Spotlight on study skills

Student in library

When you first start your CA course, it's important to get into good study habits as early as possible.

The sheer volume of material you're faced with can be daunting and there are lots of competing demands on your time

Here are five ways to study smarter. These will help you get the most from your study time and give you the best possible shot at passing your exams.

1. Use your time wisely

This is really important.

Although studying for the CA is tough, you don't need to spend every waking hour chained to your desk. That's not going to be productive, or healthy. The way you study for the CA is quite different to the way many of us studied at Uni.

At Uni you probably had to go off and do a fair bit of your own reading and research, bringing together other peoples' ideas in a logical way. Now, it's not expected that you need to re-write your notes or do masses of additional reading.  The material has been written for you to use as your main study source. Of course, you can write short summaries if that helps you understand the material that's been covered in class. Ideally you should start by splitting your time 50:50 between developing your core understanding of each subject, and working on practice questions.

2. Use the practice questions

Seems like a no brainer right?

Well, you'd be surprised at how many people don't get into the habit of using the practice questions as often as they should be.

The practice questions help you apply the knowledge you've learned in class. It's not a case of needing to know all the material first before attempting the practice questions. Tutors recommend that you do some open book question practice with your course notes alongside to begin with. This builds up your confidence and gets you familiar with the question format. Over time, you should aim to work through the questions without relying on your notes.

Don't miss: Look out for a follow up article on using practice questions by Steph Jenkins from the tutor team.

3. Don't worry about getting practice questions wrong

Don't be disheartened if things don't seem to fall into place right away.

It is totally OK to get things wrong when you are just starting out. Take some time to review your errors. The mistakes that come up in the practice questions will stand you in good stead for the final exam. Not only will they stick in your mind and help you change your approach for the better, you'll also have knowledge of your weak spots and can use this to your advantage.

A word of warning though – if you do get questions right first time, resist the temptation to assume that you know everything and skip ahead. Ensure you've got a firm understanding of why the question is right and the correct approach to follow for answering the question correctly, as you are unlikely to be asked exactly the same question again.

Remember that your tutors are available to provide help and support with practice questions. You can call or email them directly, or contact them via the discussion forums on myCABLE.

Don't wing it!

4. Plan ahead

The teaching schedule for the CA course is well defined, so you can plan your study time in line with upcoming progress tests, mock exams and final exams.

Set yourself clear, achievable targets and break things down into bites sized chunks so you know what you'll be studying and when.

Tip: The progress tests are designed to help you consolidate what you've learnt ahead of the mock and final exams. They are done under exam conditions. Try to view them as a bit of a bonus, as they'll give you a taste of what the real exam will be like, and hopefully help to reduce anxiety around what to expect on the day.

5. Aim for a good work-life balance

Finding a good balance between your work, study and down time helps you become more resilient and better able to cope with stress and pressure. Just a few simple changes can make all the difference when it comes to lifting your mood and helping you feel more in control of your studying.

Try to:

  • Take a break. Your mind needs a break from studying. Downing tools for a while helps you to come back to things refreshed and focused.
  • Take regular exercise. Even if it's just a quick walk at lunch time, getting some fresh air and a change of scene is a great idea.
  • Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can leave you prone to stress. Things can feel ten times worse when we're tired. What's more, research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that that it affects our ability to pay attention and remember new information.
  • Stay positive. If you are feeling overwhelmed or worried it's important to talk about it. Seek support from fellow students and do talk to your tutors. They have been there too and will be able to offer help and support.

April 2019

29 April: The end of Audit as we know it?

Following an inquiry into the UK's audit market, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has made several regulatory recommendations that, if enforced, will have a profound impact on how the Big Four operate in the sector.

In October 2018, the CMA launched a market study into the fair competition, long-term resilience and objectivity of the statutory audit sector. The resulting report has outlined legislation that will affect the market dominance of Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC.

These recommendations include:

  • Operational split: A separation of consultancy and audit functions to ensure objectivity.
  • Mandatory joint audit: A required partnership between any of the Big Four and a challenger firm on company audits.
  • Regulation of company audit committees: Holding internal committees to account for their choice of auditor.

ICAS has maintained the stance that audit quality should be the main priority of any new measures to reshape the market.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA CEO, commented: "The UK is recognised as having a strong history in the fields of corporate governance and accounting.

