Study tips & examination techniques

Madhukar N Hiregange , Last updated: 17 July 2015  


The recent results in CA final were bit better than the last time. The reasons why students who have attended classes, worked hard and are still not successful is that the best practices known in general domain are not followed. Students may also observe that going to coaching class is not a sure shot for passing examination. This would be especially sure where they are unable to get their doubts clarified due to large number of students or due to distance learning.

In fact in subjects where they have learnt themselves using the ICAI material and practice manual, the result may have been better. Please check with the students at same level who have passed whether they used or not.   


1. Decide on attempting both or one group: The academically brilliant student may choose to attempt both. Above average students may choose to do group wise. Maybe attempt the more difficult group first. This decision may avoid loss of confidence. 

2. Proper analysis of syllabus: Before starting studies of any subject, it is relevant to see the syllabus and new amendments with regard to the same. Concentration on the amendments and new topics included in the subject may yield some advantage. To extent possible do not do selective studies. If going for coaching examine confirm that the syllabus is covered in the coaching class fully.  

3. Coaching Class material not a replacement for ICAI Material: Students would do well to either refer to the ICAI study material or a standard text book for every subject especially at the final level. Practice manual + RTPs are a source of material for getting practice.

4. < > Make a plan of time giving enough time for exercise, short gaps, food/ refreshments on daily basis. Time to revise at regular intervals – every day in the evening for 30 minutes. About 3 hours at the end of a week are very important to increase the retention of what is learnt. Other vital aspect is organizing study place, to get more interest on studies putting charts and follow charts and goal/aim on walls also some motivational posters.

Time management: One is required to analyze the time allocated to each subject and how such time is utilized for the purpose of studies. Further in writing exam analyzing the time requirement for each and every question (theory and practical). Allocate time for the mock examination of ICAI or get a small group and do on won.

5. Time allocation for each topic: After analyzing the syllabus, allocate the time limit for each subject based on the theory and practical aspects. Allocate at least 10% time for examination writing practice whether mock exams or on own with other students.

6. Where to study: Study in a place where you feel comfortable, relaxed and where you can concentrate properly. If you can, study early morning, head to a library or any place where you find a quiet ambience. Avoid places where there would be interruptions / noise. Your own mobile phone may be kept in silent mode.

7. No pain no Gain: The CA examination study requires some sacrifice, which may mean no TV, whats up, etc. which are major distractions today. Proper disciplined approach to study with regular timing everyday may also help. Remember the timing of examination and time such that at that time you are freshest.

8. Come out of fear: In case students have fear about the subject, it is very important overcome from such fear by reading/analyzing more on such subject. Further fear makes us to lose confidence and which may also make us to forget the things already studied. Hence it is very important to control the same, certain portion of the fear may be unavoidable, but proper preparation reduces this aspect.

9. Good conceptual understanding: IDT topics are based on the concepts and students are required to understand the why of each tax. What is the purpose of introduction, if these questions are understood properly, then remembering the provisions will be very easy. Further student should read the provisions and also should understand the interlinks between provisions and rules and case laws. Once students get the interlinking of the provisions then IDT paper becomes easier and scoring paper.

10. Open mind while studying the law: Students should have open mind for understanding the concepts of IDT topics, so that proper analysis of the same can be done and get a good view over the concepts hiding behind the legality. Linking it to everyday life or some audit experience also helps if one is undergoing internship.

11. Free online e-resources of ICAI: The ICAI has in 2013 successfully uploaded the e-lectures module wise for the IPCC as well as Final students. This Learning Management System has a comprehensive coverage and also exercises and instant evaluation. Students who are not going for coaching would find this of immense help. Those who have attended the coaching may have doubts at the time of revision; they can log in with their SRO number and revise those Chapters which are needed. Subject wise CDs are also available for those who do not have access for a nominal fee per subject.

12. Practical problems: Further, all practical problems in the practice manual and RTPs are required to be practiced sufficiently while preparing for exam. It is to be actually worked out and not read.

13. Making notes: Some books provide summary of chapter. However, the practice of preparing simple short notes or flow charts, etc. may make the study interesting. This may help them to remember the things quickly and properly more so when daily / weekly revision is done. Even while answering in exam if the answer are presented in flow chart and in any other way may make the evaluator to understand the answer and capacity of the student properly.

14. Understanding common mistake made by the students: On the Board of Studies (BOS) website every year, the Head Examiner’s comments on question-wise errors is hosted. This may guide one to avoid the errors. ( especially those who have written earlier)

15. Explaining the topic to others: A powerful method of study is to explain to others. One would then quickly come to know the gaps in ones knowledge. It is every important to do group studies at least twice before exams with serious friends.

16. Remembering / memorizing key words: Examiners look for key words and phrases due to paucity of time while correcting. Therefore it after completion of studies it is very important to remember the key words.

17. Revision at regular intervals: It is very important to remember whatever read, which requires regular revision of the subject. Further revision helps students to understand the provisions better way, first time understanding differs once students start reading once again. The law is based on the Act and Act is based on English. When students read second or third time the better understanding of the law can be understood, which helps a lot for exam.

18. Taking care of health: Finally during exam leave or exam days taking care of health is very important, like having proper food, good sleep else in exam hall mind may become blank. Regular exercise [ indoor/ outdoor] and meditation if one knows may also help.


1. Analyzing question paper: Students should analyze the structure of paper the paper. How the questions are raised during previous years, how much importance given to theoretical question and practical questions, how much concentration is required for each topic etc., This analysis helps a lot to answer the questions in exam hall. Good scanners may be used.

2. Exam practice – mock test: The students once in a 15 days or month should take mock test of each subject, so that they can the capacity of answering and memorizing of whatever studied. Further mock test brings confidence in attending final exams. It is suggested to take mock test for each and every subject and wherever students feel they are not pakka with things they can once revise the topics, this helps a lot during 3 hours of exam time.

3. Good presentation and supporting working notes: Try to answer each practical question in three parts (facts, provisions and conclusion). Further, for IPCC level practical question may be computing taxability by taking deduction of available CENVAT credit and may be with small adjustments. These practical questions can be answered in better if the students are clear with theoretical understanding of law. Further how to present the answers, students should see the practice manual and revised test paper issued by the ICAI. Further the study material contains few examples which help students to understand the concept properly and also to write practical questions. Further, it is good if precise points with correct headings are written with underlining if time permits.

4. Use of flow charts and diagrams: Taxation can be presented in a flow chart or any other creative manner. The flow chart helps students to remember everything easily and also to evaluator to understand what student is trying to explain and analyze. Hence, it is very important to present the answer in better way.

5. After receiving question paper: Mark the questions which one feel are easy to answer. Students should attend the easy question first with better presentation so as to impress the examiner. During three hours students should not lose confidents and temper. The proper utilization of three hours will be in the hands of students. See that all questions are answered without fail.

6. Maintain good time management strategies: Allocate time for each and every question based on marks allocated to the question. Further, if for any question time is exceeding it is better to leave that answer which is partially done and concentrate on other question. It is well said that 4 average answer is better than 2 full answers to obtain good marks.

7. Presentation of paper : Good hand writing increases the quality of the answer and ease for the evaluator. Answering practical question is very important, because practical question does not consume more time to write if the concepts are clear.

These a few gleanings from the understanding of the examination & evaluation process while considering that the evaluators are also human beings with limited time. One can see whether all the tips & techniques can be used or apply at least those where one is totally convinced. Finally from us to you - All the best for coming out with flying colors in the forthcoming examinations and become an extraordinary professional.

Published by

Madhukar N Hiregange
(Chartered Accountant)
Category Students   Report

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