Study Smarter Not Harder!

Many students feel stressed and overwhelmed when a test or exam is approaching. By studying in a smarter way, you will save time and be more prepared to ace your exams.

While the methods below work really well for students, some will suit you better than others. So, try different methods of learning and try to make your studying more rounded and tailored for different things. You need to form a comprehensive, yet flexible, study approach. For example, you will find repetition helpful for completing a Tax Computation, whereas storytelling may be best to test your understanding regarding Auditors Liability in a Company Law exam.

Some common study methods


An analogy is the comparison of two or more things. You can use analogies to compare and contrast specific terms or ideas. While you can create your own analogies, one of the keys to smarter studying is recognising analogies that are already in the content you are studying. With practice, you’ll become more skilled at recognising patterns and analogies that help you digest course material. There are several kinds of analogies, including parts to whole, such as a battery is to a flashlight as a keyboard is to a computer, or for every debit there has to be a credit!

Story Telling

Story telling is a helpful way to absorb information for many. For example, you may remember when you were younger how your parents told you a story about the meaning of the benefits of eating your veg, or how your primary school teacher told you the story of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You’ve probably never forgotten as you can visualise these to this day. Instead of looking at your textbook as full of boring facts, turn that information into an exciting story with details that can help you remember. It’s quite difficult in Accounting, but you can come across the odd example – I often explain the concepts of a Fixed Asset inspection by giving examples of my interesting experiences, like the one when I was a trainee auditor and physically inspected and counted machine guns. Or my first Stocktake attendance where I counted baby sharks in a fridge at minus 18 degrees Celsius!

Acronyms and mnemonic devices

An acronym is a combination of letters that can be used to help you memorize a term or concept. In order to remember the order of items in a series, you can create sayings that begin with the first letter of each item in that series, for example, which order North, East, South, and West appear on a compass: Never Eat Shredded Wheat. You can come up with personal and creative ways to use mnemonic devices to study for a test. One technique to remember is the good old “T account” in double entry bookkeeping is to Drive on the left (DR – Debit) and Crash (CR – Credit) on the right!


You probably remember this method from when you were younger and were learning how to spell. You looked at a word, covered it, tried to write it correctly yourself and then compared it with the correctly written word. While this seems like a simple method often used at an elementary level, it is still a useful studying tool. For example, after you have read a chapter in your textbook and written down all the important terms, you can test your knowledge to see if you remember them. Cover up the definition of each term and try writing it again from memory. When finished, compare with the correct definition. Writing something down repeatedly helps it stick in your mind better. It’s a useful technique to remember key aspects of Accounting or Auditing Standards or Taxation rules.


Repetition is the most common study method. This involves reviewing information again and again until you have grasped the concept and can be used in several ways. For example, you can create flash cards to master material that requires memorisation. When studying accounting, it is certainty beneficial to repeat terms or concepts aloud or write information down repeatedly in order to remember. It is also highly advisable to repeat over and over exam style and past exam paper questions – especially computation questions to ensure you are familiar with all the key concepts and ideas. Repeating past papers is also the ideal way to prepare and refine your exam technique.

Image-word association

This study method associates words with images. Some people memorise best when they can visualise a word or concept in their head. For example, if a term in your textbook sounds like an object you already know, picture that object in your head every time you say or read that word. A common example is when dealing with fixed asset depreciation or leasing agreements, picture the assets in your head and that will make the concept appear more realistic. Or when revising product costings, picture a production line with raw materials being assembled into a finished product.

Understanding which methods to use and when to use them will also be informed by your strengths and learning style. See my previous blog, “Discovering how you learn best…” For example, you might learn information better by looking and pictures or charts, whereas others benefit more from reading things aloud. Getting this clear in your head and matching your style with the techniques above will increase your studying power and therefore your exam success dramatically!

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