"Our recommendations, along with improvements to regulation and clarifying the purpose and scope of audits, will ensure the UK strengthens its position.

"We look forward to supporting the Government as it considers how best to take forward these changes through legislation, alongside Sir John Kingman’s recommendations on regulation and the results from Sir Donald Brydon’s review on the quality and effectiveness of audit."

Read the full CMA report

Get in touch

This week's blog takes a look at the TPE exam and how you can best prepare. We also share tips for making a good impression and looking the part of a CA. Elsewhere, we delve into credit scores and Ben Carvell CA examines how performance management systems may influence professional behaviour.

Eight quick tips to prepare for the TPE exam

Success is just around the corner for our students and we know that you will do your utmost to achieve your qualification at every turn. If you have finished block 2 of TPE then take some time to digest these tutor tips by Level Controller Cat Devaney on how to prepare for the TPE exam.

How are credit scores calculated?

How is your credit score calculated and what affects it? Find out how to manage yours for access to financial products such as a mortgage.

How to make a good impression during your training contract

When you start out on your training contract, making a good first impression at work and with any new clients is undoubtedly important. Have you tried these five ways to make that great impression?

Final preparations to material to take into the TPE exam

Once your block 2 classes are finished you are well on your way to the final TPE exam. TPE Level Controller Cat Devaney shares her important pointers on what material you can take into the exam and how to use it.

Choosing the right outfit (and discounts for students!)

It’s important to dress well for work to make a good impression on colleagues, clients, and anyone you can potentially network with; it’s also believed to help establish a mindset for the day. Read our guide and take advantage of a special discount offer for CAs and students.

Appraisal systems: analysis by former student Ben Carvell

Former student and now qualified CA, Ben Carvell, Assistant Manager for the Global Strategy Group at KPMG UK, explored the impact of performance management systems on the manifestation of accounting scandals.

myCABLE, the interactive learning platform


22 April: 2019 New measures to make whistleblowing easier

The European Parliament has approved new legislation to protect whistleblowers across the EU, hoping to encourage reports of wrong-doing.

This is the first time that high-level protections have been implemented on as wide a scale. The new laws will prevent individuals from facing dismissal or demotion for reporting breaches of EU standards and put in place 'safe channels' for internal and external complaints.

Whistleblowers will also have the right to make a public disclosure of any inappropriate activity, including the release of information to the media.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans stated: "We should protect whistleblowers from being punished, sacked, demoted or sued in court for doing the right thing for society. These new, EU-wide whistleblowers' protection rules do exactly that and will make sure they can report in a safe way on breaches of EU law in many areas.

"This will help tackle fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance and damage to people's health and the environment. We encourage Member States to put in place comprehensive frameworks for whistleblower protection based on the same principles."

The measures were voted through with 591 in support, 29 against and 33 abstentions.

Get in touch

Do you think the new laws will make a difference to the stigma surrounding whisteblowers? Share your thoughts @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


In this week's blog, we offer some tips for getting through the TPE exam and take a look at VAT registration and cost of capital. We also disprove some of the stereotypes surrounding accountants and share advice for career confidence. Finally, we revisit the impact of stockpiling on the economy as more sectors prepare for Brexit eventualities.

Back to basics: VAT registration options to take on pricing

Success is just around the corner for our students and we know that you will do your utmost to achieve your qualification at every turn. If you have finished block 2 of TPE then take some time to digest these tutor tips by Level Controller Cat Devaney on how to prepare for the TPE exam.

Back to basics: weighted average cost of capital

Are you familiar with the weighted average cost of capital? The calculation of a company’s cost of capital appears in Module 12 of the TC Finance course, and we go back to basics on the formulas.

Smashing the CA stereotypes

There are many stereotypes about accountants, whether they stem from popular culture or that one accountant someone met once, but we all know or have heard at least one derogatory comment. But, we know the opposite is true! Find out why.

Five steps to career confidence

Being sure of yourself and your abilities will positively influence the quality of your work and how you move up the ladder. Follow our guide to improving your career confidence.

Eight quick tips to conquer the TPE exam

You have done the study work and practiced your case studies, but what about tackling the TPE exam on the day? TPE level controller Cat Devaney shares her timely advice on how to tackle questions and pick up extra marks.

