Before we begin, my apologies for not writing articles frequently. I got a little busy. Nevertheless, I'm back.
A lot of people have been asking me for suggestions/ tips for ISCA. Well, ISCA, of course is a not a piece of cake. I still remember, how I used to struggle with ISCA. It gave me sleepless nights and always was a reason for worry. But, what I realised over the days of preparation is that, with the right attitude and approach, you can score 60+ marks in ISCA. Yes, I'm not kidding, 60+ marks is possible.
Where to learn from?
I would recommend the following materials for ISCA:
1. ICAI Study Material - Not very voluminous - A little dry for beginners
2. ICAI Practice Manual - A must read
3. ISCA by Manish Valecha - Blue and Black font - known for its mnemonics.
[recommended and not mandatory]
What to study?
Well, if you want to score 60+, you have to put some efforts.
The bare minimum:
- Read practice manual thoroughly - much smaller than SM
- Read all the recent amendments in the subject - An index is given at the beginning of SM and printed in bold italics [ Yes, ISCA also has amendments. I would rather say they are recent additions. The syllabus is modified every now and then]
- Read the last 3-4 attempt RTPs
- Read at least 4 chapters fully - either from SM/ Manish Valecha or any other book that you prefer.
The above will get you past the 40 barrier. [ Disclaimer - This is based on personal experience and not a guarantee].
Now to bridge the gap and get you close to the coveted 60+ marks target, you need to read a few more steps.
- Apart from reading the practice manual, you should prepare for the questions given at the end of the Chapter [ Test your knowledge / For exercise segment]. Trust me, these are your potential exam questions.
- Try to focus on Chapter 2, 3,6,8 [ Based on January 2016 edition]. Of course, at the beginning I said read ANY 4 chapters fully, but reading these 4 chapters increases your chances of scoring more marks as they have higher weight-age.
Given that during article-ship you have limited exposure towards ISCA related work unless you do a systems audit [which is not always the case], you need to put extra efforts.
- You have to read a minimum of three times the chapters/ material that you intend to cover. The more you read the easier it gets. It quite usual for you to feel that you haven't read a particular chapter, even though you might have read it three days back. It is quite normal with ISCA and SFM. Solution - read again and again.
- Use mnemonics - Though I do not believe in rote learning, mnemonics is a great way to remember sub-headings in ISCA. You would have observed that many questions in ISCA have multiple sub-headings and it is difficult to remember all. Mnemonics helps us to recollect them with ease. I liked the mnemonics used by Manish Valecha as they are simple words/ phrases that you can remember and recollect. You can ofcourse form your own mnemonics.
- When I wrote my exams the biggest challenge for me was to connect the answer with a particular question. I have heard from my friends that they too felt the same. You may think the question is based on a particular concept, but will be taken by surprise when you see the suggested answers that it was a totally different concept. It happened to me in the Final exam also. Though I knew the answer very well, I was not able to connect and wrote a generic answer, only to hear from my friend that it was the answer we were revising minutes before entering the exam hall. Solution - read the question carefully and try to bring the related concepts to mind and write the concept asked for. Further, while preparing read the first and last paragraph carefully, as they generally get converted as exam questions.
- Read in a sequence - The chapters are in a way inter-connected. For example, Chapter 3 and 6, 2 and 5 and so on. Read in this sequence for better and quicker understanding. In my view 1,4,7.8 are easier and shorter chapters whereas 2,3,5,6 are voluminous. You can group the chapters and read.
- Avoid reading at a stretch - While some might prepare multiple subjects a day, some might take a subject at a stretch and finish it before moving to the next subject. [I follow the latter. No hard and fast rule, you can follow whichever style you are comfortable with]. In case of ISCA, doing at a stretch is extremely difficult and stressful[personal experience- I did for a max of 3 days]. You can do a relatively light subject along with it [ probably your favourite subject]. People following the approach of doing a subject at a stretch may do ISCA for a maximum of three days at a stretch and take a break. The subject is quite complex and new for us to comprehend and understand.
- Write and learn - When we write and learn we tend to remember the concepts easily.
- Write a mock test - Some may feel that mock test is not necessary for theory papers. Well, I strongly recommend it as it helps to gain writing speed, improve handwriting and presentation skills and most importantly assess how well you connect the question with answers and how much you actually remember.
- Have the right attitude - This is the most important requirement. Approach it with positive attitude. We need to clear all 8 papers to get CA certificate. Give this subject, its due importance, . Do not wait till the last moment and let it shake your confidence, instead start early. Convert the stones into milestones.
So friends, I hope with these tips and suggestions, you will be able to secure good results in ISCA. The above are based on my personal experience, while it may work for some, it may not for a few.
ALL THE BEST!!
With warm regards,
James John Britto R
AIR 1, CA FINAL - November 2015