Study plan

Welcome to a basic plan to help you create a personal pre-exam study timetable! This plan can be applied to any pre-exam study but we at emma concentrate on helping with exams and private study for writing, editing and some teaching.


What’s on this page? 

(Check this list for updates)

  • What to do (general) – a quick guide to getting started on study for any exam
  • Flow chart for editors studying for IPEd Accreditation Exam
  • Time line (same as flow chart but with added links to references etc)
  • Help with particular needs (for editors)
    • Workshops:
      • Grammar in a nutshell
      • Copy-editing
    • What to take into open-book exam
    • Personal preparation
    • Preparing a personal study timetable
  • Reading guide for editors


Contact us for help in building your study timetable. Some resources are available at no charge. Moderate fees apply to recommended group workshops and private mentoring or tutoring. 

What to do (general):

  • Start or join a study group – studying in isolation is not often as beneficial as studying with like-minded group members. Commit to attendance at regular group sessions, either in person or by Skype, FaceTime or other video- or tele-conferencing.
  • Find out what the exam covers and where the gaps are in your knowledge or practical skills and experience.
  • Aim for a balance of activities that suit you.
  • Set a regular period for study and skills practice – frequency will depend on the size of the task and the timeframe – however small, a regular amount of time is likely to work better than a heavy load close to the exam. 
  • Have at least the minimum recommended practical experience – OR take steps to remedy any lack of recent experience if practical skills are required.
  • Get all of the recommended study materials: exam regulations, books, articles, any necessary tools.
  • Work through practice exams methodically where available, building up to timed practice to get used to exam pressure (particularly important if you haven’t done an exam recently).


Flow chart to help study for IPEd Accreditation Exam 2020

We have prepared a flow chart that may be useful in planning for the 2020 exam for accreditation of editors. The exam has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will now be held on Saturday 5 December 2020 all round Australia and New Zealand, so the sooner you start on your planned study, the easier it will be.

Studying alone is not always a good idea. Join a study group or start one yourself and work out a specific plan  that takes into account your and your study group’s needs. We can help you do this if necessary. Send us a message about your needs.

We also run grammar workshops which you may want to join to brush up your English grammar. These are run in very small groups (max 6) on an ‘ad hoc’ basis. As part of a study plan, we recommend Elizabeth’s Grammar in a nutshell. Read about it in the ‘Training and Mentoring’ page and Contact us to register your interest.

We also offer individual mentoring or tutoring in specific aspects of the IPEd accreditation exam if you would like to contact us about any part of the exam in which you need guidance. There are moderate charges for workshops, mentoring and tutoring.

If you have questions about the flow chart below, please ask.

Flow chart as time line

© emma Study Plan: same flow chart, different look (for editors preparing for IPEd Accreditation Exam)  Here is a vertical ‘time line’ with all the same information as in the flow chart plus some useful links:

  1. Read ALL guidelines and advice from IPEd about the exam ( and subsequent pages)

Keep checking the IPEd website for updated advice, instructions, timeframes and registration information

  1. Be sure that you are ready to proceed with studying for and taking the exam on 5 December 2020 – ask yourself the same question throughout this process. If you think at any point that you are not ready to proceed, here are some actions you can take:
  • get more experience
  • take courses and workshops
  • seek mentoring
  • seek one-on-one tuition

If you are ready to continue:

  1. Identify key reading and other resources, for example:
  1. Review selected practice exam questions and identify gaps in knowledge
  2. Continue preparation:
  • start assembling bound book (of material that is not available in Style manual – 6th edn, for example, updated information about Copyright)
  • continue with focused reading (for example, tabbed passages in Style manual – see reading list on emwords website: > Study Plan)
  • identify personal weaknesses and develop resources
  • attempt selected practice exam questions in non-timed setting
  • mentoring / workshops / one-on-one tuition
  1. Continue:
  • attempt sections of practice exam in timed setting
  • finish assembling bound book
  • mentoring / workshops / one-on-one tuition
  1. Take full practice exam under timed conditions
  2. Get everything ready for exam day
  3. Rest and relax!
  4. Take exam.

We can email you a blank template for you to use to make your own timetable. Please contact us and ask for it. It’s free.

