Thursday, 5 January 2017

How eating well can help you prepare!

So the Case Study exam is not far away..how are you finding it?

We know that revising is important for learning the theory. But what about looking after ourselves? If you want to do the very best you can, here is an extra tip for you: what you eat can have a huge impact on your preparation! Countless studies have shown that eating healthily can improve concentration, memory and overall well being.

Interested in the food fiends and brain favourites? Read on…

When faced with revision, it can be tempting to eat foods that are not the best for us. Most of us have done it. You've had a long day of revising for the CIMA exam and feel tired. Your brain aches with all the knowledge you have learnt. Or, perhaps, you feel as if nothing is going into your mind! You go out with your family for a meal and have a look at the menu. Which is the most tempting? The salad, complete with extra carrots or the pizza that is surrounded by chips? If you're stressed, it is much more likely to be the foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar. But don't get too angry at yourself. Science is behind this.

If we start to feel very stressed, our body has a flight or fight response. This means that hormones are released that help us to replenish energy stores. How do they do this? By increasing sugar cravings and fat storage, these hormones tell us to look out for any form of sugar in sight. Back in evolutionary times, our problems often centered around running away from predators. For anyone taking an exam, it's going to be less about running from a Saber tooth tiger and more about what lays in store for the exam! Unfortunately, our brains cannot tell the difference and so the hormones that tell us to look out for high energy foods are released even if there is no running involved.

What can we do to combat this and set you on the road for success? Like many things in life, starting as you mean to go on is key. Before you start revising in the morning, it is important to eat a good breakfast. This includes slow release carbohydrates, which includes whole grain bread, porridge or muesli. Bring in some protein, such as eggs or yogurt. It's also important to keep drinking fluids. You should aim to drink 8 to 10 200ml glasses a day. Most fluids count, such as water, milk or tea. Fizzy drinks or those high in sugar are still counted, but they should be kept to a minimum.

Vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains should make up a substantial amount of your diet. There is such a wide range of these foods that the lists of recipes are endless and it's good to be colourful! It's also important to eat Omega 3 fats, such as olive oil, instead of butters. Avocados are a particular good source, as are most types of fish, including salmon and mackerel. It is also thought that blueberries are particularly useful for improving memory.

Finally, the night before your exam, try to have your last meal at least three hours before you go to sleep, as eating too late can effect your sleep cycle. If you do feel peckish before bedtime, it's best to have a bowl of high fibre cereal, such as porridge. Avoid caffeine, drink plenty of water and try to relax, knowing that you have done as much as you can.


If you take on these food tips, you will be doing the best for yourself. It will ensure that you are preparing in every way for the CIMA exam and could have a real impact on the big day!  

Friday, 23 December 2016

When it comes to the exam, it's mind over matter.

If you have just had a look at the pre-seen text on the official CIMA website, you may have mixed feelings. Part of you may be feeling excited and, in a strange way, looking forward to the exam. It will be a chance to show off all of the knowledge that you have been working so hard to learn. You may really enjoy learning and almost feel sad that it may be over soon!

However…
Another part of you may be feeling less keen. You have read the pre-seen analysis and have learnt more about bee hive structures than you would have ever thought. You have a vague plan in your head and a little spark of determination. Broadly speaking, you have several paths to take. Let's consider these three people and their approach to the sitting.

Person A reads the pre-seen analysis whilst eating his breakfast. He keeps his study materials by his bedside table at night and reads them as a story to himself before going to sleep. If he could study it in the shower, he would! Instead of going out with his friends, person A stays in and studies all day long. By heart, he can recite most of the main paragraphs. His wall is covered in all of the different study techniques, but his family complain that they never see him.

Person B isn't really interested in the pre-seen analysis. He reads it and then gets a call from one of his friends, who asks him if he wants to go out and see a film. Person B looks at the case study but doesn't think twice. I'll do it later, he tells himself, but that time never comes.

Person C is a little like person A and person B. They read the case study and carefully make notes. They still go out with friends and spend time with their family, but revision is one of their main priorities. They have a set plan and, when they are working, they stick to that. By the time the exam comes around, they are prepared.

Which person are you? Are you just like studious A, or a social butterfly like B? Person C is between the two and has the best approach to studying. Of course, some people who are an A or a B may still be successful, but their revision approach could be more balanced and varied.
If you find yourself staying up until Twilight every night with your materials or letting them get dusty, remember that those who have a sensible plan and stick to it are far more likely to do well and also enjoy themselves.

Being with Astranti is a bit like having a study companion, here to help you every step of the way. We currently have the operational pre-seen materials, including a complete pre-seen package for £89.99. This is available on our website here: http://www.astranti.com/cima/operational/ocscourse/preseen.html

Monday, 12 December 2016

Turn that pre-seen into a pass

The LAST thing you want to do when are you sat down in your OCS exam is to be reaching for the pre-seen because you did not completely cover it in your revision, time will not be on your side as you have three hours to get through tough questions. 

In my experience, the best way to save time in the exam is to make up for it now and get to know the pre-seen inside out so that you don't ever have to look at it in the exam itself. Who else agrees?


The examiners definitely agree. Every examiner's report will refer to how well students managed to engage with the pre-seen or not. If you don't believe me, let's see what the examiners had to say in the OCS examiner's report: "Preparation on the pre-seen material is vital. Ensure that you are very familiar with the business, especially the financial information, before the exam as this will help you with applying your knowledge and will save you time".

