How to clear CA – Final Paper 7: Direct Tax Laws

Exams are always around the corner for aspiring Chartered Accountants, aren’t they? That’s why I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

 

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so though I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, this article is for the students who are attempting their examinations under the old scheme.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your Direct Tax Laws paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is the combined implementation of these three that helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

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. However, for DTL, it is difficult to refer to the study material because of how complex it is. 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:

 

  • Guides (More details below)
  • Practice Manual
  • The most recent two 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) Guides: This is the book that is going to give you the complete understanding about the subject. You will need to read theory, practice sums and memorize case laws from this book. So choose wisely. Some famous options are Vinod Gupta and TN Manoharan. I opted for the latter, simply because I found the structure better in the sense that there was more clarity within the content bifurcation. Other than these two, there is a third book ‘RCC for CA Final Direct Taxes’ by CA Ravi Chhawchharia that is really picking up these days. So you can use any of these three for your attempt.

2) Practice Manual: For DTL, the PM is very useful because of how in-depth and detailed this subject is. This book will help you focus more on the important questions and chapters once you are done reading the guide above. Don’t think that studying just the practice manual will get you through for sure. This book is ONLY for revision.

3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least two 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 examination kind of feeling, set the alarm 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.

TIME MANAGEMENT

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months, especially when there are other subjects to cover as well. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period of three months should not involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion. DTL is one of the larger and more time consuming subjects. Here is how you can try your best to cover as much as possible:

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 – 12 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start studying, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all subjects.  So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part under DTL covers ‘PGBP’, ‘Capital Gains’, ‘Assessment Procedures’, ‘Collection and Recovery of taxes’ and ‘Company Assessment’ while 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 to study.

My strategy was to create short notes as I was studying each chapter. The way I did this was to read a certain page or two, create a table, flowchart or even write in words the important part and then use it later just before the examination. The key here is to condense 50 pages of a chapter to 5 pages of short notes. Alternatively, buy a highlighter and highlight the keywords within the book itself.

Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where your brain is completely awake! For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. 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 Guide in 15 to 18 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 this subject, then give yourself a target of 8 – 10 days only. It is easily achievable, so don’t worry. Take a grace day or two if required.

RTPs (2) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 4 – 5 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. There is no use to solving a mock paper or an RTP if you don’t take the time to correct your papers.

PRESENTATION

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) DTL has both practical and theoretical components to it. Underline the sub-headings in every answer.

2) Use bullet points and split lengthy answers into paragraphs as much as is possible

3) Definitions are very scoring but also tricky to answer if you don’t remember keywords. Present those well.

4) Provide appropriate conclusions, workings and calculations within your answer sheet.

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.
Coming up next is my tips for INDIRECT TAXATION.
I hope you have a wonderful day.

IKEA Hyderabad: An Experience Beyond Imagination

IKEA opened its first store in India at Hyderabad on August 9th. *Lame Proud Moment*

Needless to say, I was one among the THOUSANDS that was awaiting this moment with bated breath. Okay, perhaps I went slightly beyond just the anticipation. When IKEA decided to postpone their initial launch from the 20th July, I was devastated. I locked myself in my room and added another 20 days to the calendar, feeling heartbroken. Imagine Samara from ‘The Ring’. That was me.

But life moves on, and eventually the days actually passed by pretty quickly as I immersed myself in the routine.

9th August, 2018

Then came the opening day. Sadly for me, it was a Thursday which meant I could not go. Because I am a grown up with responsibilities. *Sigh* That was a big blow to my happiness, to be honest. But I waited, trying not to listen to the numerous stories about IKEA that everyone had to tell me. That night, as I sat in a 3 hour long traffic jam to go home, I decided it was time to take matter into my own hands. I applied for leave (I hope my manager isn’t reading this!) and set the clock to 7 AM the next morning. It was settled. I HAD to go.

10th August, 2018

I started off at 9 AM after spending the entire morning chasing my mother and sister outside the house. We wanted to be there early so we didn’t drown in the humongous crowds. Well, thankfully, our plan worked and we were among the first hundred people waiting at the gates for the ‘shopping palace’ to open at 10 AM.

The anticipation was unbearable. As the clock struck 10:05, I was about to break into a sweat when I noticed they were finally letting us enter. Gulping down happy tears, we then made our way into what can only be termed as the LONGEST maze of our lives. After walking through the zig-zagged barricades for eternity and then feasting our eyes on the ‘actual’ entrance, we were overjoyed. From this step on, here is how the whole journey went.

Time: 1 Hour

Showroom Section

We were led to the first floor which is the area that has the showroom containing readily set-up furniture and decor. After collecting our cloth bags, pencils and notepads / direction guides, we entered the gorgeous segments. The best part was how these settings were structured. You have 11 sections in total, such as Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom and so on. For example, the living room contains around 4 – 5 different settings of how your living room could look – with book cases, couches, etc.

So, the whole concept is divided into four steps.

  1. Walk into each setting and look around at all the decor
  2. If you like something you see, search for the price tag attached to it
  3. Take images of the tag on your phone
  4. Pick them up from the marketplace / self-service section on the ground floor (explained later in this article)

Be warned that this will take you a few hours to complete as you go from one segment to another, taking images, talking to various staff, gaining more perspective and discussing potential objects with whoever has accompanied you. At any point, if you get exhausted, you can always go back out towards the restaurant (explained below) that is on the same floor.