Help with particular needs:

Contact us so that an emma team member can help you develop any aspect of this plan. Things that can be included are:

  • Workshops relevant to your exam preparation:

Grammar in a nutshell plus an optional add-on of an in-depth review of some aspects of English grammar such as complex verb structures, prepositional idiom, detailed punctuation, parallel structure in bullet lists (ask us for a workshop outline). This workshop includes practice in correcting grammatical errors, similar to the LANGUAGE part of the IPEd exam.

Copy-editing plus preparation of a style sheet, use of Track Changes to mark up text and provide comments to authors and so on (ask us for a workshop outline). This workshop is relevant to the copy-editing MANUSCRIPT part of the IPEd exam.

  • Choosing what to take into an open-book exam:
    • Books – standard references (know whether to read, skim or skip and what to flag – see the reading guide for editors below
    • Selected extra information in a personal, spiral-bound booklet form (needs careful selection and brevity); this booklet is for typed or printed information you find that doesn’t appear in your standard references – such as updates about technology, editing practices in other countries, specialist medical or legal editing conventions, accessibility, inclusive language
    • Tools such as calculator, stationery items.
  • Personal preparation:
    • Everyone is different and has different ways of learning. You may have difficulties that others don’t have – we can help you work through them – a private mentorship or tutoring can be arranged for the duration of your study time until the exam if required. Ask us for study plan and timetable help.
  • Preparing a personal detailed study timetable:
    • Done the planning? Time to draw up a timetable just for you? Ask us for help.


Whether you are preparing for accreditation or just looking to deepen your knowledge on some areas of editing or improve your confidence, you may find the following advice useful. These are suggestions only and are not designed to comprehensively cover topics.

Note: this is not an official or IPEd-endorsed guide. If you are looking for information about the IPEd Accreditation Exam, you should see the IPEd website.

The books referenced in this guide are:

Flann, E, Hill, B & Wang, L 2014 The Australian editing handbook, 3rd edition. Milton, Queensland: John Wiley & Sons.

Snooks & Co. 2002 Style manual for authors, editors and printers, 6th edition. Australia: John Wiley & Sons.



All Australian editors should make sure they are familiar with these standards. In addition, they form the basis for the IPEd Accreditation Exam.


  • For any exam you are intending to sit, it is vital to read everything that the examining body provides to candidates ahead of time. This often includes practical advice about what to expect and what you’ll need to do to prepare, information about how best to study, and practice exams. If you’re thinking of taking the IPEd Accreditation Exam, keep your eye on the IPEd website and make use of all IPEd’s available information and resources.


Editing topics

Editing briefs

The Australian editing handbook, pp. 46–52


Project management

The Australian editing handbook, chapter 2

Style manual, chapters 1 and 2


Legal issues

The Australian editing handbook, pp. 70–76 (be cautious, as some of this material could be dated)

Style manual, Chapter 22  (be cautious, as some of this material could be dated)

Australian Copyright Council, including:  

Editors and Copyright’

‘An Introduction to copyright in Australia’


Style manual, pp. 428–434 (but be cautious with this material, as it could be dated. You should also check the latest available online advice, including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).


Plain English

Murphy E M with Cadman H 2014 Effective writing: plain English at work – 2nd edition, Westgate NSW: Lacuna (See ‘Books’ page on this website for full details)

Murphy E M 2019 Working words (revised edition), Armidale NSW: Lacuna (See ‘Books’ page on this website for full details)



Style manual, chapter 5 gives a useful introduction to key issues, including a helpful FAQ section.

Tredinnick M 2008 The little green grammar book, Sydney NSW: University of NSW Press – gives explanations for most points of English grammar in a light style


Parts of a book

Style manual, chapter 13

The Australian editing handbook, chapter 4


Citations and reference lists

This is a very large topic. Building expertise in understanding and following a particular style is important, as well as generally understanding the range of approaches used. The reading suggestion below is a useful introduction.

Style manual, chapter 12



Reading about copyediting can be difficult unless it is in the context of practical exercises and application of the rules. The ideas for reading below focus on just a few selected topics, but it is important to put these into practice:  

  • Hyphens and dashes: Style manual, pp. 88–94 (hyphens); 106–109 (dashes)
  • Lists: Style manual, pp. 141–144, The Australian editing handbook, pp. 146–148
  • Abbreviations and other shortened forms: Style manual, chapter 10
  • Tables: Style manual, chapter 19



Please contact us if you are interested in making an early start on preparation for your next exam or other specific study. And please tell us how we can improve this plan for you. We can help you develop an actual timetable to suit just you or your whole study group.