How to Pass Professional Exams – 10 tips

how to pass professional exams
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Passing a professional exam is the common basic requirement for anyone to earn the status of a professional qualification. However, the pass rate of most professional exams can sometimes discourage students. For example, CIMA announced 42% fail rate for their strategic level papers in May 2014. In June 2016, CFA Level I 43%, Level II 46%, and Level III 54% pass rates.

These results make many young people ask themselves, is there any strategy to pass professional exams?

I always answer this question with a big YES. I passed over 20 exam papers for four different professional qualifications without repeating a single paper. You may assume that I must have gone to the top schools. NO, I studied most of these papers through distance learning and self-study.

Professional exam

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How to Pass Professional Exams

In this article, I will share successful tips on how to pass any professional exam.

First, let me remind you that the purpose of acquiring a professional qualification is not just to pass and land you a good job. They are meant to make you a good person who can help the problems faced by the society.

1. Believe that you can Pass.

I am not in any way referring to a qualification or career someone forced you to follow, but rather, the one that can lead you to your goals. If you are going to be successful in passing the professional exam you desire, you must believe that you can make it happen.

You have to remove the limiting belief that you cannot pass a particular professional exam paper.

2. Invest to Pass Professional Exam

If you are truly serious about getting a professional certification, then you must spend your time and money on the course materials, research, networking, etc.

 “Many students cannot pass their exams because they failed to sacrifice the minimum capital of time and money.”

3. Practice Application of your Notes

One of the primary reasons why professional qualifications are assumed to be difficult is that most people cannot easily relate the textbooks, lecture notes, and examination questions to the real-world issues. Nonetheless, professional certifications are developed with the objective of preparing their members to tackle real problems.

4. Understand the Exam Structures

Course syllabuses are like road maps which give student direction toward the examination.

The best way to start learning any course is to review the curriculum and appreciate the various sections. Again, if there is any special marks allocation, is the examiner following it? The best thing to do is to review the past exam questions of the five or ten sittings.

5. Take Personal Summary Notes

Many students use summary study notes during reading and the revision period. For instance, during last-minute revision, it is not always feasible to read the whole textbook.

6. Remember the Key Ideas and Formulas

Many professional exam papers require the use of formulas or standard procedures in responding to exam questions. The examiner sometimes gives complex formulas, and you are only expected to apply them to the case study. This is very common in calculation courses.

You can also make use of memory tools likes mnemonic (e.g SWOT, PESTLE ) and build flashcards.

7. Practice Past Exam Questions

Have you ever heard of a successful athlete, movie star, speaker, or musician who showed up for a performance without practising ahead of time? All these professionals know that to succeed in their career, they have to allocate some time to learn, practice and perform.

They say “practice makes perfect.

8. Group Studies – Two heads are better

One of the most compelling benefits of such group is gaining the cooperation of a group of individuals who are willing to advise and share in the spirit of achieving a defined goal. Group studies will not only help you to learn the subject you do not understand but you can also network with other students. Your network can refer you to job opportunities.

9. Allocate your Exam Time

You have several months to prepare for the exam but only a few hours to pass. So, you need to manage your time during and after exam effectively.

10. Don’t annoy the Examiners

Have you ever seen an examiner angry while marking the scripts? No. They do not get angry by frowning, but they do not give full marks to candidates who did not observe some basic principles. Principles like the correct format, proper referencing. Examiner has very less time to mark your paper. If your paper is examiner friendly, you are going to attract good marks.

You want to be a student; then you have to study, learn beyond textbooks and relate the material to real-life scenarios.

You can learn more professional exam and study tips in my new book:

Passed: 12 Proven Secrets to Pass any Professional Exam at the First Sitting



  1. Very good and creative ideas.. I have shared those tips with my colleagues who are still trying to pass the professional module of ACCA

  2. A very great and educating article, just at a time when I needed it the most.
    I really wish to see more of it.

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