Time: 3 Hours
Recommendation: Bedroom Section

Restaurant

The IKEA restaurant is beautiful. It is the first time I’ve seen this ‘supermarket’ style concept for a restaurant in Hyderabad. The idea here is that you need to pick up your trays, your food and you glasses (for beverages – hot and cold) and then make your payment at cash counters. After this, you take your empty glasses, go over to the fountain drinks section and enjoy the unlimited refills. There are vegetarian and non-vegetarian options as well as continental food that will surely not disappoint.

Time: 1 Hour
Recommendation: Coffee, Bread Varieties

Marketplace

Now it’s time to get back on your feet!

You will need to take the MASSIVE lifts and go down to the ground floor. Then, exchange your cloth bags for trolleys and then you will be led into partitions 13 through 27. You may think you don’t need a trolley. Well, think again. This marketplace is where you will be able to pick up every item (excepting furniture) that you saw on the first floor within the showroom. Once again, this is structured into segments such as ‘Home Organization’, ‘Decoration’, ‘Lighting’, ‘Fabrics’ and so on. You’ll find a lot more variety, colours and options as you go through each of these sections. At 23, the marketplace ends and if you look down at your trolley, you will find a heap of items that you never intended on buying!

Time: 2 – 3 Hours
Recommendation: Lighting, Outdoor Furniture

Self-Serve

Finally, the furniture. Everything is flat-packed in cardboard boxes in aisles and racks. If searching for your items seems difficult to you, just walk over to the computers set up at the centre of each room and type in the codes. From here, you can add the products to cart, take a print of the items you want and have someone assist you with finding these items. Alternatively, you can also walk over to the information desk, give them your printout and ask for the products to be delivered to you. At a cost, of course. But worth it, in my opinion!

Time: 1 Hour
Recommendation: The Online Purchase Option!

Billing Counter and Beyond!

There are multiple billing counters with IKEA paper bags too. Just get your products billed, make the payment and push the trolley out. But wait! There’s more. You can also check out the IKEA Cafe and get yourself some really economic treats while you rest your aching feet.

Recommendation: Yogurt Ice Cream

You also have additional services like refund counters – with a 60 day refund policy, delivery counters and collection counters – for self serve items.

To Sum Up

IKEA will take you on a wonderful experience and convert ‘shopping’ into a complete day’s event. The staff is very helpful, friendly and will guide you through any issues you may have. The entire store is extremely spacious and even with weekend crowds, it doesn’t feel suffocating. There are easily accessible and well-maintained washrooms that you can use whenever you need to. Plus, there is also a play area for children too! Also, parking is spacious.

I absolutely LOVED visiting IKEA and despite blowing nearly half my month’s salary there, I don’t regret a single minute or rupee. Definitely do go visit, for the experience, if not for anything else.

Final recommendation: Go around 9:30 AM and do NOT go after lunch, at least for the next couple of weeks. The enjoyment will be lost in such heavy crowds.

A Bruised Smile – My Bullying Experience

This is the story of a little girl with big, bright eyes and a genuine smile. I once caught this little girl in the washroom, sitting on an overturned bucket inside a cubicle. Her uniform clung to her knees as she wept silently for hours, trying not to be heard. But as the last school bell rang, she jumped up and wiped away her tears. In her eyes, there wasn’t just happiness to be going home. There was relief. That little girl brings tears to my eyes even today. Because, that little girl was me.

It is the victim’s silence that fuels the perpetrator.

For all these years, I kept a secret confined to the deepest part of my soul. I was bullied. So, why am I speaking up now? Because I can finally accept that this happened to me. Because, though I may never be able to move away from it, I can hopefully move on. Because I realized that it is the victim’s silence that fuels the perpetrator.

It first started when I was five years old. My being left-handed provoked my teachers enough to beat me up. I remember being terrified to use my own hand, trying hard to pretend that I was ambidextrous and this memory still has the power to send chills down my spine. I was damaged at that age despite my mother’s constant support. I tried so desperately to believe her when she told me that I was perfect just the way I was. But the trauma could not be erased.

Fast forward by three years. On my first day in a new school, when I was walking towards my classroom, I saw a few books and a lot of stationery strewn across the corridor. In a corner, a lunch box lay open with the food inside it emptied. With horror in my eyes, I instantly realized that these things belonged to me. As I quickly knelt to pick it all up, my cheeks flushed with embarrassment, I heard laughter. There were two things I learnt that day. One, I was the perfect target. Two, this would keep happening.

Over the course of the next couple of months, I retreated further and further into my shell. The bullies found innovative ways to make me feel worthless. My nicknames started with ‘ugly’, ‘dark’ and ‘transgender’, gradually progressing to ’Ms. 20,000 kilograms’ and ‘Ms. Elephant’. Nearly every single night, my tear soaked pillows reminded me of my misery. I would spend hours in the dark staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep for the fear of choking in my own nightmares. I contemplated suicide repeatedly but the worst part was not knowing what I did to deserve such hatred. At the age of nine, I could not understand that this was not my fault.

Just when I felt like I had reached my threshold, with the name calling and the damage of my  personal belongings, the abuse turned physical. Once, I was invited to play with the ‘popular’ kids during recess and that day, I fell in the sand, scraping my knees. I brushed it off as clumsiness when my worried mother asked me how it happened. The next day, I fell again and this time, bled from my elbows. A dangerous pattern started, where I got bruised repeatedly, multiple times per week. But I didn’t care because all those nights, my pillow remained dry. That had to mean I was happy, right? A little blood couldn’t stop me from happiness, could it?

