Study Skills and Web Sites for Accounting Students

Adapted from a handout by Gladys Shaw, University of Texas at El Paso

adding machine


You can be successful in accounting courses when you put in the necessary time and utilize good study habits and techniques. Excellent math skills are a plus but not an absolute prerequisite as many students mistakenly believe.

The study strategies described below will help you study more efficiently and effectively and overcome your anxieties about learning accounting.


1. Good Learning Habits and Attitudes
  • Study every day as soon after class as possible.
  • Accounting knowledge is cumulative as each assignment builds on the previous one. Be sure to review and understand previous material before tackling new information.
  • Spend as much time as it takes. Accounting requires much more time than most other classes. Plan to spend 6-9 hours a week of outside study for a three-hour accounting course. If you don't feel secure about steps or problem-solving, plan more time.
  • Attend class without fail, even if you aren't prepared. This is your best opportunity to clear up troublesome areas.
  • Participate in class. Take notes, ask questions, or give "Yes" or "No" answers at first. Participation improves your attention in class and gets easier with practice.
  • Use all the help available. Use tutoring services; join an organized study group; attend exam review sessions if they are available.
  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Know your reason for taking the class. Set goals for what you want to learn and assume personal responsibility for learning the course material.
  • Complete all assignments on time.


2. Reading Study Strategies
hand on calculator  


  • Prior to reading, note the focus of the assignment in the stated objectives and topic captions.
  • Read actively. Reading is not necessarily studying. Read to understand "why" and "how."
  • Accounting is a technical and logical subject. It requires reasoning. Almost every sentence is important, so avoid passively highlighting your text. Instead, question, compare, and associate. Highlight main concepts and answers to questions such as "So what?" "What next?"
  • When reading, maintain concentration. Active, participatory reading helps increase concentration.
  • Try to study your optimum length of time at each study session. If you lose concentration, briefly change your activity: stand up, move around, drink ice water, all of which will give you more energy.
  • Read critically. Try to discover reasons for the methods taught.
  • Monitor your learning.
    • First, consolidate and review previous material at the beginning of each study period.
    • Preview new assignments before reading.
    • Next, read, then question your understanding.
    • Put question marks, stars, arrows to identify "muddy" points. These are indications of concepts you will ask about in class or when you visit your professor or tutor.
    • Finally, make marginal notes of items you want to restudy. What do you want to know?


Accounting Web Sites

calculator on top of money


The following web sites are filled with information and links to effective study skills for accounting. The more approaches you experience, the more effective your learning skills become.

Content-specific Learning Strategies for Accounting
Accounting Problems (Muskingum College)
Reading Strategies and Information Organization for Accounting (Muskingum College)
Study Groups and Test Preparation for Accounting (Muskingum College)

How to Study Accounting (Houghton Mifflin)

How to Study: Accounting This is an outstanding site with many links to accounting study skills information including acronyms and calculators. (

Specific Topics Related to Accounting

CPA Exam Study Tips Complete list of skills from preparation to post exam strategies (SmartPros)
This site breaks down information related to taxes, accounting, and payroll, and provides downloads. Click on the areas of interest, continuing until you reach the documents, which will download automatically.
Professional Resources

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Accounting: Links to Professional Resources This site give a very long list of accounting professional resources.
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This site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Academic Success Center Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel

The ASC logo was created by Andrew C. Rempt. @ Andrew C. Rempt
Southwestern College