Barden & CIMA Ireland Student Focus Series

Barden have been working with CIMA Ireland to curate some unique content and insights for CIMA students and trainee accountants across Ireland. This weeks topic is

“I’m too busy at work to do the exams right now– what do I do?”

If you have this thought; take comfort in the fact that you are certainly not alone. Achieving a professional accounting qualification is no easy feat; in fact, it is the quite the opposite. It takes diligence, commitment and often a lot of sacrifice. However, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and becoming a qualified accountant is certainly worthwhile – your family and friends will admire you for your achievement and your bank manager will admire your bank balance even more!

But there is a catch! It is very likely that you have to work, while simultaneously tackling these exams. Work pays the bills and, for many, will often take priority over study. Those tight deadlines at month end, that annual planning process, that system that causes problems at the most inconvenient times, covering for a colleague, and a hundred other small things seem to cluster together and eat up your time. After a long day in work, P2 Advanced Management Accounting is often not the most attractive evening activity!

The flip side, however, is that the longer you put off your exams the harder it becomes to get them (work tends to get busier, not quieter I’m afraid!), the longer it takes to get qualified (obviously!), the longer it takes to get promoted, and, hence, the longer it takes to get properly compensated for all your hard work (paid!).

Is there a magic bullet solution here? Unfortunately not! CIMA have worked to ensure the exams and study process are much more accessible and flexible in recent years, which can be a hugely helpful during your busier periods at work. Fundamentally, however, it is all about you; how you approach the exams and how you manage the multiple stakeholders in your life (partner, parent, friends and boss!). Some tips that might help include:

  • The why? Remember why you are doing the exams in the first place – get back to the root reason and let that drive you on the challenging days.
  • Your manager? Sit down with your manager and make sure he/she is aware of your ambition to complete the exams. Share your timetable, ask for their support and get their advice on how you should try to balance work and study; highlighting that there will be some days you have to start early and leave early to get to a lecture. Make your manager a part of the process which will subsequently allow them to manage their expectations of you (and what they ask you to take on around exam time!).
  • Your people? Sit down with the people in your life that matter to you. They are also a part of this process, so it is important to make sure that you have their support. They can often be enablers – “I really want to go away for the weekend, but I really should study”. In situations like this, if the people in your life encourage you to hit the books it will make things a whole lot more manageable.
  • Plan rewards? Make sure you have a reward to work towards. “When I get these exams I will go on holiday/buy that car/go to that gig!” Having light at the end of the tunnel can be a great motivator.

Getting your CIMA qualification will be tough, but it will also be hugely rewarding in so many ways. If you really want it, don’t put the exams in the back seat; Procrastination is not your friend when it comes to becoming qualified.

This is a journey of a thousand steps. Don’t think of the finish line, focus on each step, one at a time. With the right focus and support; you might just surprise yourself!


(This content was published on the CIMA Ireland website here >>> and shared with CIMA students in April 2017.)

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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