I realized that in my eagerness to feel accepted, I had let myself be used.

But this euphoria was short lived. Because, one day, it dawned upon me that I wasn’t falling. I was being pushed. It happened again, and this time, I heard the children laughing as I lay face front on the sand. They were laughing all those other times too, but in my blind hope, I hadn’t heard them. I realized that in my eagerness to feel accepted, I had let myself be used.

As the weeks advanced, they would find new ways to torment me. Inquisitive eyes measured my developing body and lewd comments were passed to my face. Bets were placed on the colour of my intimate clothing and my skirt was pulled up to decide the winner. Though I was very young, the humiliation I faced was unimaginable. However, I never once let them see my tears.

But one day, when a fellow classmate put his hand up my skirt, I just mentally collapsed. I fell into severe depression and blamed myself for everything that happened to me. I struggled with insomnia, suffered with poor eating habits and withdrew from everyone. This was when I turned to writing for solace because I was unable to express my emotions verbally. I would weave stories of friendship, love and companionship, but mostly, my stories centered the one thing I craved the most. Acceptance.

For others to accept me, I had to accept myself first.

Still, despite all the self-hatred I possessed, I managed to survive and because I did, somewhere along the way, a miracle happened. I call this miracle ‘self-realization’. I finally understood that for others to accept me, I had to accept myself first. I needed to come out of my shell and conquer my insecurities. Thus began my transformation and my healing process. But trust me when I say that it was possibly the hardest thing I have ever done till today. I took to writing seriously, focused on my academics and started making friends. I pushed myself to test my limits. There came a day when I finally wasn’t just accepted, but was looked up to. It gave me a sense of achievement, but more than that, it made me gain my own perspective. You see, if I had succumbed to that pressure back then, I wouldn’t be here today. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. I can finally see that light now and my euphoria today is only intensified by my bitter experiences yesterday.

I may be damaged, but I will never be broken.

I know now that happiness needs to come from within. I know now that nobody has the power to decide for me excepting for myself. I know now that I am not worthless, that I am not weak and that I am not incapable. But when I was a child, I didn’t. I’m choosing my battles, conquering my fears and taking steps – one at a time. But some scars last forever, and I am okay with that.

Bullying can cause lasting damage. I still have extreme trust issues, I still can’t express my feelings and I still struggle to sleep peacefully at night. I may be damaged, but I will never be broken.

A lot of people see my success. But I see the years of pain it took to get to where I am today. Given a choice, I would have preferred to have my childhood instead of it being ripped away from me through the years. When people exclaim that my maturity spans beyond my age, their compliment causes me pain. Because that wasn’t a choice I got to make. But I made it through and if I can, then you can too.

To those of you who can relate, know that you have nothing to be ashamed of. You have no reason to hide. Loving yourself is the primary solution. But seek betterment only because you want to. I battled with severe inferiority complex which came from foolish comparisons and now I know that there is no such thing as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’. There is just you. And you are perfect exactly the way you are.

To those who have hurt others in the past…verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually…I have only one question for you. How does it make your life better? Try walking in your victim’s shoes and you will see how damaging it is to suffer for no fault of your own. Your happiness should come from another’s smile, not tears. Your sense of power should come from protection, not destruction. Your popularity should come from respect, not fear. But mostly, a solution to your insecurities should come from within yourself and not from feeding off of another’s sense of inferiority.

There is nothing wrong with being different.

Lastly, to the parents and the teachers. Behind every happy child, there is you. Please pay attention to early signs of your child’s distress or aggression. Silence speaks louder than words. Counsel your child to find out if he is bullying or is being bullied. But most importantly, do not discriminate. Be it two children in your house or forty children in your classroom, demonstrate equality. Let them all know that they are unique and that there is nothing wrong with being different. My mother, who was, is and will always be my support system, is the reason I am standing proud today. Love and guidance can do wonders. Be that person who changes another’s life.

It wasn’t easy for me to relive those memories that I kept repressed for so many years. But I hope that something good comes out of it. Because you took the time to read my story, I ask only one thing of you. If you feel that this message could be of use to someone, then please help it reach that person…

And as always, I am here for you.

Read Sample Chapters of ‘Twisted’ for FREE!

Hey Guys!
My new book ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. So, I thought I would share the first two chapters with you all so that you can read it and decide if you would like to buy the book! Order links will be at the end of this post.

Prologue

The umbrella refuses to open.

I look around the crowded street, wondering if anyone is watching me struggle with the inanimate object. But they are too busy trying to escape the rain. So, I try one more time. Another gust of wind threatens to blow my clothes off me as I cling onto my skirt for dignity’s sake, muttering curses out loud for choosing to wear it on this particular day. The air is filled with the scent of moist earth. 

As I step out onto the curb, looking up at the sky, I warn it not to shower all over me. Just then, a drop plops onto my nose, making me flinch. I begin fishing in my bag for a tissue, squinting awkwardly as the drop rolls down the tip of my nose and hangs there precariously, threatening to fall off if I don’t act immediately. 

Then it happens.

As if in a movie, it drops in slow motion, staying mid-air for a very long time. Then it suddenly splashes to the ground with a deafening noise that I know only I can hear. As it touches the floor, it bursts into a million, tiny, colourful droplets and I look up, to see if anyone around me even notices my presence. That is when I realize in horror that everything has come to a standstill.

Literally.

