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12 useful tips for approaching your ICA exam

Written by Jo Lewis on Wednesday June 13, 2012

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We are now getting into exam season for many Advanced Certificate and Diploma candidates and it can be a stressful time especially for those who haven’t sat a formal exam in years. Below is a list of useful tips that will help you approach your exam with more confidence. Much of it has been gathered from examiners' feedback based on common issues that crop up time and time again:

  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because the exam is open book, you can revise less or that the exam will be easier. The open-book element simply means you don’t have to spend hours rote-learning names of case studies and dates.  Avoid taking in all your course materials, you won’t have time to sift through them all. Taking in just your revision notes is a much better practice, or if you haven’t produced any, label up your course materials with references to case studies and key areas that you think may come up
  • Stick to 45 minutes per question. Be strict, so many candidates lose marks by giving a shorter answer to their last question as they have run out of time
  • If you are a Diploma candidate* make sure you answer all four questions. Don’t be tempted to rely on three good answers to get you through
  • Again, if you are a Diploma candidate* don’t forget to answer one question from Section A and one from Section B. If you mistakenly answer three questions from one section, you will lose marks as the third question won’t be marked
  • Read the questions thoroughly ensuring you understand terms such as ‘explain’, 'discuss’ and ‘evaluate’ (guidance is given in the ICA Assessment Handbook which can be found with your online materials on the ICT website)
  • Don’t be tempted to write all your know about a particular area, focus your response on the question asked
  • Look through the past exam papers and examination reports available to download from the ICT website. The examination reports in particular give a good insight into what the examiners are looking for
  • Practice writing - hardly any of us write for long lengths of time these days, so you need to train your muscles!

On the day:

  • Arrive in plenty of time for the exam, if you are delayed call the ICT office so they can inform the venue and invigilator
  • Take a drink and perhaps something sugary to give you energy when you start to lag
  • You don’t need to be dressed in business wear but be comfortable. Wear layers as room temperate for so many people is hard to control
  • Take in a selection of different pens, you would be surprised what a change of pen can do for when your wrist starts to ache

Finally good luck and remember results are released 8 weeks after the exam.


* This applies to candidates studying the UK or International ICA Diplomas. Exam formats are different in Singapore and Australia.


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