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Although I cleared my CA final exam two years back I feel this is the right time to share this story. The purpose of this article is not just to motivate you but to share some really good tips. However, I am sharing a bit of my journey because I believe there are many who go through the same cycle.

I have always been an average student. I never crossed 70% in my school till 9th standard. However, I was able to score 84% in 10th and somehow got admission in Mithibai college.

With NM in the neighborhood, almost everyone I met was doing CA. I too took the same bus and started my CA Journey. I was able to clear CPT and IPCC (one group at a time) in the first attempt.

Articleship started and I fell in love with the profession. I loved what I was doing and was learning new things at a very high pace. I knew I was destined to be Chartered Accountant. This is what I wanted to do.

Everyone always appreciated my work, things were perfect, I was loving it. I started thinking that passing CA final exam is just a formality and I already am a Chartered Accountant. I know I might be sounding quite arrogant over here but that is how I felt. I skipped my one attempt and completed my articleship. This gave me 7 months to prepare for CA final.

I appeared for my first attempt in May 2015. I was quite confident that I will clear CA, not because I had prepared very well but I knew I have it in me.

FR paper was handed over to us at 1.45 PM. The question paper itself was of 24 pages in that attempt. Paper started at 2.00 PM and 3.00 PM I knew I was not going to clear. I knew that not just because my paper was not going well (eventually I passed in that paper) but there was a question on AS 2 and I was not able to crack it.

I asked myself 'Here you are trying to become a Chartered Accountant, not being able to solve IPCC level AS 2 question. Do you really think you deserve to become a Chartered Accountant?' I got a resounding 'NO' from within. I somehow managed to give all papers.

I was shaken up. My belief was lost. It was an unexpected jolt.

I went to meet my Mentor CA Ashutosh Sir after my exams. Ashutosh Sir had also helped me during my IPCC. He guides many students through his Ignite program.

First of all, he got me out of the feeling of failure. This did not happen in one conversation but a series of conversations that we had. By the time result was declared I was completely prepared to face the result. I knew I was not going to clear and I did not. My score was 380(with the exemption in Costing). I saw this as an opportunity to give my best shot and play for a rank. I knew technically I was not eligible to get a rank because of exemption. Still, I wanted to get a score equivalent to a ranker.

This is what I did in an attempt to get a rank.

Planning-

After the results. On that very day, I took out all my books and made an impeccable plan. Ashutosh Sir has created a tool to plan for CA Exams. I used this and created a hundred day plan. It gave me immense clarity on what are the topics on which I need to focus and what are the topics that can be graded as B or C category. I did an ABC Analysis of whole CA final syllabus.

Accountability- 

Making a plan is simple, we all do it. However, sticking to the plan is where the real challenge is. I faced the same issue in my first attempt but I was able to nail this issue in this attempt by a simple structure.

We call it accountability.

During our articleship we are accountable to our principal. He always keeps a watch on us and ensures that work is done in time.When it comes to studies we are not accountable to anyone. Hence, it is very common to get loose.

I was accountable to Ashutosh Sir for my studies.

It was a very simple structure wherein I had to send an SMS to him every night sharp at 10. This really helped me as I was forced to look at the day that I had just spent and evaluate my performance.

In fact, I had to mention how much percentage of the target I have achieved on that day. I also had to write down why I was not able to achieve hundred percent. This really helped me to ensure that I don't repeat the same mistake again. 

Recording-

Ashutosh Sir also shared about the recording technique. I was able to revise almost all theory subjects for 3 times because of this technique. In fact, I scored the highest in ISCA because of this technique. My score in ISCA was 67.

The Pomodoro Technique- 

Pomodoro Technique is a technique which helps you to focus. If followed well this will increase your productivity at least by 200%. 

It is a very simple technique wherein you have a slot of time dedicated to a single focused activity this slot is known as 'Pomodoro' .

- One Pomodoro is 25 Minutes.
- After every Pomodoro take a 5 Minute Short break
- After every 4 Pomodoros take a 25 Minute Long Break

Before you start the day you have to determine you will take how many pomodoros to accomplish the target of the day. Thereafter, before you start your Pomodoro you need to determine how much you will do in that 25-minute time slot. For e.g., 8 pages of ISCA, 4 sums of costing, etc.

Once your target is set. Start your Pomodoro and play to achieve your target. You have to save your Pomodoro from all sorts of distractions- Internal or External. Just focus on the target. Even if someone asks you a doubt tell them you will help in your long break. Be disciplined.

No Mobile

With notifications coming from left right and center, mobile is a huge distraction. It is very important that it is kept away. By this I don't mean that cell phone should be kept away only when you are studying but for the whole period of your preparations.

Even if you are going through notifications or some other things during your leisure time, your mind is getting input to get distracted while you are studying.

Paper writing

I wrote almost four papers on each subject and this really took my game to some another level. In my first attempt, I was able to write on an average for 80-85 marks. However, in the second attempt, this average went up to 90-95 marks.

This was because of my practice to write papers. There are few other benefits such as-

- Evaluate strengths and weaknesses
- Training your mind to concentrate on 3 Hours
- Getting used to exam pressure
- Paper presentation
- Paper writing strategy (What to attempt when?)

Apart from this, there are various other benefits, in fact, I can write a separate article on benefits of writing papers but this is a must do for clearing CA final.

Ashutosh Sir really pushed me to write papers and this proved to be a game changer.

Two months after exams results were out and I scored a massive 477!! It was unbelievable. I knew I was going to pass but such a huge score was quite unexpected. As far as marks equivalent to a ranker goes there is no way to find at what marks the merit list closed. However, one of my friends informed that it closed at approx 490. If that’s true I missed the target by 13 marks.

But as Ashutosh Sir always says ' Nishan chuk maaf, Nahi maaf nicha Nishaan!!'

The author is a Partner at S.K. Rathi & Co. and author of "GST for Entrepreneurs". He can also be reached at jigar.shah@skrathi.com

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