The adults stop walking, the children aren’t crying anymore and the cars freeze in the same position. Movement no longer exists. But before I can react, I feel a hand on my shoulder. 
“Mom,” I say smiling, without turning.
I don’t need to turn around to know who it is. It has to be her. That cold palm on my shoulder is a touch that I have known for so many years in my life that it no longer feels like a surprise.
“How could you tell?” she chuckles as I face her, taking in her beauty.
The sight of my mother fills my heart with more warmth than dread.
“Your fingers,” I say, laughing. “I’ve known them for years.”
“You looked beautiful last week,” there is a glint in her eyes.
I frown, trying to remember meeting her seven days ago. I would have remembered if it happened. I turn back towards the colourful droplets in an enthusiastic attempt to show them to her. But they are gone. The people around me begin to move again, minding their own lives. When I face my mother, she is gone too.

It is weird that I still wish to be with her every single day, that I want her to love me like she used to. I want to live in the same house with her again, instead of in my own. I am 35 years old with a child and a husband. So much of my life has gone by but that is not really why it is weird. 
It is because I haven’t ‘seen’ her since 18th September, 20 years ago.
Because that is the day she died.

 

Chapter 1

“Are you really that desperate?” he asks, cocking his eyebrow like he just won the ‘Comment of the Year’ Award.
“Excuse me?” I look at him angrily.
“You heard me! You are pathetic!” He shakes his head at me. “Get out of my house.”
I glare at him. My fists clench.
“I am not paying you anything,” he says, “Do whatever you want.”
But instead of punching him, I reach into his bulging shirt pocket, pull out a wad of cash and say in my most professional voice, “Thank you, Sir. That should cover your cable bill for the month. Oh, and I appreciate the generous tip.”
He looks at me, confusion written across his face.
Then, he grits his teeth.
“What is this? Are you a thief now or did you just want an excuse to touch me?”
I sigh, turn around and start walking away. This client is just not worth talking to.
Yes, before you ask, I work at a cable company. My job is to collect money personally from defaulters. Generally it is only from the women but I suppose there must have been some sort of mix-up.
It isn’t glamorous work, but at least the pay is good.
Okay, fine, I admit it. I hate what I do. Especially when the clients are this repulsive.
“Hey lady!”
I turn around and look at him.
“How do I know you aren’t stealing my money and that you really are from the cable company?”
“I have a badge, sir!”
“So? You could be a prostitute with a stolen badge for all I know!”
I fight the urge to kill him and instead, continue to stare at him like an idiot. It has finally happened. Words have failed me. If only my husband could see this now!
As I look away, it hits me.
This man is accusing me of selling my body. He is accusing me of being a thief. What is worse is that I am letting him get away with it. A wave of feminism surges through me. Women do not deserve to be treated this way. If this was a man in my place, they would be bonding over chilled beer or at least a cup of coffee before ending this on a peaceful note. But this man is trying to take advantage of me because I am a woman. I refuse to let him.
Gritting my teeth, I turn back and barge into his living room.
“Look, mister! You have no right to insult me that way!”
“It is not my fault that you work at that disgusting place. I haven’t been able to watch a single thing for more than two weeks.”
“Well, if you weren’t so cheap, maybe we wouldn’t have had to cut the cable connection!”
“Look who is talking about being cheap,” he snorts. “You are in my house, begging me for money and I am the cheap one?”
“Look. I don’t appreciate this. You have called me a lot of names just because I am doing my job. I could call the company and have you removed from the customer list.”
“Oh, really?” he challenges. “Then you really will be out on the streets doing god knows what. Customers come first. Remember that… No matter what you end up doing.”
His double innuendos enrage me. Over my dead body, I think.
If I were to sleep with someone for cash, which is what he is implying, I would definitely be very choosy.
Err, I mean, I am married! Married women do not sleep around.
Looking around frantically, I find a glass of water on his dining table and pick it up. In a moment of rage, I hurl the water at him. For good measure, I also throw the glass at his face. Even though he ducks, I feel proud.
“Jerk,” I spit. Not very original, but at least it’s something.

As I am descending the stairs, my face burning with anger, paranoia strikes me. What if he is dangerous? What if he chases me and kills me in the middle of this empty street? There isn’t a single house or person in sight. Who’s going to save me? Oh my God, does he have a gun? You can get those weapons anywhere these days!
That is when I start running. At this point, you have to know something. I have always been terrible at sports. I failed in PT class, was never picked in games period and often faked an ailment during Sports Tryouts. So, needless to say, running is not my thing. But I manage to get into my car, panting, my hands shaking so badly that I can’t insert the key properly.
A sudden knock on my window makes me freeze.
Without looking, I scream loudly (Also not my thing so you can imagine how weird I sounded) as I force the key in and floor the accelerator at once. There is a sudden jolt, the car rams into a tree, the safety balloon bursts, I feel a shooting pain in the side of my head and before I know what has happened, I blank out.
Death is my last thought.

