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The dictionary meaning of the word ‘additional’ is ‘something extra or supplementary’. The reason to include the word ‘additional’ in the title is that this article tries to be in addition to some already written wonderful articles on this site which deal with layout and presentation aspect of papers.

However I would like to concentrate on the content portion of the answer papers. Based on my own experience , I can give you two conclusions i) We can never get the exact number of marks that we expect in descriptive papers (in mcq papers , you will get exactly the same marks you expect). ii) Even if two randomly selected individuals write exactly same answer papers, chances are high that both won’t get the same marks.

Passing CA/CS/CMA papers is not an easy task. It requires an in-depth study, deep interest, theoretical, conceptual and practical understanding of the concepts. I am trying to cover only theory paper because practical subjects with numerical problems have a different set of requirement.

Summary

A. You should believe in the strategy of ‘we can always learn something new’.

B. There is no sure-shot or straight jacket formula that can guarantee you the expected marks.

C. Since it is a human and not a robot who checks the papers, two persons utilizing the same technique won’t get guaranteed similar marks.

D. What matters more in an answer paper is ‘content’ and not ‘presentation’.

1) Is there any specific length of an answer? What is the exact length of answer that one should write?

The answer is ‘NO’. There cannot be a specific length for an answer as we just tend to comb in everything that we remember and which is related to the question into the answer paper. This is one of the tendency that cost you some marks in the papers. Exact length of an answer is therefore a subjective term. While writing theory papers, the first four-five lines of your answer should be just perfect. If these lines are perfect and cover the most important aspect of the question, the rest part of your answer gets the due attention from paper checker.

Therefore try using very lucid and sharp words in the first 4-5 lines of your answer to avoid lack of attention from the examiner.

Having read some of the interviews of UPSC toppers (which is the toughest exam in the world, and yes, tougher than CA :) ), especially that of the exceptional Mr. Gaurav Agrawal, UPSC #1 rank (A prolific person who cleared IIT, IIM and IPS and worked in Investment banking at Citi), it is easy to conclude that one can write the ‘best’ answer within the limits set by the institute.

Some answers are long. If we try to reduce its content, we risk losing out on some marks. Therefore there is a need to devise a proper technique to make your long answer appear short. This can be done by using medium sized paragraphs (6-8 lines). Writing long answers that long more than 2 pages in points only can be avoided. Therefore a mixture of these two methods can be best adopted.

2) Will I get more marks by writing something extra / out of the syllabus BUT which is relevant to the paper?

The answer is ‘YES’.  Compared to University examinations which are very redundant and lack any novelty, Professional examinations need you to be always dynamic and updated with the latest and the best.

Each institute provides study material for its students to read and learn from. The study material is quite indepth and covers the entire content of the course. However, this does not , at all mean that you cannot refer to something more. We all know that we do not need to refer each and every word of the study material to cover the entire syllabus. We just have to have an indepth view of the syllabus.

Therefore you can easily write content in the papers which are relevant to the paper. The more you read about case laws, case studies and articles, the more sharper your answering skills become. Many people have the tendency to study in the final moments which sadly, does not give them a chance to study something more. Therefore what they end up with is repeating something that has already been given in the study material. There is a reason why professional institute use the word ‘study material’ instead of normal ‘textbooks’. This is because, there is no cap on the expanse of these study material. They are inclusive.

What better can supplement the above factors than my own marks which I would like to share (not all marks are so noteworthy; therefore I am sharing only the good ones). The attempted papers are Securities laws and Compliances of CS- Intermediate and Corporate Restructuring of CS- Final, My score was 65 and 66 respectively. While this might not be high enough compared to the meritorious students, at least it made me realize that writing putting extra reaps you the benefits. For eg – While writing short notes on Fund Managers/ Asset Management Company or something like that. I appended a table listing the world’s largest fund managers in the paper. In securities law and compliances, while writing on Insider trading, I made references to Rajat gupta insider trading cases and many more.

Excerpts from my mark sheet :)

While writing these papers, one of my friend (who knew me personally) told that ’ You are not writing MBA Papers, Don’t cram anything into papers , You won’t get marks ’.

However, based on my experience, and the results thereafter my efforts fructified (especially when you write a normal and not an earth shattering answer paper).

3. Tables/ Tree Diagrams/ Diagrams when needed? Can they be done away with? 

This question will matter only when 3 hours are enough for you to finish the entire paper satisfactorily. Let us admit, Most of us do not even get a chance to finish attempting the entire paper.

Are diagrams/ illustrative tables required? The answer can be a mixed one. If one is just adamant about diagrams & tables, he can draw diagram and table for each and every type of answer. On the other hand, if one wants to avoid diagrams, he can do so quite easily. Therefore this question is a very subjective one, depending upon what is the subject matter that you are dealing with. There are some answers (for eg- types of assessment under the Income tax act etc) which can be best presented with the help of diagram / tree diagram.

Therefore the final call will be your own. Topics that have too much branching can be addressed by a neatly drawn diagram/ illustrative table in the exam.

4.  The same age old question – I do not remember section numbers etc. To what extent will it affect my performance in examination?

Section numbers in Law and tax papers are important. However, if you fail to properly remember Section numbers despite giving it a best try (which can happen with many), You can skip it in entirety,

I was myself not good in remembering Section numbers and never did write in any of the papers. I cleared all the exams in first attempt. HOWEVER THIS IS ONLY FOR REFERENCE AND DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU NEED NOT WRITE THEM AT ALL.

Even the best and seasoned lawyers need to refer to the Bare act for reference. Therefore, not remembering Section numbers is not a big failure on your part , and if not possible, can be avoided.

This is what I felt was worth sharing. Thank you for reading and best of luck for all your future endeavors

Rohit Jain

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