Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Preparing for CA exams and looking for a CA Intermediate Study Plan? You've found a post where the AIR 1 of CA Intermediate (Nov 2019) has shared it all - from tips to prepare for the different subjects to his CA Inter Notes making, you will find everything charted out by him here.
I'm extremely grateful that Akshay Jain, who secured AIR 17 in CA Foundation and AIR 1 in CA Intermediate, has curated a comprehensive post for all the CA aspirants so that they have the due resources in place. He is a true leader and a very kind individual, I hope his tips and suggestions help you prepare well :)
In Akshay's Words:
Bear with me this a long post and covers a wide range of topics, you may move to one that you find interesting:
My advice on:
1. Preparing for All Subjects
2. Economics and Auditing
4. General Tips
5. Studying Consistently
1. Preparing for All Subjects
AS: Stick to the module for the theoretical ones, learn the definitions that are repeatedly used in the answers, and try and use them in the answers that you write. 3 out of 6 questions in the AS section are directly from the module, ensure that those questions are done, whether subjective or practical.
Other Chapters: There’s this great way to learn from your mistakes. Pay full attention to the first sum that is taught and then start doing the subsequent questions by yourself, for the love of everything that’s holy, don’t concern yourself with the paper wastage in committing mistakes!! There are other ways to save the environment. If you commit mistakes in the initial stages you’ll form a stronger base.
Corporate and Other Laws:
Corporate Law: The only theory subject I recommend making notes for is Law. First and foremost understand the provisions with examples, then make your notes using the key phrases and filling in the blanks with your own words and use these notes for all further revisions. In Law paper, too many questions are verbatim from the module so ensure going through them.
Other Law: The last two chapters, the General Clauses Act and Interpretation of Statutes, are a royal pain in the ass. Skip the technicalities here or you'll be stuck in the quagmire with no way out, no need to learn the key phrases just get an understanding and write it out in your own words. If one attempts the questions correctly, the exposure to these chapters wouldn't be more than 8–10 marks and that's no reason to lose your sleep.
People either outright hate this subject or love it. That stems from the fact whether you understand the underlying fundamentals or not. The approach to this subject is similar to accountancy. Costing paper, except the last attempt and the one before that, has most of the questions straight from the module.
Direct Taxes: The approach is a combination of accountancy and law, here too you learn from doing mistakes and revise the entire subject from your notes. I learned most of my DT by committing mistakes, notes could be a lifesaver. I had my entire DT in a single notebook.
Indirect Taxes: Hands down the easiest thing in Inter CA, just go through the module and practice by solving the questions.
AS: Similar to paper 1.
Other Chapters: Most format based chapters are included in here wherein you need to prepare the format, put in the figures, and cash in the marks. Prepare by making blank formats and learning the sequence of things, the remaining things are similar to paper 1.
This holds such a special (not) place in my heart that it deserves a separate point (shared ahead).
That too follows a similar approach.
FM and ECO:
FM: Another one of my favorite subjects is FM, it follows a similar approach as Costing. FM paper still continues to have the majority portion from the module.
Economics: This is covered in a separate point (shared ahead).
2. Economics and Auditing
Hands down the most hated thing in Inter CA is Auditing and Assurance (and rightly so).
But most of it is just the stigma attached to the subject, spread by past students (I too was heavily affected by it and neglected the subject in the beginning). But there’s a way in which the subject can be approached which makes it relatively easier to complete the subject.
1. First and foremost, try and understand the subject and not just trying to memorize the things (that will have to be done but first you’ll have to understand the things).
2. After understanding the chapter, highlight the important words, phrases, and then try and remember those things and fill the blanks in your own words. NEVER skimp on remembering these words.
3. Finally, keep on revising the completed chapters, you cannot complete a chapter once and then directly jump on the next one, revising the previous ones only when there’s a test just won’t cut it. Ensure the completed chapters are regularly revised that will ensure retention and avoid the much-despised burnout.
4. Also in the preparation leaves, always keep Audit and EIS/SM in hand regularly.
5. Try and identify the chapters that have high weightage in the past exams (definitely chapter 10) and study those first because then those chapters can be revised quite many times and tighten your grip on the heavyweight chapters.
6. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART is giving tests, these help your performance under pressure and the practice the tests give you is beyond the multiple revisions.
