Olatomide Ayomide Precious emerged as the overall best candidate in the recent Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) examinations. A final year student of accounting at Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), she shares her journey towards this success with Edugist. Excerpts:
Please share with Edugist, a little about yourself and your background
My name is Olatomide Ayomide Precious and I hail from Ondo state. I am currently based in Abuja where I live with my parents. I’m a final year student of Federal University, Oye Ekiti, in the Accounting department. I am currently an entrepreneur as well as an audit tutor at Optimum Associates.
Congratulations on your outstanding achievement in the ICAN professional exams. Can you tell us about your journey towards this success and how you prepared for the exams?
Although there were about four months to prepare for the exams (July to October), they were still too small to read five mighty packs of books and ten recent diet’s past questions (called pathfinder). For ICAN, you have to read to understand because they want to test your understanding, rather than just cramming to pass.
It was quite a hectic journey because my parents struggled for the ICAN fees so it mustn’t go to waste. I started by not missing classes then proceeded to not pile up any of the works taught. I read them immediately I got home and checked the diet’s topics that were tested and read them in and out. This way, I got insights about how questions are answered professionally and key words to note in my answers.
I am not a midnight reader so I made use of my days, evenings and mornings effectively and efficiently. I woke up around 5am to read written courses, then by daytime, I did more calculations because of noise and other distractions in the environment. Then, in the evening, around 6pm to 11pm I rounded up with more calculations. I did this so I am able to balance up between calculations and written courses because out of five courses, four were majorly calculations.
This was how I was able to beat time in preparing for the exams and I finished reading the packs and pathfinder within three months. When it was a month to the exam, I revised majorly with pathfinder, solving questions I had already practised three months ago to know my ability. I was done with the revision within two weeks.
I started case studies in the early mornings. Immediately the pre-seen was out, I read it over and over everyday until the exam day. Two weeks to the exam period, I stopped reading the pack and did more of the summary. I jotted when I read as well. And to the glory of God, the result is worth the stress and energy.
What motivated you to pursue the ICAN professional exams while studying at FUOYE?
My father, Olatomide Babatunde Gabriel motivated me as he was willing to struggle for the money to pay for the exam. He always believed in me from day one that I could do it. This was also my dream from secondary school, that one day I would become a chartered accountant.
My main aim was to never waste his money as well as achieving my dream at the same time. The urge for success motivated me to take this huge step because I’ve always wanted to be different and prove to people who always say “school na scam” that I will make it through my education and career.
How did you balance your academic studies at FUOYE with the rigorous preparation required for the ICAN exams?
This was a very serious challenge I faced in this journey because I wasn’t a night reader. Although multitasking works for me, immediately after the exam I broke down totally and had to go for treatments. There were times that I had to go for classes from 7am till 6pm.
When I noticed I had this marathon class in school to attend, I used that day majorly for school work, completed notes, obtained handouts and pdfs for study when I arrived home. I used evenings for school work, mornings for tutorial work and weekends for ICAN exam marathon. Whenever we had tests in school, I paused ICAN preparation for a while and read school works. Although what I read for ICAN broadened my understanding on some school topics and helped me understand them faster, the truth of the matter remains that it is not easy because you won’t even have time for yourself.
Were there any particular challenges you faced during your preparation for the exams, and how did you overcome them?
The particular challenge I faced while preparing for the exams was combining my online business with studying. I overcame it by going online only during my peak periods. Another challenge was maintaining my CGPA to not go below 4.0/5.0 so as not to lose my current undergraduate federal government scholarship as that was the benchmark to remain a beneficiary. To the glory of God, I was able to achieve that as well.
Can you share some tips or strategies that helped you excel in the ICAN professional exams?
Few strategies that helped me excel in the ICAN professional exams were: setting a personal time table, attending tutorials, watching YouTube videos to learn more about a topic, group reading, attempting all pathfinder questions, following instructions and more emphasis on group reading.
How did your experience at FUOYE contribute to your success in the ICAN exams?
My experience at FUOYE contributed to my success in ICAN exams significantly as I was able to go through the challenges I faced with my head up high. Achieving the bachelor’s degree is beautiful as well as a challenging journey and I can proudly say that my experience at FUOYE contributed to my success not only in achieving the feat in ICAN exams but in many other life-challenging situations as well.
Did you have any mentors or role models who inspired and guided you during your preparation for the exams?
My role models who inspired and guided me during my preparation for the examination were the people that helped me manage my time effectively and inculcated knowledge in me in a way or another. I had a friend who helped me through with feeding because I didn’t even have time to cook. I was so sceptical with time so I considered spending an hour or two of my time on cooking a waste of time. Thank God, the friend was able to contribute to my success by always getting me food to eat at least twice a day. He wanted me to pass and also believed I could do it. It got to the point that to even have my bath was a waste of time.
I was with my friend one time studying for the exam together so we bathed in the middle of the night whenever we were at our peak period and wouldn’t have understood anything if we were to keep reading. Also, making our hair was a waste of time so I didn’t visit the saloon for weeks. What I did was to make hairdressing one of my subconscious acts. While reading I loosed my hair gradually and made it back myself. Of course it looked so rough and scattered but the goal was to endure all these until the exam was over so we could have time for ourselves again.
To mention a few, the people who helped as well as inspired me include Dr Solanke Festus, Bamisaye Emmanuel Oluwatoyin and Sangosaya Rashidat, among others.
How did you manage stress and maintain focus during the exam period?
I was able to manage stress and maintain focus during the exam period by always reminding myself of how I would rest well and take care of myself after the exam. I think of how happy my family would be when the result is a success. So all these helped me to manage the stress, to endure and push through.
Were there any specific subjects or topics within the ICAN exams that you found particularly challenging? How did you overcome those challenges?
I particularly prefer calculations. I had a very big problem with Advanced Auditing and Assurance. It was challenging because it was more of life scenario questions which required a deep understanding of the topic to be able to even attempt the questions. I was able to overcome this challenge by reading the ICAN pack twice, treating all pathfinder questions on each topic for past 10 diets and reading the summarised Audit material by APEX about three times until the exam.
Did you participate in any study groups or collaborative learning activities to enhance your preparation for the exams?
My tutorial centre was Optimum Associate located around my school. I attended tutorials as well as night classes anchored by my tutorial centre. I also participated in group readings with my colleagues and this enhanced my preparation for the exams.
How do you think your achievement in the ICAN exams will impact your future career prospects?
My achievement would definitely impact my future prospects by helping me get to the edge of my career, improving my curriculum vitae (CV) and making me unique to my future employers as well as making them aware of my capabilities, potentials and my core competence in Auditing. It would also help me in proceeding to achieving ACCA as well as FCA, so help me God.
Are there any specific career paths or industries that you are interested in pursuing after completing your studies at FUOYE and achieving success in the ICAN exams?
The only career path I’m interested in pursuing after completing my studies at FUOYE is to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or one of the big four accounting firms in Nigeria (KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PwC) to stand my ground in my accounting career path.
What advice would you give to other students at FUOYE who aspire to achieve similar success in the ICAN professional exams?
My advice to other students at FUOYE who aspire to achieve similar success in the ICAN professional exams is to believe in themselves, work harder, utilise their time effectively and efficiently. Never give up and stay focused.
Apart from your academic pursuits, what other activities or hobbies do you engage in that contribute to your personal and professional growth?
Entrepreneurship. I apply my knowledge in business administration and accounting in my online business and this has contributed greatly to my personal life. I also engage in accounting software training to build myself professionally and to improve my CV.