***

When I open my eyes, everything is hazy. But eventually, as I adjust to the surroundings, I see that I am now in a white room. For a second, I think I am in an asylum. Oh my God, I gasp in my head. I have finally been diagnosed as insane. But then I realize it is actually a hospital. I close my eyes, trying to remember what had happened.
Nothing.
No memory, whatsoever. I have no recollection of what put me in this room.
Realizing that there is no point in stressing over something that I have no clue about, I start looking around instead. Out the glass pane, on my right, I see my husband on the other side.
He is talking to someone, smiling. The person he is talking to is the doctor. My doctor. I know, because he has a stethoscope around his neck. This is proof enough that I haven’t lost my mind completely. Yet.
I relax a little. Just then, something happens. The room starts to spin, very slowly at first but then it gains speed. I panic, looking around, desperately hoping that my husband turns my way so that he can help me. Is this what death feels like, a horrible merry-go-round?
Clutching the sides of the bed till my knuckles turn white, I start breathing heavily. The terrifying sound of my own heartbeat is replaced by a piercing noise. Instantly, I turn to face the glass window. It is slightly cracked, almost invisible. But then, it starts spreading like the branches of a tree, getting bigger and bigger till the whole glass looks like a spider web of cracks. Then, it shatters. I flinch, expecting the tiny bits to come and cut me into shreds, but nothing happens. I finally open my eyes slightly.
“Honey?”
It is my husband. I sit up and hug him tight, sobbing. I then realize that his face is very unfamiliar to me and that sends a jolt down my spine. Feeling awkward, I pull away. The spinning has stopped. Everything is back to normal.
“The window… Spinning… I… Thank you, Anuj. You saved my life”
He smiles but even though I can’t recognize his face, I can tell he is disappointed.
“What happened?” I ask.
“Nothing, sweetheart” he says, kissing me on my forehead as I try not to flinch. “Thank God you are safe.”
It is then that I see his office tag. A very silly detail under the circumstances, surely, but I am drawn to it.
‘General Manager,’ it says, ‘Offshore Technologies.’
Under that is a photo from when he was younger.
But the name on the tag isn’t Anuj.
It is Jay.

 

Synopsis

“It is weird that I still meet my mother almost every day.
I am 35 years old. But that is not why it is weird.
It is because nobody else has seen her since 18th September, 20 years ago.
Because, that is the day she died.”

Meet Ria, the charming woman with an edge. Her life is nearly perfect. Or so it seemed, until one fateful day an accident wipes out parts of her memory. Suddenly, she starts to experience strange visions involving repressed childhood memories which send shivers down her spine.

A man called ‘Anuj’ whom she can’t remember.
The sadness that led to her mother’s sudden death.
Answers that her husband Jay refuses to share.
Secrets begin to resurface and Ria is left with no option but to confront her own fears.

Twisted is a tale of love, family and friendship, where bitter memories and shocking truths drive everyone to the point where they have to decide – Will the relationships crumble to dust or can love really conquer all?

Order Links (Paperback and e-book):

Within India:

Notionpress
Amazon
PayTM
Shopclues

International:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon AU

 

 

The Best WhatsApp Status Every Single Day

Be a game changer because there are many players…”

The only way to do great work is to have enjoyment in what you do.”

Sorry is an expression of sorrow for your wrongful act.”

Isn’t it tiring to have to come up with something new and different every single day? Does your WhatsApp status make you wish that you could come up with something better? Would you like to have a status a day to keep your WhatsApp trendy and admirable all the time?

I wish that I could ignore you in the same way you do.

Then Whats Status is your one stop destination. In the mood for something romantic? Try the Love WhatsApp Status. Are you the philosophical kind that believes in motivating others? There’s place for you too in the Inspirational or motivational sections. Be it a sad status, an emotional status, an angry status or something absolutely crazy… you have over 60 categories to choose from. Whatever mood you are in,  you’ll have an update created just for you. With new and unique statuses added each day by the growing community of over 70000 writers, Whats Status makes sure that your WhatsApp Status is updated all the time.

Life will always give you a second chance in the form of tomorrow, You just have to recognize it.”

Get on to the website, make your choice over 18000 statuses and just let your WhatsApp become awesome again. Your friends are bound to compliment you over your wit and trendy status updates for sure! What’s more is that you could use a lot of these as regular messages too, whether it is to apologize to your girlfriend, show your spiritual side to your relatives or even to look cool among your friends.

So hurry up and head over there right now!

The Tiruvannamalai Tour Guide: A Budget Friendly Escape

This week I traveled to Tiruvannamalai, a small town located in Tamil Nadu. It is around 900 kms from Hyderabad and is quite a quaint location to stop by for a few days. Here is my guide to how you can enjoy yourself with a budget of less than Rs. 5000/- per head.

In this article, I will be covering the following points…

  1. Tourist Attractions
  2. Travel
  3. Accommodation
  4. Food
  5. Shopping

Tourist Attractions:

There are two main reasons why people come to this town and the first one of these is the Sri Ramana Maharshi Ashram. 

This is a picturesque ashram that I suggest for everyone to visit at least once. It is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been to. With peacocks walking around you, the moment you enter the gates, you are welcomed by a breath of fresh air. On your right, you will find a bookstore that contains the work and writings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. It is beautiful and also has posters, badges, picture cards as well as notebooks.  I must have spent at least an hour here. When you visit, make sure to get the Arunachalam Guide that gives you the entire details about the temple.

A little heads-up here, if you would like to spend a few days inside the ashram, you can book a room six to eight weeks in advance at the main website. They provide free food and accommodation for you to enjoy the prayer hall, meditate and sit within the library to know more about Sri Ramana Maharshi.

It is to mention here that there are multiple other Ashrams in Tiruvannamalai such as Skandashramam, Seshadri Swamigal Ashramam, etc. You can check them all out too if you please.