The economic impact of stockpiling goods

With worries over supply chains, border controls and access to labour after Brexit, many are turning to stockpiling as a way to prepare for the separation. From the NHS to rural communities, what impact does shoring up supplies have on the economy?


15 April 2019: KPMG plans to create an independent audit firm

Hot on the heels of the future of audit report by The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, KPMG looks set to create an independent audit firm. The report recommended:

  • At the very least, an economic split between the audit and non-audit sections of the firms.
  • A review of the above operational split should be conducted after a period of three years whereupon, if no improvements in transparency, culture or independence have occurred, a full structural split of the Big Four UK firms into separate audit and non-audit businesses should occur.

KPMG is said to be looking at a 'standalone entity or... a subsidiary of KPMG if the plans go ahead'. The report has sought for a divergence of services, meaning consultancy services are not offered to audit clients across the Big Four in a bid to improve transparency.

EY, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC have all submitted voluntary agreements to this effect. Government legislation is expected once the CMA has published its final recommendations.

Get in touch

What do you think is the most important recommendation in the BEIS report? Drop us a line at studentblog@icas.com or message @ICAS_students on Twitter.


In today's blog, we continue an exploration of career plans, this time with a 10-year projection! As part of this, we consider the three types of company culture, how to work with a mentor, what you need to become an expert at internal interviews and how to decode the ICAS acronyms and abbreviations you'll encounter during your studies. Happy reading!

ICAS acronyms and abbreviations

Like many organisations, ICAS has its own set of terms and acronyms. At first, they can seem bewildering. Here’s a handy list of the most commonly used expressions and phrases you’ll come across when you start your training.

Types of company culture

Company culture is an important factor in job satisfaction, employee engagement, leadership stability, and the success of collaboration in the workplace. Check out our infographic below to see where you fit in!

Designing a 10-year career plan

What should you be thinking about when you decide on where you want to be in 10 years? Here are some things to consider for your plan.

How to work with a mentor

Having a mentor to help guide your career can prove to be an invaluable advantage as you strive to achieve your goals. But how does it actually work?

Become an expert at internal interviews

Are you looking to move up in your organisation at the end of your training contract? Has a position just opened up that you know you would be perfect for? Then it's time to prepare for an internal interview by asking yourself these five key questions.

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.


8 April 2019: TPE prize winners and how you can be one!

We would like to congratulate the recently-announced 2018/19 ICAS Prizewinners!

There were 8 winners in total:

  • The ICAS Gold Medal: Daniel Schofield CA EY, Leeds
  • ICAS 160th Anniversary Prize: Fiona Godfrey CA EY, Leeds
  • The Primrose Scott Prize: Gregory Crowley CA. KPMG Tax Business School, London
  • The Ronald Williamson Prize: Scott Gammie CA, Deloitte, Aberdeen
  • The Alistair Pearce Prize: Alexander Ekins CA. KPMG, Reading
  • The Archie Hunter Prize: Fiona Godfrey CA, EY, Leeds
  • The ICAS Student Education Committee Prize: Gary Devine CA, Mazars, Glasgow
  • The Victor McDougall Prize: Daniel Schofield CA, EY, Leeds

We spoke to previous winners about their advice on how to reach for success - it has great guidance!

Get in touch

Do you have any tips you would like to share with fellow students? Contact us at studentblog@icas.com or message @ICAS_students on Twitter.


In today's blog, we bust the business jargon you may encounter, as well as tackling the incorrect phrases and words that are commonly used. Speaking of communication, we highlight why it's important to keep all talk about work behind closed doors. We also look at tips to achieve career aspirations, what TC Finance can teach you about the lottery and why the CA qualification is perfectly suited for millennials.

Are you saying that right? Common malapropisms

Every once in a while, we are all guilty of a bit of malapropism. This simply translates as using an incorrect word that sounds similar to the one you intended.

Jargon-busting: a guide

In your job and your studies, you are likely to be confronted with some sort of jargon, acronym or specialised contractions that are pertinent to your role. We’ve produced our own glossary of ICAS abbreviations but what about the rest of it? Follow us into the world of murky linguistics.

Careless talk warning – you never know who’s listening to your business conversations

A relaxed train journey is the perfect opportunity to get some work done or catch up with colleagues. But do you think about it as a public place that risks business confidentiality?

