As students, we all understand the importance of going through past question papers and mock exams. But what many don’t realise is that it should be done correctly. There is no use going through these papers and merely looking at the answers.
You should do it in a different way. Let’s see how to go about it.
How to go through Practice Mock Exams
Before we get into the exact details of how to go through practice mock exams, let’s first examine the purpose of the exercise.
The purpose of going through mock exams is to encourage deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is different from regular practice. Regular practice includes mindless repetition and is generally of no use!
Deliberate practice on the other hand is practice that is purposeful and systematic. Deliberate practice is what the experts in every field do. Ever wonder why Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman in the world?
Sure, he had special talent that put him well above the general average. But talent is not enough when you are playing among other professional athletes. Yes, he was extraordinarily mentally tough – he had to be to play for India! And this mental toughness was one of the factors that set him apart. However, this discussion is beyond the scope of this post.
What I do want to discuss here is the other major reason that made Sachin the God of Cricket. He got to where he was because he indulged in deliberate practice!
You can see an example of this here:
See how his practice was purposeful and systematic? He recognised that there was a threat posed by the leg spinner Shane Warne.
He took steps to mitigate that threat.
And he practiced for days in a systematic way with a specific goal in mind.
This is how you should approach going over your practice mock exams.
You need to go over practice exams in a systematic and deliberate way. You shouldn’t just go over them for the sake of going over them … because that would be plain old regular practice!
You shouldn’t just read the answers; you should attempt the exam by mimicking the real exam setting as much as possible.
You need to take up a practice test by solving the paper in as close to an exam setting as possible. You see, most CA exams take place in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
So, during your study time, set aside a day to take up the test. In fact, it’s best if you set aside these three hours from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.! Ensure that you will not be disturbed during these hours. Lock yourself in your room if you must! You should follow the test guidelines as much as possible. That means no phones, no other materials except for pen and paper (or calculator or whatever is specified!)
Then go through and solve the exam. (If it is an MCQ based exam, you might want to go over this post talking about MCQ strategies …)
Write out your answers as clearly as possible. Don’t forget to time yourself too! Set an alarm clock to ring when the time is up if you have to.
Once time’s up, relax and go get a cup of tea or something.
Then you should check your answers. This is perhaps as important as taking up the test itself!
It’s best if you have an experienced Professional or someone that you know and trust to go through your answers and correct them. This way, they will be able to help you identify your weak areas and give you tips on how to write up your answers.
If you don’t know anybody or don’t want to have anyone go over your answers, then mark yourself as strictly as you can using the suggested answers as a guide.
It’s important to stress that your self-evaluation of your answers should be very stringent. Many students fall into this trap: they think they’ve done well on their practice tests and scored good marks and get surprised when they are actually taking up the test! The trap is that they’ve marked themselves leniently on their practice exams! You may want to go over our post on how ICAI evaluates exam papers to get an idea of how strict ICAI is in marking papers. Fair but strict. This is how you should evaluate your own answers.
After evaluation, you’ll get a fair idea of where you stand. Make an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve made some silly careless error, make note of that too! Understand why you’ve made that error so that it doesn’t happen again.
This is what deliberate practice is. It’s practice that is meant to be tough. It shouldn’t be too easy!
Once you’ve made a note of your strengths and weaknesses, spend a bit of time going over your weak areas. Don’t neglect your strong points too! After some time has passed, take up another practice test.
Go over it the same way. Again, keep note of where you went wrong and where you went right! Go on doing this for as many practice tests as possible. You will then get a fair idea of what’s expected of you.
If you want further study tips on how to pass these professional exams, we invite you to go over our post on passing tips. Also, do sign up for our online video lectures that cover the entire syllabus for all three levels of the CA, CS and CMA courses!