THIRTY-FOUR top Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) scorers from Malaysia were recently honoured with the Global Prize Winners awards after surpassing the achievements of fellow students from 179 countries.
Among the recipients were Abdurrahman Apandi, 19, from INTEC Education College and Tiffany Tan Li Ven, 26, a former student at Sunway TES Centre for Accountacy Excellence.
Abdurrahman obtained 100 per cent in the ACCA Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Management Information (MA1) paper. With a perfect score, he became the highest ranked MA1 student in the world.
Tan, meanwhile, emerged as the No. 1 Top Affiliate in Malaysia and second in the world for the December 2017 examinations. She was recognised for her top performance across all strategic professional papers.
Accomplishing this feat had never crossed Abdurrahman’s mind.
“It is beyond my expectations. My marks are usually around 80. I even failed the same paper once in an internal progress exam last year.”
Instead of deterring him, the failure became a motivating force. “I think the experience helped me to do my best in the actual paper.”
Of her prestigious awards, Tan said: “I am really happy as it is something I’ve been aiming for and it made my two years of ACCA worth it. I’m thankful to family, friends and colleagues.
“The ACCA qualification is a testament to one’s determination and willingness to go through a rigorous professional examination process.”
Born in Ipoh, Perak, Abdurrahman is the seventh child out of ten siblings. While studying at Sultan Azlan Shah Mara Junior Science College in Kuala Kangsar, he developed an interest to pursue ACCA.
“I was inspired by my accounting teacher, Mohd Siddiq Afham Mohd Pauzi. He invited professionals to the school to speak about accounting qualifications, including ACCA.”
Having secured a Yayasan Peneraju-Perbadanan Nasional Berhad scholarship after his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), Abdurrahman opted to pursue ACCA instead of a degree or diploma.
“From my research, I find it to be demanding and I love challenges. It is recognised globally, so I can work anywhere in the world upon completion.
“More importantly, ACCA is the fastest track available to become a chartered accountant. Coming from a big family, I would like to work as soon as I can and give my family a better future.”
Hailing from Sri Petaling, Tan is the eldest child in her family. Her parents, who recently retired, used to work in supply chain and early childhood education.
She has aspired to be an accountant since she was 10.
“In school, I chose accounting as my SPM elective even though my peers were more interested in science subjects.”
After graduating with a degree from Asia Pacific University, Tan started working at Ernst and Young, one of the Big Four firms. This sparked her interest in ACCA.
“As part of the professional development encouraged by the firm, I began studying for my ACCA part time.”
Having completed her qualification in December 2017, Tan is currently pursuing a Master of Education at the University of Technology, Sydney.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
To do well in ACCA, working through past exam papers was a key practice, said Tan.
“Past year papers are my go-to revision material. As the ACCA syllabus is divided into several topics and areas, I will scour through past year papers to find similar contents according to each topic.
“After reading through the questions and answers in each paper, I would make notes based on the model answers to understand the reasoning.”
Tan finds the P4 Advanced Financial Management paper to be the hardest.
“Finance is not my strongest area. To familiarise myself with the questions, I practised all the past year papers at least three times each.
“ACCA is not about memorising but about understanding the reasoning behind each standard or theory that we have learnt, and relating it to practice,” said Tan, who is against rote-learning.
“Connecting the topic to current news or work enabled me to understand complex standards and theories. For students without working experience, reading the news and articles can help in providing a glimpse of the corporate environment.
“Most importantly, aim higher and make sure you complete the questions in the paper.”
While her working experience helped her in the ACCA exam, finding the right balance was tough.
“It was challenging to juggle between work and studies. I had to realign my priorities by giving up my personal free time and hobbies to manage my studies and do revision.”
Abdurrahman said having a purpose was vital in his ACCA pursuit.
“It is important to be purpose-driven. Whenever I study, I always think about the main reason why I started on this qualification — which is to give back to my family. That is how I motivated myself in this journey.”
He said it was important to tailor one’s study habits to one’s needs.
“From learning styles to study techniques, you need to know what works for you. Everyone is different so you must experiment yourself.
“I need some alone time to revise. At the same time, I love group studies as it can increase my confidence in a topic. I’m a strong believer of helping others. My father always told me that there is no loss in giving.”
After each internal exam, Abdurrahman said INTEC students were ranked according to their results.
“My classmates and I are very supportive of each other. The ranking does make us feel pressured but we always help each other to improve in the next exam. So, it is not just about going alone.”
The MA1 paper requires students to use basic costing principles and techniques. For Abdurrahman, understanding goes a long way.
“To ace this paper, you need to understand all the principles and calculations involved and go beyond the superficial level. Normally, students would just memorise the calculations, but my lecturer, Noorhayati Mohamed, always stresses the importance of mastering the syllabus.”
He said ACCA also sharpened students’ decision-making and creative thinking skills.
“For case studies, you have to think out of the box or you won’t be able to grasp the core issue. By thinking creatively, you can to find great solutions.”
As a user of online resources, Abdurrahman added: “ACCA provides plenty of exercises on its website, including the examiner’s reports and articles. These have helped me greatly.”
Tan said: “It is important for organisations to transform their talent pool to be more agile. My Master in Education and ACCA equip me with different skill sets to see things from a business and human perspective.
“I hope to inspire and help others to learn. Career wise, I aim to climb the corporate ladder and become a chief financial officer.”
Abdurrahman said: “I aspire to start my own firm in the future and help increase the percentage of Bumiputera accountants in Malaysia.
“But first, I would like to gain experience from both auditing firms and the corporate world.”
In total, 152 outstanding Malaysian students were awarded at the ACCA Malaysia Top Achievers Ceremony on July 19. The event recognised their achievements in the 2017, 2018 and March 2019 examinations.