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How we aced the CA exam

The CA final toppers say regular revision is what helped them crack the difficult exam (June 2009)

education Updated: Aug 26, 2009 09:25 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

Qualifying the Chartered Accountancy (final) exams at the very first attempt is indeed an achievement worth lauding… Bagging an All India Rank (AIR) is the frosting on the cake. Every six months thousands of students take the exam, which gets a lucky few the much-coveted title of ‘chartered accountant’… The exam is a tough nut to crack, and requires a lot of perseverance and hard work. HT Horizons quizzed some toppers of the June 2009 attempt to find out what it takes to emerge a winner.

Akram Jamal
All India Rank 2
CA final, June 2009
Age: 24

Studying four months (or even three-and-a-half months) before the exams is enough to crack the CA final. I got four months of study leave from my office to prepare for the tests. Prior to that, I attended coaching classes for accounts, costing, direct taxes and MICS (management information and control systems).

It's a good thing to study at a coaching institute, as straddling articleship and studies is a stupendous task. Coaching saves a lot of your time – which is at a premium and has to be managed meticulously. At the same time, however, articleship, which many dismiss as a waste of time, is not only imperative for professional development but helps you prepare for the exams too. You can understand numerous concepts of auditing, accounts and direct taxes while undergoing internship.

I gave 100 per cent to my preparation and was confident of clearing the exams, but rank two wasn’t expected. I believe if one devotes 100 per cent dedication, cracking CA final exam isn’t difficult.

Why do so many students fail to clear the CA exam?
The syllabi of CA final subjects is indeed mammoth and one requires dedication and regular revision to get through. Having finished the syllabi, it is even more challenging to revise all the topics in one single day during the exams.

What clicked in my case?
I used to study six subjects every day. This is not considered a good practice by many, but in my case it worked quite well.

Giriraj Ajmera
All India Rank 1
CA Final, June 2009
Age: 22

Cracking the CA exam is certainly not a big deal if one studies for around seven-eight hours every day for at least five months before the exam. Yes, one must study consistently even two-three months prior to this – something which can be easily managed along with the articleship.

Only those few months matter the most. Before that, I was busy doing my articleship at Karnavat and Co in Mumbai. I gave my PE (Professional Education) II in November 2006 and had more than two years to prepare for my final examination. In the initial two years, I got coached in accounts, direct taxes and financial management and managed on my own for the rest. When five months were left before the exams I took leave from office and decided how much study time I would devote to each subject. This should be done according to the difficulty levels of each subject and your ability to handle it.

Later, I adhered to that plan religiously. If a particular subject can be finished in 10 days, one mustn't waste more time on it. If you need to spend more time on it, see how you can cover up for it later.

In direct taxes, one must be thorough with the amendments that have taken place in the last six months and it’s advisable to do good preparation in OR (operational research) as it’s quite scoring. Students get a cent per cent score in this topic. The rest of costing is not that scoring, so it makes up for the deficit.

I used to study only one subject a day and thoroughly revise it at the end of the day. Otherwise it could have led to a lot of time wastage at a later stage.

When it comes to books, I read only one book for each subject. Reading too many books for one subject can confuse one, though some students think otherwise.

While writing the exams, respond with facts and apt answers. Merely filling up pages won’t help. Be short and precise.

Why do so many students fail to clear the CA exam?
They don't plan to finish the syllabus on time. In case they make some plan, they fail to stick to it. Devotion and regularity are essential tools to get through.

What clicked in my case?
I studied only one book for one subject and paid much-needed attention to the study modules given by the institute in accountancy, costing and financial management (FM).

Ruchika Katyal
All India Rank 3
CA Final, June 2009
Age: 22

Preparations for my exam started during the second year of articleship after I joined coaching classes for direct tax, indirect tax and financial management. In accounts, I studied from the notes of a famous coaching academy.

As I used to be busy with articleship, I attended one coaching class at a time. In January I got study leave from office when my “real” preparation started. Every day I used to study one theory and one practical subject, as studying only one subject the entire day was boring.

About books, it’s been my habit to refer to two or three books for each subject. I’m not satisfied otherwise. Study modules must be referred for sure as questions in examination only cover topics in the modules (albeit fleetingly in some cases). For theory, modules offer the best content. Finally, I would like to add that one shouldn't ignore any subject.

Why do most of the students fail?
If one studies properly for four months, there is no reason why a student should fail.
What clicked in my caseOne should focus on revision as much as one concentrates on preparation, as the syllabus for each subject is quite huge. I revised the entire syllabus twice before the exams.

As told to Vimal Chander Joshi