Ahh...Economics the boon for some and bane for others (God I gotta work on my analogies). Anyways, what I have felt with Economics is that those who have taken up economics in 12th are able to easily guide through (same was the case for me, because only two of the units out of four were new to me)
What you have to focus on, if you are new to the demand and supply game, is the practical questions because they make up a total of 12 to 15 marks of the 40 mark PART B. This includes the compulsory national income sum and various other short sums like calculation of different levels of money and such other sums.
Then, move on to the theory portion. The best part about Economics theory portion is that the questions asked are lowly marked (2 to 3) and that allows the student to merely explain the concept, throw in a couple of key phrases, and get the marks ( also skip a couple of things as the payout is pretty low).
Try to understand the small concepts one by one as that is how they are asked in the exam, it doesn't come all at once like in other theory exams, because of the marking constraints. Also, in the concepts that have points, the module seems to put in a lot of them (12 to 15 points), but not all of it is supposed to be done. Pick up a couple of them according to the marks (4 to 5) and revise only them.
The Certified copies of the Economics part prove that the checkers have been more than liberal while scoring the economics part as it is a relatively new portion so one doesn't have to be as precise as the module.
The most crucial aspect of taking notes for anything is ensuring that you make them in a manner that helps you recall the content later on OR helps you quicken your pace in revising the matter.
The former aspect can be easily achieved if you take the notes yourself and don’t borrow from someone else who has put in the real hard work. And I don’t know if it’s just me you can easily recall things if there’s a pattern or a special mark that helps you associate the thing with the content.
This can be achieved by using a different pen for a different subject matter or using charts and graphs that lead to easy recalling of the matter.
Like in the above-mentioned example if you try to read the least amount exempt u/s 10 (10C) you begin at the chart and will be able to recall the matter more quickly than had the same thing been in paragraph form.
Also, try and use different forms of tables to associate the individual pattern with that particular (use this technique only for the most difficult things as you would quickly run out if used for everything).
Also, Practical subjects are a neglected lot while making notes, but prove to be a crucial aspect. You can’t expect yourself wading through tons of different sources at the doomsday and revise the entire material, that’s where good notes come into the picture. These should cover all formula, the proforma accounts, statements for various format based chapters, and all the possible ledger entries.
While making notes for theory subjects, try and stay as close to the source material as possible, but what you can do to shorten the content is get rid of the conjunctions, and auxiliary verbs and all such excess words that clarify the content and put in only the key phrases in your notes.
Lastly, the notes would work their magic and easily help you remember and revise things if and only if you revise them regularly and not keep them stuffed somewhere in your cabinets, only to take them out at the time of exams.
4. General Tips
1. You have to begin your preparations from the beginning of your coaching classes, pick one of the theory subjects first (either paper 6 or 7). I did paper 7. I have good marks in that and one of my friends picked Audit and I am pretty sure that his score is the highest in the country in Audit or at least in the top ten.
2. Always be proactive during your classes, after the initial questions that lay the foundation for the problems, begin the subsequent questions by yourself as committing the mistakes then would lead to correct answers later on. What you do by yourself is retained for a longer period, this particular reason is why it’s always recommended to solve the questions in ink and not merely audit them.
3. Always have something that you look forward to on the weekend (could be the entire day after your weekly tests), like watching a couple of movies or hanging out with friends. This prevents the much-dreaded monotony set in.
4. After the emergence of MCQs, it is quite vital to study at least the theory papers from nowhere else but the ICAI modules (and for practical papers solve module questions and also use the IPCC practice manuals).
Because any other material however good may lose out on certain MCQs as they try to shorten the things, causing potential loss of about 4–5 marks per theory subject (unless the paper is relatively easy in my case the LAW paper as such, but in other papers, people who relied on other materials did lose out on 12 to 15 easy marks.
5. Preparation of summary notes is quite an important aspect in securing a rank. These help out tremendously in completing the entire revision in those crucial 36 hours. I recommend preparing these for all papers except Audit and EIS/SM for the above-mentioned reasons as shortening the things would make you lose out on certain MCQs. Keep preparing these as and when a chapter is taught or as weekly tests or such are conducted, please ensure at least 40% to 50% of it is prepared before the preparation leave.
6. What I cannot emphasize enough is taking TESTS, be it the ones conducted in your classes or some paid up test series. It trains you how to deal in under stressful situations resembling your actual exams (works only if you take it diligently and not just for the sake of taking it.)
