Chartered accountancy final examinations are tough, no doubt. However, good planning, four months of dedicated study and unflinching determination can help you sail through. The toppers of November's final exam shared their tried and tested methods with us.
Akhil Lalit Roongta, a rank-three holder of CA (Final, New Course), made sure his cell phone remained switched off for the four months (before the exams) “that demand sincere hard work, when you must stay away from all distractions. I used to study for 15-16 hours (every day). To ward off boredom, I would go for evening walks with my elder brother,” says Roongta, a 21-year-old CA from Nasik.
Divided over coaching
Should one go in for CA coaching? Some students believe success depends entirely on the student’s own abilities and coaching has little bearing on the outcome. Roongta, for instance, joined coaching classes but didn’t attend for the full term. “In Nasik, there aren’t many reputed coaching institutes and the ones I joined didn’t help much. So, I left the classes midway,” he adds.
Grizelda G. Lobo, rank-three holder of CA (Final, Existing Course), echoes that view though she did attend classroom sessions in Mumbai. “Though I joined coaching classes for almost all practical subjects like accountancy, direct taxes, costing and financial management, these don’t decide your fate in the exams. There are many successful candidates who secured top rankings without coaching,” says Lobo.
Allow time to revise
Lobo had finished her preparations 40 days prior to the exams. This helped her later because she got time to revise all the topics well. Revising the syllabus at least thrice before the exams is a must.
“I had covered all the topics twice before I took two-and-a-half-months off from work (where I am pursuing my articleship). It made my burden easier in the final days,” says Prajita Balavinodan, rank-one holder, CA (Final, New Course).
Some students like Roongta prefer to focus only on one subject before starting out on the next.
Amita Maheshwari, all-India topper of CA’s Integrated Professional Competence Exam (IPCE), tackled two to three subjects at a time to ward off “subject fatigue”.
“Practical subjects are interesting but theory subjects aren’t. One should study both in the same day to strike the right balance,” says Maheshwari.
When you are coming out of the examination hall, never ever discuss your answers with others, say some toppers. It can frustrate you, which in turn, might ruin your next exam. Even if your exam hasn’t gone too well, don’t brood over it, they add.
“Just write the paper and forget about it afterwards. Even if your friends want to discuss something with you, don’t respond to them. I personally had a bitter experience. When I took the indirect-tax exam, I discussed it (with my peers) because it was the second last exam. I got frustrated and the fear of failure began to haunt me. Luckily, I scored 70 per cent in it, which took me by surprise,” says Roongta.
Swear by modules
Time and again, toppers and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) have asserted that study modules should be studied thoroughly. However, most students ignore this advice.
Roongta says the modules help you pass exams and ignoring them can cost you dear. “In the subjects relating to taxation, you must be aware of the latest amendments through newsletters and journals sent by the Institute,” he says.
Auinash Karwa, who is the all-India topper of PE (Professional Examination) II, shares this view, though – many would be surprised – he didn’t use any reference books. “Barring income tax, for which I bought other books, I didn’t take help from a single reference book,” says Karwa. He is an ambitious student who plans to become a CA even though he has spent 10 years in the industry after his MCom. He has toiled hard while juggling job responsibilities and studies, and was granted only 20 days leave from office for the exams.
“I used to study regularly - around two hours every day - throughout the year with a few extra hours on Sundays. That did the trick,” he says.