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.

December 2018

Monday 3 December: The end of share destruction?

Share destruction, a popular mechanism for protecting share value when assets decline, is on thin ice in EU money markets.

Regulators in Ireland and Luxembourg have ordered funds to submit plans for new structures that disallow the process, disappointing investors who hoped it would be exempt from new European Commission money market rules

'Share destruction' or 'reverse distribution' refers to a specific method of cancelling shares that allows funds to maintain a consistent share price even if associated assets lose value. Share cancellation in general will not be permitted under the new market rules from January 2019.

Irish Funds, the trade body for asset managers in Ireland, told the Financial Times: "In the interests of investors and to avoid unnecessary market disruption we have requested and expect reasonable transition arrangements are facilitated during 2019."

These changes are part of the EU's measures to introduce stress test and liquidity requirements for Euro-denominated markets.

Get in touch

Is scrapping the share destruction system a good move? What do you think the effect will be on transparency in money markets? Share your thoughts @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

In this week's blog, we take a look at how tax works in the gig economy and investigate the basics of corporate insolvency. We also show you how to measure your life success and examine the situation surrounding an FCA fine for financial reporting. To gear up for exams, we also round-up the resources available online for TPS and suggest some brain food for exam day breakfasts.

Back to Basics: Gig economy

What is the Gig Economy and how does it affect tax status? We go back to basics on the considerations to be made around employment and self-employment.

Back to Basics: Corporate Insolvency

Insolvency is taught at TPS Advanced Finance and is also relevant to TPE case studies, where a company is, or may become insolvent. Read our back to basics on corporate insolvency for a great summary on types of voluntary liquidation and more.

The triple-A rating: three ways to measure success

"How do you measure success?" It's the interview and evaluation question that can leave a lot of us stumped. Surely 'success' is self-explanatory, right?

The best exam day breakfasts

Your brain needs fat, water, vitamins, minerals and glucose (carbohydrates and sugar) - in that order. Our quick-fire guide and links to easy recipes will take the stress out of nutritious eating for study and exams.

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.

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 financial reporting lessons for CA students?

November 2018

Monday 26 November: The CFO skills needed in 2020

New research reported by Instant Offices has found that by 2020, CFOs will spend 90% of their time working on big data as a strategist.

James Booth, Chief Financial Officer at The Instant Group, said: “Today, the role of the CFO has evolved from financial expert to a multidiscipline strategist. In addition to traditional accounting and finance responsibilities, by 2020 research shows the top priority for CFOs will be keeping pace with technology and harnessing big data.

"Nowadays, CEOs expect CFOs to have an impact on business direction and strategy more than ever before. And while the question of who owns analytics is still an open question across sectors, according to a report by Deloitte, finance is the area most often found to invest in analytics at 79%, and CFOs can use it to bridge the gap between strategic and operational decision-making.”

He highlighted the crucial skills for CFOs over the next decade.

1. A leader of innovation: embracing new technologies such as AI, which 48% of CFOs will be using in 2020 to increase growth.

2. Embracing big data: including interpretation for insights and director decisions.

3. Managing risk under scrutiny: delivering improved risk management processes across the business with a big part to play in cybersecurity.

4. Preparing talent: ensuring new recruits can develop in a range of areas (technical, strategic and more) by gaining new soft skills.

5. Be a leader in a rapidly changing workplace: being adaptive to change, whether that's broadening remits from national to global, implementing digital transformation, or delivering strategies.

You can read the full article and infographic on the Instant Offices blog.

Get in touch

What do you think will be the number one skill for the future in CA roles? Tweet us @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we get back to basics for business management, including activity based costing and other types of costing methods, and tackle long-form questions for TC financial accounting. If you're not sure about question practice for revision time, we have the dos and don'ts, and if you want to take a look into the future of customs duty after Brexit, we highlight the impact and potential complexity of tax calculation. Finally, with TC exams on the horizon, we've collected together all of our back to basics guides in one place to help you - pick a topic and start exploring for success!

