‘Exams’ is the most dreaded word for a CS student or for that matter any person who does a professional course. Writing this post brings back memories. I too have passed through this stage and ‘googled’ this topic many a times..!
There is so much one can write on this. But, I shall try to be as direct, simple and brief as I can (while also giving all the answers to your queries and worries!)
My tax teacher once told us that studying for a professional course involves three stages. First is learning and understanding. Second is revision. Third and final being exam preparation. Those words made me reflect a lot. In fact, it eased the difficulty of passing CS.
So, here I share with you some useful study tips for clearing your CS exams. I shall first list down some general tips for the whole course. Thereafter, I will discuss the approach for CS Foundation, CS Executive and CS Professional. In the end, we finish with… Well we wish you all the very best!
(Note: I am sorry that this post is a little delayed. I know CS exams have already begun. But, I assure you- what you read will stand the test of time. You could use it for other courses. You could also tell your friends who are going to appear in future.)
General Tips- Let’s Sort this Out
Preparing for the CS course should be seen in totality. Exams are an important means to an end (becoming a Company Secretary). The problem arises when you start blurring out everything else other than the CS exams. So, here are few things to look out for.
- 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.
How to Approach each Level of the Course?
The study tips I discussed are applicable to all stages of the CS course. But, there are slight differences in approach for each stage.
If you are writing CS Foundation, obviously, 10 month period is long as it has only four papers. Moreover, many of you may have studied these subjects in your school itself. But, this is your first stage in CS where you learn all the fundamentals. So, enjoy the learning process and study sincerely. Spread out the syllabus over a timeline that will suit you.
A good score in the foundation level will boost your confidence as you move to the next level.
This is when the real deal begins. CS Executive contains the basics of all core subjects. Most of the faculty who taught me stressed this importance often enough. Simply put, consider CS Executive as the alphabet and CS Professional as writing an essay. You can’t do the latter without knowing the former.
The maximum effort you put into this stage, the easier the next stage becomes. So, study the concepts thoroughly.
This is considered the toughest of all three, quite understandably. You are expected to possess sound subject knowledge and interpretation skills. In CS Executive you learnt all the laws. In CS Professional you learn it deeper along with ability to apply and criticize them. Hence, you must be absolutely well-prepared.
In conclusion I would say that studying for CS exams is not a herculean task. Rather, it becomes easy if you understand the demands of the course, make a good plan and execute it well.
That’s all folks!
Hope you found this article useful. Leave a comment. Let me know what you think!
Wishing you all the very best for an amazing and rewarding CS journey!