Facing an examination could be a whole lot of challenge to students especially when they do not know the best ways to go about it or the things to do when studying and during the examination.
Firstly, do well to understand the problem. Most students are overwhelmed by some questions that fall into the ” green light” category. These questions are factual and the answers are straightforward. The answer to this type of question is either in your head or not.
And some green light questions can be very difficult which could be as a result of how the question is written or there are some unnecessary parameters to cause distraction. Now, your duty as a student taking this kind or type of examination is to understand what the examiner is talking about in the paper before you. Read the question calmly over and all over again. Determine what you are supposed to find, what you need to find, and what the unknown is especially when taking a problem-based question.
It is also Paramount to consider whether drawing a sketch will help and taking notes and answer each part of the question in order not to lose points. Also, there are some questions called”yellow light” questions. These questions are more detailed than green light questions, but are based on the same idea: you either answer it or you don’t. Often you will have to put multiple green light details together. Similar strategies won’t work for yellow and green questions, but with yellow light questions, you will need to recall many ideas, concepts, formulas, and so on just to answer one question.
Secondly, there are some questions that fall into a category that requires critical thinking. These kinds of questions will make you sort new inferences or apply your knowledge to new situations. You need to know and understand the material given to you before the examination. Unlike the green light kind of questions where you pick your answer immediately you see a question. For this type of question, you are not expected to give the answers exactly how it was placed in the material.
You will need to take what you know and use it in ways you have not yet used it. This type of question sometimes flummoxes students because they are surprised to they are being asked a question that wasn’t exactly covered in the class. Remember that with this type of question, you are not supposed to know the answer.
You have to come up with the answer yourself, it is not already in your head. You will need to know the basic information to be able to answer this type of question. These kinds of questions are asked more frequently in universities than in secondary schools because they believe that the students in the universities should have a better understanding of what is been taught in the class by using the school libraries and internet to source relevant information about a topic. Also, to study for this kind of exam, make diagrams or concept maps that link ideas or topics from the course together.
Think about how what you are learning relates to what you have learned in other classes i.e find relationships or connections between them. Sit down and discuss with friends or classmates how one might use information from the class in a job setting. Also, learn to vary your study locations when you notice you don’t seem to assimilate in your previous location. Get a more serene environment to study or at midnight. Take regular breaks too, it enhances the brain. Eat light, healthy foods. Do not go to an examination venue late, go as early as you can to avoid over anxiety.
Furthermore, there are some examination questions that are problem-based quantitative questions. These kinds of examinations require practicing both old and new problems before the examination. As you work on the problems, remember not to snuck a peek at the answer when you get stuck. Check your answer only after you have arrived at an answer.
Think about having partial credit which is better than no credit if you freeze when you get stuck on hard problems in the exam Hall. When you get to the exam Hall, write down all that is given or known i.e the parameters.
Drawbar sketch when appropriate to show relations and write down all relevant or related formulas to the question given. Also, for numerical problems, try estimating the answer first. This will help you check your work and keep you on track. Neat, careful work keeps you from making mistakes and allows you to find them when you do make them. Do not forget to write down necessary too because some courses are “no unit, no mark”.
Additionally, whine the instructor or examiner can see your work clearly, he or she may give you partial credit for what you know, even if your ultimate or final answer is incorrect i.e most problem-based question examiners mark steps so therefore, it is advisable not to omit any step while in the examination Hall. It is also very necessary to check your answers.
This requires the same quality of thought originally used to solve the problem. Then, you will be able to ask yourself these questions “is your final answer what you thought it would be in your original estimate? is it a quantity or value that makes sense? is your answer incorrect unit?”. If your answer does not seem reasonable, rework the problem.
Moreover, there are also some examinations that consist of multiple-choice questions. The first thing to do when faced with this kind of question is to ‘read and stem’. Yeah, you read that right. Read and stem and make sure you understand what the question is getting at. Also, look out for double negatives or positives or other twist wording before you consider your answer.
Some examiners might as well decide to purposely spell some options incorrectly. It is your duty as the student to fish the odd man out in the option. There are also some questions whereby the options are all correct. In this situation, you are expected to pick the most appropriate answer from the options given.
The best way to do this is by reading and stem. Look for clues in the stem that suggests the correct answer and rule out any choices. For example, if the stem indicates that the answer is plural, you can rule out any answer that is singular. The basic rule is: the correct answer must make sense grammatically with the stem. Options that fail these procedures can be ruled out. As you rule out options, cross them off with your pencil.
