I usually write articles based on my experience of CA studies, teaching CA students and observing many CA students. I do receive lot of comments from CA students who find these useful. Once in a while I get query about problems a particular student is facing. I thought I could help some of you one on one and make it formal program so that those who actually need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Last month I launched Mentorship Program for CA Students under Jigyasa Foundation. The program is free of cost for students, if you think you would need this, you can know more about this here.
After launching this program I have received lots and lots of emails. I have replied many of these emails but still need to reply many more. I am trying my best to reply each and every email based on my time availability.
While answering your queries, I have noticed that lot of you are facing similar problems. I would try to write detailed articles here on these so that you can benefit from these. I will continue to answer your individual queries.
Lot of you either want to know about planning your studies or have different problems for which I advise you to plan your studies.
Planning is important part of any project, without planning any project has no chance to succeed. Projects don’t succeed by chance, it’s by proper planning, discipline and determination that great things are achieved. CA Studies are no less than project, if you have never thought like that; this is the time to think.
A famous quote says “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.” This is particularly true for CA Studies.
Whichever exams I cleared in CA was only due to proper planning and strict execution. Whichever exams I failed were due to lack of planning or lack of discipline to follow it. (Yes, I have failed lot of exams/attempts and that gives me ability to understand the problems that a failed CA student faces)
I consider planning important due two main reasons:
- Confidence:A study plan is like a roadmap to a treasure. It gives you steps you need to follow to reach your goal. More practical it is, more confident you feel about your studies and chances of success. If you have proper plan, you know which path to follow and feel almost (almost and fully, because just planning it not enough, execution makes things possible) certain that you can reach to your destination. If a good plan can give you confidence that you can clear exam, it achieves half of target. Confidence is one core requirement to clear CA exams. If you are confident, it reflects in your concentration, studies and even in language of your answers in exam. We will talk more about it someday, but it is very very essential.
- Avoids Distractions:Yes, a good plan helps in avoiding distractions to your studies. I am talking about one of the most important distraction that a CA student faces, i.e. worry about studies. Let me explain by giving an example. When I was preparing for my CA foundation, I faced a problem; whenever I was studying Accountancy, in between I will get worried what will happen to Mathematics, that calculus that I don’t understand properly. I will stop accountancy and pick up mathematics. When I am studying economics, I would get worried about Law, that topic that I should have studied. Whenever I was studying one thing, I was worrying about another topic or subject. This reduced my productivity to a great extent. Days were decreasing and pressure was mounting. I realized this way I will surely fail. I had to do something. I thought who is giving me this problem, answer was my mind. I decided I had to do something to trick it. I made a very detailed plan, which we will discuss later in this article. So when I am studying partnership accounting in accountancy and my mind says what about partnership act, when will you study that? I would say chill out dude. This slot is for Accountancy – Partnership accounting, there is another slot in my plan for partnership act. I don’t know which one but I am sure there is, so cool down. I will get back to study. This happened many times. Slowly my mind stopped disturbing me and whenever it did I had answer.
Now let’s discuss how to make your study plan that will work. A good study plan should have following characteristic.
O – Open
R – Realistic
T – Tracked
I call it SORT
1. Specific:This is the most important quality that a plan should have. It needs to be very very specific. Specific in terms of content and time. Let me explain more. A plan should have which topic of which chapter of which subject will you study on a particular day at a particular hour. If you want to make a plan which you can really use, make it as detailed as possible. If you think a topic will take lot of time, break it in part 1, 2 and so on. Let’s go step by step:
First find out lowest unit of your time. It can be half hour, one hour, two hours or three hours. Certainly not more than three hours and not less than half hour. This unit should be based on your nature or study style, how quickly you get bored from a particular topic, how much is your attention span.
Once you have decided your time unit, now break out all subjects into small study units based on what you can study in that time unit. Say you have chosen one hour, then you need to make say three units of Joint ventures topic in accountancy. This is just example, your time unit and study units should be based on your study style.
Now you need to break your days into time units. There may be different days with different units because of various reasons. A festival day will have less time units and normal day will have more. Allocate time for sleep, food, rest and breaks. Now allocate your study units to your time units.
This way you will make detailed plan for your studies. Few small points to consider:
- Give enough time for rest
- You will need atleast three rounds of studies, plan accordingly
- Same topic will take more time in first round, less time in second round and least time in third round, plan accordingly
- Always leave two weeks before exams. That will be quick revision plan that you will need to make once you complete this plan based on your preparations.
2. Open:When you make a plan, make it very specific but also make it a bit open. When I say open, I mean two things:
First, make open plan, leave some room for contingencies. Don’t make fully packed plan. There will be days when you will not be able to follow as planned, having buffer time will help you finish that day’s target. If in avoidable cases you cannot finish that day’s target, you can use next day’s buffer to cover. Small caution here, buffers are for emergencies, don’t misuse them otherwise your complete plan may derail. This is one temptation you need absolutely avoid.
Second, be open to yourself. There may be unavoidable circumstances when you realize that your plan has gone for a toss. You are nowhere close to your targets. Be brave, rework your plan based on time available now. You may need to do some extra work, but you can still do it.
3. Realistic: Your plan has to be realistic if you want to implement it. Most of the times when plans get derailed, it is due to unrealistic expectation and planning. You need to be realistic in terms of:
a. Your ability to devote time on daily basis. If you expect yourself to study 16 hours a day, it’s absolutely not possible and if your plan is based on that assumption, it is sure to fail. Take into account all possibilities and then make plan.
b. Your assessment of your speed. You know yourself best, so don’t be over aggressive while making plan. If you expect yourself to complete a new chapter in accountancy in one hour, it’s unreasonable expectations from yourself. Be realistic.
c. Your expectations of everything going fine. All of us want things to be perfect and work according to our plan, which rarely happens. Don’t be disheartened if things don’t go as planned because all things can’t go as you plan. Being open (discussed above) will help you in that situation.
4.Track: Last but most crucial feature of a plan is that it should be tracked. If you don’t check where you are as planned, sure you will realize you are far away. No plan is useful unless implemented. Only way to make sure it is implemented correctly is track it on timely basis. Few things to keep it mind while tracking:
a.Track timely. Track your performance against plan on frequent basis, don’t make it very late. Usually tracking every day and being aware every hour helps.
b. Don’t track too frequently. Checking plan every hour or in between your studies loses whole purpose of making plan. (see benefit of plan in avoiding distractions)Have patience; track timely but not too often.
c. Track and Act. Don’t just track, act on it. If you see you are getting off track, find reasons, correct immediately. If you faced any difficulty on one day, assess at end of day and plan how you will implement next day.
d. If you find complete off track, use steps mentioned in Open.
Treat your CA Studies as project or war. Complete mission plan and focused execution will ensure you will crack it.
I have more common problems based on your emails that I will address in future articles.