Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Writing CA Exams – A professional approach


Irrespective of all the preparations and revisions, cracking a professional course like CA depends greatly on how the student utilizes the three hour exam time. The ‘key point’ is to serve the answer the way examiner wants it.

According to the new scheme the prospect of CA exam is to measure the student’s capability to use the knowledge he / she has gained from studies and its applicability in various situations. For this the questions are twisted and tangled and each needs to be attended in its own way. You can improve your percentage considerably if you are alert and tactful while handling those three hours in the exam hall.
Here I am expressing some of the common faults I have come to notice over the years and some ways to tackle them.

While answering theory papers and theoretical questions:

Theory questions usually come under thirteen different tags : Explain, Define, Short notes , Describe, Discuss, Illustrate , State, Comment , What are , Distinguish, Distinct , Elucidate , Decide .

The problem arises when you try to answer all these different types of questions in the same manner. If you have to answer each type of question specifically then you should be thorough with the basics and concepts and should know what is being asked and what is not.

Eg : The term “Business” .
1. Define the term Business 2. Explain the term Business 3. Write a short note on Business.
Here all the three questions need to be answered in three different ways.
Lack of this insight result in answers where you note down every thing you know related to the topic irrespective of the question and score only a bare minimum or average marks. If you want to score 60% or above mark for a question you have to answer it the way you would like to see it in a text book.

Your answer should be:

1. Easy to find,
2. easy to read,
3. to the point , and point by point
4. simple and transparent with out confusing
5. with headings and subheadings as needed
6. precise.

The different types of questions included in the theory session are based on the different situations that you will have to face as a professional in your career.
While you answer first think of the logic behind the question. 
• Then tailor your answer according to the requirement of the question.
• Before you start to write down your answer, shape it first in your mind.

This will avoid unnecessary strikes and messiness. And will make your nervousness, confusions and difficulties less transparent to the examiner. To- the- point- answers will prevent the examiner from wandering for the answer in your answer. The better presentation will make a better impression and score you more marks.

Eg : For essay questions ( Explain, Describe ,..) your answer should have an impressive introduction, a body with headings and sub headings , and a conclusion . The conclusion should preferably be a sum up and a direct answer to the question in minimum words.

Time Management: 

 The current trend is to answer all the questions. Divide the time effectively . One thing student has to keep in mind while attending theory papers is that the question paper has been designed only for 2 ½ hours. One can effectively complete the paper within this period if properly prepared.

Once finished instead of scooting in a hurry utilize the last half an hour to do the final polishing.

Read and check your answers

▪ Correct the mistakes that catch your eye

▪ Add a few more lines if you can think of relevant additional points

▪ Do some highlighting and underlining.

By doing all these you can add at least 10 marks more to your already completed paper.

Answering Problem papers:

It is the area which requires more time management skills. Along with assessing the problem- analysing, decision - making and quantitative - aptitude skills this session aims to bring out the student’s ability to approach and present the subject in different ways.
The main types of problem questions include: Determine, Calculate, Compute, Find, Evaluate and Solve. Based on the different terms used different ways of answering is expected from you. But usually this does not happen. Students try to answer the questions without correctly understanding the meaning of terms used.
For eg : If the question is ‘find ‘ you have to ‘ find ‘ the answer and not try to ‘determine’ or ‘compute ‘.

When you read the problem question:

Write down:
1.what information is available .
2. what is to be found .
3.what all you need to reach the solution.
4. what is missing .

Check for :
1.indirect clues.
2. sub questions .

One easy method you can use is to write the key word in the question as the heading of your answer. This will help the examiner to identify your problem analyzing skill. The fact that you have read the question carefully and you are properly oriented will impress the examiner.

The questions are purposely made in different ways to identify your decision making skills. So it is important that you conclude the answer with whatever knowledge you have. Your point of view and expertise in commerce language is also important.

Your score is in your hands. Formulate your knowledge into crisp answers and score at least half mark every minute of your exam. Pass out with a glamorous score not just a 50 or around.

Aim High and reach your sky!

The author CA K.S.Sailendranath BSc (Maths) , LLB ,FCA   is a member of ICAI .

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