Tips for CA students
You have chosen the best career option
- Feel proud about becoming a CA and the profession you are aiming to join. If you are not passionate about it, then success will elude you. If you were not very clear about CA as your career choice but have chosen it, then make sure to gradually find the excitement in the knowledge you gain by studying the CA subjects. Gradually, your passion and love for it will automatically develop with sustained efforts.
Cultivate the right attitude from day one
- Be sincere to yourself. After all, it’s about your success and evolution and not about anyone else’s.
- Act and do not procrastinate. Do not lose time, be proactive and start studying from day one.
- Do every possible action to make yourself feel proud. In the process you will automatically make your parents/teachers/colleagues proud.
- Generate self‐confidence by setting small targets and then achieving them one by one. Taste of initial small success is a big motivator for gaining bigger success in future.
- Discipline your lifestyle. Your earlier lifestyle will need a lot of change once you start with CA. There will be hardly any idle time left with article ship and studies going parallel.
- Follow good ethics. This will form the base as you move towards becoming an exemplary professional and not merely a CA graduate.
- Be realistic and do not have overconfidence. There is a very thin line between confidence and over confidence. A little under confidence in fact helps to put in the extra effort. Many students believe after their attempt that they will pass, but they get only 120‐150 marks. If something like this has happened, then you need to seriously introspect about the gap which exists in your mind between perception and reality. This requires serious course correction. Do not take it lightly. Next attempt will require major effort to get 200. Minor changes will only get you only 20‐30 marks more.
- Always maintain your humility. The more you know, the more humble you will become, as you realize the vast ocean of knowledge which will always remain to be mastered.
Remove all distractions from your life till you clear CA
- You should have only 2 things to do till you clear, study and training.
- Your phone is the biggest distraction. Keep it on silent while you are studying. Check after 2 hours and not every 5 minutes.
- No/minimal/brief vacations or outstation social visits.
- No face book or other social media such as what’s app. Delete your profile, if you cannot discipline yourself.
- If you still keep on talking passionately about things other than CA, then the focus is probably missing. Your biggest passion now should be CA and only CA.
- Sit in a separate room to study where no one can disturb you.
- Do not over extend yourself by enrolling for more than 1 course at one time, other than CA. You can pick up additional qualifications once you clear CA.
General study tips
- Love studying and knowing. Make it as a lifelong habit. The profession you are joining will require lifelong updation.
- Be passionate & hungry about constantly acquiring knowledge and the empowerment it will bring for you. Read whatever you can lay your hand on, which can help you in your profession.
- Understand and do not cram generally, except while preparing for the exam.
- Concentration levels should be very high while studying. Do not let your mind wander. Observe consciously when it wanders. Gradually, this conscious observation will help you build up your concentration levels. Sitting for 12 hours but studying with concentration only for 8 hours is a huge loss of time and highly inefficient. It is better to study for 8 hours with full concentration then. Long sittings do not automatically mean that you are studying. Do not fool yourself.
- Avoid studying while listening to music through ear phones or otherwise. It does reduce your peak efficiency.
Preparation study tips
- CA is very different from school board exams, as marking is strict and the width and complexity of course level changes suddenly from school time and many are not able to cope with such a change, especially if they were not very studious in school life.
- Study every day consistently from the 1st day of your training for 3‐4 hours. If you cannot do it for 3‐4 hours, then at least do it for 1‐2 hours, no matter what happens. If you do that, it’s more than half the battle won.
- Exhaustively read from study material first before moving onto other books for extra reading.
- Do as many questions as possible in practical papers.
- Cover the full course. Do not be selective.
- Mark tough Q’s for last minute revision.
- Underline key words. Make brief notes for last minute revision.
- Make Acronyms in theory papers for cramming purpose.
- Revise by writing down bullet points and then expanding them mentally as you would do while writing the paper.
- Once a chapter/subject is covered, test yourself by doing extra questions from compiler/suggested papers.