Infographic: Activity Based Costing - as easy as ABC

This colourful infographic takes you through the concept of Activity Based Costing. It's very useful for any Business Management student sitting their exams.

Back to Basics on the joys of costing: part 2

In the second part of our back to basics on costing, we delve into the other types of costing methods that are available to businesses (and explained in the CA qualification). This is a helpful look at methodologies whether you are beginning your BM TC studies, or if you just need a refresh.

Back to basics: Leaving the EU - Customs duty

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 and there has been extensive coverage in the media of the impact that this will have on manufacturing businesses, particularly those who operate a just-in-time production method. Why does leaving the EU affect manufacturers? What impact is there likely to be?

Studying for TC? Your complete basics guide

ICAS tutors have put together a series of Back to Basics guides, infographics and support material on many of the TC subjects that students have found tricky in the past.

Dos and don'ts of 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.

How to master Financial Accounting long-form questions

Sitting Financial Accounting (FA) long-form, and wondering how to tackle the question? Stephanie Pentland and Matt Hall share the five key steps that you should use for success for the paper-based and computer-based exams.

Monday 19 November: Taxing times for tech

Following Chancellor Philip Hammond's announcement of a UK digital services tax in the Autumn Budget last month, the introduction of an EU technology tax looks more likely than ever.

The French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, indicated in a radio interview that the European Commission was close to agreeing a 3% levy for multinational technology companies.

Like the UK tax, the measure will be targeted at the big names in the sector, limited to those who earn over a certain amount in annual global revenues. Philip Hammond noted that his introduction of a 2% levy on companies including search engines, social networks and online marketplaces would be a stopgap until international standards were agreed.

The tax proposed by the European Commission will raise an estimated £4.4bn across the member states, though it is unclear how Brexit may affect the UK's undertaking of the new rules.

Despite hopes that the EU tax may be agreed by Christmas, several countries have opposed the plans amid fears of lost revenue from technology companies that set up their European headquarters in tax-friendly nations. Ireland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland have all raised concerns.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is also thought to be working on an international solution.

Get in touch

Do you think technology companies need a special system of taxation? How will these measures impact innovation and startups in the sector? Share your views @ICAS_students or email

In this week's blog, we help you gear up for exam season with a rundown of the formulae you need to know for TC and go back to basics on some commonly requested problems. We also hear from your tutors on how to prepare for Assurance and Business Systems and share our final pieces of advice for working with clients.

Back to basics: TC Statistics

Lecturer Calum A. Macdonald CA explores the concept and formulas of Statistics and how they fit into the TC Business Management course.

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.

Back to basics: Non-controlling interests

Students often ask: What are non-controlling interests and is there a way to remember if I am crediting or debiting it in a consolidation question? Ally Millar, FR subject controller explains.

Top ten tips for ABS

Our tutors share tips for Assurance and Business Systems on day one of class or revision day, but they are useful for everyone sitting ABS. Use these advice gems to get ahead in class and studies.

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.

Working with clients: part 3

For those of you who have been following our ‘Working with clients’ series, you already have 14 great tips at your disposal covering project timelines, best practice on projects and establishing great working relationships. In the final part of our series, we look at those extra touches that can help you reach for success.

Monday 12 November: Seven snippets of global tax

PwC has published a report detailing the significant corporate tax rates, rules and developments from around the world, providing a free resource for anyone practising international tax.

Described as a 'key reference tool for all tax practitioners', the annual Worldwide Tax Summaries report covers 152 countries and regions, including key financial hubs and emerging economies.

Colm Kelly, Global Tax and Legal Services Leader at PwC, said: “Tax systems are evolving around the world all the time, and for business that means keeping up to date with all elements of tax compliance locally and internationally.

“Having the most up to date information from our experts available in an accessible, mobile-friendly way is critical to the thousands of people and businesses using our summaries who are looking to make the right decisions.”

These are some of the significant developments made in financial hubs.

