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Shut Up and Study

This concludes my three part rant on CA Course and the examination system. The previous two parts can be found here and here.

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Some time in late 1999 or early 2000, as I was looking forward to my CA Foundation Examination, I bumped into Raja Ganapathy (if I remember his name correctly), a senior from a different College (St. Joseph's, Trichy), CA Inter Student, one among the three or four students who had cleared the CA Foundation Exams some two years back in our town. 

There was the typical CA wannabe's question to him "Anna, is the exam tough? How to prepare? Should I study more than four hours every day? Where to attend tuition classes? Is it okay if you don't attend the classes? How did you clear the exam?" etc. And I got a response that I still rate as the best input I have ever received on studies. "I didn't go about asking others. It is not such a great puzzle that you can't figure out on your own. It requires just basic intelligence and common sense. I am pretty sure you can figure out all by yourselves."

No empty motivations. No stupid pep talks. No gassing around. Just plain straight talk. And I still pretty much convey the same thing to my students. And that pretty much addresses many student's downfall in the exams.

Among the more specific reasons are detailed below -
One, Atrocious Time Planning - This should easily rank the number one reason for the pathetic results that we are so much used to. Many would be reluctant to accept the fact that they didn't allocate adequate time for studying and revisions. They constantly underestimate the time required for completing a few areas, and overestimating the time available. "Three Months x 30 Days Per Month x 12 Hours is equal to One Thousand Eighty Hours for seven papers, at an average of around 150 Hours per Paper" may sound good if mouthed by Captain in Ramana. If mouthed by a CA Student, we can be pretty sure that the chap is building his castle in gases.

These kind of computations often create an impression of abundance. Fact remains that adequacy of time depends on a host of other factors such as (a) Our own ability to comprehend;(b) Our preparation status on the date of mouthing the above dialogue; (c) Extent of syllabus which we are yet to take up even for the first time; (d) Our ability to make a fair estimate; (e) Our understanding of our own strengths and weakness; (f) Our own character to accept our limitations; (g) Our propensity to break our own time schedule / feeling bored. We can add a host of other reasons as well. But these are the primary ones that affect the time schedule

Two, Reverence for Few Subjects, And Irreverence for Few - Auditing, Information Systems are arguably two of the most neglected subjects in the CA Course. Neglected by the students. I for one, have more often rated a students quality solely based on two papers - Costing and Information / Technology Systems. Two of the most logical and practically relevant paper, driven more by common sense, than anything else. 

However, sadly, many students flunk in Information Technology. Not because they didn't study. But because they don't take it seriously. Infotech / ISCA classes are among the least sought and most bunked classes. That pretty much shows where these subjects stand in the eyes of the students. At IPCC level, analysis of results for five exams on the trot showed us that the average marks in Information Technology was the lowest of all the 7 papers. Barely 36. Less than the pass mark. I just hope students realize the importance of the paper and start giving it a bit more respect.

Three, Paying for Classes, but not attending. Admittedly, the classes can be boring at times. Or most of the times. After you start attending, you end up bunking big time. Till the classes start, almost every student is fervently hoping for no outstation audits, planning for the kind of excuses you can given for attending classes, if some long distance audits are assigned etc. 

On top of these, there is good amount of "research" on extremely resourceful and useful sites meant for CA Students, and Facebook Groups. The research ranges from who is the best faculty, how many hours does he take, is it a he or a she, where is the location, will the class notes be adequate, will I pass by attending his classes. After the choice is made, and the initial excitement of having registered for classes of "THE" faculty, the excitement wanes off and the element of boredom creeps in, and occasional bunking starts.

Nothing wrong with bunking. Being a teacher, for me to say this, would sound odd, but I have my reasons. I firmly believe the kids who have the ability to fill up the gaps (due to bunking or missing classes or whatever), are better endowed and better prepared to meet the travails of exams. But bunking because it is boring is such a sad thing. You don't pay money to watch "Sheila Ki Jawani" for god's sake! Classroom discussions on any technical paper can at best be interesting, and rarely entertaining. Part of the interesting bit is also attributable to the student's own view on the subject.