- Do not take tuitions just because others are taking it. Take coaching only where you are weak. The commuting time and odd hours of coaching may take away a lot of your otherwise productive time. Be very selective as per your need. If you want to, then start immediately, so that you can get over it at the earliest, so as to have adequate self‐study time.
- Self‐study is a must to assimilate deeply whatever you learn from external coaching. Try and finish your external coaching’s well in the beginning so as to have maximum self‐ study time later on.
- Course syllabus should ideally be finished before exam leave.
- Appear for single group if you are not confident. Both groups should only be attempted if you are through with the syllabus for both and have adequate time for revision of both. It is better to be 100% sure than overtly ambitious.
- Aspire very high. Do not aim for 200. Aim for 250 plus/merit list. Then you will get 200 plus. Aiming for 200 will land you up at somewhere around 170. ICAI at end may do general slashing by 10‐15% on marks to prune the overall result.
Exam preparation study leave tips
- Take just the optimum leave from the office. Not less, not more. Taking more leaves is not always helpful. The rubber band should neither be tight not lose. Too much time will make your preparation climax prematurely much before the exams.
- Ideally, your syllabus should have been covered before study leave.
- Study leave should be broken down into 3 revisions. 1st revision – 50% time, 2nd revision‐ 35 % time, last revision 15% time. This will peak you for the paper day.
- Solve papers in class room condition, with a table clock and closed room environment, so that you can get used to the stress of solving papers in that 3 hour time capsule. Practice to write fast in legible handwriting.
- Eat light and homemade food, if possible. Avoid overeating to prevent weight gain during long months of preparation.
Exam paper day tips
- Sleep for 6‐7 hours every day. Sleep deprivation will make you less attentive during exam.
- Attempt those Q’s first on which you have confidence. 5 minutes glance before start will let you know which Q’s to handle first.
- If you do not know how to answer a question in first 5‐10 minutes of attempting it, move onto the next. Come back later again, if you have time.
- In exam, write from the view point of the examiner, not for yourself. Suggested answers will help you understand the CA institute’s expectations.
- Do not overeat to avoid laziness. Do not be careless so at to get ill just before exams or during exams. Dress appropriately as per the weather and eat properly. Avoid sour, cold, fried and chilly stuff.
- If a paper has not gone well, do not let it spoil your next paper. Focus on it without remembering your last paper which didn’t go well. Do not drop your exams mid‐way at any cost.
- Reach the exam hall 30 minutes before the start time.
- Every second is important. Draw a detailed time table at the very beginning and stick to it minute to minute no matter what happens. Compensate for any dilution, the very next day.
- Identify all time pockets where you are losing time. This can be extra time spent in bathing, standing idle after tuition classes, watching TV for more time than the targeted time, time spent on phone, in idle talking etc.
- Keenly observe to identify where you are losing time.
- If after the exam, you are not 100% sure that you will pass, then there are very high chances that it will not happen. Start studying the same group immediately from the next day. Most of the students lose time here.
Learning from others:
- Judge people carefully. Avoid company of negative persons. Make friends who are more capable than you and who also value time.
- Be open minded. Discuss openly your difficulties with more learned/successful students/Teachers.
- Compare other successful student’s study and life style with yours. Realize that you need to fundamentally change direction if after 2 attempts you are not passing. Be flexible.
- Do not hesitate to seek help timely. Approach your colleagues, seniors, teachers etc. before it’s too late.
- Web browse to learn about profession and resolve your queries. Visit ICAI website for latest developments. Visit sites of professional relevance to know about related developments.
- Maintain an intellectual environment around you which reinforces and supplements exam study, such as reading CA student Journal, Economic times, office study circles, CA Branch seminars. Correlate practical knowledge with your theoretical studies.
- Follow a consistent routine for getting up and sleeping every day. Do not sleep for more than 7 hours. Set up alarms to maintain this consistency.
- Ensure to exercise for 30 minutes daily. Do Pranayama and Yoga to cope with stress.
- Get up after every 1‐2 hours of study. Deep breath for 5 minutes, stretch and continue from where you left.