This will help you focus on the remaining choices and eliminate the chance of returning to an item and selecting an option you had already eliminated. Also, put a mark next to any question you are unsure of. If you complete the entire exam with time to spare, review these questions to change some answers. Reviewing or going back to your questions is really a helping hand because clues are often gotten from questions in order to answer another one you do not know.
Lastly, when you are faced with an easy examination, the best way to prepare for it is to practice writing essays. Make outlines of possible essay topics using your course materials so you can get a good grasp of what might be on the exam. Then recreate your outlines from memory. Practice at least one full essay, be mindful of the time you spend practicing, and know about how much time you will have during the exam.
It is also important to think about how you are including in the essay the necessary information in an organized manner. For example, if you are asked to compare and contrast two theories as they relate to an issue, you might want to define the two theories, describe the issue, and then compare and contrast them. If your exam is closed-book, memorize key events, facts, and names that you will need to support your argument. If it is open-notes, then make sure you develop good outlines.
When in the examination Hall, manage your time well. As with all exams, if there are multiple essay questions, be sure to look at them all at the beginning and take note of the points each is worth. And then, prioritize the order in which you answer the question. Read the direction carefully. Ask yourself honestly, “are you answering the actual question on the paper”? Because examiners know when you aren’t directly answering the exact question, so make sure you are addressing the actual question and don’t just write down random information that is unrelated to the question.
Before you write the essay, decide on your argument and quickly list your supporting evidence. It is also fine to do a brain dump of all the important information that you want to include so that you have it handy when you begin writing. Make a quick outline of what you are going to write to organize your thoughts and arguments. Write! and make your point right away! Because you wouldn’t want to get to the end of the timed essay exam with your amazing argument still unmade. If you have time, go back and quickly proofread your essay for errors.


Has it occurred to you that many ICAN students fail financial accounting at all levels of the Institute’s examination? Go and check the results and conduct research on the results of many candidates writing ICAN examinations. Even at the ATS level, many people still fail F.A (Financial Accounting).


1. Shallow Knowledge About The Principles of Financial Accounting: If you don’t understand the concepts, principles, theoretical aspects of financial accounting, you cannot perform well in financial accounting examinations. For instance, if you don’t know the reason why an account must be debited and another one must be credited, there will be a problem.
2. Too Much Concentration of Workings: So many students fail financial accounting because they only concentrate on picking practical questions and solutions and practice the same without understanding the rudiments of postings.
3. Cramming of Postings: Some students cram the various postings into various ledgers and other accounts without an in-depth knowledge of the principles of financial transactions.
4. Lack of Knowledge Of Double Entry System: Many students do not understand the concept of double-entry systems and they fail financial accounting.
5. Poor Knowledge of Simple Arithmetic: Many students are poor at mathematics. Even in secondary schools, many manage to have C6 in their SSCE examinations. Some students don’t even know simple arithmetic. Some don’t know how to calculate simple interest, calculation of ratios, etc, and yet, they want to pass financial accounting.
6. ILL-Preparations: Many students do what I call a “crash program” when preparing for the ICAN exam. For instance, if there are 30 topics in the financial accounting syllabus and a student only prepares for 13 topics but none of the questions come from the 13 topics he prepares for, he will definitely fail the financial accounting exam.
7. Excessive Concentration on Calculations And Practice: At the expense of the theoretical aspect of each topic, if a student does not study the theoretical aspects of the financial accounting syllabus and finds out that ICAN test most of the questions on theories, the person will blame himself. For example, if ICAN refuses to bring any calculation questions in any of the levels were F. A is being tested but only theories, you know that many students will definitely fail.
8. Disorganized Works In The Exam: Some students do not understand that they must make their work neat for the examiners and thus prepare accounts and make it look like rough works. Some students include rough works in their answers. Such students will fail.
9. Omission of Currency In The Account: Surprisingly, many students ignore the currency in their answer scripts when answering questions. For instance, if the examiner gives a practical question that needs calculations or postings into some accounts in US DOLLARS but some student fails to use USD in their answers, they will fail. Also, if the examiner uses NAIRA but students use CEDIS, they will fail.
10. Numbering of Figures In The Questions: If the examiner leaves all the figures in a question in thousands (‘000), but many students fail to include the (‘000) in their answers, they will be punished for this. Also, if the examiner leaves the figures in millions, but students ignore it and use whatever figures they like, they will fail.
11. Malfunctioning Calculators: Some students are careless with calculators. They use calculators that malfunction and these machines give wrong figures. Some other students have bad calculators which stop working during examinations. It is advisable for ICAN students to use brand-new calculators that are functional. In my years as an ICAN student, I used to go for the ICAN exam with two correct calculators even during the Business Law examination; I went to the exam hall with two calculators. Don’t make the mistake of reserving a calculator for ICAN exam. Use it regularly and see that it functions very well.
