Studying for the Admission Exams

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Admission exams

The LPC has recently announced the latest dates for the admission exams.  The outbreak of Covid-19 and the many restrictions that Government has implemented, played a major part in moving the exams. When I asked other Candidates how the studying was going, I always got the same answer.  I haven’t started yet.

The sad reality is that most CA’s have not started any preparation for the exams.  I understood their reasoning behind not starting, I was in the same boat.  I reckoned why study for a exam if I don’t know when it will take place?

For a long time I also used this excuse not to study, until I realized that studying for the admissions exams had nothing to do with being admitted as an attorney and more to do with the career.  Now you must all think I fell on my head or that I am an idiot, right? 

Let me explain. 

We all have to pass the four admission exams to be admitted as attorneys, that’s a fact.  The issue however is that we only study for the exams, to be admitted.  We simply cram all the information into our heads for that specific exam and afterwards forget about 50% of what we learned.  I have come to the point were I realized that the reason you have to study for admissions is to be a great lawyer. 

A great lawyer not only knows the law, but he understands it.  He understands that you benefit more from knowing how to apply the law than just knowing it.  Not that you be admitted as an attorney but that you can use the law to the advantage of your clients and yourself.  As an attorney the things you are studying now will be used on a daily basis.  If you don’t know how to apply the rules for instance, you won’t be able to properly defend a client.

Adapt your technique  

When I studied at varsity I made use of certain study techniques.  These techniques helped me to understand the work I was learning and helped to remember the work.   But thinking about the modules I studied there are some things I simply cannot remember.  I normally went on a binge learning night and crammed everything into my head and afterwards forget what I learned.

I quickly realized that this way of learning will not be sufficient for the board exams.  The amount of work is to much to simply just do it last minute. I knew right from the start that my old methods will not work and that I will need to adapt.

The reason I needed to adapt my study method, was that the content I needed to study for admissions, are of a practical nature.  All modules we had in varsity was theory based.  Theory can easily be studied with the use of notes, summaries or mind maps, but these do not work when you study practical content. 

I refer to the content for the admissions exams as practical content, because the rules for instance need to be interpreted.   Certain rules are straight forward, you have so many days to file and so many to oppose etc.  Others are not so straight forward and everyone interprets them differently.

To successfully study for the admissions, you must make a mind shift and you must adapt.  This mind shift must allow you to realize that you are not studying for a test, you are studying for the rest of your life.  The things you learn for the exams will be used by you on a daily basis while you’re a practicing attorney.  Adapting your study techniques will help you to remember the work and how to apply it.

OLD PAPERS OLD PAPERS OLD PAPERS

The best thing you can do to study for the admissions is to get your hands on old examination papers.  Old papers have the benefit of preparing you to understand how the questions are asked.  Because you see how the questions are asked, you can learn the work to apply it in the manner that it is asked.  

The other benefit of using old papers are that you can answer them without the stress of the examination.  No two tests will ever be the same, but answering the questions without a time-limit helps you to understand the work better.  When you read the question and answer it in your own words you generally remember it for longer periods.  

Get some help

Never be afraid to ask for help.  The biggest mistake any person can make is to be afraid to ask questions.  The reality is that no one knows or understands everything.  That’s exactly why there are several different specialist areas in our law.  An attorney only doing work in criminal law, will not know everything about the law of contracts for instance, and vice versa

Ask for help from other CA’s or attorneys.  When you don’t understand the work, talk about it.  Talking about issues has a way of helping a person see another side of the coin.  Another persons views on the subject might help you to get a clearer picture of the issue.

Courses

Lets take the bookkeeping exam as example.   Not all graduates had bookkeeping as a subject during their studies.  At first glance you will feel overwhelmed and be negative from the start as you do not understand what is expected of you.  Accounting is not difficult but it can cause you some bad headaches, if you do understand it.  The same applies to the Estates exams.  When you understand something you find it easier to study and easier to apply the knowledge.

But how do you understand something that you have never dealt with? You get help.  You will never understand accounting if someone does not explain certain aspects to you.  The LPC’s compulsory vocational training modules do cover these aspects, but certain CA’s still struggle to understand the work. 

There are many different companies and attorneys that on a yearly basis help thousands of CA’s pass the admission exams.  The biggest problems are always with the Bookkeeping and Estates exams.  The issue is that CA’s simply do not understand what to do.  The course presenters have a way to help you understand the work.  They simplify the work that it is easier to understand. 

After completing these courses you will have a better understanding of how to properly do Bookkeeping and how to windup an estate.

SYAD

SIT YOU’RE A&% DOWN.  Whenever you have spare time go sit and study.  By continuously going over the work, you will start to remember everything more easily.  I am not saying that whenever your off from work you have to study, you must still enjoy your life.  All I am saying is don’t procrastinate, use your time wisely and go through the work weekly. 

Divide your time evenly that you have a separate time available daily just for studying.  One hour a day to study for the admission exams will benefit you more than you know.  Repetition is the key to learning anything.   

Take the dreaded Courts exam as example.  You must learn all the rules of the High Court, Magistrates Court etc.  Everyone hates this exam as the workload is massive and its difficult to remember.  The uniform rules of court has around 70 rules, if you read 10 rules a day you will have read the complete set in a week times.  Reading 10 rules will take you maybe 30 – 45 minutes a day.  The more you do this the easier it will get to understand and know all the rules.

DON’T WAIT

For each exam there is a massive amount of work to study.  The biggest mistake any CA can make is to wait for the last week and then start to study.  The reality is that you will not get through all the work the chances of passing the exams are very slim.   

The sooner you can start focusing on the exams the better for you.  Take one day and sort out what you have to study for each of the exams.  Then you break the content down in to sections.  Afterward you create a schedule for yourself to study each section.  Give yourself a timeline in which to complete each section.  After a few weeks you will have already gone through all of the work and it only took you a few hours a week. 

The exams can be stressing and will take a lot of your time.  By applying these methods you will not only be ready to pass the exams but you will become a better CA and eventually a great lawyer.   Change your view of why you have to study for the admissions and I promise that you will find it easier to study.  The time spent studying is more about your career in the long run than just getting admitted.

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