I am Roohi Aggarwal who secured All India 1st Rank in CA Final Exams held in November 2011. I have written this article to share my experiences and strategy during preparation for exams. This is to guide and motivate you to make your own plan based on your strengths and weakness to fulfill your dreams and achieve success.
Do you really wanna become a CA?
Before writing this article, I felt like asking this question from all the readers. “Do you really wanna become a CA?” And what I expect is a positive response with high level of commitment towards our goal. This zeal and commitment towards achieving our dreams is the biggest source of motivation and inner strength to put in the required hard work.
One of the common problems we face while preparing for CA is coverage of syllabus in limited time. We have only one day to revise the whole syllabus before the day of exam. What helps in such a situation is meaningful understanding of the subjects and various topics. Understand the underlying concepts through examples and application of concepts in real life situation. The topic becomes interesting and easy to remember when we use it in our articleship training assignments. For example – Accounting Standards, TDS Sections, Auditing Procedures and Standards, Excise Returns & Rules. Listen attentively in class with full concentration as mostly while writing exams, if we forget what we have read, our memory of what we have listened in the class comes to our rescue. Our aim at the time of first reading of any topic should be to understand the meaning and purpose of each and every word and sentence.
In case of practical questions, if I used to repeatedly solve or interpret any particular sentence wrongly, I used to jot down the correct interpretations for such questions as a “points to remember” list.
So I prepared such points to remember list based on the questions for each chapter in practical subjects which can be revised just before the day of exam.
Coverage of whole syllabus is must. But at the same time, more focus should be on scoring and less time consuming topics. This can be achieved through more number of revisions of important topics and less revision for others.
During the last few months, when one reading of all subjects is over, make a time plan regarding the number of days to be spent on a particular subject and set your target scores for each subject.
Identify which topics are to be covered on a particular day and allocate number of hours to be spent on a particular topic based on your grasping speed and understanding of the subject.
Identify the topics and subjects you are good at and keep higher targets for the same. Cover the subjects you find difficult by getting higher marks in other subjects. At the same time, avoid the risk of getting less than 40 in difficult subjects.
Identify few chapters and topics in those difficult subjects which will help you cross 40 marks and be perfect with them.
We should try to ensure that the time gap between two successive revisions of a subject or topic should not be more than 1-1.5 months.
After one or two revisions, we should assess where we stand by solving RTPs and Suggested answers. This helps us to identify the areas where we make mistakes and lag behind. We should not give excessive weightage or ignorance to a particular subject.
Practice Manuals helps in covering the important topics and good questions in less time and knowing how to present our answers.
The plan I followed for each subject was:
I used to study one practical and one theoretical subject every day to have a balanced approach.
Financial Reporting – Valuation, Amalgamation and Consolidation questions are always asked and carry 48 marks. Solving more and more questions on these topics help us to have a grip over them. A meaningful reading of all accounting standards is must.
Strategic Financial Management – Portfolio Management, Forex and Derivatives are a bit difficult but important topics. Prepare a points to remember list for each topic containing formula, logical relationships, rules and tricky points of some difficult questions.
Corporate & Allied Laws – Regular revision and previous examinations questions help us in remembering the provisions and applying them in particular situation.
Auditing – Professional Ethics, Auditing and accounting standards, CARO, Tax Audit are few important topics. We should have a proper understanding and give a point by point presentation.
Costing – Each topic is based on few basic fundamentals. If we are good at those fundamentals, the rest depends on practicing variety of questions and solving them accurately.
ISCA – A thorough reading and regular revision of ICAI study material. Learn headings and sub headings of each topic properly.
Direct Tax – Wealth Tax, Assessment, Heads of Income, MAT, Taxation of Trust and Case Laws are few important topics. Read each clause minutely. Solve previous year questions as it helps in remembering the provision.
Indirect Tax – Case laws, Questions on Valuation under customs, vat, excise and service tax, Cenvat Credit Rules are scoring and easy. Go through recent amendments properly.
Another important factor is studying with a calm mind and not feeling stressed up. Instead of being let down about topics you are unable to understand even after repeated attempts, focus on your strengths and be confident and happy about them. What helped me in managing this stress was the belief that God would surely reward my efforts.
I was having a problem in understanding AS-30, it was important but difficult and required lot of time. So I decided how much time I can spare for this topic (let’s say 5-6 hours) and gave it a proper reading in that time and solved few questions based on it. Though I did not have perfect understanding of the whole standard but there were many topics which I could understand well and helped me in answering the questions in the exam.
Another common question in our mind is which book to study from? Choose a particular book which you find best & comfortable to study by comparing a few topics and chapters in different books and continue with the chosen book and be perfect with it. What I found out is 80-90% of content is same in various books, it's just that a few topics are better covered and explained in some books. So for those few topics, we can refer the other book for better understanding.
Thus, a strategic plan based on our strengths and weaknesses, time management understanding of concepts and confidence on our efforts will help us achieve our targets.
I would conclude by saying “Give your best and forget the rest.”