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How to Manage Your Time When Attempting the CA Foundation Business Mathematics, Logical Reasoning and Statistics Paper

27 June, 2019
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In a previous post, we gave you tips on how to tackle MCQs. In this post, we will give you an overview on time management in the Business Mathematics, Logical Reasoning and Statistics paper.

You should not take this as THE FINAL WORD on this topic. Rather, you can adapt our suggestions for your own.

As you know, ICAI has divided the paper into these sections: Mathematics and Logical Reasoning, and Statistics.

The paper duration is of 2 hours and there are 100 questions. This works out to be about a minute per question. This is enough time to attempt and finish all the questions – if you plan it well.

The question is, what’s the plan? How do you manage your time?

How to Manage Time when Solving the Business Mathematics, Logical Reasoning and Statistics Paper

We’ll divide the plan into 5 phases. You should tackle each phase in order:

  • Phase 1: Categorising Questions and Solving Easy Questions
  • Phase 2: Solving Questions Related to Statistics
  • Phase 3: Solving Questions Related to Logical Reasoning
  • Phase 4: Solving Questions Related to Business Mathematics
  • Phase 5: Checking Your Answers

Notice a few things about the way in which we order and structure the plan. The most important part of the plan is to categorise and solve the easy questions first. Once you have identified and solved the easy questions, and categorising the rest according to topics, you must decide the order in which you attempt the remaining questions. The plan says that in general, attempt questions from the Statistics part first, followed by questions from Logical Reasoning and then finally from the Business Mathematics section. Leave the questions that involve a lot of calculation for the end. In general, it would be from the topic Time Value of Money which falls under the Business Mathematics section. And in general, questions from the Statistics section are theoretical and/or involve limited calculation … which means you can solve these quickly. This overall strategy works because all questions are worth the same amount of marks, and so the order in which you attempt them doesn’t matter!

Now, for each phase, you should employ slightly different strategies. And each phase should take you different times to go through. Keep an eye on the clock to successfully follow this plan.

Here is the breakdown of the time taken for each phase of the plan:Time Management for Business Mathematics, Logical Reasoning and Statistics Exam

This plan is one of the most optimal ways in which to tackle the paper and gain as many marks as possible. To fully understand the plan, we should delve deeply into what each phase involves.

Let’s do that!

Phase 1: Categorising Questions and Solving Easy Questions

As soon as you get the paper, you need to go over it. Spend about 10 - 15 minutes going over the paper and categorise each question according to topic. During this period, mark off questions that look easy for you, and see if you can solve them within 3 -5 seconds upon reading. You’d probably solve about 10 – 15 questions immediately during this exercise! In some cases, perhaps even up to 20(!). Or even 30(!).

As an example, let’s look at the mock test paper released by ICAI. In the mock paper, according to the author of the post, the easy questions are: 2 - 4, 7, 12, 22, 23, 29, 35, 39, 43, 61 – 70, 74, 75, 79-81, 84, 86, 87, 90 – 92, 95 – 100. The author was able to solve these questions almost instantly. (This is based on the author’s experience; it may take you a bit longer so don’t worry. This is just for illustrative purposes.)

While you are doing this, categorise the questions section-wise and topic-wise. For this mock test paper, the questions in the section Business Mathematics fall into these categories:

Categorising Questions in the Business Mathematics Section

Business Mathematics

Topic

Questions in Category

Questions already attempted on the first pass (ones categorised as easy)

Questions to be attempted

Ratio and Proportion, Indices and Logarithms

1-6

2-4

1, 5 and 6

Equations and Matrices

7 - 12

7, 12

8 – 11

Linear Inequalities

13

None

13

Time Value of Money

14 - 25

22, 23

14-21, 24, 25

Basic Concepts of Permutations and Combinations

28, 30-32

None

28, 30-32

Sequences and Series – Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions

26, 33, 34

None

26, 33, 34

Sets, Relations and Functions

27, 29, 35

29, 35

27

Basic Concepts of Differential and Integral Calculus

36 - 40

39

36 – 38, 40

For logical reasoning, the categories are as follows:

Categorising Questions in the Logical Reasoning Section

Logical Reasoning

Topic

Questions in Category

Questions already attempted on the first pass (ones categorised as easy)

Questions to be attempted

Number Series, Coding, Decoding and Odd Man Out Series

41-44

43

41, 42, 44

Direction Sense Test

45, 59, 60

None

45, 59, 60

Seating Arrangements

46 - 50

None

46 – 50

Blood Relations

55 - 58

None

55 – 58

Syllogism

51 – 54

None

51 – 54

And for statistics, the questions fall into these categories:

Categorising Questions in the Statistics Section

Statistics

Topic

Questions in Category

Questions already attempted (ones categorised as easy)

Questions to be attempted

Statistical Description of Data

61-65

61 – 65

None

Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion

66 – 78

66 – 70, 74, 75

71, 72, 73, 76 – 78

Probability

79, 80, 82, 83

79, 80

82, 83

Theoretical Distributions

81, 84 – 90

81, 84, 86, 87, 90

85, 88, 89

Correlations and Regression

91 - 94

91, 92

93, 94

Index Numbers and Time Series

95 – 100

95 – 100

None

Now, don’t worry if you can’t make a firm categorisation. Just categorise the questions as specifically as you can. Once you are done with this, it’s time to move on to phase 2 of the plan. Here, after you’ve solved the easy questions, you will tackle the questions related to statistics first.

Phase 2: Solving Questions Related to Statistics

As mentioned earlier, of the remaining questions, solve the questions related to Statistics first. But in which order?

Remember when you categorised the questions topic-wise? This comes into play here. In extremely general terms, according to the author, the easiest topics of statistics ranked in terms of difficulty with the easiest topics first are as follows:

  1. Statistical Description of Data
  2. Index Numbers and Time Series
  3. Theoretical Distributions
  4. Correlations and Regression
  5. Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion
  6. Probability

This order may be different for you because of your own strengths and weaknesses. But this order is the author’s preference as said before.

Based on this order, let’s re-arrange the table of categorisation with the easiest topics first:

Re-arranging Topics in the Statistics Portion According to their Difficulty

Statistics

Topic

Questions in Category

Questions already attempted (ones categorised as easy)

Questions to be attempted

Statistical Description of Data

61-65

61 – 65

None

Index Numbers and Time Series

95 – 100

95 – 100

None

Theoretical Distributions

81, 84 – 90

81, 84, 86, 87, 90

85, 88, 89

Correlations and Regression

91 – 94

91, 92

93, 94

Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion

66 – 78

66 – 70, 74, 75

71, 72, 73, 76 – 78

Probability

79, 80, 82, 83

79, 80

82, 83

This means, for this mock test paper, the author would attempt the questions in this section in this order:  85, 88, 89, 93, 94, 71, 72, 73, 76 – 78, 82 and 83.

Once these questions are solved/attempted, you are done with the Statistics section. You should expect to take about 20 – 30 minutes to finish up this section. If you spend a longer time, leave the questions that remain and move on to questions from the next section.

You should now tackle the Logical Reasoning section.

Phase 3: Solving Questions Related to Logical Reasoning

Now, according to the author, in general (not specific to the mock test paper), the easiest topics of Logical Reasoning ranked in terms of difficulty with the easiest topics first are as follows:

  1. Number series, Coding, Decoding and Odd Man Out Series
  2. Direction Sense Test
  3. Seating Arrangements
  4. Blood Relations
  5. Syllogism

Let’s re-arrange the table of categorisation again based on this suggested order. (This applies to the mock exam discussed above; the numbering and number of questions will change depending on the paper!):

Re-arranging Topics in the Logical Reasoning Section According to their Difficulty

Logical Reasoning

Topic

Questions in Category

Questions already attempted on the first pass (ones categorised as easy)

Questions to be attempted

Number Series, Coding, Decoding and Odd Man Out Series

41-44

43

41, 42, 44

Direction Sense Test

45, 59, 60

None

45, 59, 60

Seating Arrangements

46 – 50

None

46 – 50

Blood Relations

55 – 58

None

55 – 58

Syllogism

51 – 54

None

51 – 54

This means for this mock test paper, the author would attempt the questions in this section in this order: 41, 42, 44, 45, 59, 60, 55 – 58, 51 – 54.