Achieving your career aspirations – top tips for newly qualified professionals

If you've recently qualified, you may be wondering what's next. Gillian Donaldson at Rutherford Cross shares her top tips for newly-qualified professionals.

Winning the lottery: Made simple with TC

In Module 2 of TC Finance, a lot of time was spent learning about present value and financial arithmetic, which was useful knowledge for this lottery winner!

Generation Y / Millennial CAs: Who are they?

In the first of a short series on Generation Y in the accountancy field, self-confessed Millennial, Alex Burden, reports on who this generation are, where the myths lie, and why the CA qualification is suited to this highly-skilled and adaptive generation.


1 April 2019: Getting a head start on your career

The revamped 'Newly qualified members' section of the website is now live.

The value of your ICAS membership goes beyond our reputation or the prestigious letters after your name. We’re here to support you throughout your lifetime as a CA and we look forward to working together with you, wherever that journey may take you.

As a member of ICAS, we will continue to support you with a fantastic range of services and benefits. We’ll inspire you to continue learning throughout your career and no matter where you are, we’ll connect you to like-minded people.

Whether you have just qualified, qualifying over 2019 or are looking to get a head start on planning your career after TPE, there are lots of great resources available - including:

  • Introducing ICAS
  • First steps as a member
  • Professional development
  • Goal achievement
  • Career advice

Newly Qualified Members


Get in touch

If you have any questions as a newly-qualified member and where you should direct any queries, get in touch at studentblog@icas.com or message @ICAS_students on Twitter.


In today's blog, we look ahead to how to craft a five-year plan for your career, and advice on how to prepare for a new role (great advice for your entire working life!). Newly-qualified members can get professional development advice on what to consider when planning a future career, and our students sitting TPE can benefit from our articles on how to improve your commercial awareness and better business writing. Finally, TC Finance students can listen to a BBC podcast on financial derivatives - handy for module 14!

How to craft a five-year plan

Following on from our guide to one-year career goals, this guide to a five-year plan will help you think longer-term to elements such as promotions, job changes and deciding on a specialism.

TPE: Improving your commercial awareness in five steps

During block one of TPE classes, we introduced you to commercial awareness as part of your studies. This is a key requirement of a good and competent CA in order to provide value-added business advice. Here are five quick-fire tips on how to be commercially aware.

Preparing for a new role

As the ICAS Admission Ceremony 2018 draws closer, you may be anticipating taking on a new role or more responsibility within your organisation as a fully-fledged CA. We've put together advice to help you prepare.

Six tips on better business writing for TPE

A successful CA must have excellent communication skills: one of our TPE examiners looks at how better business writing can improve your performance in the TPE exam.

Podcast: Gambling with financial derivatives

If you gave someone a sum of money, and they agreed to pay you a larger one should a certain outcome happen in the future, you may be forgiven for thinking you're gambling. In fact, you're getting insurance, as discussed in TC Finance.

Newly qualified? What to consider when planning your future career

Accountants face career decisions at every stage of their professional lives and for newly qualified accountants figuring out the next steps can be daunting.

March 2019

25 March: 50 things that made the modern economy

We are pleased to announce that some of our TPE students have now completed their studying and training contract and were admitted to membership on Saturday 23rd!

You will still be receiving student blog emails as you transition to full member, so we thought we'd take this opportunity to impart some advice before you stop receiving the student blog. And we will still be here with our useful back to basics articles, for example, if you ever needed to dip back into the student blog for info.

For those of you who are continuing your TC / TPS / TPS studies, did you know the '50 things that made the modern economy' podcast series is still available? There are several episodes that are worth your time (and they're only about 9 minutes long!). Particular issues covered include:

Episode numberTitleRelated subject area
7BankingFin
14InsuranceFin
17Disposable razorBM
26CuneiformFA
27Intellectual PropertyBL
29Tally StickFA
32Tax havensTax / ITP
37Limited Liability CompanyBL / Tax / FA
41Market ResearchBM
44 Double-entry bookkeepingFA

Get in touch

If you have any questions as a newly-qualified member and where you should direct any queries, get in touch at studentblog@icas.com or message @ICAS_students on Twitter.