7. Keep a growth mindset and don’t give up when you commit mistakes (again where tests come in handy, better flunk in these than the real exams), I have learned most of my direct taxes by committing mistakes and ensuring those are not repeated again. Always keep a track of all your progress, weaknesses and strengths, never be in ambiguity about any of it.
8. Finally, always be consistent in your studies I had, not exactly a rigid time table, but rather a task tables that states the tasks to be undertaken for the day, that I abided by from the beginning till about 20 days before the exam. It is obvious that one cant study the same amount every day, there may be ups and downs, but the trick is to cover up in the subsequent days by extending your time.
5. Studying Consistently
Here's my time table, during the 3-month preparation leave:
Wake up. Take 20 minutes to brush off your morning blues and freshen up (alternate day bathing gang assemble!!)
4:20 A.M. - 7:45 A.M.
First session. A break of 5–7 minutes after every hour. It isn’t quite rigid, as what I suggest to follow (but to each his own) is the Flow State of Studying, wherein you study as and when you like it without having a constant time table to follow. The first break till 8:15 a.m.
In this break, go for a run, do some push-ups, exercise a little, because the day’s gonna be a little longer and you have to have some physical exercises.
Then the next session of studying till 12 noon.
Then a break till 1:15 P.M. Have your lunch, fit in a 30-minute nap somewhere in the middle of the break.
Then carry on with little breaks, till 7 in the evening and then a big break( relatively) till about 7:30 p.m.
Then the final stretch 9 in the night and slept by 9:45/10:00 p.m.
This accounts for about 12/13 hours a day, in the most crucial month of my preparations, I cut down a little on the breaks and managed 14 hours a day.
Don't expect to hit this on the first day, scratch that, don't expect this to happen in the first week too. But continue doing it as much as you can. A couple of tips that I found helpful.
1. What I cannot emphasize enough on is taking 5 to 7 minutes (more if your daily target is just 8 to 10 hours of studying) breaks after every hour of studying and a longer break after every third hour (an alternate of the much-acclaimed POMODORO technique). This will keep you lively for a longer period of time.
2. Keep yourself hydrated and always have a water bottle with you. Ever feel like doing something else, gulp down some water it sort of restarts your brain and you can sustain longer.
3. EXPERIMENT!! Take a week or so to plan out your ideal time table, fidget with your study time during the week. Identify: when do you feel your most productive? When do you like to have your lunch/dinner? When do your favorite shows air? Whether you are a night owl or an early bird? And after having the answer to all these and other such questions set your ideal time table, there’s no point in copying somebody else.
4. To study for longer hours, you need to have some motivators that enable you to do so. And I am not even talking about the grand scale of things, something smaller like getting correct answers to your problems or a genuine interest in the subject will definitely help you study. So, always begin with these things and then gradually shift to the atrocities of your curriculum.
5. And for the love of everything on EARTH, shove that electronic device of yours in a cabinet somewhere on Mars. Okay that’s an exaggeration, but that thing is so damn powerful, at one moment you are looking up some formulae and the next you are looking at 12 Shocking Table Corners We Wish We Could Unsee (number 4 will blow your mind!!). What you can do is keep that aside for an hour, an easy timeline and then in your mini-breaks look at them juicy memes.
6. I would recommend having a stopwatch to keep track of your time. Having it brings out a sense of responsibility that helps you achieve your targets.
7. Keep your weekends free, a test maybe but nothing more. Every weekend (quit it just for the last month of preparations) was either bowling, movies, or just your good old hanging out. This helps in cutting out the monotony. Also, don't think about anything else while doing so, free time with a constant nagging at the back of brains isn't free time at all.
Feel free to reach out to me on Quora - this is my profile's link.
If you've read it this far, you're truly a serious CA aspirant and I sincerely hope that these tips shared by Akshay prove out to be of immense help in your preparation journey. I really liked the CA Inter Study Plan that he shared under point 5 because a lot of aspirants seek that kind of a study routine. If you missed out on it, do check again and keep it handy.
Would like to take this chance to properly thank Akshay for his invaluable contribution to the blog. Thank you so much on behalf of all the CA aspirants who are going to appear for the CA Inter exams in the years to come!
If you want to reach out to him, please find the link to his Quora profile above. You can also leave a message for him in the comments below. If you're new to the blog, you can read about it here.
And if you wish to contribute to the blog, just like Akshay, then click here. Would be happy to share your story and learning with those who seek knowledge :)