 

***

About a kilometer and a half from this Ashram is the Arulmigu Arunachalam Temple. It is believed that Lord Shiva is on the large hill that is behind the temple. One must do a pradakshina around the hill before going into the temple for a darshan. There are many ways to do this pradakshina considering that it is 14 kms long. The first way is by auto. It costs 300 – 400 rs  and half an hour of your time to go around the hill once. The second way is by a cab / private vehicle. Considering that this pradakshina must be done on the street and not from the wilderness, this is another option. But the third, and the most difficult, is the bare-footed walk around the hill – the traditional way like you would do in any temple.

I will talk about the third method because that is the one that I did. We started at six in the morning with a namaskaram outside the main temple and a packet of camphor. We were full of high spirits and enthusiasm. Around the hill, the 14 kilometers contain eight Shiva temples and multiple other temples as well. The main purpose is to go into each of these Shiva Temples, light two – three camphor tablets at each and resume the walk. Each of these temples is roughly 1.5 kms – 3 kms distant from one another. You can ask each of the pujaris the distance you covered so far and how many more kms you need to go, though I will tell you from experience that they will ALL tell you different numbers. There are no direction boards but as long as you walk with the hill on your right, you will know where to go.

Another tip from experience… Unless you don’t mind the blistering heat, do NOT go in the summer like I did. While the roads are empty and the walk is uninterrupted, you may faint, bleed from your feet or just want to die. However, if you do go in the winter, you will be accompanied by over two lakh people – so choose your battles.

Being the city dwellers that we are with zero walking experience, the whole walk took us EIGHT hours, with numerous pit stops for drinks and food. I know that is an incredibly long time to take but note that we were bare-footed and also had no clue what we were doing. We kept resting on the cemented benches that burnt our skins, drinking boiling hot lemon soda because the concept of a refrigerator is extremely rare and eating filthy stuff that my mother would have NEVER bought us had we been in Hyderabad.

Overall, it was a memorable experience though only ONCE in a lifetime. I truly felt like I had seen God (excuse the joke!) but I don’t regret any of it. Okay, maybe I regretted it a bit when a monkey stole my biscuits mid-way! Once you are done with the eighth and the final Shiva temple, you are only two kilometers away from the main temple where you started from. Along the way you will see the Ramana Ashram, probably the hotel where you are staying and also 90% of the town!

***

Two other attractions I’ve heard about but didn’t get a chance to visit are the Virupaksha Caves and the Santanur Dam. While the first is about 3 kilometers from the railway station, the second is around 35 kilometers. The caves are known for their buddhist energy, powerful meditation and are 1000 years old. The Dam is supposed to be a beautiful sight with a lovely park as well. You can spend an entire day there if it interests you.

Travel:

You can just google how to get to Tiruvannamalai, but I took two trains from Hyderabad to get to there. If you are from Hyderabad too, the least stressful option is to go via Chittoor or Katpadi Junction to Tiruvannamalai. It will take you a total of 18 to 20 hours inclusive of the time gap between the two trains. Meanwhile, you can explore the adjoining station. We got off at Chittoor and ate at ‘Hotel Sindhu Towers’ which had excellent food, before boarding our next train to our actual destination.

Hyderabad (KCG) – Chittoor (CTO) / Katpadi Jn (KPD) – Tiruvannamalai (TNM)

However, if you have the time, the energy and the interest, I would definitely recommend for you to get off at Tirupati, have the darshan there and then make your way to Tiruvannamalai.

Within the city, the primary mode of transportation is autos and let me tell you one thing… they’re extremely expensive…

Accommodation:

Since Tiruvannamalal is a tiny town that centers around the Arulmigu Arunachaleshwar Temple, you won’t find a lot to do. Picking the right accommodation is vital for you in this case, because you will need your bit of rest. The best one that I saw there was Hotel Arpanaa, which is very close to the Temple and the other Tourist Attractions as well. Other than that, we have Hotel Nala Residency (Closer to the Railway Station), Hotel Ashreya (In the outskirts of the town) and quite a few other three star and above restaurants. We stayed in Hotel Ashreya which I DO NOT recommend because of its distance from the town, the terrible food and the super-expensive auto charges. Consider yourself warned.

We ate at over six restaurants within the town and found Arpanaa to be the best, but also a bit expensive in comparison to the rest. Make your choice from Goibibo, Cleartrip or any of those sites. We got quite a good deal from there.

Update: The Dreaming Tree is supposed to be the most beautiful restaurant / resort there is, so maybe you can check that out if you’d like.

Food:

There are multiple options for food here, my favourite being hotel Arpanaa. I ate at 5 – 6 different restaurants including the one in Hotel Ashreya where we stayed, but personally really disliked it. Some of the good restaurants are Ananda Bhavan, Abhirami and brindavanam which are all located in a couple of kilometers radius of the main Arunachalam temple.

You can try a variety of them out. They serve their meals in banana leaves and the rates in the larger hotels are all equivalent to those in Hyderabad. Throughout on all streets you will find coconut water, lemon soda and sugarcane juice as well as the traditional ragi malt served in cute little pots. However, the most favourite here is a drink known very well to us all… Coffee. Don’t leave Tiruvannamalai without drinking their coffee which you will find everywhere.

Shopping:

This part of the trip doesn’t really have much scope. There are a few stores, fancy jewellery and clothes shops but you won’t find much to buy. The most famous kind of shopping here is the ‘buy anything for 10 Rs.’ shops so you can just enter one and see what you like. Other than that, there are small theatres if Tamil movies are your thing.

