Double Exit

Approaching the Mocks – CAP1/2

With 2019 well underway, attention is now turning to the various interim assessments (IAs) over the next couple of months. Although not all subjects at CAP1 and CAP2 have IAs, there is a growing number of assessments to deal with along with a busy period in work for most. However, it is also important that students take a step back and assess where their overall study plan is. Once most of the the IAs are over, the next big hurdle will be the mock exams. These are a very important part of the overall CAI study calendar as they provide students with experience of the style and length of exams and also provide a very good gauge of where students are at in terms of their study efforts to date.

While the mocks (particularly at CAP1) may not be compulsory in all firms, sitting them should be a must for any student who is serious about doing well in May/June. In the rest of this post I discuss the various goals students might set for their mock exams (its not just all about knowledge of the syllabus!), why you should take a targeted approach to the mocks, and helping you to put in place a study plan between now and the main exams.

Mocks – Setting Realistic Goals

With the CAP1 mocks coming up later this month and just over two months to the CAP2 mocks, now is an ideal time for students to set realistic goals for the mocks and put a study plan in place to achieve these. Such goals do not need to be very big but might include;

  • Gaining experience of reading time and how to use it appropriately (CAP2);
  • Practice of exam technique (e.g. timings, sequence of answering questions);
  • Experience of the length of the exams (e.g. 3h for CAP1 (2h Tax & Law) and 3h50m for CAP2);
  • Practice full length exams in an open book environment (CAP2); and
  • Build up exam stamina – This may seem silly but both CAP1/2 will have exams on consecutive days which can be very tiring for students. While the mocks don’t have this structure, they do typically double up on exams during the weekend which will give you some insight into how intense the process can be.


Mocks – Taking a targeted approach

I always advise students to take a targeted approach to the mocks. This is where students pick a certain number of topics already covered in lectures for each subject (e.g. CGT in CAP2 tax as it will be covered early, Q1 in CAP2 FR, management accounting in CAP2 SFMA) and that you know will be on the exam in some shape or form (from the competency statement weighting or typical exam structure) and to cover those areas very well and then mark yourself out of that for the mocks. The alternative, to attempt to cover the whole syllabus at a high level, is not as beneficial in my opinion. A targeted approach will ensure you have a solid foundation of study in a chunk of the syllabus pretty much complete before your actual study leave begins which will be very helpful, as well as allowing you to benchmark your knowledge in these particular areas in the mock exams.


No Interim Assessment (IA) Trap -Watch for this!

One particular danger for many students is that they tend to (naturally) focus on the subjects that have an IA and neglect those that do not (e.g. Finance CAP1 & Tax CAP2). This leaves many in a very difficult position once all IAs are over, particularly in those subjects which can be very technical. Thus the mantra “little and often” may be a useful one to follow in this regard. By doing up a study plan in weekly chunks and (realistically!) allocating time to each subject based on IAs etc you will get a more balanced approach and it will also make you consider all the subjects that you have to study.


Questions to be asked

In the next couple of weeks students should attempt to map out (at least roughly) the next few months ahead in terms of remaining IAs, mock exams, when study leave begins and the main exam week. Mapping out these key events, plus any key events in terms of work, personal life (weddings, travel etc.) will allow you to put a plan in place for all your different subjects. Starting with an overall map until exam week and then breaking that down further into the number of weeks until the next milestone (e.g. a specific IA) and specific targets across all subjects until then may be the most practical way to approach this. Below is an example of how you might lay this out in excel – there are plenty of other ways to do this also, so whatever works for you!

Below are also some practical questions that students should be asking themselves in the next week or two to get the “housekeeping” in order well before the business end of the study calendar approaches;

  • How many sessions have I covered in each subject? Have I attended/watched all these lectures? If not, make a plan to do so.
  • Do I have all the required subject resources (including past papers, syllabus, notes, question packs, textbooks etc) ready and sorted into folders?
  • Have I started to put a logical structure on my subject folders to help with study and also be useful for the exams (esp. CAP2 as it is open book)?
  • Have I set some realistic goals for the mocks and put in place a study plan to achieve these?
  • Am I comfortable with the cumulative principle and that I am up to speed with all the relevant CAP1 material (CAP2)?


Happy Studying!



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