The expected time taken to finish these questions should be around 15 - 20 minutes. Once again, if you spend more than this, leave the remaining questions in this section for later and move on to solve questions from the main, Business mathematics section.

Phase 4: Solving Questions Related to Business Mathematics

From the business mathematics part of the paper, the questions should be solved in this suggested order (this is in general terms and not specific to the mock test paper under discussion):

  1. Ratio and Proportion, Indices and Logarithms
  2. Equations and Matrices
  3. Linear Inequalities
  4. Sets, Relations and Functions
  5. Sequence and Series – Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
  6. Basic Concepts of Differential and Integral Calculus
  7. Basic Concepts of Permutations and Combinations
  8. Time Value of Money

And for the mock test paper under discussion, the table below shows the suggested order of attempting the questions (adding the usual caveat that the numbering and the number of questions varies in general):

Re-arranging Topics in Business Mathematics According to their Difficulty

Business Mathematics

Topic

Questions in Category

Questions already attempted on the first pass (ones categorised as easy)

Questions to be attempted

Ratio and Proportion, Indices and Logarithms

1-6

2-4

1, 5 and 6

Equations and Matrices

7 - 12

7, 12

8 – 11

Linear Inequalities

13

None

13

Sets, Relations and Functions

27, 29, 35

29, 35

27

Sequences and Series – Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions

26, 33, 34

None

26, 33, 34

Basic Concepts of Differential and Integral Calculus

36 - 40

39

36 – 38, 40

Basic Concepts of Permutations and Combinations

28, 30-32

None

28, 30-32

Time Value of Money

14 - 25

22, 23

14-21, 24, 25

This means, from our discussion above, solve the questions in this order: 1, 5, 6, 8 – 11, 13, 27, 26, 33, 34, 36 – 38, 40, 28, 30-32, 14-21, 24 and 25. This should take you about 40 - 45 minutes to finish.

Phase 5: Checking Your Answers

Once you’ve reached the end of the questions and have solved as many as you can, check your time. If you have between 20-30 minutes left, try and finish up answers to those questions you’ve made significant progress on. Keep trying until you have about 10-15 minutes left. Then it’s time to cut your losses and begin checking your answers.

Quickly go over your answers 3 times. Each time should take you about 5 minutes. And during checking, you may have an epiphany of solving one of the other questions. (Look at the bonus tip in our post talking about tips to pass MCQs.) Solve it! But keep your focus on checking your answers to those questions you’ve attempted.

This is what these last few minutes are for!

General Remarks on the Plan

Now, it could be the case that your order is slightly different from ours because of your strengths and weaknesses.  (Could even be drastically different!) But this should be your thought processes while solving the paper.

Also, what should you do, if it so happens that you are not able to follow this order? If you find questions that are too difficult, skip them! How do you know when to skip? If you spend more than 2-3 minutes on solving a question at the top of the order, then you know that your prep level for that topic is not up to the mark or that question is difficult. Instead of beating your head, move on to the next questions. You’d expect to take 2-3 minutes for the questions later in the order, so that’s a given. But if you face difficulty early in the order, move on!

What order would you choose? Tell us in the comment section below. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our video lectures that cover the entire syllabus!

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Bharat

Part-time mathematics enthusiast. Loves esoteric and quirky things. Bibliophile. Has a wide range of interests including playing chess and pool, juggling, and creating puzzles of fiendish difficulty. Grammar Nazi.

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