Global Corporate Tax Infographic

Get in touch

Do you find reports like this useful? Are there any publications you think we should cover? Tweet us  @ICAS_students or email

In this week's blog, we cover some basic business skills like understanding business plans, dealing with coworkers in the office, and the second part of our guide to working with clients. We also take you through what you need to know about investment appraisals for TC Finance, tax penalties at TPS and go back to basics on the joys of costing.

Back to basics: The joys of costing

There are several topics that are likely come to mind when students think back to their good old Business Management days. A straw poll of former BM students revealed that absorption and marginal costing still give some nightmares!

Eight updated tax penalty tips

Understanding how HMRC tax penalties work are an essential part of both the Principles of Taxation and TPS Tax course. There’s lots of information to take in, so we’ve developed these handy tips to help you remember the key details.

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.

How to prepare for office politics

Many young people find themselves unprepared for office politics, according to a study by the Co-op - 54% of those surveyed said that they were not prepared for politics in the workplace.

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.

Working with clients: part 2

In the second part of our series on working with clients, we focus on how to effectively manage your time and mitigate project ‘slippage’, as well as turning briefs into smaller, manageable deadlines.

Monday 5 November: A new strategy for pension savers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) have launched a joint strategy to deliver better outcomes for pension savers and those entering retirement.

In the wake of a campaign to alert the public to pensions scams, this new joint regulatory strategy will focus on two key areas: undertaking a strategic review of the consumer pensions journey and the use of regulatory powers to drive value for money for pension scheme members.

There has been rising awareness surrounding inadequate pensions saving in the media. Often, people reaching retirement either don't have as much saved as they expected or lack understanding of when and how to access their savings.

As such, the FCA and TPR have set regulatory objectives including people having access to helpful information, guidance and advice which enables them to make well-informed decisions.

The quality of decisions will depend on people understanding their pensions and what is in them, are engaged when they need to be and feel confident in making decisions about what to contribute, when to transfer and when to withdraw funds

By focusing on people being engaged when they need to be, FCA and TPR are recognising that engagement is not a panacea. In an ICAS Challenging Conversations article on pensions, Gregg McClymont explained that engagement may not lead to better outcomes.

Read his article to find out the three key elements the world’s best pension systems have in common and which need to exist in the UK if a pension system is going to deliver successful retirement outcomes.

Lesley Titcomb, CEO of TPR, said: "The joint strategy further strengthens our close working relationship with the FCA so that through our new approach we can together address earlier any issues that threaten the retirement outcomes for pension savers.

"Our goal is to ensure the people who run workplace pensions meet our expectations so that members can have confidence their savings are protected.

"We are being clearer, quicker and tougher in the pursuit of this goal and working collaboratively with the FCA is vital."

The CA Student Blog has covered saving for later life before. Take a look at some common pension problems for millennials.

Get in touch

Have you given much thought to your pension? Do you think groups working together will help effect change? Share your thoughts on Twitter @ICAS_students on Twitter or email with your reaction.

In this week's blog, we reveal a simple trick that can vastly improve your productivity, and share top tips for working with clients and project management. We also take a look at the role of directors in business for Business Law and get back to basics on TC Finance with discounting and cost of debt. Finally, our FAQ covers all you need to know about your upcoming TPE exams - essential reading!

What you need to know about TPE exams

We speak to the Examinations Manager, Hayley Reid, about the most common questions related to the TPE exam, including what you should take into the exam, appropriate ID, and how you will receive your exam results.

Back to basics: the responsibilities of directors

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.

How to be productive in 25 mins

Have you ever wanted to get more out of your day? Are you easily distracted or do you find it hard to concentrate on one task at a time? Then try the Pomodoro technique!

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: calculating the cost of debt

We explore risks and costs associated with debt as part of your Finance studies in our Back to Basics series with reminders of the key formulae at your disposal.

Working with clients: part 1

Unsure about working with clients on a project? First project you have managed and led? You may have questions on how to appropriately manage your work, your conduct, and all those meetings.


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