By now, most Secondary 4 and 5 students would be busy mugging their 10 year series to prep themselves for the O-level examinations in 4 months time.
Apart from the core subjects like English, Mother Tongue and Mathematics, there are students who are also on the way to taking the GCE O level exam for POA (Principles of Accounts).
If you are one of those then I would encourage you to read this article, where I will share with you a few key steps that you can take to do better in O-level POA.
1. Knowing the Exam Format
To do well for POA, you need to know the exam format for a start. This includes knowing the structure of the paper and how many marks are in each section.
Knowing how many marks in each section will help you with time management in the exam, so you can allocate time more effectively for each section so that you don’t end up spending too much time on one and end up not ﬁnishing another.
For O-level Principles of Accounts, these are the 2 papers
[ Paper 1 ] - Structured Questions, 40% of the total score
This consists of 3-4 compulsory structured questions and total of 40 marks.
Duration = 1 hour
[ Paper 2 ] - Structured Questions, 60% of the total score
This consists of 2 sections.
Section A consist of 3 compulsory structured questions. One of which is the preparation of a financial statement that carries 20 marks. The other 2 questions are 14 marks each.
Section B consist of 2 questions and you choose 1.
Duration = 2 hours
The 2 papers will test students on various areas:
+ Knowledge & Comprehension
+ Synthesis and Evaluation
The use of calculators are allowed for both papers.
2. Create Your Own Notes
Many teachers and schools usually provide lecture and revision materials that can be very helpful when you are preparing for the O level POA examinations.
However, these notes that your teachers give you are often voluminous and it can also be challenging to memorise everything in detail.
You might have a big stack of papers, diagrams, graphs, definition lists, so many students don't not know where to start to worse yet, how to start.
I would recommend that every student should learn how to create their notes.
You don't have make notes that your friends make which look very pro and neat. You don't need an iPad and an Apple pencil! Just a piece of paper, a pen, and a highlighter will sufﬁce.
And as long as its in your own handwriting and your own words, it can be messy but you will know exactly what it means and where to find in your stack of papers.
Creating your own notes also mean you can start small and work your way from the start to the end. This can suit your own pace so you can work faster or slower if you want.
This also works the best with POA as many of the formula, data charts, definition list that you will need the exam are not on the paper so memorizing your notes is also important.
One more beneﬁt of creating your own notes means that you can make it as complicated as you want and as small as you wish. So, you can have a look at it right before you enter the exam room, or when walking to the bus-stop, sitting in the MRT or a free pocket of time at any other place.
3. Focus on weaker topics
You should spend more time practicing and looking at answer schemes for your weaker topics, before moving on to your stronger ones. Many other students like to do more on their stronger topics as its less painful.
E.g. If I am weaker in profitability or liquidity ratios, I would refer to the answer schemes from ten-year series and learn how to plan my essay better. I will also do more practices on calculating the ratios, profit margins, non current assest, accruals.
4. Get Help From Other People
Some of the steps above can help you prepare for your O-level POA examination while others take place when you are already taking the exam.
Once you have identiﬁed what are your weak points and what topics you have to work on, take action.
Some people that you can ask for help are your POA school teachers.
They know your weak points best because they teach you the subject and they also know what you are going through. Ask them for extra worksheets or remedial lessons after school to help you clarify your doubts.
If you can’t get extra help with your teachers then your friends are next. Organise group sessions with those who are good in POA and willing to help you. Sometimes, a friend can explain concepts in a way that you can understand better compared to your teacher. Or they can provide you some notes which you missed out in class when you were absent or drifting off.
Should both options above be unavailable, seek help from online agencies or tuition centres which provide crash courses in POA revision.
Spending a bit of money is unavoidable at this late stage and often a good POA tutor can help you make the difference between a D grade and a B/A grade.
5. Get Enough Rest
Sleep helps you to memorize better and I recommend that you get at least 8 hours of sleep so that your mind is fresh enough to process all the accounting ratios, formulas and information.
Our human brain is less effective at retaining information at night so don't burn the midnight oil! Would you prefer to memorise 1 more point in your notes or be energized in the morning to be able to digest 15 formulas?
Sleep is better than studying at night. Most of the time, you won’t be able to remember anything the next morning on the things you covered the night before.
Moving forward your bedtime by 10 minutes a day is acceptable rather than taking a big leap to 8 hours a day which is difficult to adjust over some time so that you get used to it.
How you sleep is also vital because the having a good quality of your sleep is also a factor so I suggest relaxing your mind before sleeping. How many times do you want to sleep but end up staring at your ceiling wall because you can’t?
Listening to some relaxing music that puts you to sleep is an idea that works very well for many people, or you read a good book which is also effective, as long as you don’t read something that is so suspenseful that you can’t put it down.
6. Keep in shape!
Stay in shape by eating well and exercise regularly so that you can keep yourself mentally fresh and awake.
Eat your meals at regular intervals so that you don’t get distracted by hunger when studying. Drink a minimum of 8 to 10 glasses of water daily, as you wouldn’t get dehydrated and faint while studying for long hours. For fibre intake, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get your bowels moved regularly.
You’ll have to exercise to keep the metabolism up! Exercise is important because being balanced is the main priority. If you aren’t balanced, all your studying could be ﬂushed down the drain with a physical or mental breakdown.
Spend 30 minutes exercising for each session, for at least 3 times a week should be enough, to make sure your blood flow is regulated and your body healthy to tackle the O level exams.
Here you go!
6 valuable steps that you can undertake to improve your grades for O-level POA examinations.
Undertake these steps properly and I can assure you that you’ll come out of that exam hall with marks that you and your parents would be pleased with.
Good luck and all the best!