Should I spend all my weekends studying for the SOA?
Some really keen young CA students have been asking me if they should start studying now for the School of Accountancy - our beloved SOA. The 2006 edition is visible in the below photo featuring the wonderful national treasure, Mick Norgrove.
And they don't mean just peeking at the CICA handbook every now and then, but really diving head first into case writing and extensive studying.
Oh dear no.
After one of the harshest winters in Toronto's history, spring is almost here. The next two months are not time to start cramming for the School of Accountancy.
It's time to wrap up your big clients, deal with your remaining work, and relax as much as possible.
Enjoy some sunlight! See your long lost friends. Get some exercise.
For Ontario writers the SOA is next - other provinces have different systems with varying numbers of exams at different times of the year.
Sticking with what I know, some advice about the SOA: relax!
June is far away.
You have three weeks of the School before you write the End of School Exam. During the SOA you will write two full practice exams with marker's comments. And before that, you have firm-sponsored training programs at most large and medium sized firms - and I hope at all the small ones too.
The firm-sponsored training is enough to get you moving - you'll learn the basics about reading and writing basic cases.
If you have a light workload and really want to study, practice your basic reading and writing - forming intelligent thoughts for fun. If that's not enough, I'll shamelessly self-promote and tell you to read my 'UFE exam and school related' ASX posts to at least keep you awake between diving into sections of the CICA handbook you're unfamiliar with. The CICA handbook is where the rules are found, but it's also a strong sleep aid and shouldn't be consumed in heavy doses.
Above all, don't study too hard right now.
There are many good reasons. Here's three:
- You have a limited supply of exams to practice on - 'save' them for when you know what you're doing.
- When you're studying by yourself - you probably won't have a study buddy right now - you're not getting effective feedback, so you're not learning as much from the cases as you would with a formal marking scheme.
- You're going to burn out and stop caring by the time you're supposed to be psyched up.
Burnout may be the most important reason to calm down and relax right now.
The big CA exams require that you be able to read complex scenarios, identify both obvious and hidden issues, and then write about them in one nice big intelligent response - pure case writing.
Burning out means doing cases for so long and so hard that you stop caring.
It's like training for a sport so much that you're no longer swinging your gear the right way, or practicing music so much you stop using the correct form with your instrument - you end up developing bad habits or worse.
Getting ready for the exam is like a steady warm-up. Don't move so fast that you cramp up and fall over.
You don't need a wish of good luck right now.
You just need to chill, so do just that.
In other news: the other end of the cycle is complete!
In happy - now you can really relax news - congratulations to Neil for getting his CA!
The scene at the winter 2007 UFE Ball reception area.
I've left him a congratulatory comment and encourage you to do the same. He, jokingly I presume, said that his blog now "has no purpose."
In response, I say, "If anything, you're building your "personal brand", to use that horribly cliched term, and have a sufficiently decent readership to encourage you to keep sharing the path you're on."
Although the temptation for authors is to only care about the latest and greatest writings they put out, a rich archive combined with occasional updates is a valuable resource of its own. I'm already sharing links to this site to current writers to give them pointers. It's unlikely that I'll always be adding exam tips - over time you lose touch with the nuances of the exam - but for the next while my knoweldge is at least fresh enough to be useful.
And as for my CA?
I submitted my paperwork a few days after him, swimmingly missing making the March deadline - as if I didn't want to steal his spotlight at this happy moment. Yes, I'm really that selfless.
Anyway, it looks like it's all scheduled to "go official" for me a month from now instead.
That's okay, though - I'm going on vacation for most of the month anyway.
Who flashes around their CA papers when they're on vacation?