“I cleared CA at the age of 34 and CMA at 36 while WORKING FULL TIME. I have come across many semi-qualified’s who are working full time and are struggling to appear for their exams, let alone passing their exams ” says CA Rohit Singh, currently Heading GST Suvidha Provider (GSP) Business for Karvy Data Management Services Ltd.
“Many of us GIVE UP STUDIES when we have to work full time. I could have been one of them as well but I chose otherwise. The real challenge is to pass CA Final exams while working and that is why I decided to pen my story along with tips and tools to help you crack CA or any other professional exams while working. I have followed this for both the professional exams I passed (CA and CMA). This even helped me to crack Fellow of Insurance Institute of India (FIII).
Also to make it clear apart from being highly optimistic and being hardworking I am no genius- I failed my CS Foundation 1st attempt which nobody fails.
Develop a Positive Attitude:
- You may have appeared N times for the same exam. Every last time that you appeared is history (unless you got exemption in any subject).
- Your last failed marks sheet should be a stepping stone to success rather a reminder of your failure.
- I changed all my email id passwords, social media passwords, other passwords to “I will succeed@1” or “I will pass this time”. This will remind you of your goals.
- You may also write one of the above messages in a piece of paper and paste in a prominent place where you may see it often. This is to remind yourself – How beautiful tomorrow will be when you qualify professional exams.
Make an isolated place for study (preferably wall facing):
- You should have an isolated place to study which preferably facing the walls thus avoiding distractions.
- You can also join a library close by and study before/ after office.
- Once you start studying daily at a fixed place which is facing the wall, your concentration level shall increase, which will result in better output.
Plan your Studies:
- You should plan your studies well.
- Professional Studies Syllabus is huge and time is always short.
- Plan your theory and practical topics. Give importance to both.
- Even in practical subjects like Costing, Financial Management or Accounting, we have 25 to 30 marks allotted for theory. Theory can help you sail through.
Utilise your flexible hours’ facility:
- Some of the offices allow flexible timings for office. Choose to go to office little late/early so that you may save traffic time as well as study more effectively at home/office.
- Trust me every minute saved will give more for study time.
Don’t miss the fun:
- You are not at a funeral! It is one life, so even in these stressful preparations have fun and stay cool.
- It’s fine to go for an occasional movie, catching up with friends and family, or doing whatever makes you happy.
- In short, keep taking small breaks while you prepare.
Identify your strengths:
- For me, theory worked well, so it was my strength.
- Work according to your strengths, not weakness.
Self-study/Joint Study is the key:
- One might take private coaching but unless you SELF-STUDY nothing works.
- If you can’t take private classes (due to office timings, financial issues or other issues), develop a routine of self-study or joint study (not more than 3 persons).
- Nothing better than self-study/Joint Study.
- It gives chance for understanding a topic better.
Buy books, scanners, Revision Test Papers, etc well in advance:
- I studied from Institute study materials only and 1 reference book max 2 nothing more.
- Since the time is so short, chances are you may not be able to cover everything.
- Buy your copy of reference books, scanners, revision test papers in advance.
- Go through last 5 to 6 term question papers. This will help you understand the pattern and distribution of marks.
Focus on Amendments and recent developments:
- Professional exams test your skills on recent amendments and current developments, amendments in last 6 months is most important. Make notes of recent amendments.
- Keep reading about amendments regularly do not wait until the last minute.
- Focus on Budget amendments for direct tax along with its practical applications. This is where attending crash courses could help, saving a lot of your time.
Attend crash course, if possible:
- If you get a chance attend a ½ day crash course, this helps one to grab details in a short span of time.
- If you have studied the subject, the crash course gives you an opportunity to revise everything in shortest possible time.
- Do it as the exams get closer thus making your revision easier.
Anytime Study on Smart Phone or Laptop/Desktop:
- I utilized my office hours by downloading Revision Test Papers, Module and previous examination solved papers on my laptop. Whenever I got the time, I would read the same. This way I was constantly in touch with my studies
- This also gave me additional time at home for completing the syllabus.
- Trust me this will keep you motivated and focused.
