In this article, I am going to try as much as possible to put you through on how you can pass ICAN exams and ATS on your first sitting. This article also applies to other professional exams like ACCA, ICAEW, etc.
The Accounting Technicians Scheme (ATS) is an initiative of the Association of Accounting Technicians. The various tags that are related to this concept include ATS, AAT, ABWA, ATSWA, etc; and if since you are on this page, I believe I can assume that you must have heard at least one of those terms.
The Accounting Technicians Scheme West Africa, comprises a series of exams that are written across West Africa. It is not just a Nigerian thing, so be rest assured that it is well recognized. Getting an AAT certificate gives you the clearance to write ICAN exams even without a BSc or HnD.
You will be exempted from writing a variety of courses, because you must have passed similar courses during your ATS progress. This also applies when you have your BSc certificate. You get some exemptions because you must have passed through thouse courses during your normal school academic sessions.
This is why ICAN accredits schools before they allow their BSc graduates to write the ICAN exams. Once ICAN accredits your school, it means that ICAN is confident that your school is teaching the right courses, the right way, under conducive conditions.
If ICAN has not accredited your school, then you have to go through ATS or through the basic level of ICAN exams, and you will get little or no exemptions. Even if your school has been accredited, companies these days like chartered accountants who passed through the ATS rudiments.
It is advisable that you start trying your hands on ATS exams once you get into school (100level), because you will have sufficient time on your hands to run both programmes at the same time. The earlier the better, especially if your school is not yet accredited.
I will assume that by now you already know the advantages and privileges you get, being a Chartered accountant. There are so many BSc holders, but not so many Chartered accountants. Being chartered gives you an edge. It is also worth telling that you do not have to be a student of accounting to write ICAN exams. Even science students can try their hands on the exams.
I am proud to say that I wrote ATS exams just 3 times, and passed each at one take. I never had to re-write a course. I know that not everybody will be able to pass these exams on one sitting, but I can assure you that if you take the steps I am going to list out here, your chances of passing will be boosted. Even if you do not pass at once, at least, you will be sure to pass on your first retry. But seriously, ICAN exams or even ACCA exams are really expensive. Its better to pass it once and for all and save your money.
1. START PREPARATIONS EARLY:
One mistake that baby accountants make is that they do not start preparations on time. Preparations include everything that would enable you pass the exams. Get your study materials on time.
If you want to pass ICAN exams, do not wait for your lecture centre to inform you about availability. Make enquiries, ask around, get the materials you need – Textbooks, study packs, past questions, etc.
Even if you’ve not started reading them, at least, your mind will be at rest that you have them at arm’s reach. Also, make up your mind that you are writing that diet.
Do not second guess your abilities or start considering options. Are you writing it? Yes or No. Simple. If yes, then start reading.
You do not have to read like you have an exam tomorrow. No. Read like you’re browsing the internet for some fun stories.
That way, little details stick in your memory, and just like you remember that Dbanj broke up with MoHits, you’ll remember strategic things in your subjects.
Make it an objective to read something each day. No matter how small. Don’t wait for your lecture centre to enter topic 3 before you enter topic 3. It’s much easier when you are already familiar with what your lecturers are saying.
You already have your own understanding of the topic, so when the lecturer brings his own perspective, you will have a deeper understanding of the topic.
I didn’t go for lectures to pass ATS 2 and 3. I hardly attended my ATS 1 lectures. But I strongly advise that you attend lectures.
2. TAKE YOUR MIND OFF EVERY OTHER THING:
If you really want to pass ICAN exams, you have to focus on that. I am not saying that you should not continue with your life. Of course not. But you have to free your mind so that new knowledge can find space to sink into. If you failed your last diet..
Now is not the time to start thinking about that. If you are having school problems, now is not the time to think about those.
If you discover that the syllabus is wider than you expected, now is not the time to start complaining. Free your mind and let yourself fall in love with the subjects.