In today's blog, we focus on how to make that leap from CA trainee to full member, by asking 'what's next' after finishing your training contract, and how to build your first-year career plan or use CPD to advance your skills even more. We also look at the second part of our series on dealing with office politics, and have a reminder on how to make the most of your TPE feedback. If you were unable to attend the Edinburgh Admission Ceremony, there is still a chance to attend the London Celebration in April.

Having a one-year career plan 

What do you want to achieve in the next year? A promotion? A pay rise? Maybe you want to do better in your studies or if you've just completed the qualification? Our infographic could shine a light on the way forward.

Finishing your training contract - what's next?

When your training contract draws to a close, the transition away from 'student' can be daunting and exciting in equal measure. What can you expect from your professional life as a fully-qualified CA?

What is CPD? Advice for newly-qualified CAs

As a CA, you will be expected to keep your knowledge and professional standards up to date. But how do you get started in taking charge of your own development and setting the goals that will boost your career?

London Admission Celebration 2019

For our newly qualified members who were unable to attend the Admission Ceremony in Edinburgh, there will a celebratory drinks reception held at The Deck in London’s National Theatre with its stunning city views right beside the Thames

How to prepare for office politics: part two

In the second part of our how-to feature on dealing with office politics, we look at the importance of networking, relationships and the value of mistakes for effective working styles with colleagues.

Making the most of your TPE feedback sessions

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


18 March: New direction for UK audit? 

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) will be superseded by a new authority as a result of a comprehensive Independent Review led by Sir John Kingman. What does this mean for UK auditors and accountancy firms?

The new body, in contrast to the FRC, will be able to make direct changed to accounts, rather than applying to court, and will directly regulate the big audit firms. A new board is intended to 'change the culture and rebuild respect of those it regulates', and will set out a strategic direction in the public interest by holding companies to account.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said: "This new body will build on our status as a great place to do business and will form an important part of strengthened public trust in businesses and the regulations that govern them. I am most grateful to Sir John Kingman for his work in this area.

"Taken together with the CMA’s market study and Sir Donald Brydon’s review of audit quality and effectiveness, they will enable us to deliver a major set of reforms on the regulation of company audit, accounting and reporting."

Get in touch

Know a CA attending today's admission ceremony and want to congratulate them? Tweet congratulatory message using the tag #ICASclassof2019 between 9.30am and 1.30pm! You can also tell us about your experience of attending the ceremony and advice for future or current CA students by messaging us @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


In today's blog, we help you prepare for the tricky world of office politics, and to spot false economies. For those who have just qualified and will be completing their training contract, we examine the benefits of big and small accountancy firms, as well as 21 email etiquette tips for professionalism. Finally, as TC classes are about to start in April, we look at how to make the transition from university-style learning to the first year of ICAS.

Transitions: University to TC

TC Level Controller, Joanne Lloyd-Jones introduces the TC level for new students and discusses how to navigate the course to your best advantage.

21 tips for essential email etiquette for professionals

Using email might seem like the most straightforward of communications, but there are pitfalls - here are 21 tips to always be impressive on email.

What you can do to secure your data against threats

Hackers and cybercriminals can take down servers, prevent business deals, increase costs, destroy data, or even sell it to the highest bidder. We have guidance on how to be a great gatekeeper of business data.

How to prepare for office politics

Many young people find themselves unprepared for office politics, according to a 2016 study by the Co-op. A surprisingly high 54% of those surveyed said that they were not prepared for, or as informed as they would like to be, about how to deal with office politics in the workplace.

How do you spot the false economies?

Ever get the feeling you've been had? Always counting the last pennies in your pocket? You might have fallen into the trap of a false economy. We'll show you what to look out for and what to avoid!

Big versus small accountancy firms

The ICAS tutor team report on the different advantages of working in big versus smaller accountancy firms. Whether you are about to embark on CA training and trying to choose your training contract firm, need to switch firms during your contract due to exam failure, or are seeking your possibilities once qualified, this guidance outlines the benefits that can be gained from both size of firms.


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 studentblog@icas.com.


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 studentblog@icas.com.


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.

May 2019

Financial service professionals are some of the scariest people in the UK, according to a recent survey by Fletchers Solicitors.

Of the 2,000 people polled, 64% considered bank managers, accountants and bookkeepers to be the most intimidating individuals to face as a client or customer, placing just second behind hospitality professionals like chefs and bartenders.

