How to do better in CA/CS Exams..Vinod Kothari
I write this with the caption how to do better in CA/CS exams,
but in fact, the write up applies to just about every exam.
It is only that I have specifically targeted it to students of Company Secretaryship
and Chartered Accountancy hence, the title.
Study for knowledge, not for exams:
Over the last over 25 years as a member, I have been very actively
associated with the academic activities of professional institutes, particularly
ICSI, and hence, I have been interacting with loads of students. I have not missed
a single a single SMTP program I have been lecturing at all of them starting
from the very first one. In addition, I have interacted with students as many of
them come to us for management training.
I say all this to make a point that I have been close witness
to how and what students are, particularly soon after they pass their exams. I would
not even dilute words when I say that the quality of students, lately coming out
of CA/ CS exams, has deteriorated immensely. It probably has to do with the examination
pattern of the Institute, and perhaps the liberal view the Institute may knowingly
or unknowingly be taking towards the pass percentage. The idea surely cannot be
to restrain pass percentage, but surely enough, if students passing CA/CS exams
are nearly completely blank on the very basic conceptual foundations of Companies
Act or subjects which are so very basic to them, then there is something surely
to be seriously attended to. Out of the many, many instances of students passing
out with no bad marks in their exams, but found blank, I can at least recall two.
First one is an example I very commonly give this relates to CS students. If I
ask 100 CS students who have passed out exams to draft a petition to the Company
Law Board, my conviction is that 80% of them draft out a petition Before the CLB,
Northern Region Bench, though I am sitting asking this in Kolkata, which is in
the Eastern Region. Why? Because the study materials probably have a draft petition
apparently made to the Northern Region Bench. This is not the end of it several
students will write name of Petitioners as A Shah and B Shah, which are perhaps
the names given in the draft petition.
My second example is a girl who I recently interviewed. She
had obtained a good rank in her finals, and I felt so bad when she spelt Companies
Act as Companys Act. I said to myself if a student of CS, whose core area is
company law, does not even know how to spell Companies Act correctly, and yet manages
to score a rank, the inescapable conclusion is that there is something very wrong
with the examinations.
My conviction becomes only stronger when I find that students
are fed with capsules of notes by tutors, which they mug up, write in the exams,
and pass out. They may not understand any part of what they are writing, but that
seemingly does not matter for the exams.
While the mission of the respective
Institutes changing their exam patterns may be a long one, if you are a student,
you must personally ensure that you are studying not for the exams but for learning.
Be sure of this if you are studying for the exams, you may pass it, but what about
life thereafter? That the real exam, and in that one, the capsules fed by tutors
dont work at all. On the contrary, studying for knowledge does not mean you are
risking the exams. In fact, you can trust me when I say this because I have not
done badly in my exams at all. Exams come as a spin off if you gained knowledge
in your studies. It is like - you are sowing wheat, you get the hay as a side product.
Four steps in learning:
Once you ensure that you are learning
for knowledge and not for exams, this is how you learn. There are 4 steps to learning.
I dont say every time you learn anything at all, you break it down into these 4
steps and sequentially go through each of them. It just becomes a habit. What you
need to understand is that each of these is important for good learning.
Reception of learning. Reception comes
by reading or listening. Needless to say, if I am listening to a lecture on company
law, but mind is lost in what is cooking up at home, the knowledge enters the senses
but not the mind. Sensory reception, in order to be meaningful, has to have mind
attached to it. This is such a commonplace saying that I dont have to stress much
on it. So, step 1 is active, mindful reception of knowledge.
Step 2 is less commonly talked
about, but I feel it is very important for learning. That is
Inquisition. Dont take knowledge as
it comes. Put a question. Put all the questions before you allow the knowledge to
pass down to step 3. For instance,
at very basic level, if someone says, the features of a company are artificial legal
entity, limited liability, perpetual succession, and common seal, put questions
to each of these. Why would you call it artificial? Why would you call it a legal
entity? Is it legal as opposed to illegal, or legal as opposed to non-existent?
Why do we say limited liability is a feature of companies, even though we know companies
may have unlimited liability too. What exactly does limited liability mean? How
does it matter to the stakeholders when the liability is unlimited? Why should a
company have a common seal? And why it called a common seal though every company
has a distinctive seal of its own? And so on.
Essence is, fire as many question
in your mind before you allow any questions to pass. Some questions you will be
able to explore answers yourself. Others, you can check around, and if you have
some guides around you, you can check with them. Most seniors would not mind answering
students brainy questions.
Step 3 is a conclusion
of step 2. Meaning, after all possible enquiries, you receive a conceptually
clear, transparent knowledge, that
goes into your learning.
Step 4 is extremely important. As students, you need to retrieve
knowledge from of memory. Einsteins famous quote is that he does not have to know
it all he just needs to know where to find it if needed. But unfortunately, that
does not work for students. Knowing sources of information is not enough you need
to know, and store it and retrieve it all from one source that is your mind. So,
step 4 ensures that you keep a very healthy and spacious memory, and are able to
retrieve things from there when needed.
Strong and spacious memory:
It is my firm and self-learnt conviction
that memory, like lots of other organs of human body, becomes strong as you regularly
use it. It is like flexing muscles. If you are going to the gym or doing exercises
regularly, your muscles become strong. If you quit it for days, muscles start weakening
again. Hence, the more you use your memory, the sharper and stronger it will become.
Technology available today is anti-memory. As it has minimized physical exertion,
forcing us to use the gym for workouts while we use the lift to walk upstairs, it
has minimized the need for memory also. People hardly remember phone numbers, as
they are stored in the cell phone. Likewise, appointments, anniversaries and what
not; need not be stored in the brain as they are stored in the handset. Unfortunately,
there is no gym that makes up for the lack of use of brain that gets tremendous
spare capacity. If, as students, it is important for you to memorize, then you need
to memorize regularly. If you memorize
stuff for 5 days regularly, sixth day you will surely notice your ability to memorize
has gone up considerably. This is my firm conviction, and I am sure those who try
this will surely agree.
Memory always needs an association,
an order something to relate things to. For instance, poems are far easy to remember
than prose. That explains why most ancient religious text was written in poetry
format, because it used to be passed on for generations without any paper. In poetry,
words have a natural association, rhythm. How do we use the same while memorizing,
for instance, provisions of law? This is, again, my self-tried experience. For remembering
provisions of law, there is no better way than to memorize the sections serially.
For example, I am serious about Companies Act. If I would have by and large read
what the sections contain, and I need to memorize which section contains what, then
the best thing is to open the contents page of the law and remember sections serially.
Everyone knows section 2 generally contains definitions. So, I will start with section
3, section 4 and so on. If I am able to remember upto section 25 in one day, it
would not be difficult to memorize the whole of the Act in a few weeks. Believe
me, as you start doing this, you will find that not only your brain power would
increase at exponential pace, your conceptual clarity would have also have gone
up, as you would get to understand the natural flow of the sections.
One of the most important things
with memory is reiteration. You need
to continuously revise things stored in memory. During the day, all of us get plenty
of occasions when we can revise things stored in memory. For example, you traveling
in a bus or taxi you have nothing else to do. Just close your eyes and revise
the sections. Of course, you will be sensible enough not do it while self-driving!
Quite often, people say- early mornings are best to memorize things, or just before
sleeping is the best time, etc. I dont have reasons to disagree with these views,
but I believe whenever it is most convenient for you to revise things in memory,
that is the best time. When you dont have better things to do.
If, having read this article, there is change in the way you
study or perceive studies, I will be happy if you shoot an email to
email@example.com. Also you may
like to check my site at www.vinodkothari.com/tutorials/
for more resources for students.