First of all thanks a lot for your amazing response on my previous blog. Your phenomenal response and requests to keep writing on topics around 'How to crack CA exams' have encouraged me to write one more blog around the same topic.
In this blog, I would like to discuss the key thing or the single most key strategy to crack any CA exam
It is very basic but most of US ignore it. The strategy is to practice writing papers. If you have read my earlier blog you are you already know my Journey.
I joined Ignite after failing in my first attempt. My score in my first attempt was 380 and in the second attempt, it was 477.
I don't write this to brag about myself but to communicate the importance of paper writing. Paper writing practice proved to be a real game changer for me.
Generally, all CA students including me are in an illusion that we don't have time to write papers. I mean in order to write papers one has to first finish the portion, right? This in itself is impossible in CA. You cannot finish your portion from A to Z, the syllabus is just too vast.
Ashutosh Sir made me aware about the importance of writing papers with a very simple and a logical example.
He said 'Imagine you have to participate in a swimming competition 3 months from now. You have two ways to prepare for it.
Way No. 1 - I will give you the best book on swimming. You read it and ratify it word by word but you cannot enter the pool before the competition day.
Way No. 2 - I will get you a swimming coach and from tomorrow onwards you have to go to the pool and practice every day.
Which is the better option? The second one, right?'
Similarly, in CA Exams, we have to 'Write' the paper. Your knowledge will not matter if you don't know how to express and 'write' the paper. Unfortunately, we hardly practice writing papers.
In fact, most of us sit to write for 3 hours straight only during the actual exams. That is why you experience pain in your hand and in your back during those three hours. Simply because your body is not used to sit and write for three hours straight.
Ashutosh Sir pushed me to write at least 10 papers for each subject. However, I was able to manage 3-4 papers of each subject.
How do you go about It-
The intention is two fold -
No. 1 - To Judge your preparedness
No. 2 - To train your mind and body to be at its best during those three hours
Most of us miss the second aspect but it is very critical. At the end of the day how you perform in those 3 hours is what matters.
When you sit down to practice paper writing you have to do a proper mock of actual exam situation. By this I mean you need to have -
Clothes - You should wear the same set of clothes that you are planning to wear during exams. I know this might sound absurd but your comfort level matters a lot. Every minute matters. Personally, I observed that I was not comfortable in Jeans so I avoided that during exams.
Environment - If you are having AC at your place I would suggest you switch it off and practice writing papers. You might not get AC classroom during the actual exam.
This is very critical especially for May attempt as its summer in most of the parts of the nation during that time. Once again, the is to train your body and mind to be focused and most effective during those three hours. If your body is not used to sit for three hours without AC during summers it will be difficult for you to focus.
Pen - Select the Pen that you are going to use in the exam and practice only with it. This is very critical. You should be used to the pen that you are going to use in the exam. Personally, I was able to figure out which pen I should use after switching 2-3 pens. This helped a lot on the exam day.
Paper - The dimensions of the answer sheet is widely different from our normal A4 size paper. You need to buy 'Board Exam Answer Sheets' to practice paper writing.
When to write papers
You should write papers at the time of the day when you are most and 'unproductive'. Yes you heard it right when you are most 'unproductive'
For example, I used to study till late Nights but my last session from 10 to 1 was not that productive. An effective study in those 3 hours was approx one or one and half hour.
Now, I started writing papers during this time slot. Once you sit down to write the paper you don't have an option to get distracted. You have to be focused and complete the paper on time.
You yourself have to correct the papers and you have to be the strictest examiner when you do that. You need to observe and note down every error that you are doing. I used to write my observations with a red pen on my answer sheets. I used to refer to this comments before starting the next paper and also on the exam day. It ensured that I don't repeat my mistakes.
My learnings from Paper Writing
How to start an answer
When I sat down to write my first paper I got completely blank. It was audit, I knew the answer but I was not able to figure out how to start. Thank god I was practicing paper writing otherwise this would have happened in the examination. I was able to observe this that I was falling short of words when I tried to start an answer.
I addressed this loophole by referring to the practice manual and creating notes from the answers that they had given. I created some templates which can be used to start and conclude the answers.
I did a similar exercise for Law, Direct tax, and Indirect tax
When I started comparing my answers with the module answers I was able to observe the difference in the language and terminologies. I created a set of terminologies to be used for expressing certain thoughts.
For example in Direct Tax the Tax is 'levied', Interest is 'charged' and penalty is 'imposed'. Such small things take your paper to another level. Ignite gave me a lot of insights on this front.
When to write what
Paper writing gives clarity on what to attempt when. This is quite subjective as everyone will have different topics in which they are good or bad.
For example, In FR paper amalgamation or consolidation sum has to be attended only at the end. If you pick this up in the middle of the paper you are time management will go for a toss as you will be willing to give more time to do justice to that question.
There are thousands of students and results are in the range of 10%. Everyone has worked hard and knows most of it but only 10 out of 100 will clear. You need to ensure that you are in that top 10. Your paper has to stand out. The examiner should feel that this student deserves to be the 'Chartered Accountant'
For Eg., In my Direct Tax Paper, on the very first line I wrote 'For the sake of brevity Income Tax Act, 1961 has been referred to as 'The Act''
It would have created a lasting impression on examiner's mind at the very beginning. It also helped me to save a lot of time as I was not required to repeat 'Income Tax Act, 1961' again and again. My score in Direct Tax was 66.
Paper writing practice has worked marvels for me. It's time that you seek out sometime and write papers. I challenge you to write at least 5 papers for each subject.
The author is a Partner at S.K. Rathi & Co., Chartered Accountants and Author of 'GST for Entrepreneurs'. He can also be reached out on firstname.lastname@example.org