Candel Cuffie, first in P4
Candel Cuffie of Trinidad and Tobago placed first in the world in the December 2011 Advanced Financial Management Paper (P4) of the ACCA exams. This is a certainly an achievement of which the entire Caribbean is proud and ACCA congratulates her on this phenomenal success. The 22 year old who passed all her exams on the first attempt recently took time from her increasingly demanding schedule to share some of her success strategies with us and to tell us a little bit about herself.
Why did you choose ACCA?
I have always had a love for accounting from an early stage and my outstanding success in the relevant subjects at secondary school further encouraged me to pursue this field of study at tertiary level. I chose ACCA, because as far as I am aware, it’s the most prestigious accounting body globally. The standard of its programme is clearly of a superior level. The fact that the ACCA qualification is recognised globally was also an influential factor in my choice. It is very comforting to know that my scope of employment opportunities spans the world!
What is your 'magic formula' for passing P4?
Maintaining a positive mental attitude, coupled with strong determination, self-discipline, sticking to a well-structured study plan and focus, as well as prayer and faith in God.
What technical tips would you offer students planning to sit this paper?
Since all the final papers, including P4, is the advanced level to previous papers, reviewing the foundation material from the Fundamental papers is an imperative (F9 in the case of P4). Additionally, reading external information (outside of regular ACCA material) would be a vital asset for keeping up-to-date on relevant data, such as investment information, which is essential for effective P4 preparation.
What was your study plan?
I would usually grade myself, reward myself and even “punish” myself, as it were, based on my personal study time performance. The word “punish” here meaning that if I didn’t feel I was up to a certain standard in a specific topic or question I would skip whatever leisure activity I had planned for after I study. For example, watching television or going out to dinner with my family, until I was comfortable with the progress I had made. A very structured approach was important. Although I made time for leisure activities and did “normal” things with my family and friends, the key thing was ensuring I had a balance. I’ll set my study time and not even the best seductions or pressures would have shaken or moved me. Study time was study time, and leisure time was leisure time.
What personal skills have you developed as a result of studying for your ACCA exams?
The programme compelled me to push and challenge myself to a greater height. As a result, I was forced to become more focused, persistent and disciplined. Research, analytical and clinical skills were enhanced. Independent and collaborative study, as well as mentor-guided strategies and techniques. I definitely gained greater respect for persons who have completed the ACCA programme. I was also encouraged to draw even closer to the Lord in prayer, faith and spiritual principles for special breakthroughs during particularly testing times.
What words of advice would you give to students who may be struggling?
It does not matter how many times you may have failed in the past, always remember that nothing is impossible. As long as you have faith in your God, optimism in your future, persistence and determination to work hard and achieve your dreams/pass your exams, you will be able to face the most formidable challenges of life and exceed not only your own expectations, but also those of your adversaries.
What keeps you motivated to stay focused on passing exams?
Fortunately, I am a self-motivated person by nature. I did not really need my teachers to push me. If anything, I pushed them! Also, I am blessed to have grown up with a strong spiritual background (my two parents being Pastors of a well-known international ministry) and always being exposed to inspirational messages in church helped a great deal in staying motivated and focused.
Further, for me, failure was not an option. I did not want to wait a further six months to write over a paper that I had already studied, and for which I had sacrificed to attend lectures. So, I would put in all the extra effort and work that was necessary to ensure that I secured a pass the first time.
What are your future plans?
To gain relevant practical experience, by entering the world of work and eventually become established in the field of accounting.
What would be your dream job?
To own a successful business in the not-too-distant future.
What were your challenges, if any, and how did you overcome them?
Nothing of significance. There was the ubiquitous scare expression, “ACCA is tough”, coming from virtually everyone, but I used this as motivational fuel.
What were some of your resources?
Textbooks, lecturers’ handouts, ACCA student accountant magazines and other relevant external information.
What was your exam strategy?
Do as much practice as possible. Do not engage in “question spotting” but rather cover the whole syllabus. It may not be possible to know every topic in detail, but at least having a thorough understanding of the more important topics and a fair idea of the others, are important.
How much question practice did you do?
At least 90% of the revision kit and review relevant examples and questions done in lectures.
Who are some of the people that inspire you?
Definitely my parents, who are successful pastors, educators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, among many other professions. They played a significant role in allowing me to be where, and who, I am today. And, my P4 lecturer, of course.
What does success mean to you?
Success provides a profound sense of fulfillment, together with a desire to achieve greater accomplishments. Beyond this, my success inspires me help others succeed and use my talent and skills to be of service to humanity.
The ACCA Caribbean office will formally recognise Candel’s achievement in the near future and we are confident that we will soon be welcoming Candel into membership. Congratulations to her and to all our regional prize winners.