You hate statistics and maths. Yes.. I know. But now, just imagine that it is not maths you are doing in Quantitative analysis. Always believe you are good in all the subjects. If not, why are you writing the exams at all?
3. MAKE SURE YOU FINISH THE STUDY PACK
This is the tricky part. You must finish reading your syllabus if you want to pass ICAN exams. Yes. I am not saying you must understand all the topics, but try to at least glance through all of them.
Even if one topic seems too complicated, and it was not taught in your lecture centre, still go through it. You could just spend a few minutes on it..
You might skip the calculation part and just face the thoeretical aspect. But never skip it completely. Never!
Then after you are done with that, you should try and expand your horizon with related textbooks. Dont depend on solely the study packs. Study packs are just primary guides.
Not everything you need. But in your studying, study packs should come first. If I read a textbook written by Einstein, then maybe I’ll be able to solve Einstein puzzles with more ease. Right? Study packs are ICAN materials. So they should come first.
4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
ICAN exams are not read and pour exams. They test what is in your head… Not what you read last night. Well, even though what you read last night might just help you clear the papers. Lol. It happens. On a more serious note, these exams last for about 3 hours and more.
One thing people don’t realise is that their brains shut down mid way through the exams. Don’t allow that happen to you if you want to pass ICAN exams. Once your brain shuts down, you’ll be lost.
Easy questions become harder to solve. It’ll feel like you’ve forgotten everything. So never zombie to the exam hall. Get enough sleep. Just don’t sleep and forget your exam.
5. STUDY PAST QUESTIONS
Want to pass ICAN exams? use their past questions. In my first ICAN exam, I did not use past questions. Although I passed, maybe it would have been easier if I had used past questions. I did not use past questions in the second one too. But when I picked up ICAN past questions before the third one, it really helped me. I was able to see before hand, areas that I had not properly covered. Past Questions, especially the ones given by ICAN themselves, are really nice.
6. LAST MINUTE ROUNDUPS!
Want to pass ICAN exam? Checkout the last minute tips. Make sure you get to you exam venue early so that you can calm your nerves before the exams start. Now we are in the examination hall. Don’t rush to get inside. Get in at your own pace… drop everything you have on you in a safe place.
Don’t carry anything that can implicate you. The invigilators are looking for who to catch. Seriously! Keep calm.. Look at the questions first. Don’t rush to start answering.. No. Don’t make that mistake. First take a look at all the questions in the theory part and make up possible answers in your head.
You can use a pencil to scribble some things to help you remember points at the back of your answer sheet.
Finally.. Unless you are absolutely sure of a question in the theory part.. Do not start from there. After you have brainstormed for possible answers, go straight to the multiple choice and short answers part.
The multiple choice questions might significantly help in giving you hints to some of the theoretical questions. As these come, also scribble them down.
When you are done with that part, quickly go to the theory section and fire like hell. Never.. I repeat.. Never waste too much time on the multiple choice questions. Anyone you are not sure of, you can tick your possible answer in your question paper and leave the space blank in your answer sheet.
This is to enable you quickly insert them in case you run out of time in the end. If a/some theory question(s) is/are giving you problems, write what you can, and quickly go back to salvage your multiple choice questions. Just multiple choice, short answers and only 2 theory questions can help you pass the exam.
However, if you are asked to answer four questions, make sure you answer four questions. Typically, your theory part will consist of about 3 sections. You are expected to answer a number of questions from each. Make sure you attempt that number of questions. No body will penalize you for writing a crap answer..
But as long as you prepared, you should be able to write some sense at least. If you dont attempt a question because you dont know it, you have scored zero there. But if you attempt it with what you think might just be related to the answer, you might get fee marks out of it. That’s a win for you if you really to pass ICAN exam at first attempt.
So, if you want to pass ICAN exams, never leave a question because you think you don’t know it. If they asked you to answer 5 questions, make sure you answer 5. Don’t answer 4 and say you have tried. After this.. Pray to God. Then submit.