You have to look forward to the exams and enjoy giving them rather than treating them as a burden and waiting for them to get over.
It's time to put all the hard work of the last few months, into action. The 3 hours one gets to transfer all the knowledge onto the paper, for the examiner to judge whether we are good enough to use the letters "CA" before our names, might seem a little harsh and lot stressful for many but that’s how our examination system works and one needs to understand the exam system to score higher marks.
Prepare smartly not emotionally: Your knowledge might not be enough to pass the papers. What’s important in the moments approaching the exams, one has worked so hard for, tolerated long lectures, sacrificed fun and entertainment, sent sleepless nights preparing?
Though I feel every student has his/her own unique way to prepare and it’s not my intention here to confuse you with “expert” advice, however as a teacher having taught for over 18 years I have felt that the few things we must keep in mind to ensure that we are in form on the day of the exam and answer it smartly rather than emotionally.
How do I revise on the last day? Last day revision is overhyped. By the time you reach the last day before the exam, one should have already revised the subject enough to be able to recall the concepts. Only go through the pages of the notes recalling the concepts on each page and not to try and read and memorize at this stage. The idea is to reload the images into the subconscious mind. Human memory must be trusted if it has been trained well in the last few months of preparation then topics which one thinks one has forgotten will surprise you by coming to your mind on a question being asked about that topic in the exam.
What topics do I revise first and from where? Revise from the notes you have prepared from, please do not go in for last minute summary notes from a friend or the internet. Do not confuse or scare yourself with new questions or data at the last stage. Have faith in what you have done and go for it.
So ideally all topics must be looked at on the last day as the CA exams have a habit of not following any pattern and every topic has a likely hood of coming. However, let me list a few pointers for you
CA Final Direct Tax:
- One now knows that the international taxation will be there for 30 marks so it makes sense in ensuring that this is definitely revised.
- Other topics like B&P - MAT, AMT and assessment of Firms, TDS, Returns, Assessments, Appeals have generally catered for over 40-50% of the paper, so must be first in order of priority.
- Case study from ICAI supplementary module and recent amendments have a likelihood of being asked so should be on your list for the last day revision.
- GST is scoring and the syllabus not so huge, so I would advise one to go through the same and to do the RTP questions and questions from the Mock tests given by ICAI. Since this is the first paper for GST, there is a great chance that similar questions will be asked
- Income tax: from a study of the recent papers one feels that smaller topics like, TDS, Advance Tax, returns and gifts may carry approx. 4-8 marks of weightage and smaller chapters like other sources, clubbing, set off and deductions may account for 8-12 marks, so must be revised. Certain amendments regarding cash payments in depreciation, Sec 10AA might have a chance of coming in this paper, so try and go through the amendments at a glance.
I don’t have time to sleep!! Oh, you must, atleast enough to be able to go to the paper fresh as that alertness of the mind is more important than the revision. Imagine Virat Kohli practicing for a match the entire night and reaching the match venue tired both mentally and physically and getting out early, then all the practice would amount to nothing. You have to perform on the day of the match! You have to look forward to the exams and enjoy giving them rather than treating them as a burden and waiting for them to get over.
How do I prepare in the last 2-3 hours? You don’t !I would prefer no revision before the paper and one must blank the mind and try and relax, maybe listen to some music or watch your favourite comedy or play a game – anything that relaxes the mind.
Enter the hall with confidence, neither under nor overconfidence. Read the paper and answer the questions on their merit.
Which questions do I attempt first? There is no one answer to this. However, in my view, the first hour is very crucial. The aim should be to do as many small 3-5 mark questions and gain at least 15-25 marks in the 1st hour and this will relax your mind allowing you to do the rest of the paper in a better mindset. If one starts the full total income question at the beginning, it will take 30-40 minutes and carries only 10 to 14 marks and if by chance you are not able to complete the answer, your mind will be under stress. So try and maximize the marks in the first hour to be able to give the paper to your potential.
I can’t complete the paper, what do I do? We are all stressed about giving a perfect paper, but I believe if one can give 80% of the paper 80% right one still gets above 60%. Answer the paper smartly. You get 180 minutes for 100 marks. So 1.8 minutes per mark. Thus a 10 marks question must be allocated not more than 18-20 minutes. If you take more time then there is a chance you will have to leave some other question. My view says the more questions I can do the more marks I can get. So if I am unable to complete an answer within the time allocated I would leave that question and spend that time on a new question as the chance of scoring more marks in a new question are higher than those gained by spending an extra minute or two on a question that you have already spent 20 minutes on , and every mark counts in CA. the difference between 199 & 200 or 59 & 60 is only ½ a mark.
What if I am not getting the answers 100% right? Since there is step marking and there are marks for the working notes, that’s not such a great worry. I myself got no answer right in my accounts paper and yet scored 58 cause all my thoughts were written on the paper in the form of working notes explaining the entries and reasons. A friend of mine had 80% answers right yet got only 42, no there is no mistake in checking, his fault was that he only wrote the answers without writing the reasons for explaining the actions taken and the reasons carry more marks.
Taking and handling stress, remaining relaxed and in control during the exams goes a long way in assuring one passes the papers. A stressed mind will not perform optimally. So to sum up,
- Relax and remain calm
- Think and focus while doing the paper
- Concentrate on the first one hour and gain maximum marks
- Present your answer with reasons and working notes to gain more marks
- Complete the paper