- Sit on a proper table and chair to study. The chair should support your back comfortably. Long hours of sitting combined with no exercise can take a toll on your back. Be always conscious about your posture.
- Use a table lamp to avoid strain on eyes and bring focus on your study table.
- Enjoy knowledge gained through course studies so as to not to feel the burden thereof.
- Give 30 minutes every day to a hobby such as music, light reading etc.
- Sit close to nature such as in the sun and fresh air, such as in the garden etc.
- Reward yourself in small ways after each success to maintain motivation.
- Take a small break when you have beaten your calendar.
Managing article ship training along with exam preparation.
- Intensive article ship training in CA course is the gold standard which sets it apart from other courses. Select a firm where you can get high level of training.
- Strike an intelligent balance between office work and studies and do so with consistency. Initially you will find it difficult, but gradually you will be able to find your rhythm if you are sincere.
- Be punctual with your office timings.
- Do not waste time in office chatting with colleagues. Instead focus on clearing the allotted desk work as fast as possible, so that unrequired late sitting is proactively prevented.
- Do not go slow on your studies in your first and second year, otherwise the pressure will build up in the last year. On outstation audits, utilize your evenings for studying. Use your commuting/journey time also for studying.
- Use pockets of time available such as lunch time for catching up on general professional reading aligned to your subjects.
Do not waste in chatting or going to markets etc.
- Students doing training outside their home town, should not do up and down even for an hour while commuting to office. Instead, they should locate a hostel near to the office, so that minimum time is wasted in commuting.
- Approach your learned seniors for help whenever you face difficulty in office work. Build a teamwork relationship with your supervising senior so that you can balance the pressure of office work and your studies. Approach him/her for help/tips on studies or other issues which might be bothering you. Maintain a transparent relationship so that they can together find solutions for problems which you might be facing.
Family support along with CA
- Your family is your biggest support system which will do everything possible to ensure that you become a CA well in time. Work like a team with them till you clear CA.
- Educate your family about the likely routine you will have to adopt till you clear CA, so that they are on the same page as you are.
- Give them a brief idea of what all you are doing professionally in your office, without naming clients as that information is confidential.
- If you have to do household chores, then adjust your time table accordingly, so that you are clear about such time loss from your studies and accordingly adjust your schedule.
Handling post failure situation
- Failing in CA exams is not the end of the world. If you fail, it is important that you take it in your stride and reflect on it for adopting corrective measures. More than passing early, what is important is to learn from such failures, and build up your character and personality, which will carry you ahead once you qualify. It is proven that it is not necessary that person with higher marks or no failures will do better in life as they did in exams.
- If you are more than 10 marks short, do not attribute such failure due to bad luck. It’s completely due to your lack of preparation. You should have been aiming for 250, not 200. Then this bad luck would have not happened to you at all.
- If you are more than 20‐25 marks short, then it is better to reappear for the same group and pass it with flying colors, i.e. with more than 30 marks plus.
- If you are somewhere less than 120‐130, then probably a change in group can be considered.
- Start studying immediately after result, if you are tentative about passing. Do not lose a day. If you are very confident of passing, then start studying for the remaining group from the next day.
- Call for your answer sheets immediately so that you can understand after going through them as to where you went wrong. Show them to students who have passed with good marks so that they can guide you as to where you went wrong.
- Do not apply for reevaluation, until and unless you are in a position where due to 5‐10 less marks you are losing a group or an exemption. Do not stop studying in this period till reevaluation response is received, in the hope that the result will change. Reevaluation is just a checking of totaling errors, and there is a negligible chance that your result will change because of it.
- After multiple failures, under pressure, do not attempt both groups, until and unless, your syllabus is well covered, and you have sufficient time for revision and the single group in which you have failed was only by 10‐20 marks.
The above write up are general guidelines and are based on the personal opinion of the author. Not everything will apply to everybody. It’s up to you to decide what applies to you in your individual case and what’s best for you.
Best of luck as you move forward on path of this glorious career!!!