1. Firstly go through the syllabus to get a fair idea as to what chapters are there and the coverage under each chapter. This will help you to decide the priority of topics to be read and also the chronological order in which topics are to be read.
2. After selecting the topic, start reading the topic. There are 3 stages of reading
i) Basic Reading -to get a brief idea of the topic
ii) Slow Tour- to understand the topic in depth
iii) Final Ride- consolidating all the major points getting a conceptual clarity and grip over the topic.
3. In case you don’t understand the topic thoroughly, repeat the above steps. It will improve your understanding about the topic and you will also remember it.
4. If you are confident of understanding what you have just read, go ahead and write down a gist of it instantly. Many times especially while studying Law and Taxation it happens, that after reading a topic for the 2nd or 3rd time, your perception / understanding of the topic changes, so when you have finally understood it right, WRITE IT DOWN, it will be time saving for you during revision. For all the complicated Sections/sentences/ paragraphs do write brief notes. It will serve two purposes. Firstly it would be easy and time saving at the time of revision and secondly it will improve you writing skills. Working Notes/ Assumptions- Always make a habit to write detailed working notes and assumptions even during your practice sessions so that you will be habituated to prepare proper WN/ assumptions in the exam.
5. Revise all your previous topics at least once in a week especially THEORY and TAXATION, rather allocate a day in a week for revision and evaluating your performance. This will help you memorize topics and find out shortcomings in your preparation.
6. Try to connect the subject with the practical work/ situations e.g. Notices/Minutes/Auditors Report/ Circulars/ Notifications /Various Forms etc with the practical work at your office. Emphasizing on the language used in these documents will help you to get good marks and have a strong command on your professional language. If you come across a topic which is connected to more than one subject, study that topic together for all the subjects. For example, while studying Issue of Fresh shares/ Bonus shares provisions in company law also go through the accounting procedures & presentation, audit observations to be done and Tax Implications of the same. This will give you an overall idea of the subjec and a firm grip over it. Always link the subjects wherever it is possible, e.g. while reading Income Tax...Profits Gains of Business or Profession you come across partner’s remuneration u/s sec 40(b) but in our books, it is covered under separate chapter of Taxation of firms. I suggest while reading that Section go to that chapter, complete it and then come back to business income. Similarly few sections covering Deductions under chapter VI of IT Act will also feature while studying Salary, PGBP, etc. Link these topics at the time of preparation itself. In Exams, the questions are not section wise or serial wise, they come topic wise. You should be able to recollect all the relevant sections/points connected with this topic and consolidate all the things in a Nut Shell at Exam Hall and this can be done only if you link the subjects there itself.
7. Do solve the practice manual and at least 2-3 recent RTP’s. Also refer to the institute pronouncements for that particular exam published on ICAI website.
8. Review your progress once in a week so that you can keep a track of your schedule and revise your plan accordingly.
9. A day before exams don’t study any new things rather revise thoroughly whatever you have learnt, refer your brief notes, write down all the important formulas, sections, case laws at one place so that you can refer it immediately before entering the exam hall.
How to utilize the 15 minutes given for reading Question paper in best possible manner?
• Have a brief look over the paper to decide the sequence in which questions are to be answered, start with the question which you think you can answer correctly. Don’t Read all the questions thoroughly rather just have a glance at all the questions to determine the question that can be left as a choice and now read thoroughly the question you want to answer and prepare yourself for the question and as soon as the paper is received don’t waste time in writing Roll No, etc. First complete the 1st question and then do all the formalities.
• The reason for not reading all the questions in depth is you cannot remember the questions you are reading after solving 1st question so it is better not to read in depth and waste precious 15 minutes. So just have a glance on all and read any 1 question in depth to solve it immediately.
• Now straightaway answer the questions. Don’t waste time in decorating the answer sheet by drawing 4 sided margins and all...it won’t fetch you marks rather try to utilize the same in reviewing your answers and calculations at the end of exam say last 15 minutes.
• Try to attempt maximum question in the exam, 6 average answers will fetch you more marks than 5 best answers. So instead of adding unnecessary stuff to answer you know well do write answer which you don’t know perfectly. Marks are allotted for even partly completed answers proportionately.
• Now just 5 minutes before the exam ends review the QP and check whether you have answered all the questions and made corresponding tick in the answer sheet and then note down the final answers with pencil on the question paper against each question.
• After returning from exam hall evaluate your performance yourself but don’t be too generous in allotting marks. Allot the least possible marks to your answers and count the probable marks you think you will get in the worst scenario.
• Don’t waste time in discussing the paper with your friends, instead, sharpen your weapons for the next battle or take some rest and start preparing for next exam.
• Whenever you come across new words, underline the relevant word and write the meaning (synonym) at the top/bottom of that page itself instead of writing it on last page of the book.
• Write the link (page no) of your notes in your book and vice-versa so that you can link both your own notes and the material.
• Never avoid any subject /topic because you need to pass all the subjects. Even though you hate a subject you need to get acquainted with it to clear exams. So kill the procrastination towards studies.
• Don’t postpone a particular topic/subject till the last hour rather do those topics with priority so that you will get more time for them and once you get grip on them your confidence level will boost up.
• Follow only 1 author at a time, though u can keep 1 more book for reference but don’t try to read 2-3 books you will get confused and will not be able to concentrate on syllabus and will end up wasting time in comparing them...so 1 book is sufficient.
• Institutes publications are an essential prerequisite. You must refer them in addition to various authors. There are certain subjects/topics where Study Material and Practice Manual are the best tools like Auditing and Assurance, Info Tech and Strategic Mgmt in IPCC.
• Most importantly create a learning atmosphere, find the best time when you are fully active and can concentrate without any disturbance. Some are comfortable in studying early mornings while some prefer Late Nights. It depends from person to person. So do some experimentation and find the best suitable time and don’t follow someone else’s schedule -customize it for yourself.
• Don’t prepare detailed schedule chapter wise. It is a waste of time. Just allocate time broadly like 7 days for SM. 5 days for IT and 2 days for contingency i.e. 15 along with proper revision.
• Do watch CA T.N.Manhoran sir’s video for exam tips available on YouTube - it’s worth watching and inspiring as well.
• Never compare yourself with anyone else because everyone is unique. Don’t follow footsteps of others, you know very well what suits you, so customize others suggestions/tips for yourself.
• Coaching is not an essential prerequisite for passing exams. Many people have a misconception that coaching is a must for all the subjects. There are few subjects which can be dealt with on your own and few are where coaching would be required.
• Do try self study first and if you are not comfortable coaching is always available.
• Update yourself with latest publications and regularly visit ICAI Site for various notifications.
• Time Management is a very important aspect, both; while preparing for exams and writing the exams so keep a watch on your watch.
So that’s all for now…hope you will find the article helpful…do share your feedback and in case of any queries feel free to contact me.
Wishing you All the Very Best for your Exams and Career.
“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” -Robert Kiyosaki
CA BHARAT AGARWAL