This marks the end of the guide.  All in all, I loved being here and it was a completely different atmosphere from the Hyderabad City Rush. Everything is calm, serene and just so peaceful. You won’t find traffic signals, fancy cars, suits & ties or any hurry. I found that to be the most fascinating part of the journey.

For more information, please contact me at inkspression.shravyagunipudi@gmail.com and I will be happy to answer your queries.

 

Shravya’s Tirades: Insecurities

Think about this.
There is one thing in your life that brings you down and doesn’t allow you to be your true confident self. It is that one negative thing about you that you wish you could change but somehow, for some reason, can’t. It is your insecurity.

Now, think about this. You allow yourself to believe someone enough to think that your insecurity is safe with him. But then that person does something that shocks you. He uses it against you.
Sounds familiar?

Have you ever had your trust broken by someone you love?
Has that person done something that you never thought he would be capable of?
Will you feel comfortable around this person again now that you know he is just like everyone else?

It hurts, doesn’t it?
It really breaks your heart to finally understand that your deepest, darkest insecurities are safe only in one place and one place alone. Deep inside of you.
No one is worth the trauma of having to trust your self-consciousness with. Keep that with yourself and don’t let it show. Because no matter how much you think that a person will understand you for who you truly are, at the end, it will always be turned against you.

 

This isn’t a bitter post. No, it isn’t even a warning of sorts.
It just one woman’s enlightenment reaching out to you, begging you not to let delayed realization pull you down. Because it isn’t the end of the world to stop trusting that one person, is it? It isn’t earth shattering-ly sad. It’s just… the truth.
Give it time and you shall heal.
You may not believe that now, not when you are still hurting on the inside, but sooner or later, the pain will fade away. It will be replaced by something far superior. Anger.
How could that person betray you?
How could that person hurt you?
How could that person break your heart?
But the most important question is, how could you let him?
Isn’t it bad enough that you have your own battles to fight and skeletons to hide? Do you really need someone to shove that down your throat when he is in a rage and when you are feeling low? I think you are to blame here.
For giving into your weakness and telling that person what makes you cry.
For letting that person use your own weakness against you. That is his weakness. But you made it his power.

We all have that one thing that makes us want to curl up and be left alone. That one thing that has the power to break through the walls we build around our hearts and grip our souls in agony.
We do.
We all do, no matter how strong we think we are.
Protect that secret and take it to your grave.
Empathy is conditional. You won’t get it when you need it the most.

 

So, like I was saying… everyone has insecurities.
Sadly, they only understand their own…

Shravya’s Tirades: Being Overweight

Don’t you want to lose weight?

You would look so amazing if you lost some weight!

You’re almost at the marrying age. If you don’t shed some weight, you won’t get a good husband!

How can you be happy with yourself when you weigh that much?

Have you considered surgery to get rid of that flab?

Why don’t you go to “XYZ”? They’re promising 6 kgs weight loss in 6 days!

 

Have you heard people say these words or something similar to you? Or worse, are you one of those people who would say this stuff to someone else? Because, quite honestly, it has happened to me before. And it doesn’t really feel good. Especially when you know that it isn’t that person’s business to bother about how or why you look the way you do.

I know, I know.
These people think they are ‘caring’ and that they are doing this out of ‘concern’. How exactly is that true? Isn’t the mirror a constant ‘caring’ reminder? Do we really need you to poke at us every single time we step out of the house?

There really is only one response to all the intruding and embarrassing questions.

Mind.
Your.
Own.
Business.

So, here is the thing. I know most of us want to lose weight and even for those who don’t, that is your personal choice and I respect you for that. But what I am most concerned about is WHY. Do you know WHY you want to lose weight? Do you know WHY you feel you don’t need to lose weight?

I actually have a genetic disorder and that’s why I look like this. It’s hereditary and I have health problems. I tried everything but nothing seems to work. I lost a kilogram last week, I promise! 

Stop. Just stop. Whom are you explaining yourself to? Why do you feel the need to convince someone else about the way YOU look? How is it anyone else’s business but yours? Do not make excuses for yourself. You are so much better than that. You don’t need to tell anyone anything. Remember that the only person you are answerable to is yourself.

 

I promise I will lose ten kgs in two months. Will you stay with me then? Please don’t break up. I know I am fat but I can’t live without you. Give me two months. I am begging you.

This is insane. If someone doesn’t want to be with you, then it is that person’s loss and not yours. But when someone doesn’t want to be with you because of the way you look, then it most definitely is your gain. You don’t need that kind of negativity in life. Let that person go to hell. Your body is your property and it belongs to nobody else. Don’t let someone claim rights over it.

 

I am so fat, it is hideous. If I can’t even look at myself, how can I expect someone else to be able to tolerate me? My weight has made me ugly and useless. I don’t deserve to live anymore.

Whoa! Hold on. What does beauty have to do with your weight? Why will extra flesh make you ‘useless’ and if you are THAT upset about it, wouldn’t it be better to do something about it than to lose your life over something so insignificant? Are we really that vain and insecure? I am chubby. But I am also a Chartered Accountant, an Author and a part of a wonderful family. I am sure you have something that matters to you. A roof over your head, someone who would be lost without you, a passion that you are yet to explore. Are you going to throw that away over flesh? Really?

I am going to pause here for a disclaimer. I am not supporting or promoting being unhealthy. I am trying to tell you to love yourself no matter what and that you need to figure out, deep down inside, why you are making your decisions and for whom. Okay, now back to the rant.