So what can you do to help you remember all the key points from such a sizeable document as the pre-seen?

1. Make your own revision notes or scratch-cards as you go. You should then keep coming back to them, even re-writing them over and over again to cement these into your memory. Perhaps even use different colours and highlighters for the extra important information.


2. Once you have done this, you can scribble down notes and ideas that you think are linked with this information, doing this as early as possible will definitely make you feel a lot more comfortable with the pre-seen when you are finally going into the exam! Particularly useful when it comes to knowing the industry!


3. Make your own voice recordings of important information about the document. Research has shown that you are more likely to remember information when you are listening to your own voice; alternatively just talking through the document can help with information retention. When you have your recording listen to it from day to day, before you know it you'll have the pre-seen covered!


To help you sail through the pre-seen we have our own industry analysis in both video and document format - check out all our Operational pre-seen materials here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Make the most of your study texts!

Want a better chance of passing? Mix up your revision. 

Often students assume they should be revising for their Operational exam in a library or sat at a computer desk only, as this is a formal place to work. However, if you wanted to start reading an exciting book or watch your favourite TV show, you wouldn't be doing all this in the library or at a computer desk. Do not be afraid to get out and about when tackling a tough document, there is a lot of evidence that shows mixing up the location of your studying can help you process information, making you learn faster (and pass quicker!)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

OCS November exam experience survey, what we learnt...

As always, the OCS exam experience survey produced some interesting results. Thinking of taking the February case study? Or interested to know how the OCS November students got on? Well, here are 7 bullet points that we learnt from our survey. 

Our students put the effort in!
  • Just under 50% revised for more than 5 weeks in the run-up to the exam.
  • Nearly 80% revised 4 weeks or over.
  • 10% did less than 3 weeks revision.
  • 42% of our students dedicated 10 hours or more a week to revision.
  • Nearly 75% did more than 5 hours a weeks.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

7 WOW Facts About Accountants

Working through your CIMA qualifications can get tough and stressful, there is a lot of information to process and study. To help get you through your qualifications I have developed 7 interesting facts that will help motivate you to the finishing line:

1) Looking at job stats, the US department of labour estimates there will be a 11% rise of accountants in the US between 2014-2024. Amazing considering there were 1,332,700 registered accountants in 2014!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

10 things you MUST do before the exam!

With the OCS exams starting next week, it's VITAL you make the most of the remaining days. However, having over-seen a number of case study exams I know how difficult it can be to know what to do between now and next week - so I have decided to share create a plan to help you through it.

Through speaking with past students and using my own experience I have created a tried-and-tested list of 10 things you should be doing before your exam

1) Read through the August Examiner's Report - this report contains very important information! It includes VITAL advice for students sitting the November exam and identifies exactly what the examiner's will be looking for! August OCS Examiner's Report

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Learn from the Examiner's how to pass OCS!

Don't waste time - it's vital you make the most of this last period before the exams start

With this in mind, I am going to share with you the key points from the latest OCS Examiner's Report - learning lessons from those who mark and assess the exam themselves could be all the difference between a pass and a fail this November. For every sitting I analyse the report and to share the key findings, and there is almost always one or two points which resonate with a lot of students. 

The examiner's get tired of having to repeat themselves on where students are going wrong, so here are some of the key themes from the latest OCS report so you do not make the same mistakes:

Applying knowledge

An early point made in the report was about candidates being able to apply their knowledge: “In some tasks it was clear that candidates had knowledge of a particular area, but were unable to apply it effectively to the case study. It is important to prepare for this examination by studying previous case studies and practice putting knowledge into context by answering past questions.”

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How to Listen to Music and be able to pass your Management Exams

Did you know, that listening to music could actually increase your productivity and improve your memory?

Past research has proved that a quiet and calm environment is the best way to revise. However, many students do actually like to have background noise. According to a recent study listening to music during revision can improv your mood which in turn increases productivity and helps students to revise for longer. This is something I certainly find whn tackling a pre-seen or writing our CIMA study texts!

Here are five tips on the best way to listen to your music:

1) Classical music is the best genre. Often calm and flowing, classical music rarely has lyric to distract you. Try it out, Beethoven could be all the difference between a pass and a fail!

2. The lower the music the better – listen to music at a moderate volume. Despite the temptation to be dancing around your revision to whatever anthems are top of the chart, try not to blare them out. You will be in a revision environment, not a nightclub!


3. Create a playlist prior to revision – you do not want to spending half your revision time sifting through your music trying to find a song you want to listen to. This can be a fun and easy revision break, the last thing you want to do is to be distracted by which song you want to hear next. 


4. Listening to music on the radio can be distracting. Particularly with all the adverts between songs and the discussion - stick to a playlist!


5. Set your playlist at 40-50 minutes - when the music stops you know that its time for you take a study break. A break is important to relax and allow everything you have learnt to settle in, time your music around these breaks!


For more advice on your revision tecnhiques, take a look at our course videos. This includes tips on managing your time, planning your answers, and writing style.

http://astranti.com/cima/operational/ocscourse/videos.html

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Not Got a Revision Schedule? No worries, Astranti has you covered

Getting into revision can be really tricky and daunting. This can be overcome though, by simply having a schedule. Being able to have a plan and stick to it can be your secret to success, so you can cover every topic and bit of revision so you can pass your OCS exam in November!