You will ask what is not to worry about, the exams are soon (always are), you are under-prepared (always are), an enormous amount of study material to be covered and no help in sight!
So, is there a way to prepare comprehensively for the exams without getting those grey hair and losing sleep? The answer starts with another question.
Why is the success rate so low in the CA Exams, what is so particularly difficult about the Exams, and what is causing the stress?
In my view, based on my personal experience and conversations with countless CAs there is no single topic that is too difficult for someone with average intelligence to grasp. It's not rocket science (though it sometimes feels like it), it's just accountancy (or whatever subject you want to put here but you get the idea)
The single most important reason, in my view, (drum roll, please!) is the sheer vastness and depth of the study materials that are expected to be covered in each subject and each group and this is what causes stress which is difficult to manage, affects motivation and creates a negative loop of low motivation, low effort, low result, and in turn higher stress.
The bottom line: How you study is, as important as, how much you study and what you study
Let me explain.
Most people study similar books, have reasonable intelligence to solve the challenges CA materials and exams throw. Differences in the results could arguably be mostly zeroed to how and how much you study in addition to what you study.
Here are some tips to prepare for the Exams in a stress-free manner and still ensuring a solid preparation:
1. Plan, plan, plan:
A study plan is the most critical aspect of the 'stress-free' preparation. Once you have a good plan, all you need to do is to stick to it, then there is no need to constantly worry, and you can actually enjoy your free time.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. 'Of course, I have a study plan'. Not enough. Some additional pointers to think about:
- You need to write down the plan - pen and paper - old style
- Tag it against timelines
- Break it down to smaller achievable, measurable goals - daily, weekly, whatever works for you but not longer than weekly
- Select a good combination of theory and practical subjects, you do not need to study everything every day
- Keep it realistic. No, you will not be studying 15 hours a day when the exams are 8 months away
- Track progress in an objective manner (also see point 5 below)
2. Starting early is key:
'The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started'
(No, not me. It was Mark Twain; no, he was not a CA)
Do not wait until too close to the exams. There is only so much you can productively study in a given period of time. The earlier you start, the easier the whole journey is and the less stressed you will be. The objective should be first comprehensive review of the materials and then multiple revisions, you can't do this, if you start too late.
3. Focus your study (materials):
This might sound counter-intuitive but the key here is depth vs. breadth. Limit the materials you study but study them well.
Take one comprehensive book, notes, etc. as your primary material for the subject and read every single word in it. Studying with only one author's book also gives you a certain familiarity with his style and that makes it easier to follow.
Refer to additional books or notes only for the topics that you need clarifications on or additional practice with.
4. Reward yourself:
CA is a marathon, not a sprint. Even with a busy study schedule and office, life will happen. If you start early, plan well and stick to your plan, you can find time for yourself and indulge in those hobbies, stress-free.
Once you know you are making good progress and things are going per plan, that IPL game is totally worth it! Especially when you can watch it without worrying about missing out on your studies
5. Have a Study Mentor
It could be anyone, essentially, a Study Mentor is someone with whom you can discuss your study plan, who can monitor your progress, can discuss your difficulties with the plan, and can guide and motivate you throughout the journey.
Not to be confused with your coaching classes - those are great for studying and making progress with the materials but the Mentor is more invested in you, is looking at the broader study plan, and is someone who could be involved with you from the start of the planning process. It could be a friend, parents, really anyone who can help your monitor progress and has a good understanding of the CA Exams and the efforts involved.
Who is your Study Mentor? Add in the comments below.
Interested in professional mentorship program? Ask to know more.
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