How to get more from your time in class

Student writing on notebook

Studying to be a CA calls for a different approach and can take a little bit of getting used to.

Whether you are a TC, TPS or TPE student, the time you spend in class is about more than just turning up and sitting through your lectures. We strongly recommend that you become an ‘active’ rather than a ‘passive’ learner to get the most from your time in class.

1. Do the pre-course work

Doing the pre-course work is a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think it’s important. Particularly for students at TPS and TPE level, the pre-course work is what we assume you already know, so that we can build on it in class. If you don’t tackle the pre-course work, there is real risk you could come to class and find things really challenging.

The CA course is like a house of cards – you need a firm foundation in place in order to reach the top. Remember too that all of the assumed knowledge from TC is examined at TPS and TPE, so it makes sense to ensure you know it!

We won’t leave you to your own devices with pre-course work, as there are clear timetables and study plans to help you work through the material at an appropriate pace.

2. Participate

Being an active learner will give you a real advantage, and this is particularly so during class time. This is about really listening and engaging with what is being taught. Don’t allow yourself to drift off – see if you can jot down the key points from a particular session to keep them fresh in your mind.

Remember, there’s no need to write lots and lots of notes in class, but we would recommend making a note of anything that you feel unsure about. Follow this up by asking questions. Talking to your tutors is another essential way you can participate and take full advantage of the time you have with them. You can also direct your questions through the student blog email or Twitter account, and we'll ensure you get an answer.

3. Act on feedback

Your tutor team are on hand to give you lots of useful, practical advice. However, it’s down to you to put that advice into action in order to improve your approach. If, for example, a tutor recommends that you look at a question or problem in a new way, then follow that advice to the letter.

4. Respect others

At ICAS, we encourage professionalism in all our students no matter what level of study they are at. Your professionalism comes across in how you speak, act and treat others. Remember that there are other people in class who may not be as familiar with the material as you and who may be learning it for the first time. Don’t distract them! Other ways you can be more professional in class are:

  • Being honest, reliable and responsible.
  • Treating people the way you like to be treated yourself.
  • Taking the time to prepare properly, and keeping up-to-date with information relevant to your course.

5. Don’t go it alone

If you are finding things tricky we really want you to tell us rather than suffering in silence. As well as speaking to your course tutor, you can also speak to your manager or nominated Training Principal at your firm. There is also lots of information available in the CA student handbook and on the Education pages. You can also message us on Twitter via @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com at any time.

More often than not, the person you’ll talk to will have been through something similar themselves, and can be a great source of advice.

July 2018

Monday 9 July: Hedge funds and Brexit

How do hedge funds make a safe bet on how the markets are going to move? Purchasing survey data that isn't publicly available has become common practice ahead of big economy-shifting events.

In the weeks and months leading up to an election or referendum, polls will target groups of voters and monitor opinions. Companies like YouGov and Survation will use this information to predict outcomes and document the public mindset, examining the impact of key events and the effectiveness of campaign techniques.

However, much of this data is illegal to share with the public ahead of voting day. Overhead figures are often published in the press to indicate the state of public opinion, but detailed information cannot be released due to privacy and voter-influencing concerns. It is legal to sell this information to private organisations.

This raises ethical questions about whether it is 'unfair' or not for private companies to have access to this data. On one hand, it can be used to safeguard important funds and therefore avoid economic problems for the wider public.

Ahead of the results of the Brexit referendum in the UK, several hedge funds are believed to have purchased data that predicted the outcome of the vote more accurately than the public polls. This meant funds had a better idea of how the value of the pound was going to be affected and acted accordingly.

On the other hand, several key figures of the Brexit referendum are alleged to have had access to this information through professional channels but released statements predicting a 'Remain' result as a bygone conclusion, therefore driving up currency values ahead of the inevitable crash.

The situation certainly presents an ethical shade of grey.

Get in touch

Tell us what you think of hedge fund access to political data, and its potential use by politicians and campaigners on Twitter @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


In today's blog, we meet a CA student using their spare time to volunteer with a charity and look at why taking a break from work can be a good thing. We also sum up the ins and outs of contribution and examine the books of prime entry. Elsewhere, you can find out how to be productive during lunch and what not to do in the office if you want to stay popular.

Giving back: CA Student Lauren Wilson

Lauren Wilson, a trainee at Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) in Aberdeen, has been recognised with a Youth Involvement Certificate for her voluntary work with the elderly to combat loneliness.

What are the Books of Prime Entry?