12. Spiritual Problems: Some students fail financial accounting and other papers due to spiritual problems that need prayers and deliverance. I have seen many brilliant students who still fail ICAN exams. Such could be a deliverance case.
13. Lack of Tutorials: A student who refuses to attend ICAN tutorial lectures but depends largely on materials, if the student does not understand all the topics, he may fail the exam. Tutorial classes prepare ICAN students for success up to at least a 50% rate.
14. Mistakes: Many ICAN students are not composed and coordinated during the examination. They make unpardonable mistakes which cost them success. Mistakes should be minimal, please. If you make a mistake during the examination, if there is enough time to correct it, do so but don’t cancel all your works as you may lose the entire marks.
15. Omission of Students Exam Number On Answer Scripts: Some students, out of anxieties, forget to write their exam numbers on some questions they attempt. If this happens, the assessors will not award any mark for any unidentified script. Always ensure that you write your Exam number first on every page you use for the exam.
16. Omission of Debit & Credit in Ledger Accounts: Where students are expected to make use of ledger accounts or journals which necessitates the inclusion of Dr. and Cr. appropriately, if any student omits such in their answer scripts, they will be punished for that
17. Wrong Titles of Account: Where a student uses a wrong title for an account he is preparing during the ICAN exam, he will fail the paper. For instance, if a student wants to prepare a TRADING, PROFIT, AND LOSS ACCOUNT, and he uses “BALANCE SHEET” due to the pressures of the exam, he will fail.
18. Hatred for Financial Accounting: If you want to succeed in the financial accounting exam, you must develop a love for the course.
19. Shallow Knowledge of in and out of Each Topic: What does this imply? It means that you must learn everything about each topic. This is where research is necessary. If you want to know everything about a particular topic, you must not rely on only one material. You must have good textbooks and ICAN packs
20. Lack of Knowledge of Format for Each Topic: Any topic that requires calculations and postings of transactions must have its own format. For instance, in Partnership, there are formats for capital accounts, current accounts, profit and loss appropriation account, and balance sheet. Also, for bank reconciliation, there are formats for adjusted cash book and bank reconciliation statements. If a student does not memorize all the formats of all the topics in a syllabus diligently through regular practice, the person cannot pass F.A in the ICAN exam. If you want to succeed in the Financial Accounting exams, you have no choice but to know all the formats of each topic. If you know the formats very well, it will boost your confidence to post transactions accurately
21. Lack of Knowledge on Definition of Accounting Terminologies: You must painstakingly learn and know all the various terms that are being used in financial accounting. Examples are:
• Balance brought down
• Balance carried down
• Balance carried forward
• Balance brought forward
• Debtors
• Creditors
• Debits
• Credits
• Discounts(allowed and received)
• Purchases
• Sales
• Depreciation
• Reconciliation
• Inventory
• Pricing
• Margins
• Mark up
• Goodwill
• Returns (inwards and outwards), etc.
It may surprise you that if ICAN asks students to explain some of the above terms, many will mess up in the exam hall. Why is this so? It is on account of their shallow knowledge of basic accounting techniques.
22. Tabular Form: If a question says students should provide their answers in a tabular form, any student who fails to provide answers in a tabular form will score zero in that question because his answer is a deviation from the requirement of the question. For instance, if a question says, “Prepare the partners’ capital and current accounts in a tabular form”, you must follow the instruction strictly
23. Itemize: When ICAN asks you to itemize in a question, the word “itemize means to “list”. A good student will follow this simple instruction and does the needful. For instance, if a question is asked thus: “Itemize functions of management”
In this case, you are expected to list all the functions one after the order and number them as shown below:
1. Planning
2. Controlling
3. Coordinating
4. Others, etc
24. List and Explain: In another instance, if a question is asked thus: “List and explain factors of production”. A good student should itemize or list all the factors of production first. After listing them, he will now start explaining them briefly one after the other. PENALTY: If any student fails to list the factors of production but explains them, he will lose a considerable number of marks because he has omitted the first part of the question.
25. Define: This is where many students get things wrong. If ICAN asks you to provide a definition of something, they have the standard definition which they expect all the students to adhere to. Those who cannot answer the question appropriately will lose plenty of marks. This is one of the reasons why students must memorize definitions of many things before the exam. For instance, if a question is asked thus: “Define Partnership”, the best way to provide the definition and earn a maximum point is to say: “Partnership is the relationship which exists among people who come together with a common view of making profits”. Any definition that is short of this may not be acceptable to ICAN

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