This tirade is not gender-specific nor is it aimed at anyone in particular. People need to stop acting like everybody has to adhere to an undefinable, perception based and impractical standard. Life is difficult as it is. It is an unending circle of pain and misery. Do we need to make it worse for ourselves?

I am fat. You are short. He is ugly. She is a failure.
How do we decide this? At what weight are we considered fat? What height limit is the standard for short and tall? How can the definition of beauty be the same for everyone? Where is the book that specifies what it takes to be a failure?

And finally, why do you care?

If you want to do something about your weight, do it because it hinders your personal development or makes you feel self-conscious because your confidence depends upon it. Do it because you want to wear that pretty dress from last year that has become a bit tight on you. Do it because when you look at yourself in the mirror, you can’t see the sparkle in your eyes or the gleam in your smile because all you see is your tummy. Do it because health is important to you and you want to be fit.
In short, do it for yourself.

And even if you don’t want to do something about your weight, then great! But learn to live with your decision, survive the criticism and be happy with the way you look.

Because, after all, isn’t that the only thing we are all chasing?
Happiness?!

How to clear CA – Final Paper 6: Information Systems and Control Audit

​Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

 

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your ISCA paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

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:

 

  • Study Material
  • Practice Manual
  • The most recent two 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) Study Material: This book is your EVERYTHING for ISCA. Every word, every sentence, every sub-heading is very important in clearing this exam. There are eight chapters. Target one a day, learn them by heart, revise, memorize and just learn everything in the Study Material from page one till the end.

2) Practice Manual: For ISCA, the PM is more like a guide to check how much you were able to memorize from what you studied from the SM. Don’t think that studying just the practice manual will get you through for sure. This book is ONLY for revision.

3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least two 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.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT

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 – 12 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start studying, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all subjects.  So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part under ISCA covers ‘Ch 3 – Protection of IS’, ‘Ch 4 – BCP and DRM’ and ‘Ch 5 – Acquisition, Development and Implementation of IS’ while 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 to study.

My strategy was to create flowcharts for all the eight chapters. Ideally, Chapter 1 and 8 are the easiest of them all. But the rest can be tricky. To get a bird’s eye view of every topic, we need to understand the sub-topics and concepts under them. What better way to do that than to create flowcharts? They are simple, attractive and make great substitutes for short notes.

Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where your brain is completely awake! For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. 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 Study Material in 10 to 12 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 this subject, then give yourself a target of 5 – 8 days only. It is easily achievable because the portion is fairly minimal.

RTPs (2) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 3 – 4 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.

PRESENTATION

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) ISCA is 100% theoretical. It is dry and difficult to remember. Underline the sub-headings in every answer.

2) Use bullet points and split lengthy answers into paragraphs as much as is possible

3) Definitions are very scoring but also tricky to answer if you don’t remember keywords. Present those well.

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.

 

Coming up next is my tips for DIRECT TAX LAWS.
I hope you have a wonderful day.

How to Clear CA – Final Paper 5: Advanced Management Accounting

​Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to take coaching for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your Advanced Management Accounting paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

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:
  • Practice Manual
  • JB Gupta’s AMA and OR
  • Compiler
  • 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) AMA and OR by J.B. Gupta: I used this as a substitute for the study material. You don’t require it if you’ve taken coaching and have that book to refer from. Compared to the study material, this is definitely easier to read, it covers the entire portion, the theory is convenient to memorize and the sums cover  a major portion of past examination questions. All in all, this is a comprehensive material that boosts the ability of the student to complete the portion well ahead of time.

2) Practice Manual: This is a standard for every CA student. It is necessary to be thorough with the practice Manual 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 correct steps and formulae.

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.

5)
 Compiler: This is the best book to follow to get as much practice as possible. Whatever you do or don’t do, make sure you have time to complete this. The trick is to treat it the way you would handle mocks and RTPs.

TIME MANAGEMENT

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 – 12 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start studying, 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 for each of AMA and OR. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part under AMA covers ‘CVP Analysis (Marginal Costing)’ and ‘Standard Costing’ while the ‘Major’ part under OR consists of ‘Transportation’, ‘Linear Programming’ and ‘Simulation’. 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 to study. In the Minor portion of AMA, chapters like ‘Transfer Pricing’ and ‘Developments in the business environment’ are all easy but important from examination point of view. Similarly, in OR, we need to focus on ‘PERT and CPM’.

My strategy was to leave Standard Costing in the ‘Major’ part of the AMA as it is far too time consuming for the marks it is allotted. However, if you are comfortable with it, by all means, go ahead.

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 JB Gupta in 15 to 18 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 this subject, then give yourself a target of 8 – 10 days only. It is easily achievable because though the portion is vast, there are less types of concepts to worry about.

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.

PRESENTATION

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) AMA is completely a practical paper. It is a combination of concepts and formulae. To make it easier and more attractive for the person correcting your paper, underline the formulae in every solution.

2) Every lengthy solution should be presented structurally in a step-wise manner so as to be logical.

3) Direct theory is very scoring. This means definitions and straightforward answers. Try to answer any theoretical questions, if any, with clarity and in bullet points.

4) Use a scale and pencil to draw the formats and lines so that it adds a neat look to your exam paper. This specially applies to assignment and transportation sums from OR.

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.

 

Coming up next is my tips for INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND CONTROL AUDIT.

 

I hope you have a wonderful day.