This infographic explains the Books of Prime Entry for FA and FR, step by step.

10 ways to use your lunch break

You need a break. It’s not lazy to take a little time out of the day to regroup, refresh and regenerate. And with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things to do on your lunch break. Hint: It’s not studying!

Pet peeves around the office

Working in an office can be great fun, but it can be a challenge getting on with everyone around you. Especially if they chew so loudly, you cannot hear yourself think... we take a look at some of the most irritating office behaviours.

Back to Basics: What is contribution?

The idea of ‘contribution’ is a pivotal one in Business Management, and it actually features in nearly half of the BM modules! Let’s get back to basics with it.

The holiday guilt of millennials

Research shows that Generation Y (also known as millennials) are less likely to take their full holiday entitlements than other generations. But it turns out that taking a holiday is actually good for your career...


Monday 2 July: Join us at the Summer Social

ICAS students and newly-qualified CAs are set to gather in the heart of London for the 2018 ICAS London Summer Social on 12 July, organised by the Young Leaders Network.

This annual event brings together young and soon-to-be CAs in the City to connect and network with each other. It is a highly anticipated staple of the ICAS calendar and offers the perfect opportunity to broaden your professional horizons.

This year, we have invited CAs from the worlds of financial services, banking, innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship and technology to share their experiences in an informal setting with stunning views. Join your up-and-coming peers for an evening of conversation and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the ICAS community.

If you want to get a head start, Young Leaders Network member Jonathan Mills CA recently shared some of his top tips for successfully networking at events.

The London Summer Social starts at 6pm on the rooftop terrace of Grange St Paul's, making it the perfect time and place to meet after work and engage with fellow rising stars of the profession.

Book now

Get in touch

Will you be attending the London Summer Social? Tell us about what you are looking forward to - @ICAS_students on Twitter or email studentblog@icas.com.


In today's blog, we look at the impact your commute could be having on your health, and round up our pick of the apps that might revitalise your revision. If the thought of more books has you dreaming of sunny shores, see our advice for safe holiday habits. We also tell you the secrets of public speaking and find out what financial challenges are presented by brewing beer in Australia. And finally, for those of you embarking on FR in July, we take a look at how to prepare final accounts.

The secrets of public speaking

Did you attend the CA Young Summit? Inspired by the speakers? Some people can command a room when they speak, or deliver important presentations with such ease that you suspect they practice every weekend. In fact, everyone can learn these skills and conquer nerves; discover the secrets behind great public speaking and how to win over your audience.

SoX readiness is no small beer: Andrew Campbell CA

Sarbanes-Oxley (SoX) readiness is a staple of financial control and audit functions, ensuring a business can fully implement regulations and reporting standards for Australian companies issuing and registering securities in the US.Breweries.

Holiday Safety

Whether you enjoy ‘staycationing’, exploring undiscovered regions, or being pampered with sun, sea, sand and unlimited food, you will want to do it in the safest way possible. Avoid the dodgy tummy, ditch the bank charges and relax with full policy cover!

6 apps to help CA students with revision

It goes without saying that there’s no substitute for putting in the hours with the material, however, here are a few apps that might just make things easier for you.

How to prepare final accounts in FR

Students who are moving up from Financial Accounting (FA) to Financial Reporting (FR) often ask about preparing final accounts as this is not a skill they get the chance to develop at Test of Competence level.

Consequences of your commute

It's not just your imagination - that hour of commuting every day is impacting your productivity and mental health, according to a study of over 34,000 UK workers.

June 2018

Monday 25 June: Global debt at all-time high

Global debt is at an all-time high, totalling 225% of the world's GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Thanks to a major research project compiling comprehensive global financial data dating back to World War II, the IMF has produced a Global Debt Database that shows an uptick in global debt since the previous high of 213% of GDP in mid-financial crisis 2009.

However, economic growth is currently strong in most countries and debt sustainability isn't proving to be a major concern for the international markets. At the moment, the growth of debt simply indicates a greater need to support growing economies and wealth.

Still, the IMF has recommended that countries take a look at reducing their deficits and shoring up fiscal surpluses while the outlook is still good. This plan of action had raised a few concerns in tipping the balance between public and private debt.

In an article for The Guardian, RBS Chairman Sir Howard Davis explained that when public debt outweighs private, national regulators are expected to introduce sanctions to control the credit supply.

