The winning entry for the Top UNISA Study Tips for students competition, by Terri Ferguson

Study Tips: Do's

Keep all your tutorials and textbooks for one module together in one place so that you can find them easily and as you receive more information from Unisa make sure you keep it together.  Clearly label all the tutorials and make notes about important info or assignment dates on the front of the tutorial and then transfer these to your study calendar. Check this information against MyUnisa as the assignment tutorial dates often change!!

Know as much as you can about this module and also about studying through Unisa as possible.

Approach your studies logically and have a REALISTIC idea of when you can study and know when you have family or work commitments that will take up time. Have contingency time – nothing ever goes according to plan!!

Plan to work slowly and steadily through the study material and give yourself enough time to ensure that you understand everything properly before moving on to the next section.

You should know the format of your exam paper you will be writing before you start studying – multiple choice exam answers require a different type of learning than essay questions or calculations-based exams.  Skim through old papers to see what sort of questions you will be asked and structure your studying to take that into account.

Wait until you have registered and received information from Unisa about which edition of the textbook you need before you buy them, especially if you are buying second-hand books.  Tax, auditing, and accounting textbooks all become outdated quickly and you are wasting your time and money if you studying using them as you are already at a disadvantage in the exam if you are using older rules.

Study the entire study guide and go through the chapters that they recommend in the textbook.  Although a lot of it may be repetitive and even boring, it will make assignments and revision much easier as you will know where you need to concentrate and if there are any sections that you are unsure about.  Make notes of the most important parts and read through all of them again before you start revising – that way it will all be fresh in your mind.

Read through the assignment questions before you start studying a chapter.  Even if it doesn’t make any sense at the time, you will recognise it again when you come across it in the study material and may be able to answer the question as you are studying.  Make a note of the page number/section on your assignment tutorial and then go back to it again when you are working on the assignment.  This works especially well with law and auditing where most of the 1st assignment questions are theory almost word for word from the study material.

Always do the 3rd assignment for your module or any other additional questions that they give you.  Many of the exam questions are based on questions similar to these examples and being able to answer these questions in the allowed time will mean that you pass the exam. For example the Graded Auditing Questions for the auditing modules – most of the exams are based on those questions.

When you get your assignments back look to see where you went wrong.  It might be something simple like using the wrong format or incorrect wording.  If your calculation is incorrect then know why so you don’t make the same mistake again.

When doing examples mark your own answers in a different colour pen and write out the correction.  Keep your old answers and go through them before the exam, it will remind you and you won’t make the same error in the exam.  If possible go through old exam papers again and again until you get it right.

Lecturers are paid to answer your questions and help you in any way that they can, but do set out your question clearly and if possible refer to page numbers in the study guide or textbook to help them understand what you are asking.

Even if you have been conscientious and have gone through the study material and done all the assignments, that is only getting to know the study material and isn’t actually learning for the exam.  The actual revision is going through assignment 3, additional examples and old exam papers, and ANSWERING THEM UNDER EXAM CONDITIONS!!

You will be stressed already so don’t add to that stress by drastically changing your sleeping habits or suddenly eating nothing but junk food.  Don’t rely on commercial substances to keep awake or add to your concentration.  They may make you feel alert while you are studying, but the effect will wear off and you probably won’t remember any of what you were going through.  Rather ensure that you study slowly and steadily throughout the semester and then you won’t need to do excessive cramming.

Life is full of surprises and even the most organised person can have unexpected events and you need to have the time to deal with or enjoy them.  Studying for your future is just a small part of your life and you need to experience it all to the fill – don’t shut yourself away from friends or family because you are have study commitments, instead build these events into your schedule and give yourself time to relax and laugh as that is also vital.

Perhaps study during the day on weekends and then have the evenings with family/friends, but no late nights – you still have to study the next day.

Cram when you have to before exams as that will give you more confidence, but don’t do anything but study for 4 months.

Study Tips: Don’ts

If you just marking time looking at your study material then you are wasting your time and not taking anything in any way.  Rather leave it until you are concentrating better and then start again

Don’t let it stress you if are on working through study unit 2, but people on the forum are talking about assignment 3 already.  Everyone studies at a different pace and someone studying full time will make more progress than someone studying part-time and those people may also be doing a supplementary exam.  Have faith in your study plan and just keep working at it steadily.

(looking at the question and then the answer and saying “oh yes”) Try the question yourself first before you look at the answer and mark your answer with a different colour pen so you can see where you went wrong.

If everyone is submitting their assignments at the same time on MyUnisa, the website can crash and your assignment won’t get through.  Rather submit at least the day before it is due and preferably at least 2 days before.

Remember that they are only guessing no matter how informed they seem to be.  Rather be safe and cover all the study material and be able to cope with questions in any format.

You WON’T choose the right sections to learn and will fail.  The lecturers NEVER ask the obvious questions and you won’t have enough knowledge to cope with the more complicated questions.

Study Tips: Don’ts