what you know in the real world
Another positive factor when studying with a learning provider is that you can easily relate what you learn in class to what you do in your accounting job, and vice versa. And you can use the resources available to you – tutors, other students, online resources – to help tackle concepts you come across at work.
’When I initially started with ACCA I was working as an auditor at a Big Four firm and there is absolutely no doubt that my ACCA studies helped me understand and perform better at my job,’ says Petkov. ‘The first few exams helped cement the basic knowledge necessary for anyone involved in business, not just finance people. The following exams were so linked to what I was doing on a daily basis that my job suddenly started to make a lot more sense. I was feeling confident at what I was doing and that helped me progress upwards in the organisation. At the same time my job was helping me with my studies, as I was able to relate most of the reading materials to specific cases.
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