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Studying Tips to Become Successful in Your First Accounting Class*


       Accounting is generally referred to as ?the language of business.?  Just as you would want to know French if you were in France, you will need to know accounting if you plan a career in any field in business.   

       It is a do-it-yourself course.   You must be actively involved in the learning process to do well in accounting.   

       Accounting is very time-consuming and takes a lot of effort.  As this is assumed to be your very first experience with accounting, you are expected to spend 7-10 hours per week outside of the classroom to study for this class.  However, if you have been exposed to some accounting principles before, it might take you less time to complete homework. 

       Your attitude is important.  That is, if you believe accounting is hard, it will be hard for you.  If you do not believe you can succeed, then it will be hard for you to succeed in the class. 

       Accounting is a cumulative subject.  The concepts in each chapter are used in subsequent chapters to develop more advanced concepts.  Therefore, it is essential to build a strong foundation at the beginning of the term. 

       You are encouraged to form study groups or to find learning partners.   


       To become a better learner, we recommend taking the VARK (stands for visual-aural-reading/writing/kinesthetic) inventory questionnaire.  For that purpose, go to (click on "Questionnaire") and complete the questionnaire on-line (it takes about 10-15 seconds).  Depending on your learning style, follow the suggestions below. 

       If you are an aural learner, then:

      Sit near the front of the room
Consider using the tape recorder during lectures.  Put your class and reading notes on tape.  Then, listen to them while driving, cooking, or jogging
Ask the instructor questions or for explanations of problems
Study with a partner or a study group and listen to what others learned.

       If you are a visual learner, then:

      Ask the instructor to put definitions, formulae, etc. on the board so you can see them
Prepare your own ?visuals? when studying the chapters; Use PowerPoint slides from the textbook/instructor (if available)
Pay close attention to exhibits, tables, transparencies, printouts in the textbook, as well as those presented in class
Use ?flash-cards? to learn the key terms
Visualize yourself making journal entries or working problems. 

       If you are a reading/writing learner, then:

      Take good notes as you read each chapter and during class.  After class, fill in your notes with additional material obtained from the instructor, other students, or the text
Read each chapter, especially before class lecture
Review the text, your notes, and problems regularly
Make and regularly use an accounting dictionary, using your own words
Check out and read other accounting books in the library that cover any topic you are having difficulty understanding. 

       If you are a kinesthetic learner, then:

      Take thorough notes when reading chapter s and during class
Participate in class discussions, volunteering when the instructor asks question
Apply what you are learning in class to your work situations
Copy or type your notes after class discussions
Do extra exercises and problems
Prepare and complete accounting crossword puzzles or games
Meet regularly with a study group.  One good group technique is peer questioning.  That is, prepare several questions based on chapter material and then discuss them at your group session. 


       Preview the chapter => read the ?Learning Objectives? and the ?New Terms? for each chapter. 

       Scan the headings of the chapter to get a general idea of its content.  Look at illustrations, figures and forms, and note the new terms highlighted in yellow and boldface type. 

       Quickly read the summary of the chapter (yes, go to the end of the chapter before you read it!) 

       Prepare questions/new terms => return to the beginning of the chapter and prepare questions for which you will need answers from within the chapter.  Turn each learning objective into a question.  Also list each new term from the beginning of the chapter on a separate 3 x 5 index card for quick recall and handy reference. 

       Read the chapter; also, as you read, take notes and prepare definitions for the new terms on your 3 x 5 cards.         

       Complete any exercises or problems that have been assigned for the next class meeting.


       Attend all classes. 

       Listen and take notes: give your instructor your undivided attention; actively participate by asking questions about the material you have trouble understanding.   

       Ask questions. 

       Complete the exercises and problems. 


       Review your notes, 3 x 5 cards, the exam review notes that were given by the instructor. 

       Review the exercises and problems. 

       Complete Practice Tests in the Study Guide (if available). 

       You will most definitely feel some anxiety just before and perhaps even during the exam.  This is natural; and everyone feels this way.   

       After you are done reviewing all the material from the textbook, study guide, and your notes, gather the supplies ? pencils (always carry an extra), erasers, scratch pad, calculator, scantron, ruler.   

       Just before the exam, take a few minutes to collect your thoughts and relax. 

       Follow the directions => read them carefully before beginning the test.  Ask the instructor of directions are unclear. 

       Preview the test => take a few moments to scan the entire test, which will give you an idea of how much time to allot for different components and what to expect. 

       For True/False questions, read them very carefully.  And after you think you know the answer, say ?I agree that (read the question)? or ?I disagree that (read the question).? 

       For multiple choices, pick only ONE answer ? the best choice.  Read all the options though and be aware of such key words in a multiple choice question as ?except for,? ?not,? ?all of the above, ? ?none of the above.? 

       Do the easier sections of the exam first, then concentrate on the harder section. 

       Go back over the test.  If you were somewhat uncertain about an answer, mark it and then recheck it.  Make sure your writing is legible; double check your name is entered on the test. 


       Use 3 x 5 index cards and carry them with you to review whenever you have time.

       Study to understand; do not just memorize.

       Prepare your own accounting dictionary, using your own words.

       Put yourself in the shoes of the company accountant.  That is, say ?We received cash,? not ?They received cash.?

       Use any online textbook or instructor-generated resources.

       Study daily; do not cram.     

       Form an accounting study group.

       Take necessary time to learn accounting; learning accounting takes time.

       Before working an exercise or problem, read all the instructions to understand what you will be doing.  Do extra exercises and problems.

       NEVER miss class, listen carefully, and take good notes.

       Read each chapter BEFORE class.

       Study chapter that describes debits/credits until you know it by heart.   Everything in accounting builds on analyzing transactions using debits and credits. 

* Based on the ?How to Study Accounting,? part of the Student Tutorial CD-ROM for College Accounting, 10th ed., Price, Haddock, & Brock, McGraw-Hill, 2003







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