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 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.

March 2019

11 March: Insights and advice from a One Young CA

This week is your last chance to enter the Top Young CAs 2019 or nominate a Young CA you admire. Even if you aren't eligible just yet, read this advice from 2018 One Young CA Michael Scott, who will be speaking at this year's Admission Ceremony.

How has your career evolved since being named One Young CA?

I have made the move from practice into industry and am now Group Financial Controller at DPS Group.

Although this progression was an inevitable career goal for me, the experience of entering One Young CA and Top 100 Young CAs 2018 instilled in me a greater level of confidence and self-belief. I was more willing to accept new and greater challenges, tackling them head-on with enthusiasm and conviction.

Why are you Proud to be a CA?

Primarily, it was just an incredibly difficult qualification to obtain. There is no question that the robust training, comprehensive coursework and the experience obtained in practice is a fantastic foundation for a very successful career.

The opportunity is there to progress into a diverse range of roles in business and organisations, but this was accompanied by stress, late nights, sheer determination and a lot of coffee.

Moreover, to be a part of the global CA community, which is well recognised and highly respected, is a privilege. I have encountered CAs who, within their respective organisations, charities and businesses are leading initiatives, driving equality and facilitating real change.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Young CAs?

I am delighted knowing that in addition to the high ethical standards, professional competence and technical ability expected from ICAS members, there is also a growing emphasis on social awareness, charitable causes and community spirit.

Use your highly respected and recognised qualification for good. By all means, go out, develop your career, be successful - but at the same time do something that makes a change, no matter how small. Give a little back.

Get in touch

What do you want to see from the next One Young CA? Tell us @ICAS_students or email

In this week's blog, we ask you to think about your 'fear of missing out', go back to basics on share matching and director responsibility and share a video on CA ethics. We also have a reminder about what you need to do before the 2019 ICAS Admission Ceremony and how to keep your details up-to-date with us.

The rise of FOMO and night-time phone use

A Deloitte study showed that one-third of UK adults check their smartphone during the night, prompting questions over the extent of ‘FOMO’ amongst under 34s and the knock-on effects.

Back to basics: Share matching

In the run-up to the end of the tax year, many individuals may be considering realising capital gains to make use of their 2018/19 annual allowance of £11,700. Here is an overview from the CA Principles of Taxation course.

Admission ceremony reminder

We have started our countdown to the 2019 ICAS Admission Ceremony, held on 23 March in Edinburgh, and with less than two weeks to go it's time to checklist entry requirements!

Video: Ethics is at the heart of being a CA

'Ethics is at the heart of being a CA' (41 seconds), examines why ethical behaviour is intrinsic to chartered accountancy, and how to apply it. It includes a handy reminder on the ethical declaration you will make at the Admission Ceremony.

Back to basics: Director Responsibility

Business Law is relevant throughout the CA qualification as well as your post-qualification career. Use our mnemonic to get back to basics on director responsibility, as explained by Chris Cunnane, Lecturer.

Staying in touch with ICAS

Use our handy infographic to make sure you can get in touch with us and aren't missing out on vital communications.

4 March: Commercial awareness in action

Two giants of the UK retail scene have hit a roadblock in their plans to merge. However, is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) right to worry about a coupling of Sainsbury's and Asda?

Provisional findings of the CMA investigation into a potential merger between the supermarkets have raised significant concerns regarding the knock-on effect for consumers.

Stuart McIntosh, leader of the independent inquiry group, said: "These are two of the biggest supermarkets in the UK, with millions of people purchasing their products and services every day. We have provisionally found that, should the two merge, shoppers could face higher prices, reduced quality and choice, and a poorer overall shopping experience across the UK. We also have concerns that prices could rise at a large number of their petrol stations."

Addressing the issues raised at the start of the investigation last year, Sainsbury's CEO Mike Coupe asserted that the prices of popular food products would, in fact, drop by up to 10% should the merger go ahead and dismissed the idea of in-store job losses or closures.

