Updated: Mar 31
This article outlines the top 5 tips and tricks to pass your CAANZ exam.
1. Focus On Practicing Past CA Exam Papers
Many students spend many hours in advance of their CAANZ exam reading the CSG in detail and/or going through all the worked examples from the CSG as their main form of practice to pass the CA exam. Whilst understanding the core content of the CSG is important, you should be doing this at beginning to middle of the semester (or watching our CSG video explanations in our Exam Prep Courses) as a foundation for your learning, not right before your exam. Your only focus, 2-3 weeks out from your exam, should be doing as many past CA exam papers as possible. Try to aim for at least 10 past papers completed. Once you have seen at least 3-5 exams you will start see trends in questions, similar styles and similar approaches to answering them. It also gets you used to using your templates and notes quickly. If you wish to quickly get through the core content / past exam papers, you can view our online exam prep videos at 2x speed to absorb the information faster.
2. Have Access To A Quality Critical File & Templates
It is essential to have access to high quality summarised notes (a critical file) as well as the key templates. For example, having access to our journal template will make preparing and remembering journals on complex topics such as consolidation, leases, provisions etc. significantly easier than without it. Another example is for the TAX module, having access to our tax reconciliation template, which allows you to quickly identify how to treat each item listed in a P&L, makes a tax rec question (very common in TAX) significantly easier to answer.
It's also very useful to have a high quality critical file, as in the exam you will not have time to quickly flip through your CSG - time is very tight and you need to have all of your notes tabulated & quick/easy to check if needed. You can purchase these from our site if needed.
3. Managing Time Is Essential
Even if you know the answer to every question in the exam, if you don't have time to write it down, you won't get the marks for it. That's why time management is super important in a CA exam. CA exams are usually very tight for time, i.e. most people only just finish the exam in time or they don't have enough time to finish. It's very easy to get stuck on a question, lose time and this can have a flow-on effect for the rest of your questions, losing you a lot of marks you didn't need to. To avoid this, there are 2 solutions. First, you need to practice several exams under timed exam conditions. This will give you a sense of how long it actually takes to answer questions (hint: it's longer than you think, particularly when you are stressed) plus it helps you learn little tips and tricks in terms of when to move on, how to write faster and in which order you should apply questions. It will also allow you to fail in a safe environment. It's much better you run out of time in a practice exam than it is in the real exam!
Secondly, set strict rules for yourself before you begin the exam. If you have 3 hours to complete the exam and there are 4 questions, allow yourself 45 minutes per question. Do not allow yourself to continue a minute over that time. If you get stuck on a question, leave it and move on. Do not ruin the rest of the exam paper because of a tricky question - you can always come back to it at the end and chances are others are also stuck on it. Ensure you bring a watch/clock into your exam and keep checking the time to ensure you are tracking on target - make sure you catch yourself early if you are falling behind on time.
4. Practice Your Weak Areas
Most people have a natural tendency to avoid the topics they don't understand. Don't understand business combinations or international tax? Many people will shy away and instead practice questions on the more common or easy to understand questions, which gives them a false sense of confidence when they can successfully answer them. The key is to focus your time on the questions and topics you don't understand well as if these questions come up in your exam, you will be prepared for any scenario.
5. Start Your Preparation Early
Many students leave their exam preparation to the final 2 weeks before their exam. Whilst it is not the end of the world if this is the case - you can still pass your CA exam if you concentrate your efforts on doing as many past papers in this time period as you can + watching our online CA exam prep course - we strongly recommend starting your learning process as early as possible. You can even begin learning the CSG content before enrolment date - simply get started watching the CSG videos in our online exam prep course. This will give you a headstart on other students and alllow you to concentrate more time on practicing past papers instead, which will give you an enormous advantage over other students. Pacing out your learning will also enable to you to better retain this information, which will also help you in your final exam.
Overall, don't stress! The CA exam is difficult but with the right preparation, resources and guidance, it is quite manageable. We have many useful resources on our site which you can draw from, including CA notes/critical files + online exam prep courses, both of which you can try for free.
If you need further assistance, we offer 2 main products that may help you:
Good luck for your exams!