Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:
- Surbhi Bansal
- Practice Manual
- The most recent three RTPs
- Last four to six Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)
It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books. Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.
1) AA & PE by Surbhi Bansal: I used this as a substitute for the study material. It is definitely easier to read, it covers the entire portion, the bullet points and flowcharts are convenient to memorize and the questions following every chapter contain a major portion of past examination questions. All in all, this is a comprehensive material that boosts the ability of the student to memorize and understand chapters well.
2) Practice Manual: This is a standard for every CA student. It is necessary to be thorough with the practice Manual, especially for theory subjects because, not only does it cover a major chunk of the portion, it also ensures that you present your answers the right way – with the right elaboration and references of standards
3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least three RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.
4) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real exam feeling, set the clock to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.
It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period doesn’t involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion.
Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all four subjects. So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.
The ‘Major’ part covers Standards and Professional Ethics. The ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters. Please note that these are falling into the ‘Minor’ portion not because of lack of importance but because they are fairly less time consuming.
My strategy was to be thorough with the ‘Major’ part and choose to study only 60% of a chapter from the ‘Minor’ part. Another strategy of mine was to be extremely thorough with the standards and the direct theory portion of the paper (Q1 and Q7).
Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where you are the fastest. For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. For the ‘Minor’ part of the portion, make sure to complete 3 – 4 chapters a day. It ideally shouldn’t take more than 0.5 – 1 hour per chapter but you go at your own comfortable pace. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.
Your target is to complete the Practice Manual and Surbhi Bansal in 18 to 20 days. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 – 12 hours per day only for Auditing, then give yourself a target of 6 – 10 days only. It is easily achievable because the portion isn’t very vast.
RTPs (3) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 2 – 3 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is.
Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously. A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.
1) Auditing is 100% theoretical. The answers are going to be long and boring. To make it easier and more attractive for the person correcting your paper, underline the keywords in every answer. Remember that this should be limited to a maximum of a word per sentence.
2) Every lengthy answer should be presented structurally in three paragraphs. Let the first paragraph be your introduction. Answer the what and the why. The second paragraph should be your main support. Answer the how, the where and the when. Finally, conclude in one or two sentences with your final solution and a summary of the above.
3) Direct theory is very scoring. This means definitions and straightforward answers. Try to answer any theoretical question with clarity and in bullet points.
4) Cite an audit standard in every answer you write. That will give a basis for your understanding.
5) When answering PE, follow the format in the practice manual. The first and last paragraphs should contain the part, schedule and clause numbers. The body of the answer should be the applicability and justification of each clause and / or part. Out of these 16 marks, achieving 8 marks is very easy with good practice.
And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.
Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.
So, that’s all I have for you today.
I hope you have a wonderful day.