Currently, there are numerous locations across the UK where the catchment areas of Sainsbury's and Asda already overlap and the impact of a tie-up would be keenly felt on both a national and local level. A successful deal would position the resultant company as the largest supermarket chain in the UK, overtaking market competitor Tesco and totalling an estimated £50bn in annual sales.

While the supermarkets now have the opportunity to present their own responses to this analysis, the wider sector seems largely sceptical of a convincing argument.

The sale of assets and stores to reduce the overall market share of a merged company has been suggested as the most obvious way to allay the CMA's concerns. However, these hypotheticals have led worker unions to seek reassurances for existing staff and supply chain providers point to the potential loss of business in what will be an already tense post-Brexit environment.

Case studies like this are great for improving your commercial awareness at TPE.

Get in touch

Would a Sainsbury's-Asda merger give one brand too much power? Let us know your opinion on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we find out the quick way to remember accounting dates throughout the year, investigate why chocolate puns are helpful for TPE and TC students, and discover ways to learn in a large classroom. We have a chortle at the weirdest expense claims sent to HMRC, and hear about Calum A. McDonald's journey from student to ICAS lecturer. And ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March, we look back at everyday sexism in finance and the double standards.

How to learn in a large class

Our class sizes vary throughout the country, but each individual is sure to have a preferred learning style and setting to make the most out of their time - here are our tips for taking on any learning environment, whether it's with ICAS or in-house company training.

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.

Why chocolate puns matter to TPE and TC students

All publicity is good publicity” – it’s a phrase that’s often used, but it doesn’t always hold true. Find out why chocolate puns and product recall are important to TC and TPE students.

Sexism in finance: when CAs couldn't get a mortgage

Imagine being unable to apply for a loan or hire purchase agreement without finding a husband or gaining the signature of a male relative, first. Ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March, we look back to dubious practices of the last 50 years.

Revealed: the weirdest expense claims sent to HMRC

January saw the self-assessment deadline come to pass and HMRC, perhaps fearing the worst, decided to share some of the rather odd claims and excuses for missing the deadline.

Tutor profile: Calum A. McDonald

Lecturer Calum A. Macdonald CA tells us about his ICAS journey and how he came to join the tutor team.

February 2019

25 February: Stay up to date with the latest accountancy news

What other accountancy-themed publications do you stay up to date with? We're taking a look at AccountingWeb this week, and the recent articles you may have missed but deserve a read.

Neil Warren's piece on VAT: Ten quirks of the flat rate scheme, looks at the 'pitfalls' of using flat rate scheme (FRS) for small businesses, including the fact that a business can withdraw from FRS at any time.

There's also a fascinating piece on Harry Potter actor, Rupert Grint, and how he landed in hot water after trying to change an accounting date to avoid a higher tax rate, and Damon Anderson on why making tax digital is an 'opportunity for firms and their clients'.

Meredith McCammond goes over the new loan charge which takes effect on 5 April 2019, and Philip Fisher gives advice on how businesses should be talking about Brexit with their clients to ensure they are adequately advised and the relationship is sustained.

Get in touch

What other resources do you recommend (apart from the CA Student Blog!)? Get in touch at @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we find out how to make the most of your TPE Feedback sessions, and get back to basics on partial exemption for allocating residual input tax for a business. We have the key to effective case study answers and three ways to study and work at home, rounded off with an examination of the new deemed domicile provisions in tax and six tips for presenting financial data.

Three ways to study at home

myCABLE days and flexible working policies can mean you get to stay at home to work. On paper it sounds great - no dress code, early commute or unfulfilling sandwich at lunchtime - but how do you stay focused outside of a class or office environment?

Six tips for presenting financial data

Whether you are just starting out in your training contract, or have a bit more experience, presenting financial data to others will be part of your role. Here's how to present data in a clear and concise manner for clients and employers.

Key to effective case study answers 

Answering a case study can seem intimidating to many TPE students, especially under the pressures of an exam. Follow our four-step guide to producing a great case study answer.