Four, too many cooks, spoil the broth, is an adage one can easily associate with the life of a CA Student. When for one single issue, someone seeks the hundred opinions and inputs from multiple people, and still remaining confused, and therefore, googling a bit more to get even more confused, on a range of issues from how to study, where to do articleship, where to attend classes, what kind of books to buy, when to buy books, when to attend classes and what not.

Understandably, everyone around us can appear to be wiser than us, at some point of time or the other, and therefore, it may make sense to seek some guidance. However, one should also remember that our ability to wade through such confusions and taking a decision, and sticking by it, and learning from experience is what makes us real professionals. With many people to guide, a student is not guided, but his life made more miserable.

Five, the challenge of reconciliation. Every teacher has his or her own methods or approaches when it comes to taking classes. Some prefer the traditional whiteboard / blackboard model of classes. Some prefer the digital mode (including yours truly) in the form of live content creation using Excel or the Browser. Some prefer the Power Point Model / Flash Content Model. These are just methods of communicating. 

In terms of content, different people have different approaches to a particular problem or a specific type of interpretation. And all of them can be correct or wrong. As a teacher or author, almost every tries to do justice in terms of the content that they give the student. And in many cases, these contents will invariably different from the one you have in the books of ICAI. Such differences need not be explored into, unless you are not convinced with the explanations of the teacher. 

As much as Valmiki's Ramayana is different from Kamba Ramayana, even normal humans can have varied interpretations of the same idea, and all of them can be correct. Spending hours together on checking which of the method is correct or model is appropriate is barely a smart approach for cracking the exam code. As a student of a commerce professional course, it is imperative that a student recognizes the fact that this course or the area of our work is not an exact science.
Six, being dishonest to self - The least acceptable reason would probably be this. Inability or reluctance to accept that we may not be as good as we wish to be, and given the fact that executing is entirely a different game than planning, one should have the basic sense to accept that we are not infallible. We can lose even in the most basic things that we think to be a cake walk. 

A simple case of planning to distribute invitation for some family function to ten of our friends and relatives, and eventually distributing barely four or five should have taught us how bad we are at planning or at executing or in both. Execution has too many variables, including our own ability and planning has too few. 

The point here is that we are not equally endowed in all aspects. We cannot compare ourselves with our friends or peers. We are not made alike. We are not exposed to the same aspects of life in the same manner in the same time. Our experiences are different, so are our abilities. Realizing this earlier, and accepting this, or at best recognizing this will help assess ourselves better.

"If He Can, Why Can't I", is arguably the dumbest approach to feel motivated. This shallow piece of shit, which passes around as a motivating talk, is nothing but a gallon of foul smelling toxic gas. Sometime the answer to that question is this - I am not as good as the other person. Period.

Seven, the Others - Too much gassing around, asking too many suggestions on how to study, worrying too much about "tough" exam questions, which may never happen at all, idolizing faculties too much, "blindly" following whatever the faculty says in the classes, which may not always be correct or true; focussing too much on "rote learning" (already blogged in detail here), are easily among the reasons that contributes to deplorable results.

What about the Magic Remedy? Study for 16 Hours? My note on the miracle cure is blogged here.


Great sir, your to the point approach was commendable, halfway through the discussion I felt like u r talking abt me, gracefully I cleared CA in Nov 2015 n got job in campus placements, your impact is definitely there in my success, from a genius like you we r expecting more. Thank you for your work ��
G Saimukundhan said…
Dear Manjunatha, it is a summary of issues that plagues students in general. No one in particular. Many congratulations on your qualification. Wish you all the very best.


Your article is nice.
Please bring your own books for exams and other useful professional books.

Thanks with regards.

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