The KISS Principle: Keep It Simple Stupid

In 1960, Kelly Johnson, lead engineer, was handing a team of design engineers with a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions. Further, it must be repaired with only the set of tools a typical field mechanic had. "Keep It Simple Stupid", he said. Let’s first understand what this means -

Simple”, in this context, means that most systems work best if they are kept as simple as possible. “Stupid" refers to the unsophisticated tools and methodology to repair that jet – so simple that it seems almost stupid.

This popular acronym is known as the “KISS” principle.

Can this be applied to CA exams? After reading this article, I hope you see how true and valid this principle holds for us young, aspiring Chartered Accountants!

Keep It Simple Stupid.

‘Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.’ It means that the problem must be broken down to the simplest possible step beyond which further breakage makes no sense. While studying, whenever you face a problem or find something difficult to understand, break it down into smaller pieces/ steps that you think you can understand. I would say, about 8 out of 10 students make the mistake of not breaking down the problem into small / understandable steps, and hence fall in a trap. 


“The problem was so lengthy. I did not understand it at all! ….” Looks familiar, right? Most of you experience these hardships in the exam. Get this - there are no difficult questions, just difficult parts of a question. Identify the simpler parts and get on with them! We get so tensed by the size or difficult part (30-40%) of the problem that we don’t realise that we could have easily solved the remaining part (60-70%) of the problem correctly (which would be pretty straight forward)!.  You can easily score the majority of the questions of any paper of any subject. Just follow this simple mantra.  

Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong.

A common mistake made by many students is either underestimation or overestimation of their own capacities. But believe me, this is where the problem starts! You don’t need to be exceptionally intelligent or slog your way through the exams. Any student with a smart strategy can get through the exams. Never underestimate your strength, never overestimate your weaknesses.

Herd Mentality

Researchers at Leeds University performed a group experiment where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large hall without talking to each other. The scientists discovered that people end up blindly following one or two instructed people who appear to know where they’re going. The results of this experiments showed that it only takes 5% of confident looking and instructed people to influence the direction of the 95% of people in the crowd and the 200 volunteers did this without even realizing it! So now you know that “all my friends are doing it” is not always the right answer.


“A friend of mine studied from this reference book and got 70 in Law! I am also going to refer to it.”  

In this marathon for success, there are multiple confusion points. Friends, family, seniors, faculties, and bosses - all have different points of view and expectations. Besides, there are multiple subjects, numerous reference books and notes. Always remember, no one knows yourself better than you do. You alone can take the best decision for yourself.

The takeaway

Do a thorough SWOT analysis of yourself. Keep it really simple. There are many roads which lead to success. Choose the one which suits your individual strengths and weaknesses. Be simple stupid!

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough  
- Albert Einstein

 Article by
Sahil Jain
BMR & Associates LLP


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