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Study Habits of Exceptional Accounting Students

Succeeding in any field of study requires the use of a solid strategy and accounting is no exception. As an undergraduate student in accounting, I many times had classmates in my accounting courses that would complain about their inability to consistently achieve above average exam grades. In response, I would ask  them to outline their strategy for tackling accounting courses. In 9 out 10 cases, they had no clearly defined strategy and that’s exactly what I call a recipe for failure. Successful studies in the field of accounting require a structured approach. While I never did exceptionally well in college, I was however able to do better than average in all my accounting classes because I developed and adopted effective learning habits very early on. Before going any further, I would like to mention that the accounting study tips I am about to share with the whole world are not a one size fits all. You are thereby invited to tweak them as you so fit so you can achieve optimum results. With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look together at the study habits that enabled me to fare better than most throughout each of my accounting classes. These learning habits were organized in four chronological phases: before the lecture, during the lecture, after the lecture, and before the test.

  1. Before the lecture: Before showing up for every lecture, there were two things that I would do. First, I would read the assigned chapter’s opening story. Reading the opening story was very helpful to me because it enabled me to get a good feel for the issues to be discussed throughout the lecture. The other activity that I completed as part of preparing for the lecture was to print out then read the assigned chapter’s Powerpoint slides hosted on the textbook’s website. If any worked problem was included in the slides, I would make every effort to solve it without looking at the solution. By the time I was finished working with the slides, I had become well acquainted with most of the topics to be covered in the lecture.
  2. During the lecture: I always made sure to show up for the lecture on time and equipped with the chapter’s PowerPoint slides, the textbook, a basic scientific calculator, a notebook, etc. As I listened to the lecture, I would write anything that the instructor mentioned that was not included in the notes. If the professor singled out topics or types of problems that were highly likely to appear in the exam, I would also write them down. Last but not least, I made every effort to ask questions whenever I felt confused and I could not find the answers in the textbook.
  3. After the lecture: My first year in college, I had a bad habit of not reviewing my class notes nor completing any additional reading in a timely manner. That strategy seemed to work well until the semester of my Intermediate Accounting I course. The instructor was going through the chapters so fast that my procrastination ended up becoming a serious liability. It didn’t take me too long to realize that a change of strategy was badly needed. It is right then that I decided that I was going to strive as much as possible to review my class notes and complete any further reading within 36 hours of the completion of a class session. Additionally, I committed to working out all chapter assigned problems over the weekend. These small adjustments in my study habits turned out to be very instrumental in helping me turn the semester around after I got off to a bad start in my Intermediate I accounting course.
  4. Before the exam: Once I became accustomed to consistently completing phases 1 through 3, my exam preparation became less tedious. Obviously, I still needed to do things like review my class notes, read over the PowerPoint slides, and rework some of the assigned problems with higher difficulty levels. I also did put a special emphasis on knowing how to solve every problem worked in class and in the textbook. This is because, from personal experience,  in almost 85% percent of the cases, the tests questions will be modeled after the lecture’s and or textbook’s solved illustrations or problems. To complete my preparation for the exam, I would go on the textbook’s website and take both a quiz and a true or false questionnaire for each of the chapters I was going to be tested on. Not only did this final step help me hone in my exam taking skills, but it did also assist me in assessing  my level of readiness for the exam I was about to give.

These study tips are not meant to apply to very student’s situation because learning styles vary from one individual to the other. Nonetheless, any person is welcomed to adapt the study habits I just outlined to her own set of circumstances. If you find yourself reading this post, please take a few minutes to contribute to the discussion by sharing some of the study techniques that worked or are working for you in your accounting courses or in your other business classes.



  1. Comment by Evan Haridy:

    Accounts is one of the important yet tough subjects. Its continuous practice is required. I feel reading the short story of the lecture to be discussed is an amazing part i have got from your post. But this is really difficult to induce interest to read the short pat of the assigned chapter ? Can you suggest how a student can produce interest in the assigned chapter opening story?

  2. Comment by Megan:

    Interesting article and an enjoyable read. Thanks for posting.

  3. Comment by matthew thompson:

    so grateful for this all eye-opening series of becoming successful in accounting. as an accounting student i used to think accounting is tedious to comprehend, but with this study tips of yours i know see easy and outstanding way for studying accounting effectively for my high school exams and knowledge. i know am coming out of high school with an excellent grades by God’s special grace. thanks once more.

  4. Comment by Klaas:

    Thank guys for your comments. They are indeed useful to some of us who have an accounting phobia. Keep up the good work!!!

  5. Comment by X. Huang:

    Thank you so so much! I’ve been struggling with some accounting classes, especially Intermediate Accounting II. My instructor has kept on saying to read the textbook and never provided any PowerPoint, not even the textbook PPT slides. I’ve been battling for time to read the chapters before class so I can understand how to do the in-class problems (90% of the class is solely on doing problems by the way). Your post has reminded me that I can download the PowerPoint Presentations from the textbook website. You’re truly a life saver! Thank you!

  6. Comment by Jane:

    Thank you for the informative blog. As an accounting student I am now aware of the fact that being prepared for class and reviewing class notes afterwards are very important. I am very willing to try these study techniques and hopefully achieve better results.

  7. Comment by Vuyiswa:

    That is highly helpful especially to a first year student like me who is strives to be above average. As for the disclaimer, you shouldn’t even have stated it because that is how accounting problems should be conquered, in that case that strategy certainly must work for every accounting student.

  8. Comment by Marine:

    I found your article very insightful. I’ve been informed by my lecturer that the above process has been proved to be the best when studying accounting. I have also found that making notes of certain things you should remember while solving problems is of great help.

  9. Comment by Dave:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this site with my Facebook group.

  10. Comment by Reynaldo:

    I pay a quick visit everyday some sites and blogs to read content,
    however this blog provides feature based articles.

  11. Comment by Johnd223:

    Very informative blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  12. Comment by Gustavo:

    It’s an amazing piece of writing in support of all the internet users; they will take benefit from it I am sure.

  13. Comment by Konke:

    This tips are helpful

  14. Comment by Tomicina:

    These are actually great ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant factors here.
    Any way keep up wrinting.

  15. Comment by Ervin:

    You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve
    truly read something like that before. So wonderful to discover another person with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter.
    Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web
    site is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

  16. Comment by Christian:

    Thank you Lord for making me see this tips, i have been reading other tips but i think this serves me best. And i urge my fellow accounting student to follow/try this tips and see the differences. Thank you once more and God bless you.

  17. Comment by Zinia:

    I will try to follow these techniques as im very weak in accounting. I donn know whether it will work for me :(. Before class and after class this two ways is difficult to follow.

  18. Comment by Molly:

    Totally agree with the reviewing after lecture tip, it is so important to go over what the professor has talked about in class because those parts are usually the most important parts. In college classes, most professors go through the material too quickly for me to learn and remember everything from lectures. So I make sure to take down notes of the most important things and review them after lecture when I have more time.

  19. Comment by Alekza:

    Very true. I was taking Intermediate I this Fall 2010 semester and I thought that by just reviewing my notes and doing “some” of the problems I would pass the exam, right? WRONG! Accounting classes require to work out problem after problem. and not just knowing how to, but WHY! (: I managed to pass the Intermediate I with a C but now knowing what it takes to get an A or B I will go the extra mile for Intermediate II, and the rest of my accounting courses.

    • Comment by Narcisse:


      Thank you for chiming in. I am sure the readers of this blog can learn from your personal experience. I wish much success for the remainder of your undergraduate education.

  20. Comment by Brenden Schaaf:

    Great tips! I am going to share this with my students.

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