Domicile and the new deemed domicile provisions

Domicile is one of the determinants of an individual’s liability to UK tax. As of 6 April 2017, new provisions relating to ‘deemed domicile’ came into effect. This article looks at the concept of domicile, the new deemed domicile rules and how domicile can affect an individual’s tax liability.

Making the most of your TPE feedback sessions

TPE Level Controller, Catherine Devaney, helps you achieve value in the TPE feedback sessions.

Back to basics: Partial Exemption for TPS

Do you know how to allocate residual input tax for a business? We get back to basics on calculating partial exemption for TPS level.

18 February: Calling the next generation of CAs

The search for the ICAS Top 100 Young CAs 2019 is now underway. Could you be the next One Young CA?

Each year, we look to recognise the best and brightest young talent of the ICAS membership to raise their profile and promote their work to fellow CAs and beyond.

All CAs aged 35 or under are eligible for the competition, regardless of industry or location. We are also accepting entries from CA students who are due to be admitted to membership before 30 May 2019. You can nominate yourself or submit an entry on behalf of a Young CA you know.

This year's focus is on three pivotal categories: TechnologyTrust and Talent.

We foresee the Young CAs having a positive impact in these areas as pacesetters for the future of ICAS and the profession as a whole. However, exceptional candidates operating outside these spheres of influence may be eligible for special recognition.

One Young CA 2018 Michael Scott said: "I am looking forward to hearing from Young CAs who are motivated and passionate about local and global causes and are working with purpose and determination to make a difference.

"Having had to be nudged on myself last year, I would encourage people to nominate someone that they believe would make a fantastic role model for Young CAs. Someone who is redefining the profession, proud to be a CA and using the designation to impact their communities and wider society.

"The competition is an opportunity for ICAS to showcase the variety of incredible talent the next generation of CAs has to offer."

Nominations are open until 15 March 2019 and winners will be announced in July 2019. A further judging process will then commence to select this year's One Young CA, who will be announced in September 2019.

Nominate yourself

Get in touch

How do you think Technology, Trust and Talent are going to be key issues for future CAs? Share your thoughts @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog we look at the five steps for sitting mocks and advise on how to get the best out of myCABLE. Business law is tackled with a look at the notice period conundrum and we look at how auditing made it to the Oscars ahead of the event on Sunday. IFRS 16, Leases, is now applicable for all businesses - find out what the standard replaced and why, and learn about why a ship with beetles has lessons for TC BM, TPS Afin and TPE students.

The five steps of taking mocks seriously for success

Mock exams and progress tests are a key indicator of how well you understand and can communicate the material in your course. Ahead of the real exam, make sure you are using these opportunities to achieve your full potential.

10 tips for online learning

Working with myCABLE is integral to your CA studies but could you be using its resources more effectively? Your tutors share their top tips for making the most of myCABLE.

Notice period conundrums for business law

A notice period conundrum cropped up for one of our students, so our Business Law tutor Amanda McKenzie is on hand with the answers.

PwC at the Oscars

If you thought you needed perfect memory skills to retain all that great chartered accountancy knowledge, just think of what goes into the voting process of the world's biggest awards show.

Tutor tip: accounting standard on leases IFRS 16

From 1 January 2019, the long-awaited accounting standard on leases, IFRS 16, became mandatory and therefore replaced IAS 17.

Lessons in BM and Afin from stink beetles

Why did 'stink beetles' from East Asia potentially cost thousands of jobs in the car industry in New Zealand? We can analyse this somewhat bizarre business situation from the perspectives of TC BM, TPS Afin and TPE.

11 February: New opportunities on the horizon

It's a fact of life that some of our talented trainee CAs will fail their exams at some point. However, there is a solution even if you reach the end of your current training contract.

If you have failed a recent TPS exam you are probably feeling quite despondent right now, but please remember that a number of students fail at least one exam and the vast majority still go on to become a CA.

One of the first things you need to do is speak to your firm about your results. Some firms have particular policies in place about when you should be resitting. Speak to your training principal as soon as possible to understand their expectations.

If you and your firm decide you cannot continue your training contract, but you wish to continue your studies, please get in touch with Allison McEleney ( to discuss your options - there may be an opportunity to continue your training contract with a different firm in these circumstances.