In the UK, this task falls to the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (FPC), which has threatened to take action in the past. Here is what the growth of private debt looks like:

Get in touch

Do you think debt should be a greater concern for the global economy? Can economic growth sustain credit for the foreseeable future? Share your thoughts @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


In today's blog, we are encouraging self-care with tips on how to combat nerves, get a good amount of sleep and look after your mental health in and out of exam season. Check out our professional-themed hacks for your day-to-day life and give your note-taking skills a boost with a new technique or two, including specialist fonts for dyslexia. We also go back to basics on investment appraisal, exploring how to determine the profitability of a business venture.

Back to Basics: Investment Appraisal Techniques

Before a business undertakes a project, it needs a way to assess whether the project is profitable. Module 3 of the TC Finance course introduces the four most common techniques used to appraise a capital investment, so we go back to basics.

Caring for your mental health

More students and young adults than ever are reporting mental health issues, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). To help manage the stress of exams and everyday life, your tutors share some advice on coping with academic pressure.

Fighting sleep: try these five tips to combat sleep loss

A study revealed that sleep deprivation can result in Alzheimer's disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes, but a 24-hour society means that we have left behind our established patterns - try these five tips to restore balance.

Five skills to calm your nerves

Work, exams and the pressures of everyday life can unexpectedly wear you down. Stress and anxiety lead to sleepless nights, a lack of focus and even illness, but there are methods to treat yourself well - read our nerve-calming skills for a zen-like attitude!

Lifehacks for Professionals: Work

Lifehacks are everywhere - some practical, some bizarre, and some genius. As a busy professional who is also studying, you need the tools to make your life simpler, easier and quicker.

Top five ways to take notes (plus special Dyslexic fonts)

It’s time to take your note-taking skills to the next level for when you embark on the next level! Investigate and experiment with these five methods for yourself, as well as specialist easy-to-read fonts for people with dyslexia.


Monday 18 June: Myths about the future of work

The future of work is a topic growing in popularity as everyone from scientists, economists and CAs try to predict what the typical office may look like in 50 years' time. Former ICAS Conference speaker Professor Daniel Susskind is one of those predictors.

The big question on everyone's minds seems less far-fetched every day: will machines take over the world of work?

Generally, the consensus is that, while artificial intelligence is getting smarter, there will always be a need for human reasoning, empathy and ingenuity. Professor Susskind agrees and in this video attempts to address some of the biggest fears that surround the future of work.

As an Oxford Fellow in Economics and co-author of The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, he is well-placed to discuss where we are headed. An advocate of evolution over eradication, he explains how technology may transform jobs, but likely not replace them.

Three myths about the future of work (and why they're not true) | Daniel Susskind | TED Talks

Get in touch

What are your predictions for the future? Do you think the accountancy profession is at risk? Share your thoughts with @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


In today's blog, we get back to basics on TC Finance (discounts) and VAT, specifically the taxing of second-hand goods - a great read for ITP students. We also revisit some handy studying techniques, calculator tips and tricks, and exam advice for TC.

Back to basics: discounting

We dive into module 2 of the TC Finance course and examine the process of discounting with the calculations involved.

Back to basics: Second-hand goods scheme for VAT

Are puppies ‘second-hand goods’ for VAT purposes? Get up to date with the scheme and its applications as we go back to basics.

Organising an ideal study space

Self-directed study is key to completing your ICAS qualification and associated modules, but even for the best of us this can be a difficult task to achieve in a structured matter. We investigate approaches for organising the most effective study space.

To transform or conform: The future of accountancy

Oxford lecturer and co-author of The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, Daniel Susskind tells us what tomorrow holds for accountancy.

Casio Fx85: why we use it

The calculator is one of the most important tools you will use during your time as a CA student, besides your brain. Our education team share their tips and tricks for getting the most out of the CA calculator of choice.

Five tips for good TC exam technique

While your revision is a vital part of getting a good exam result, your technique in the exam is just as important. Good exam technique is not just about what you know, but how you apply your knowledge in the exam itself.


Monday 11 June: Join us at the Young CAs Summit

Will you be in London on 21 June? You should be if you don't want to miss out on hearing from innovators, entrepreneurs and inspiring experts in modern business skills at the ICAS Young CAs Summit, held in association with Investec Click & Invest.

ICAS returns to the 42nd floor of the Leadenhall Building this month to celebrate the achievements of Young CAs, not least with the presentation of the 2018 One Young CA Award, which recognises an exemplary member of the community.