Make a list of subjects and their contents (Tool 1):
- Use this attached file as a reference to develop a tool for a list of subjects and their contents.
- Ideally making this in your own handwriting (rather than a computerized list) will help to make aware of the topics in the subjects.
Make an overall List as well as a list of daily topics to be covered (Tool 2):
- Make an overall list of the whole syllabus (Tool 2A) and a daily routine for each topic (Tool 2B) for your study.
- Break your month in week and week in a day. Also, break each day in hours.
- Allocate topics for each hour. See if you are moving as per your plan.
- Make small weekly goals.
- Be realistic and make achievable targets.
- Keep buffer for spillovers.
- Your plans may not always click, you may have some unfinished topics, off days and days when you are not in the mood to study.
- Nothing to worry or feel guilty of …. Take a break and again come back again.
- But yes, additional topics are to be accommodated in the same balance routine.
Do ABC analysis of subjects and its topics (Tool 1):
- Thoroughly analyze last 5 to 6 term papers will make you realize that always not the hard work but smart study will help you sail through any professional exams.
- By this I mean that analyze the subject and topics and distribute it into A (Least time to cover for max marks), B (Medium time and medium coverage) and C (Maximum time for least marks).
- Identify your A’s and target those in initial phases.
- Try to cover B’s and cover scanner or 5 term papers for the topics in C’s.
- This example will make it clear for you – In Indirect taxes for final course – GST – 75 marks and Customs and FTP – 25 marks. Computation of GST Liability shall cover 20 to 30% of 75 marks (i.e. 15-20 marks). This is done when we cover the theory of various topics. The effort taken will be comparatively less compared to other topics. Hence this may be categorized as A for ABC Analysis. Even Demand and recovery, offenses and penalties, Advance Ruling and Appeals & revisions cover 10-30% (Which means 10 to 20 marks). It should not take more than 1/2 days to cover these aspects. Hence this should be classified as A for ABC Analysis.
- Even in Financial Management, theory covers 30 to 40 marks. We often ignore theory. If we cover theory (which is 15% of the subject and take approx 10% time) you cover 30 marks. Even Quantitate Theory (QT) will get you 20-30 marks (which will take other 20% time). So by spending 30 to 35% of the time, you expect to cover 50 to 60 marks. A similar analysis holds good for all subjects.
- For subjects which are divided into 2 to 3 Sections – like Section I, Section II, etc, you should identify which section has the least time to cover but has more marks. Cover this first and go for rest later on.
Take a break from Social media and distractions:
- Social media like WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, snap chat and whatnot. They are BIG distractions.
- They steal precious moments.
- Come out of social media syndrome if you seriously wish to pass a professional exam.
- Trust me social media fasting for 6 months will get you a professional qualification.
- It worked for me and am sure it should work for everyone including you.
Eat healthily and get enough sleep:
- Eat healthily and get yourself enough sleep (if you are working, I am sorry you may not get enough sleep). By enough sleep, I mean 7-8 hours sleep (either at a single stretch or 2 counts of 5-6/2 hours-Night/Day).
Power naps do help:
- Make a habit of taking a power nap of 15 minutes (2 times a day).
- I have this skill to take a small power nap to refresh myself.
Revise, revise and revise:
- You should revise what you have covered.
- Revision may be in form of the notes you made earlier, scribbling on the books/module or just highlighted a portion of your module (I used a highlighter to highlight important portions) to revise it later.
- Allocate or keep separate time for revision.
- Since I was working and out of writing practice, I used to solve as many questions as I could. Now that does not mean I solve all the questions by writing but at least 30% I tried solving.
- Now Mock papers also try writing a few here and there.
- You might not get the time to solve a lot of mock appears but at least one paper a subject could help. It gives us an idea of how will the exam day feel like.
Do not try to mug up everything:
- Mugging never helps. It betrays your memory when you need it the most!
- Understand and then retain, also you can use your own words but using technical words as mentioned in the study material is also important.
Make notes for Last Minute Revision (LMR):
- Make your own notes and bullet pointers for exam day study.
- Make sure to have your own notes for LMR. On the exam day revising your entire syllabus is not possible.
