Saturday, 20 August 2016

How to prepare for ISCA?

Hi Friends,

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.


With warm regards,

James John Britto R

AIR 1, CA FINAL - November 2015

Saturday, 13 February 2016

How to prepare for CA FINAL exams - Financial Reporting - Series 1

Hi Friends,

I would like to give a brief on how to prepare for CA FINAL Paper 1 - Financial Reporting

Disclaimer: The following are my personal views. They will not guarantee your success.

The syllabus can be bifurcated into three major areas:

1. Accounting Standards (AS/Ind AS) 30-35 marks
2. Major Topics - Amalgamation, Valuation and Consolidation 48 marks
3. Other miscellaneous topics - 25-30 marks.

Accounting Standards:

AS is definitely a scoring area. The compulsory question and the last question (question 7) are generally from AS. Students need to use a standard book for Accounting Standards. In case you find it difficult to read and understand from the bare standard, you may buy a third party book. Nevertheless you must read the appendix (especially AS 9 and AS 25) and illustrations forming part of the AS. Apart from that all the illustrations in SM and PM must be practiced.

AS exam questions are usually based on past exam questions. Therefore, last 5 attempt AS questions must be read once or twice for clarity.

Major Topics:

We all know three 16 marks questions come from the major topics.

  1. Amalgamation - Moderate difficulty - Reasonable time required to answer question
  2. Consolidation - Template Approach - 40 minutes minimum required -
  3. Valuation- Tricky- Take comparatively less time

Based on the above, you make decide which areas to focus on. Some might feel consolidation problems are very lengthy. Yes, it is true. You may spend 40 minutes on it  and still end up going wrong. However once you practice a lot of problems, your analytical skills increase and you will be able to read and interpret the question quickly.

Valuation problems are unique and involve a lot of assumptions. Always make suitbable assumtions and make appropriate disclosure.

Amalgamation questions are quite straight forward. Students need to caterful while calculating purchase consideration and deciding on nature of amalgamation,

Miscellaneous Topics:

For lack of better word, I use miscellaneous topics. They include VAS, EVA, HR Accounting, Financial Instruments, etc. These topics are easy to understand and take less than 10-15 minutes solve. They are again considered to be scoring areas. The level of complexity is moderate so cracking the problems is not going to be difficult. 

Topics like EVA are covered in SFM also. So reading it here will ensure that you are able to attend the question in SFM also.

Where does the exam problem come from?

The following are the sources:

90% of the exam problems come from the following:
  • Study material illustrations
  • PM problems
  • Past exam questions

The questions need not be the same as asked earlier, but the concepts test and the manner of testing will be the same. The questions will be heavily inspired from the above.

Time Management:

FR being the first paper, students generally find it difficult to finish the paper. The only way to overcome that is to practice more problems and gain speed. Take up a few mock tests or solve past exam papers under simulated exam conditions. In case you get stuck at one of the problems, be  bold and move on. You can always come and revisit it.

Leave your queries as comments. 


James John Britto R

Friday, 12 February 2016

Strategies for sure success

Hi Friends,

Feels great to connect with you again!

Listen to the recording of the speech I delivered at SIRC of ICAI during the All India Quiz and Elocution Competition held at Chennai.

Will soon write subject wise articles.

Keep calm and keep visiting the blog :) _/ \_ 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Books that I used for my CA Final Preparations

Hi Friends!

I thought I'll share with you the list of books that I referred for my CA Final Exam.

If you were to ask me, can you suggest the best books for CA FINAL, I should say ICAI material is the best. If you can read the Study Material, Practice Manual, Supplementary Material, RTP and Compilations, you will get nothing less than 60%.

But, somehow, most of us, including me, are unable to read ICAI books.

Why is that?

I think it is primarily because we start little late. Just by seeing the books itself, we get worried and start losing our confidence.

So the ideal material for any course would be to read from the prescribed material, Just like how they say, you will have to read the Bare Act to understand and appreciate the beauty of the Act, reading ICAI books will help you score high.

The bare minimum what you have to read from ICAI Publications is :

All subjects:
  1. Illustrations from Study Material
  2. Practice Manual including exercise questions give at the end of the Chapter
  3. Supplementary Material (Amendments, Case laws,etc.)
  4. Revision Test Papers ( last three attempts)
  5. Mock Test Papers (last two series)
  6. Suggested Answers (last five attempts)

The above is the minimum. Based on time availability, you can extend the coverage.

The following are the additional books, I referred to for widening my understanding:

(The list is based on the places where I had attended classes and suggestions received from my seniors. I do not recommend/ promote the books. It is my personal preference)

Class room material - M P Vijay Kumar
First Lessons by M P Vijay Kumar
Accounting Standards by D S Rawat

Class room material - S S Rajagopal
A N Sridharan Book

Auditing: Vikas Oswal / Surabhi Bhansal

Corporate Laws - L Jeyaramam

Class room material - Saravana Prasad
Padhuka book by Saravana Prasad

ISCA - Manish Valecha

Class room material - Srivatson
(Due to vast syllabus I was not able to read from other books)

Classroom material- Mohd Rafi
(Due to vast syllabus I was not able to read from other books)

All said and done, the above is what I used and not what I recommend. You may be attending classes at the Institute or at private coaching centres. In which case, you will have to read your class room notes first, as they will help you understand and recollect concepts quicker.

If you have the practice of writing notes as you study, there is nothing better than that. These notes come in handy during the 24 hours before the exam. It is not possible to read the entire book again. Your hand-written notes will make the job easier for you.

The most important point I would like to highlight is that DO NOT CHANGE YOUR BOOKS. If you have started reading from a book, do not change it after reading half the book, just because your friend/seniors/ranker referred some other book.

Be wise in choosing your books. All books are good. All books cover the same syllabus.

Thank You!


James John Britto R

Saturday, 23 January 2016

First Videocast

Hi Friends!

I have shot my first videocast!

I have tried to address certain common queries from a macro perspective.

Will write a post on the books that I followed and the classes that I attended shortly.

Lets stay connected.

Thank You!


James John Britto R

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Lets stay connected - the beginning

Hi Friends!

Many of you have been asking for lot of tips, guidance, advice, etc. over the last few days!

All your requests have not gone into deaf ears!

I and my colleagues are working on it. We'll be happy to share it with you at the earliest!

We will have the first post published by Friday (22.01.2016). I'll share the books that I referred, methods I followed and certain other information which should help you plan out your studies.

We are also thinking of having a FAQs and podcast section so that we may reach out to more number of people.

I request you to give us some time to sort out things and make it live at the earliest.

I request you to avoid calling me directly and instead leave a text of your e-mail id ( in case you haven't done it already), so that we may update you once it is completed. You may share the blog address, if you wish to.

We are planning to post on a weekly/fortnightly basis, based on the response we receive .

Thank You!

All the best!


James John Britto R