Conversely, 73% of respondents found doctors and nurses to be perceived as the most likeable professionals by the UK public.

This could be a concerning statistic when considering the level of trust that is often put in the individuals who manage finances, both personal and professional. The ability to exercise emotional intelligence and use good communication skills can go a long way in ensuring a good working relationship.

Soft skills are a highly sought after advantage in many sectors and are considered on par with technical knowledge by some employers.

Alex Kenny, Marketing Director at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “Perhaps those who work in industries that provide care and support such as health and education could teach others how to improve their delivery and customer handling skills.

“When selling a product or service there must be a general level of approachability between provider and client and the customer should feel at ease, whether at a restaurant dining table or providing customer services. An anxious or stressed client can also lead to miscommunications and even in some cases problems such as medical negligence.”

Get in touch

Do you agree with the CMA's recommendations? Tell us what you think @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


This week's blog takes a look at six apps to help CA students with revision, advice on the best breakfasts to fuel you through your exams and we go back to basics with a review of TC subjects. TPS controller Lauren O'Brien gives advice for those resitting TPS exams, we go through the do's and don'ts of practice questions and provide a checklist for your capital allowance exam.

Six 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.

TPS resits: What you need to know

In this article, TPS level controller Lauren O’Brien explains the options for resitting TPS exams, the process to follow and the resources available to help you.

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.

Dos & 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.

Back to basics on TC study

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.

Capital allowances exam checklist

This handy checklist covers the method you should use when practising capital allowances questions in an exam setting.

myCABLE, the interactive learning platform


ICAS Events and networking


Monday 6 May


Do you feel like you aren't taken seriously at the office? New research reports that 76% of 25-34-year-olds in the UK feel discriminated against at work for being 'too young'.

A survey by recruitment website CV-Library has revealed that over two-thirds (70.8%) of workers in the UK feel they have experienced some form of age discrimination from colleagues or interviewers. For younger workers between 25-34 years old, the number rises to 76%.

One of the most common complaints from this age group is a struggle to be taken seriously, regardless of position or experience. At the other end of the scale, 88.9% of 45-54-year-olds feel they are dismissed unfairly due to their age. One in five workers in this age bracket may be losing out on opportunities because they are considered 'too set in their ways'. For example:

Despite being a recent graduate, because I was a mature student I’m not getting offered the same amount of jobs that younger people on my course are.

Nearly a third of professionals said they have been turned down for a job because of their age.

Lee Biggins, Founder and Managing Director of CV-Library, said: “It’s clear that discrimination around age is not only rife in workplaces, but also during the hiring process. But, while employers may think their pickiness will secure them the very best workers, they’re actually limiting themselves even further. Younger, and older, workers are a key part of driving our economy forward and companies should embrace a diverse range of employees in their business.”

If you go on to start your business a few years down the line, how might you form your hiring policy, and what factors will influence it?

Get in touch

Do you agree with the CMA's recommendations? Tell us what you think @ICAS_students or email studentblog@icas.com.


This week's blog takes a look at some TPE exam FAQs. We also report on the results of a recent survey that was sent to all students and get back to basics with issues considered by HMRC when deciding whether an individual is an employee. Take a look at our infographic on Activity Based Costing, and learn why why chocolate puns matter to TPE and TC students.

Back to basics: a new working arrangement for self-employment?

The issue of modern working practices continues to hit the headlines. The recent “self-employed plus” agreement for Hermes couriers has again focused attention on whether an individual is employed or self-employed. Here we go back to basics on the issues considered by HMRC when deciding whether an individual is an employee.

Frequently asked questions about TPE

You've successfully completed Test of Professional Skills and you have made it to Test of Professional Expertise. But what does the course involve, and what's expected of you to ensure qualification?

The results of your feedback

ICAS has started gathering opinions from CA students through quarterly surveys sent out to your email. The first of these took place in February - here are some of the highlights from your feedback.

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.

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.

How to remember names

Ever been stuck for words when introducing someone at work or a conference? Their name becomes a fleeting memory and dances on the tip of your tongue, despite only meeting them five seconds previously. If this happens to you, then you need these tips for perfecting the art of remembering names.

myCABLE, the interactive learning platform


ICAS Events and networking


Monday 29 April

Topics

  • CA Student blog

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