- This will save you from panicking when you try to cover or revise everything in 10-12 hours.
- Click pictures of notes or LMR on your mobile so that you may read it anytime.
Stop studying 2 hours before exams:
- I did not carry any book or notes or any other reading material when I left home for examination center.
- I have often seen everyone reading until the last minute of commencement of exams. This might not help. This triggers panic and pressure. Oh, I could not cover that topic!, Oh I did not study that topic!, OMG.. he is reading that.. etc etc.
- The fact is if you could not study anything in last 2 months chances are you may not cover anything in 10 minutes.
- Give a break to your mind.
- Drink 2 glasses of water (It fills the brain with oxygen it needs) and chill!!
The above worked for me and should work for you,” he concluded.
Note: You may reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or +91-9503031788 for guidance and study tips.
Tool – 1
Contents and ABC Analysis [Paper 8 – Indirect Taxes (Final Course – CA) – May 2018]
|Chapter No.||Contents||Weightage by ICAI||ABC Analysis|
|Part – I – Goods and Services Tax||75 marks|
|1||Taxable event – Supply||25% – 35%||B|
|2||Charge of GST|
|3||Exemptions from GST|
|4||Place of Supply|
|5||Time of Supply|
|6||Value of Supply|
|7||Input Tax Credit|
|Not in syllabus||Computation of GST Liability (based on all topics)||20% – 30%||A|
|8||Registration||10% – 30%||B|
|9||Tax Invoice, Credit and Debit Notes|
|10||Accounts and Records|
|11||Payment of Tax|
|16||Liability to Pay Tax in Certain Cases|
|17||Demands and Recovery||10% – 25%||A|
|18||Offenses and Penalties|
|19||Appeals and Revision|
|21||Constitutional Aspects & Introduction to GST||5% – 10%||C|
|22||Assessment and Audit|
|23||Inspection, Search, Seizure, and Arrest|
|Part – II – Customs & FTP||25 marks|
|26||Levy of and Exemptions from Customs Duty||20% – 40%||B|
|27||Types of Duty|
|28||Classification of Imported and Export Goods|
|29||Valuation under the Customs Act, 1962|
|30||Importation, Exportation and Transportation of Goods||40% – 70%||C|
|33||Demand and Recovery|
|35||Provisions Relating to Illegal Import, Illegal Export, Confiscation, Penalty & Allied Provisions|
|36||Appeals and Revision|
|39||Miscellaneous Provisions||10% – 20%||B|
|40||Foreign Trade Policy|
Planned Study Tracker – Planned (For ones attending office) Group 2 Only –
|1.03.2018 to 10.03.2018||Indirect Taxes||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Practical to be covered as well|
|11.03.2018 to 17.03.2018||Information Systems Control and Audit||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||RTP to be completed|
|18.03.2018 to 05.04.2018||Direct Taxes||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Last 5 term paper solved. Amendments to be covered|
|05.04.2018 to 10.04.2018||International taxation||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Special focus on Sec 92E|
|11.04.2018 to 18.04.2018||Financial Services & Capital Market||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Special focus on Venture Capital|
|18.04.2018 to 28.04.2018||Advanced Management Accounting||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Special focus on small topics with practical|
|28.04.2018 to 03.05.2018||Last 5 Term papers Solved, revision Test papers and Model Test papers||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||—|
|04.05.2018 to 07.05.2018||Revision – 1 day each for each subject||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward|
|08.05.2018 to 09.05.2018||Advanced Management Accounting – Revision||Focus only on revision and no new topic to be touched|
Note – Above is just an illustration for giving an idea. Develop your own routine.
Daily Routine Tracker – Actual (For ones attending office) –
|6 AM to 8 AM||Indirect tax – Theory – Input Tax credit||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Reversal provisions pending|
|6.15 PM to 9.00 PM||Indirect Tax – Practical – various Chapters||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Place of supply pending|
|10 PM – 12 AM||Indirect tax – Theory – valuation, Place of supply and Time of supply||Completed/ Part – Completed/ Carry Forward||Place of supply Completed|
Note – Above is just an illustration for giving an idea. Develop your own routine.