As well as stunning views and sparkling conversation, the Summit will feature two lightning sessions focused on CA entrepreneurs and innovators, ready to share their experiences and advice in successfully navigating a changing economic landscape. Notable CA speakers include:

Angela Malik CA
Sumati Sharma CA
Ricky Munday CA
Paul Thomson CA
Kimberley Oliver CA
Joel Watt CA
Tom Parkinson CA
 

We will also be hosting a Networking Masterclass with business development expert Tom Kerr, trying to 'teach young dogs old tricks' in making and maintaining valuable contacts. This interactive session will encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and dazzle your professional peers to craft your network into a well-oiled machine.

In addition, David Levin, the UK's foremost professional tweeter and Creative Director of social agency That Lot, will be presenting a Social Media Masterclass. Join us to learn how to best engage your audience and get the most out of your online presence.

Students can attend the event at no cost, so secure your place now.

Get in touch

Will you be attending the Young CAs Summit? What are you most looking forward to? Tweet your pictures and insights to @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


In today's blog, we're focusing on getting ready for exams. Find out how to handle question practice, information overload, and what you can to combat stress. We also review the importance of how long a month is (for correct accounting periods!), look at research into gender bias at board level, and revisit financial reporting lessons from a real business case.

Top 10 excuses for the lack of women on FTSE boards

In a shocking revelation, the Hampton-Alexander Review revealed why some FTSE boards have been reluctant to appoint women.

Tutor tip: Don't let yourself down with dates

Don’t let yourself down with dates - knowing the number of days in each month is essential for picking the correct accounting period.

Ten ways to beat exam stress

CA exams can be pretty intense and stress can sometimes get the better of us. Whether you are studying for TC, TPS or TPE exams, here are 10 ways you can keep the stress at bay.

What to do, and what not to do for question practice

Practice questions are an essential part of your studies. Here’s how to get the most from using them for mocks or the real thing.

Information overload? Here’s how to handle it

Do you have trouble remembering what you have studied after a long day of hitting the books? Is keeping track of your workload becoming overwhelming? You may be suffering from information overload.

Financial Reporting lessons from Rio Tinto

On 17 October 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) fined the global mining group Rio Tinto plc £27,385,400 for failures in its 2012 half-year accounts. But what were those failures, why was such a fine necessary and are there any lessons for CA students?


Monday 4 June: Building, maintaining and repairing connections

How would your organisation handle a negative story in the press? Is rebuilding public trust and managing your image a priority for the business?

Following on from our article examining examples of reputational damage and recovery, we look at rebuilding trust in this video from Harvard Business School's Frances Frei.

Speaking from her experiences at Uber Technologies and in the wider business world, Professor Frei explains why building, maintaining and repairing connections with customers is the single most important thing for companies today.

View video

Get in touch

How important do you think integrity is to modern consumers? Share your thoughts @ICAS_students on Twitter or email studentblog@icas.com.


We would like to welcome all our new ITP students arriving for classes in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bristol today (4 June)! If you would like to view helpful resource guides and related articles, simply use this search link.

Meanwhile, in today's blog, we have gathered our top tips for motivated and effective studying in the run-up to exams. We also sum up the basics of inflation and remind you to sign up for the excellent Summer Social - lots of networking fun to be had! Elsewhere, we encourage you to take a look at the ICAS Top 100 Young CAs 2018 and consider our advice for planning career success.

Six ways to stay motivated to study

Whether you are at TC, TPS or TPE level, finding (and keeping!) the motivation to keep going can be a challenge. However, with the right drive, you are much more likely to go the extra mile with your studies and be more focused on your success. Here are six ways you can boost your motivation levels.

Five bad study habits to kick to the kerb

Different studying styles work for different people - you may favour highlighters, post-it notes or just good old reading and repetition. But are your studying habits working against you?

Back to basics: Inflation

What do quiche, leggings and edam cheese have to do with consumer spending levels and interest rates? We go back to basics on inflation.

Designing a 10-year career plan

Now you know how to plan for reaching your career goals, what should you be thinking about when you decide on where you want to be?

ICAS London Summer Social

The ICAS London Summer Social is one of the most popular and eagerly anticipated events in our busy social calendar. Organised by the Young Leaders Network, this event is perfect for CA students and newly qualified ICAS members to meet and connect with like-minded CAs in your local area.

The ICAS Top 100 Young CAs 2018 announced

In case you missed it - the ICAS Top 100 Young CAs 2018 list is here! Including recently qualified students who are now rising stars of the membership.

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  • CA Student blog

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