- Understanding the Course Contents & Syllabus
Firstly, go through the whole syllabus. Try to understand the demands for each paper. What is the level of knowledge required? Can you study on your own or will you require coaching?
2. Decide on the Number of Groups
The next step is to analyze your goals, time and self (like a SWOT analysis). Understand the time you will be able to devote for each subject. Whether you can study a lot in a small time frame? Or would you like to take small but sure steps? Based on this, decide the number of groups you would write. You must decide this in the beginning itself. Most students dilly-dally their way to the exams without understanding these things. This results in a lot of anxiety and stress.
3. The Study Plan
Now, you have set a clear goal after due diligence. You will be more confident towards approaching and achieving it. Proceed to prepare a study plan for each subject. It should take into account the following:-
- Time frame for initial learning and covering of the syllabus
- Setting realistic goals leading to syllabus completion
- Setting a revision timetable. But, I would like to point out here that revision is not exclusive of learning. Both should go together for maximum retention (Read on to find out).
- Final component of the plan should be exam preparation. You should try to answer maximum number of question papers. Evaluate and score your answers. Improve presentation and speed.
For Example; If you have 10 months for your preparation, you should ideally use first 7 months for learning, next 2 months for revisions (at least twice) and then the final 1 month for exam preparation.
4. Stick to the Plan
Once you have neatly laid out a study plan, it doesn’t end there. You must sincerely stick to it. Of course, we are humans and there may be lapses. But, if at any point you feel you are not able to keep up make suitable changes to the plan.
5. Few Words of Wisdom
The above four points are undoubtedly the most important ones. However, I would like to share a few equally significant points that most people miss out on.
- Study because you need to understand the subjects and their application in your future.
- You must have thorough knowledge of the subject. CS is a professional course. Skimming through scanners will not help you. Shun the advice of those who say that they made it only with a month of preparation. What you study is not only for exams, it is for your future.
- You must regularly revise what you study. For example; you finish studying the first chapter ‘Incorporation of a Company’ within a week. Then you proceed to other chapters 2, 3, 4 etc. in the subsequent three weeks. Now, what you studied in the first week would have vanished unless you had revised it. So, recall whatever you study, periodically. Don’t make it a race to tick-off chapters.
- Scanners… They are excellent supplements to devise your study plan. However, do not just learn the answers from the scanner. Learn a topic and then try to relate questions from the scanner to that specific topic. This will serve as a revision while also improving your presentation skills.
- Set realistic short-term goals to achieve your ultimate aim. You should set achievable targets depending on your ability. Setting unrealistic goals will lead to desperation and frustration.
Many of my juniors have approached me with this problem. How much you can study in an hour, day, week or even months can only be judged by you. If you are good at handling big volume within a short time, then plan accordingly. Or if you study for a long-time but in detail, then you probably will need more time.
- Have good subject combinations. Normally, learning two subjects per day is reasonable. Mix up theory and numerical papers to avoid boredom.
- Have a healthy lifestyle. Do not make CS 24*7. It is important to have personal time. Set aside time for hobbies and interests. This will help you re-energize and better your performance.
- Go through the monthly ‘Student Company Secretary’, foundation and executive bulletins etc (check ICSI Journals & Bulletins). This will help you stay updated.