In the meantime, we have a great article explaining what you need to know about TPS resits.

Get in touch

Remember, if you have a query relating to your studies you can always talk to a tutor, but if you're not sure where to direct your query, get in touch at or @ICAS_students.

In this week's blog, we start the countdown to the 2019 Admission Ceremony - there are five weeks to go, so find out what you need to arrange before you attend and enjoy the festivities (and the all-important admission to membership of course!). We also continue our back to basics on materiality with an examination of thresholds to be applied, and ask what makes a good business plan for TC finance and business management students. There's a fun spotlight on the numbers behind Valentine's Day,  and we find out what constitutes a conflict of interest - a great ethical reflection. Finally, you have to absorb a lot of information as a CA Student and during your firm's training contract, so we address the best methodologies to tackle information overload.

2019 Admission Ceremony Countdown 

We have started our countdown to the 2019 ICAS Admission Ceremony, held on 23 March in Edinburgh, and with just over a month to go it's time to checklist entry requirements!

What is a conflict of interest?

A clash between personal priorities and public or professional duty is known as a 'conflict of interest' (COI) and can have serious ethical implications for CAs.

Back to basics: Materiality thresholds

Are you comfortable with the basics of establishing materiality in audits? In the conclusion of our Materiality Back to Basics articles, we look at other thresholds used during the course of the audit engagement.

What makes a good business plan?

Business plans can be difficult to understand, especially for those unaccustomed to the format. We identify what makes a good business plan with reference to TC Finance and Business Management.

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.

Valentine's Day in numbers

Roses are red, violets are blue, the numbers add up for couples of two. With the season of love upon us, we round up 14 fun facts in numbers about Valentine's Day.

4 February: Conquering the biggest time drain at work

How much of your day do you spend reading, writing, sorting and deleting emails? The Harvard Business Review has figured out the biggest drains on time.

Full inboxes are the biggest email time-waster, according to research from Zarvana and the Harvard Business Review. A backlog of unread missives enables several email bad habits: reply procrastination, thread build-up, manual scrolling and re-reading old information.

However, even if you're always on top of marking things as 'read' and sorting your email away into organised folders, it's likely you're still spending way too much time on those tasks. Over-checking email is the next biggest time-waster at 21 minutes, followed by archiving messages into niche categories.

The latter practice, while useful to a certain extent, can make things hard to locate if taken too far and also eats up the time spent creating, naming and filling endless sub-folders. Manually moving your emails around can account for 11 minutes a day.

Finally, reading unimportant and irrelevant emails can chip away eight minutes from your busy schedule.

Want to claim back your day? Read our tips for getting your inbox under control and becoming a guru of email management.

Get in touch

Do you think email is a drain on your productivity? Tell us what you think @ICAS_students [or email us directly!].

This week, we take a look at the five things you need on your desk at work or home, what you can do to avoid bad habits as a future leader, and what to consider when saving for your first home. We also share some advice for those of you advancing from TC to TPS and go back to basics on audit risk for PAR.

Management: Breaking the mould

Elizabeth Lyle, Partner and Managing Director of The Boston Consulting Group, explains why potential leaders need to change now.

Saving a deposit for your first home

First-time buyers are saving for longer to afford their deposit, and with rising prices, we offer advice on how to get started.

Transitions: TC to TPS

TPS Level Controller Lauren O’Brien answers your questions on how the TPS stage varies from TC, and how to make the most out of the level.

Five things you need on your desk right now

Can a few small changes to your desk improve your productivity? Browse our infographic for ideas to brighten up your workspace and keep your mind on track.

Back to Basics: Audit Risk

Have you got to grips with the Principles of Audit and Reporting (PAR)? Anna Cameron takes us back to basics on audit risks to make sure you’re on PAR for success!

Back to basics for TPS level

ICAS tutors have put together a series of Back to Basics guides, infographics and support material on TPS subjects. They are a great place to start if your question practice has flagged up areas that you need a firmer grounding.


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