Still Learning

Hi my name is Stuart Pedley-Smith I am the Head of Learning for Kaplan Financial a leading educational company in the UK but part of Kaplan Inc based in the US. I have been involved with training and educating finance professionals for over 20 years. During this time I have become fascinated by the whole process of learning and the exam skills and techniques that contribute towards success both in the classroom and in life.

The book about how to pass exams

I am also the author of two books, ‘The E word’ about how to pass exams’ and ’A student’s guide to writing Business Reports’. You can also follow me on twitter @pedleysmiths.

This blog is about passing exams and the journey we call education….

21 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Stuart,
    First of all, I would like to express my enthusiasm about your lecture,which was about strategies of studying and I heard it today via ACCA’s webinar!
    I don’t have any question about this specific lecture as it was fully explained and I have to say that it changed a lot the way I aproach studying and thank you for this!
    The question that came up to my mind was if there are strategies about GMAT test; I mean strategies of solving problems faster and better and training in a more effective way?
    With appreciation!


    • Thanks Chris glad you found it helpful. The best way to prepare for a test is to practice tests. There are a number of reasons it works, firstly you get comfortable with the format, style and level of difficulty, secondly your ability to solve the specific types of problems improves the result of repetition and thirdly you learn from the answers. Your brain looks for patterns and speed is the bi product of familiarity.


  2. Hi Stuart! Just watched your video on F3 cima prep… Thank you!! 🙂 Was useful to see the subtopics highlighted that way. Just a shame you didn’t have more time to go through some example questions. I like the way you explained the interest rate one. I recently moved to Switzerland and am now doing Kaplan on demand courses. Big change for me- in the UK I did all classes F2F (apart for E pillar ones)… Adds to the stress of it all. Plus new exam centre etc… And reading FB posts of people hating F3, failing and saying it’s the worst exam… I need to stop, lol.

    Is there anything here on your blog on F3 that you would recommend?
    I assume you don’t want to get technical questions here?

    Thanks again,


  3. Hi Stuart, I heard your very inspirational speech in the HFMA student conference in Birmingham on 10th Oct. since i do not have your contact detail, i just remember your blog and thought to contact you like this. just wanted to ask you if it will be ok if I share your details with my organisation/colleagues, who are currently studying or will be in future?


  4. Hi Stuart
    I think you taught me ACCA at Reed college about 20 years ago. (Is that really possible?)

    Anyway in the pub we talked about strategic management and you told me about the 8 indicators of an excellence culture (one …gun, two ….phew etc)

    Long story short I’ve forgotten one. Either 4 door or 9 gate (I have simultaneous tight lose properties… which I think is 8 but wtf is 4)

    It was a long time ago and we were in a pub so maybe you won’t remember either.


    • Good to here from you Sarah – it can’t be 20 years can it!
      What a great example of the power of memory techniques and in particular number rhyming
      4 was door and there is no 9 – its eight gate
      And just in case….
      1. GUN – A bias for action, active decision making – ‘getting on with it’.
      2. SHOE – Close to the customer – learning from the people served by the business.
      3. BEE – Autonomy and entrepreneurship – fostering innovation and nurturing ‘champions’.
      4. DOOR – Productivity through people – treating rank and file employees as a source of quality.
      5. HIVE – Hands-on, value-driven – management philosophy that guides everyday practice – management showing its commitment.
      6. STICKS – Stick to the knitting – stay with the business that you know.
      7. HEAVEN – Simple form, lean staff – some of the best companies have minimal HQ staff.
      8. Gate – Simultaneous loose-tight properties – autonomy in shop-floor activities plus centralised values


  5. Sir, thank you for the wonderful article…. I am doing a research on attitude of students towards exam… I wish if you can mention some of the references… which i can read..


  6. Hi Stuart

    I just wanted to say thanks for the blog. Sadly I have found it just at the last minute, before sitting my final ACA Case Study exam (with Kaplan) on Wednesday. If only I had found this earlier! But what i’ve read thus far is very helpful.

    Thanks again



  7. Hi Stuart,

    I just watched your recorded Kaplan’s Masterclass: Exam Focused Learning and How to Learn Faster. I found them to be really useful. I’m an ACCA student currently studying at Kaplan Birmingham. I liked how your presentation emphasised the advice given by my tutors especially about reading the examiner’s articles and making short, concise answers and practice, practice, practice.

    Thanks a lot for the videos. They were brilliant 🙂



  8. Hi Stuart, I think the blog is great… You manage to motivate me even after a hard day at work and children to look after.

    Great teacher .


  9. Hi Stuart

    I have just watch the class about investment appraisal, it was really good. Thanks for that.
    On Thursday 6th you did a free masterclass in Birmingham about cost of Capital. Unfortunatelly I could not attend because I was driving back from London, I had to go to work there for the day.
    Can you tell me if the class was recorded and we can have access please?

    Thanks & Regards



    • Daniel glad you enjoyed the on-line masterclass. The beauty of on-line is that if you can’t make the lecture you can always watch the recording. The event on Wednesday was a F2F event and so we don’t have any recording. It will however be run again at some point in the next 6 months.
      Happy studying


  10. Hi,
    I am Adriano and I am studying CIMA through Kaplan distance learning.
    I have followed on Thursday your web presentation on exam focussed learning. I have found it really interesting and I will change the way I am revising P4 and P8 for November exams.
    I would like to have some suggestion on what to do when I start studying a new subject and I do not know anything about it. I do not think it is practicable to start with exam questions. What I am doing now is studying the full text book to gather a general knoledge and then I start with questions.


    • Adriano you are right, it is difficult to get started on the key examinable topics when you don’t have any idea what the topics are in the first place. It is however a bit of a “chicken and egg”, should you study everything in the book only to find you have spent far too much time on an area that from an exam point of view is not that important.

      So assuming that you are studying from a text book, go to the contents page of the book and list out the topics either in a linear format or mindmap. It may be sensible to study the introduction, as this often gives an overview of everything. Now that you know what the topics are, identify the key examinable areas as I described on the night and highlight them in the contents page of the text book so as to they stand out as being important. Study these highlighted chapters first, make notes as normal, but have in mind at all times the question(s) examined that you first looked at. When you get to the end of the chapter, or before if the question makes sense, answer these questions. Remember if you can’t answer the question simply go to the answer in the back of the book and look at it. This may jog your memory or clarify what the examiner was looking for. If all is well you can then attempt to answer the question. If this initial review does not help then you may need to read the answer more closely. As you do this work through any calculations and make sure you understand them. If need be go back and check your logic using the text book and amend you notes to reflect what you have learned from the answer.

      Hope that is useful


  11. Hi Stuart,

    I’ve watched kaplan online masterclass yesterday and found it realy intersting and helpful. Thank you for this blog and sharing knowledge on studing techniques!

    I’ll be checking our for new articles.



  12. Hi Stuart

    Thank you for the online master class this evening. It was really good and I think Kaplan should offer more of these for free 🙂

    I am a working mum with a very busy job and two children. I’m currently at CIMA strategic level, studying at Kaplan Southampton and when I got home this evening I was really tired and wondering how on earth I was going to do any studying, infact I probably wouldn’t have done any.
    But actually I have just sat and listened to the masterclass for an hour and a half, learnt alot and it has given me a very big kick to get going..

    Thank you very much and I look forward to lots more.



    • Catherine

      Glad you liked it and even more pleased it has motivated you to get down to studying. We will certainly be looking at doing some more MasterClasses although this may not be until 2010. I will however be posting more on the Blog in November….


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