Study Tips for Success in Professional Exams

Karunakar.Lingala (Cost Accountant) (83 Points)

26 May 2011  

Study Tips for Success in Professional Exams

Success in professional exams like CA/ICWA/CS is about more than just hard work. Of course,
hard work is very important, but so many other factors count too. Ask anyone
who studied really hard but didn’t get through in the first attempt, and lost
by 3 or 4 marks. It’s like as if a complex algorithm is employed in deciding
who passes and who doesn’t.

That says a lot about how passing a professional exam is
viewed. Some see it as a game of luck, some see it as an unending struggle,
some lose their drive halfway and decide to quit. Yet, there are lots who have
passed successfully, in first attempts, even with ranks.

So that means passing the exam isn’t the monster that it’s
made out to be. It’s achievable, like all human endeavors.

When I was done with all my exams and decided to give away
all the old books and study materials, I came across these study tips in an old
taxation book. I thought I’d share it with others and so I typed it out here.
I’ve added a few tips here and there of my own.

Hope this helps you, the reader, in your efforts towards
success in these exams.


READ the study materials
thoroughly. The basic textbook should be used in the first stage and in
all stages.

·                     REFER only one suggested reference
book per subject. Reading too many books can have diminishing marginal

·                     REALISE and understand the points
and principles, and treatment in each topic/subject.

·                     REMOVE doubts immediately by
consulting your friends, teachers, seniors and faculty members. Carrying
doubts and tension should be avoided.

·                     RECORD your findings and notes in
a separate book. The notes should help you revise faster and not
contribute to further doubts.

·                     REVISE your study materials and
notes constantly. Revise all subjects simultaneously over a period.

·                     RECAPITULATE the main points from
your notes and try to answer questions in examination conditions. Do not
solve problems verbally. For theory questions also, writing answers in
full will help to assess the time taken.

·                     REPRESENT your understanding of
the various concepts in clear and neat terms to the examiner. Your
communication should be complete. Use working notes for practical problems
and simple language for theory questions.

The above 8-R steps will help you add two more R’s: RESULT and RANK.


>> Do Not hand over your answer paper much earlier
than 3 hours, even though you may
have completed the paper. Give yourself sufficient time for review and

>> Do Not award yourself any marks and brood over the
same. While a reasonable estimate of marks can be done after all the exams, it
is advisable to let the examiner do his duty of awarding marks.

>> Do Not indulge in extreme physical activities.
Maintaining physical well-being is a must during the exam days. Eat well and
sleep well.

>> Do Not study any new reference book or any new
materials 3 weeks before the exam. It will only freak you out and create all
kinds of new doubts in your head.

>> Do Not let fear take over you at any time. Yes,
professional exams are tough, and if you want to be a thorough professional,
you need to be tough-minded. Even if the paper is harder than you expected,
mentally keep repeating to yourself, “I can do this. I’m going to pass this
paper no matter what.” Trust me, it works.



>> Answer each question carrying independent marks, on
a fresh page.

>> Answer theory questions in a logical fashion,
bringing out the captions/side-headings in Capital Letters.

>> Try to answer all sub-divisions of a question
simultaneously. E.g. If you’re answering Question 5, answer Q. 5a, 5b, and 5c
simultaneously. Don’t answer 5a and 5b,
then jump to Question 6,7 and 8, and then decide to come back to Question 5c.
It’s irritating for the examiner.

>> The total exam time is 180 minutes. About 30 mins
will be spent in reading questions and also in end-review. Hence, the effective
time available is 150 mins, for answering 100 marks. Only 1.5 mins can be spent
for every mark. A question for 16 marks must be completed within 24 mins. You
can take an extra 4-5 mins if you’re confident that the answer is fully
correct. Otherwise, go to the next question immediately. Or else, you may not be
able to answer a question for lack of time.

>> Write your answers legibly so that the examiner can
read them and award marks accordingly. Answers can be said to be properly
presented only when the examiner is able to read and appreciate them. Everyone may
not be blessed with good handwriting, but regular practice can be of great

>> Manage your time in such a way to ensure that you
spend at least 5 mins in the end towards review; whether you have answered all
questions, numbered them properly.


>> Do Not use red ink/sketch for underlining important
points. Use black lead pencil for underlining.

>> Do Not overshoot the limit for any question,
writing beyond the scope of marks. In simple terms, that means don’t write an
answer for two pages if the question carries only 5 marks. Remember, it’s not about the length of your answer, it’s about the

>> Do Not employ bad handwriting to suppress your
ignorance in any question. i.e. don’t beat around the bush and answer a
question that you don’t know the
answer to, just to fill up space. It only amplifies your ignorance further.

lose your drive and enthusiasm. The most readily identifiable quality of a
total winner is overall optimism and enthusiasm. Keep the spark of enthusiasm
alive in you. Go ahead, be enthusiastic, be a total winner.

Your life holds unlimited potential. You have the ability to
attain whatever you seek; within you is every potential you can imagine. Always
aim higher than you believe you can reach. So often, you will discover that
when your talents are set free by your imagination, you can achieve every goal.
If people offer their help or wisdom
as you go through life, accept it gratefully. You can learn much from those who
have gone before you. But never
be afraid or hesitant to step off the accepted path and head off in your own
direction, if your heart tells you that it’s the right way for you. Always
believe that you will ultimately succeed at whatever you do. And never forget
the values of persistence, discipline and determination. You are meant to be
whatever you dream of becoming.

Edmund O’Neill