I am typing this blog post in the most beautiful location, Coorg – The Scotland of India. I’m here on vacation after answering my CA Final Exams.
People who know me know I am pursuing a degree in Chartered Accountancy. But for the uninitiated, I am studying to become a Chartered Accountant (or CA). CA Exams are considered to be one of the toughest exams in India.
Having pursued this course for close to 7 years now, I can surely vouch for it. This degree requires a person to study a lot (and I mean, a LOT!!). It prepares the student to be well-versed majorly in the fields of accounting, taxation and auditing.
The CA Course is a three-level exam:
- A Foundation exam, which can be considered an equivalent of an “entrance” exam into this course
- An Intermediate exam, which is more difficult than the foundation exam and introduces the student to what lies ahead
- And finally, a Final exam, the golden ticket to gaining this degree!
It sounds so simple when I type it, but it isn’t. Between the Intermediate exams and Final exams, students are also required to mandatorily undergo a 3-year long “article-ship”, which is basically an internship with a practising Chartered Accountant.
Students are trained to work and study at the same time during this course. Of course, those who work diligently learn the nuances of accounting, taxation and auditing.
But for me, this course has not only given me a fairly decent knowledge of the profession but has taught me a whole lot of life lessons too.
This blog post is going to be a list of lessons I have learnt these years while studying for the CA exams.
- Patience is a virtue. As I mentioned above, I have been doing this course for almost 7+ years. It has been a very long journey. There have been countless times when I have felt like giving up and choosing something easier. But somehow this course teaches you to be patient with yourself and give it time. Good things always take time, don’t they?
- Smart work matters more than hard work. The syllabus to be studied for each of the three levels is an OCEAN in itself. And while it may seem that we need to study every single thing, it is also true that we are very much human. So no matter how much we try to study everything, it is never going to happen. Kuch na kuch to chootega hi! And that is when we learn to work smart and decide what really requires our attention.
- Failure is a way of life. Undoubtedly my favourite lesson! I have been a good student throughout my school and college life, and have never seen FAIL written on my mark sheets until I entered this course. I have failed multiple times in each of the levels, despite my best efforts. CA exams spare no one. Despite putting my heart and soul into my studies, I have more than often failed by small margins and it is the most disheartening thing to witness. And yet, each time I have managed to pull myself together and move forward.
- Expect the unexpected. It is kind of an inside joke among all CA students that nobody can predict what our Institute has in store. CA exams are not like those exams where we can predict the question paper or the “important” chapters. Here, everything is important. And if by chance we choose to “skip” or “ignore” a certain chapter, guess what? It appears in the question paper.
- To each, his own. Generally, CA students choose to take coaching classes from a variety of educators. There are physical classes, online classes and live virtual classes. What works for one person might not work for others. There have been a lot of times when I was suggested to watch lectures by a famous educator but it somehow did not work for me. And instead, I found a lesser-known educator who taught beautifully and fit perfectly with my requirements.
- Faith in yourself. The constant failures at some point deeply affect the student’s minds and they start questioning their worth. Feelings of self-doubt start creeping up. But all we got to do is keep faith in our abilities.
- Prioritise your health. Studying for almost 10-12 hours each day, managing work, and running around completing the never-ending chore list does affect our mental health adversely. As much as we feel like 24 hours is never enough to do everything, the truth is that we have to keep some time aside to do activities for our overall well-being. For me, it was investing in a well-known meditation app and also incorporating walking and Yoga into my life. Proper nutrition is the most important. We can function to our best abilities only when we are in good health. Also, I was always that strange kid who used to wake up early even on Sundays and rarely prioritised sleep. But after choosing CA, I have learnt the value of good sleep. No compromises on the standard 7-8 hours of sleep, and I have kept up to this consistently.
- Communication is key. This is one lesson I learnt during my article-ship. I have by no means worked in a “Big 4” company. I did my article-ship in a small-sized firm close to my house. But I have learnt immensely in those 3 years. I got a good knowledge of a lot of subjects while also learning how to communicate better with people. I have always been a shy and introverted girl. But once I started working, I learnt that to get things done effectively, the only way is to communicate in clear terms. I have handled some pretty annoying accountants of clients, certain annoying clients themselves, and some understanding and cooperative clients as well. And learning to adapt to each of their working styles has helped me to get work done in a time-efficient manner.
- Do not let go of things that make you happy. This is one thing I am proud of having managed extremely well. I was stubborn enough to not cut off my hobbies and interests at any point of time during this course. Even though I started blogging around the time I entered this course, I made sure to not stop writing. Along with writing, I also tried to keep in touch with my other hobbies and these were the ones that turned around a bad day whenever I needed an escape.
- Keep your friends closer than ever before. I am fortunate enough to have a small number of friends who have been by my side for a good number of years. And the best part is that none of them is in the same course as I am. For some people, having friends from the same field is essential but for me, having friends who have absolutely no clue about CA is a boon. They have always been there to cheer me up whenever I felt low. They are one of the first people who celebrate my wins and the ones whom I turn to whenever I have bad days.
- Self-accountability. CA course is not like other courses where there are set colleges where people go to study. Here, it is more of a self-study route of learning. Of course, there are coaching institutes that students go to but I never chose that route because I was most comfortable learning on my own with the help of YouTube videos. It does take a little longer, but I have found that I enjoy learning all by myself. Being accountable to yourself is a challenge in itself because it is easy to lose track of the goals. But I am glad that I sustained well and was my own cheerleader throughout.
- Celebrate the small victories. This has been my most repeated sentence on this blog, haha! But I truly believe that patting your own back for small improvements and signs of progress makes a HUGE impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem.
There have been a lot more lessons learnt in these years. Let me save those for another blog post in future, maybe?
For now, I am glad to have got this well-deserved break in the most peaceful place.
Until next time, stay blessed and stay happy! ❤️