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Cracking the CA Exam by past exam questions!

Updated on 30 June 2020


Dear Students,

Your response for my posts which I started a few days ago was gladdening to the heart.

Please continue reading my articles and postings which I would publish online in this forum and also maybe a blog later...

Today I intend to take up this past exam questions posting.This is an rehashed version of my earlier posting in the Student Forum

(/forum/importance-of-past-exam-questions-for-ca-exam-success-65411.asp )

Past exams are the ones which indicate trends of how ICAI can surprise students(or alternatively in rare ocassions make them happy too).

The student comes to a state of self-preparedness when he or she attempts a minimum of 10 past attempts in each subject and then sits for the exam.

This has an additional benefit inasmuchas the same or similar question being repeated in the exam from past questions.This happens on almost all ocassions in many subjects if not all.

A study of a compilation of past questions(preferably with solved answers, so you dont rack your brains too much or run around for answers!) in a chapter-wise manner(using the popular books like Suchita Prakashan's Scanner or the like) and then concentrating on mark-grabbing areas more,would relieve the headache for the harried and time-burdened student.(Tip: buy the latest Solved compiler,especially in subjects like Direct Taxes and Indirect taxes)

The student also, sometimes takes guesses as to what might come in the exam and this is to be strictly avoided.CA exams dont work by guesswork.You would be double-guessed by the paper-setter,who knows all these tricks of students.(He or She was a student like you,mind you)

I also do not subscribe greatly to the idea of some professors giving "Sure-shot" questions which might come in the exam.As professors they must set an ideal and professional example/precedent for students to emulate and must not behave with the whims of the winds in such matters.It just indicates their proclivity for cheap sensationalism amongst students to get name and fame and thus more attendance(which translates into more money for them) for their classes.

Maybe a few areas can be highlighted for importance,but except the almighty and the people finally involved in the paper-setting process,no one can possibly say what questions might come in the exam.

One example which I can quote here is Sri Parag Gupta ji for Costing papers.He gives a 4 quadrant analysis(popularly called ABC analysis by the students).This is a credible way of analysing and then priorotizing what to study for the exams.If the scenario dictates less time,then it would be wise to concentrate on just a couple of the quadrants more.

Quadrant 1: Important and Easy chapters---Cover these first as you gain lot of marks from these and also you get confidence(which is very essential for exams--see my 5 Tenets for Direct Taxes posting)

Quadrant 2: Notimportant but easy---Cover these next as sometimes if the ICAI decides to change pattern of questions,they start off with these chapters and you cover the contingency.

Quadrant 3: Important but difficult---Cover these after Quadrant 2 as they are sure to come but take this as the third bucket to study.Students make a mistake of studying this the first!

Quadrant 4: Not important but Difficult---Cover these the last and only if you have time.

Now, this Quadrant analysis is much akin to "Who should bell the cat" situation!

One must analyze properly as to which chapter falls into which Quadrant.

For this

  • Subjective considerations---Some might find personally Standard Costing easy,some find it very difficult.
  • Objective considerations---No matter what Marginal costing is a vast subject and the difficulty level at CA Final level is high
  • Course considerations--If you are in IPCC/PCC then this is different from CA Final and in CA Final too,if a person is writing Old or New syllabus or if a person is taking one group or both,will have an effect in the quadrant-allocation.
  • Exam considerations--the relevant attempt.

This quadrant analysis will help greatly in nailing down the tension and having a clear head as to what to concentrate or not.Believe me it works for any exam.I used it even for my MBA studies in USA,not just for the CA exams here.{It also has a close connection with Pareto's law.Go figure what that means! You have it in CA final costing! :) }

The quadrants are a take-off from Steven Covey's Time-Management Matrix.I commend Sri Paragji for helping students thus.

CA being a professional and tough exam,does not work by any other gimmicks apart from the above-mentioned quadrant-analysis(which not a gimmick but just a way to prioritize your time,which is a sane thign to do).

Yet, out of frustration,human nature of seeking short-cuts,exasperation,paucity of time,peer-pressure,etc students commit the mistake of secondguessing what might come in the exams and use the Scanner for exactly this purpose.

Scanner(or books of the ilk / milieu) must be used for:

  • General Guidance of areas of high importance
  • For prioritization of preparation into convenient buckets
  • For familiarizing with the pattern and standard of questions asked at the exam-level
  • For confidence by taking up a past question paper and answering it under exam conditions.

These are the intended benefits to study the compiler/Scanner.

Some students are also of the opinion that some exams can be cleared by just reading the compiler.This is a highly fallacious thinking process and a process given to Luck.You depend heavily on luck here.If you are lucky, with such an approach you might get a passing grade,but 8/10 cases you invariably fail.So, this it is not worth taking a chance here.

Compiler is just what it means:"A compilation of past exam questions with or without answers"(normally with answers)

One must have conceptual understanding of principles involved and must use the study materials and reference books for understanding the concepts and then take up as a last but sure-shot mandatory assay of perfecting one's study regimen a work-out of problems from compiler.

When this approach is maintained even the study of compiler becomes easy because already many questions would have been covered while perusing the main text.

This would crystallize your preparation well and give it a shape and confidence in your mind.

And in CA real and deep confidence matters a lot,especially during those 3 hours when you sweat it out in the exam-hall.

In Indirect Taxes we have a concept called Taxable event.Taxable event for the levy of excise duty is "Manufacture" on the commentraies to this constitutional concept.The following words are found:"Taxable event is that event the happening upon which tax is said to be levied not before not after but exactly when it happens"

Similarly I say to you, what you door remember or feel or write before that 3 hours(of CA exam) and what you do or remember or write after that 3 hours is highly irrelevant.The "Taxing-event"(The exams are taxing ain't they?) is during those 3 hours.So, be careful about those 3 hours and keep yourself prime-fit for that with the prop of past examination papers and prep!

My Best wishes,dear students!


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