How I Increased my Marks by 200% using MIND MAPS | Study Tips

Welcome to the second part of my study tips series. Make sure you've read the first part of this series, Formula Sheets

Now let's jump into mind mapping. CA final students tend to experience failure at some point in exams. I failed the first attempt of my Intermediate exams with hopeless marks, especially 'Costing and Financial Management'. 

In my next attempt I decided to do things differently and started using mind maps to draw out the key points in my lessons, which led to me getting 74% in the subject, from 25%. 

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    What is mind mapping?

    It is the process of visually organizing your thoughts. 

    How do you make a mind map? 

    First, you start with a main topic or theme. You have to write it in the center of your page. Next, draw out sub topics from the center topic in the form of branches. 

    Then for the last step, draw multiple sub branches from the branches to write down the points pertaining to the sub topics. 

    Who can use mind maps? 

    Mind maps are so flexible that they can be used by a person from any walk of life, be it a student or a professional. 

    It can be used by students to make a summary for their notes for a particular chapter, it can be used by teachers to get an overview of the chapter or lesson to be taught, it can even be used by office-goers to jot down ideas for work or tasks to be completed. 

    Which mode is better; paper or digital? 

    Even though I always prefer to make my notes by hand, there are many people who prefer the digital mode. I have shown below an example of a mind map I made while studying for Direct Tax. 

    Mind Map - Capital Gains
    Mind Map - Capital Gains

    If you want to download this mind map for your own use, just head over here.

    What are the steps involved in creating mind maps?

    Step 1 - Start with a Central Idea (Main topic) in the middle of the page. In my above example, Capital Gains is the central idea. 

    Step 2 - Draw out branches or nodes (Sub-topic) from your central topic in various directions. In my example, the various nodes are Charging section, Capital Assets, Types of Capital Assets and gains, Transfer of Capital assets and Taxability. 

    Draw each node in a different colour, so that you can differentiate it easily while studying. 

    Step 3 - Draw out sub-branches (Details) from your branches, to elaborate on your sub topics. Taking the example of the node 'Types of capital assets and gains', I further branched it out as LTCA, STCA, LTCG and STCG and gave the respective elaborations for me to understand it later on. 

    Step 4 (optional) - In case you are a visual person, I would recommend you draw or stick pictures relevant to your topics for better retention. 

    PRO TIP - 
    Use short forms and abbreviations, wherever possible to save space. You can make legends or a reference table in a corner to help you out in future. (I have given an example here)

    In case you don't want to write it all by hand, there are many options out there which enable you to make mind maps digitally. I have listed out a few I have tried and liked. 

    Best digital mind mapping tools

    This is a free mind mapping software, though of course there is a paid version as well. I would recommend it for beginners who are just starting to get the hang of how to use digital mind maps. 

    Features - 
    • The mind map can be downloaded in either PDF or PNG format, or access to it can be shared as a link.  
    • It is very simple to add a friend or co-worker to collaborate in making the mind map. 
    • You can add any number of elements to your mind maps and you get unlimited page size. 
    One drawback of Coggle is that in the free version, you can only make a maximum of 3 private mind maps. After that, you are allowed to make unlimited number of mind maps, but they will be accessible to the public. So, to have unlimited mind maps which are private, you will have to upgrade to the paid plan. 

    I personally don't mind that the mind maps I make are accessible to the public, but if you are not comfortable with that thought, this might not be the tool you are looking for. 

    Here are some summary notes I made in Coggle, on Indirect Taxes (Chapter 1 - GST in India). 

    GST in India - Summary
    GST in India - Summary

    You can download the PDF of these notes here.

    Another free and easy-to-use software is GoConqr. 

    Features - 
    • You can add your course subjects to your dashboard and add your resources (such as mind maps, or flash cards or quizzes) to the respective course; it is student oriented.  
    • You can find students (or add your friends) pursuing your same course and view their resources as well. 
    • You can view the mind maps in a slideshow or video format (which I think is a very attractive feature). 
    • You can add any number of elements to your mind maps and you get unlimited page size.
    However, it does have its fair share of drawbacks as well. There are constant ads in the free version, which can get a tad bit annoying after a while. Also, downloading your resource is only available in the paid version. 

    Here is a mind map I made on a Costing chapter on Costs of Quality. You can download the PDF here or view it in GoConqr

    Costs of Quality
    Costs of Quality

    Another good mind mapping tool, which can be used as an app on your phone, or the website, is Mind Meister. 

    Features - 
    • It gives you unlimited page size and you can add any number of elements. 
    • They have a community called 'Mind Meister Universe' where you can search for a specific topic and view the public mind maps created by other users. 
    • You can view your mind map as a slide show (though I like this feature in GoConqr more). 
    • You can integrate Mind Meister with other apps, such as EverNote, Microsoft Teams, etc. 
    The major drawback here is that you have to upgrade to a paid plan to download the mind map you've created. Also, in the free version, you can make only upto a maximum of 3 mind maps. 

    So, in conclusion, I think this is a good tool, but you can really benefit from it only if you get the paid version. 

    Here is one I created on Mind Meister for important formulae in the Chapter Portfolio Management in SFM. You can download the PDF here

    Portfolio Management - Formulae
    Portfolio Management - Formulae

    The last item on my list is Mindmup, which is a super easy-to-use tool and has an interesting feature which sets it apart from the others mentioned above. 

    Features - 
    • You don't have to create an account or have a login ID to create a mind map (the highlight of this tool).
    • You can create the mind map and save it directly to Google Drive or export it as a PNG, JPEG or PDF for your use. 
    • It gives you unlimited page size and you can add any number of elements (all the other tools have the same feature) 
    However, one drawback is that you cannot save the mind map to your account, unless you have a paid subscription. That is, you cannot access all the mind maps you have made on Mindmup website or app, if you don't have a paid plan. 

    All said and done, this is my favourite mind mapping tool of the lot, mainly because I prefer downloading the resource in my PC or phone immediately after I make it, so that I can access it at any time.  

    Here is a mind map I made using Mind Mup. I don't think I mentioned how smooth the interface is?

    Section 7 of CGST Act 2017
    Section 7 of CGST Act

    You can download this file in PDF format here

    And that is the conclusion of the second part of my Study Tips series. Mind maps are quite the tool and can be quite handy; not just in case of studies, but in everyday life also. Did I mention that I planned my sister's birthday party using mind maps!? That is how functional they can get! 

    If you have any queries, let me know in the comments below and I will get back to you! 

    Keep creating, keep planning! 💕

    Shop the products I use for mind maps - 


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