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Diaries of an oddball accountant – Year 4 – My Power Year!

My ‘Diaries of an oddball accountant’ is me sharing my highs and lows to the emotional but very rewarding Accounting rollercoaster qualification that I know you guys are on.

Read and use it as a confidence booster (to know you’re not alone) – a motivational story (to prove it’s worth it) – and a fun read (yes, you have permission to laugh at me!)

Over the last four weeks I’ve shared my honest, candid, funny and inspiring six-year accounting journey (yeah sounds ages doesn’t it!).

I’d love to hear what you think and where you are in your journey, leave a comment below or send me an email – hello@prettysuccesfulcareers.co.uk


My power year!

There are a lot of diary entries for this year! Which means – oh my gosh I focused! I could not have focused any more than I did… so let’s see if it paid off 😉


“I’ve got the power!”

The first quarter of the year started like a true power year – you know when you set your goals in January and say ‘This year I am going to xxx’.

Well I set my 2011 year as my ‘Power’ year. I could do whatever I put my mind to and CIMA was one of those goals.

I love goal setting and planning, it is one of the best motivation techniques for me.


I thrive off the challenge and attention the goal needs to be achieved.



My ‘problem’ is I tend to set too many goals, you know the saying ‘You under estimate what you can achieve in a year but over estimate what you can achieve in a week’ – Yeah I’m one of those people!


My 1st CIMA goal was to get part qualified.


By now I had been studying for 3 years and still not got anything real on paper to show for it!

I had sat my final Managerial paper in Nov, so I was waiting for my result …


Drum roll … I passed with 66%- my best mark ever!


The way I celebrated my exam success!

The way I celebrate most of my exam successes is, just like this night in Jan, with a fish and chips dinner and a mug of champagne! And that mug tasted so good and such a great start to my power year.


In Feb I received my certificate to show I was a real Accountant, and officially had my Advanced diploma in Management Accounting. It’s a smug feeling, and the remember the hard work has paid off is a great reward.


Halfway down now and no-one can take that away from me!

Got that diploma straight up on the wall!


When I realised things can be taken away from me!

But what I realised in March was that my job could be taken away from me!

I was faced with redundancy and whilst studying for my 3 strategic exams for the May sitting, I decided that my company was not the place I wanted to qualify and stay, so I took voluntary redundancy and moved back home to Hampshire.

Yes, all whilst studying and revising for 3 exam papers. Back in my day (so so long ago! 😉) the first time you sat the Strategic papers CIMA enforced you sat them all at once.

Within a month, I was leaving a job, packing up my house, moving to a new house, with my 2 dogs, studying and trying to look for a new job. Lots of change, and I like change but when it’s all happening at once it’s a bit of a whirlwind isn’t it!

(This is Spencer – one of my dogs! He helped me with my revision!)


Don’t forget this is Power Year and my attitude was focused and on the ball!

I was focused on my goal and exams though, working every day on my revision plan and learning as much E/F/P syllabus as I could.

The mocks I wrote I scored some great pass marks of 60% and 68%, So I was confident going into the exam, but sitting 3 exams 3 days in a row, with my exam track record was going to be tough!

All I could genuinely do was try my best, answer 100% of the papers and put my CIMA hat on.


And yeah on 14th July 2011 I got confirmation that I am rubbish at sitting more than one exam at a time!

Exam results were E3-43% / P3-56% / F3-45%.

Thank goodness I passed one and it wasn’t a complete waste of time, and I think the other marks were close enough to know I was good, not great but good!


What was the one thing I think I did wrong to be so focused but still not pass?

Well, time seriously played a big part of my success.

I get a little defensive when talking about sympathy, because it’s not in my nature to ask for sympathy, so I don’t want you thinking ‘Ah, so sorry Helen, you were going through a tough time, no wonder you failed’.

We all have the same 24 hours in the day, but it really is about how we use those precious hours.


Honestly, I wasn’t as disappointed as previous years of failures, but oh it would have been so so good if I had passed 3 or even 2, because I would have had such a stronger chance of finishing this year!


I’m also a true believer of ‘Everything happens for a reason’.


The 2nd half of 2011 included me getting a new job and resitting the strategic papers for E3 and F3 again. The resits for Strategic happened more often than just May and Nov, so in Sept I focused just on one paper (F3)- see I learnt from my mistakes now – one paper at a time for me!

Guess what – I passed with 60% 😊


Why did I pass?

Because I focused my energy and planned my time differently. I was so close to the end of my CIMA journey (3 exams left) that it was like a force had come over me and I was on a mission.


I was working at a job where I had more time to study and have a stronger work-study balance, it makes a difference guys!


I was on a roll and only had E3 and TopCima to sit and pass!


In Nov I sat E3 for the second time and failed with 43%! Ouch!

And what makes it worse was the 1st time I sat this one I scored 47% – how could I finish the year getting worse?!

I’m not going to lie, it was painful and those demons might have crept in a little bit…. But all I do when that happens is to tell them to ‘F**k off’ and let me get on with this goal that I have set myself!


Oh, something I want to tell you is that my mock for E3 I got 48%, and this is a warning sign for you guys (saying this with my hindsight), genuinely your mock scores are a good indicator to your exam mark. All of the mocks I failed, I also failed the exam.


Don’t you dare freak out when I say this!

All I want you to do to overcome this, is to sit and practise more mocks! One isn’t enough, please plan in 3-4 mocks (to time with no notes) – this is the biggest thing I can tell you that will make a difference in the few weeks leading up to the exam for a real pass mark.


Okay, back to my accounting journey. 2011 was a year of change and I actually sat a lot of exams! The main thing I feel is that I made progress and I was pleased with myself for that!

And guess what… it means that I AM going to qualify next year!!! That’s what I was focused and telling myself.


What would you tell me to do if you were my coach at this point of my studies?


That’s year 4 of the ‘Diaries of an oddball accountant!’ What do you think?! – please leave a comment or send me an email if you’re at the start of your accounting journey and have any questions.


To the lucky ones that are on my email list – I LOVE you for being here! Thank you!

If you’ve been sat under a rock for the last few months and not on my list – join here and you’ll get my secret tips and weekly coaching advice specifically for qualifying accountants! http://bit.ly/PSCsecretexam


Keep an eye out next week for year 5 to find out if E3 broke me!

Thanks. Helen x


P.S – Oh if you’ve missed any of the early diary years – then just click below!

Year 1 – Super Keen times!

.Year 2 – ‘Keep going’

Year 3 – ‘How have I not finished yet?!’

..Year 4 – My power year (This one!)

Year 5 – Putting CIMA 1st (properly) (Coming soon!)

. Year 6 – Having that smug feeling & what I’ve done next! (Coming soon!)

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