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 CABLE.

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.

March 2018

Monday 19 March: Are financial stereotypes holding you back?

How does the media influence your thoughts on money? New research suggests that stereotyping may skew your attitude to finances by gender.

Starling Bank, a sector disruptor, carried out a linguistic analysis and imagery review of 300 financial articles from the UK and beyond. Media content aimed at women over the past year was shown to emphasise cutting back on expenses and referred to financial matters as intimidating and complicated.

These articles also tended to be accompanied by images of women struggling to cope with personal finances or over-simplified money concepts like a child's piggy bank.

Conversely, content aimed towards men typically featured connotations of strength, power, and intelligence. Male readers were encouraged to be competitive and assumed to be well-versed in professional finance with themes of calculated risk and portfolio investment.

Starling Bank Founder and Chief Executive Anne Boden told The Guardian: "It’s everyday sexism. If women are constantly talked about as either scrimping and saving or managing the pennies to make things go further, that’s what you get reinforced to think money’s all about.

"And of course if you’re a man you’re having different sorts of conversations; you’re prepared to demand more, and not see money as something you have to beg for, but something you have a right to."

Get in touch

Do you think your attitude towards your own money has been swayed by media influence? Where does the responsibility lie for this kind of bias? Share your opinion with @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

In today's blog, we look at how to put together an effective study plan and go into detail on final accounts in Financial Reporting. Also, for those who officially joined the ICAS membership on Saturday, we remind you of some of the perks that come with being a CA!

Four tips for study plans

One of the most common questions students ask the ICAS tutor team is: "Can you help me create a study plan?" Here are four tips to help you create an effective plan of action.

How to prepare final accounts in Financial Reporting

Student conundrum: I’m making the step up to Financial Reporting, how should I prepare final accounts?

What can ICAS do for you?

We round up some of the benefits that come from being an ICAS member after you qualify.

Thursday 15 March: The continued growth of Amazon

First, it was the high street, then supermarkets, then shipping and deliveries, and finally, Alexa took over our homes. Does Amazon have banks in its crosshairs next?

Internet giant Amazon has reportedly been in talks with big banks in the US, including JP Morgan Chase & Co., to discuss developing a financial product for young customers that would act like a 'checking' or current account with the company.

Traditionally, a checking account is an easily-accessible debit account that may be used to make card payments and set up regular transactions like rent and bills. Many banks now allow these types of accounts to be managed by the customer through online and mobile banking options, making it a product open to digital competition and disruption.

Amazon is now considering a similar offering for people who do not currently use a bank account, particularly young potential customers, to make online shopping easier.

This isn't the company's first foray into the financial sector. Amazon Pay is their own payment product that streamlines online transactions for independent retailers and is thought to be soon moving into high street stores as a contactless payment system. They also already offer a rewards credit card through a partnership with Visa. Are we now starting to see the beginnings of fictional companies such as 'Buy n Large', as featured in Wall-E?

Get in touch

Would you open a current account with Amazon? What would it mean for banks and the future of commerce? Share your thoughts @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

Reacquaint yourself with the key terms and acronyms of TPE in today's blog. We also take a look at long-form questions in Financial Accounting and the best way to answer them, and look at the lease processes that will decease!

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.

IFRS 16: Off-book leases decease

Over US$2 trillion in off-balance sheet assets and liabilities will come under new reporting standards thanks to IFRS 16, which introduces a major change to global accounting. It’s a change that demands the attention of all in our profession, as Chris Sheedy discovered.

Revised TPE terminology

Find out how TPE terminology has been revised to ensure the qualification remains relevant for accounting profession needs.

Monday 12 March: How does extreme weather affect financial prospects?

The 'Beast from the East' swept across the UK at the start of the month, causing many businesses to close their doors and halt operations. How does extreme weather affect financial prospects?

Businesses that rely on supply chain deliveries, on-site activity from customers or simple workforce manpower would all have been negatively affected by the heavy snow as roads became untraversable and the public remained indoors. Many closed altogether, others asked staff to work from home, and several companies hit the headlines for insisting employees make their way to work in the harsh conditions.

This highlights an interesting risk management dilemma - to what extent should businesses plan ahead for similar situations and what should the default policy be for staff? At what point do ethical concerns for employee safety overtake the need to keep operations running?

The scale of impact is highly dependent on the type of business. Environmental issues can have particularly severe consequences for those in the agriculture, food and drink, and construction sectors. In fact, some analysts believe that the snow effect on high-street retailers and restaurants, among others, may have cut projected GDP growth for the UK in 2018 Q1 by half.

On the other hand, energy and utilities should see a rise in profits after the beastly cold snap. The National Grid reported last week that the country's gas supplies were running low due to increased demand. Not to mention, sales of bread and milk at supermarkets and local retailers went through the roof, and it may be an apt time to revisit contingency plans for the future.

Most companies will at least have insurance coverage for any damages caused by severe weather conditions. However, the major weather events of recent years have driven up premiums and impacted the insurance industry as it continuously pays out for these natural disasters.

Investors and wealth managers should also monitor the weather for the knock-on effect it will have on shares. An oil company, for example, may be trading at a much lower value while offshore rigs are locked down for safety.

Get in touch

How was your work affected by the snow? What impact might severe weather have on your organisation? Let us know on @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we look at the volumes of IFRS for Financial Reporting, go back to basics on risks in audit, and explore why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to accounting for goodwill.

Your guide to IFRS open books

It’s important to know the difference between the International Finance Reporting Standards two volumes – in this article, Subject Controller Ally Millar helps you understand how to use these books for Financial Reporting.

Accounting for goodwill: the only constant is change

Accounting for goodwill is a great example of why there is not just one 'correct' profit figure or one 'correct' balance sheet total - there is no solitary accounting treatment either!

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!

Thursday 8 March: Celebrating International Women's Day

Today we celebrate International Women's Day (8 March) and look at the major UK investors that are making an effort to boost gender equality in the financial sector.

At a London Stock Exchange (LSE) event last month, 27 of the largest investors in the UK announced their dedication to the 30% Club UK Investor Group 'Statement of Intent': to increase the percentage of women on UK listed companies’ boards and in management roles to 30% by 2020.

The participating investors have a combined worth of £10.5tn and include:

  • Aviva Investors
  • BlackRock
  • Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF)
  • JP Morgan Asset Management
  • Old Mutual Global Investors
  • Royal London Asset Management (CIS) Limited
  • Standard Life Aberdeen

The 30% Club was founded in 2010 by then Newton Investment Management CEO Helena Morrissey and has a growing global reach with nine international chapters in addition to the UK group.

UK Women's Minister Victoria Atkins commented at the event: "We are still at around 25% of women occupying board seats in the FTSE 350. We have only two years to go.

"[It is] important asset managers nudge companies in the right direction."

Reminder: ICAS Admissions Ceremony 2018

We are less than two weeks away from the 2018 ICAS Admission Ceremony, held on 17 March in Edinburgh. Now is the time doublecheck everything on our handy preparation checklist.

Get in touch

Are you doing anything to recognise International Women's Day 2018? Tell us about it on @ICAS_students or contact

In today's blog, we look at how your time in front of a screen translates into pay. We also look back to when CA women weren't allowed to manage their personal finances and the current issues facing women in work, as well as how this is discussed in Business Ethics 2.

More screen time means higher pay?

Recent research based on the US job economy suggests that employees are being paid more depending on how 'digital' their role is. Is your job valued by the time you spend in front of a screen?

When female 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. On International Women's Day, we look back to dubious practices of the last 50 years.

Iceland leads the way for gender parity in business

Did you spot the recent news article on Iceland making it illegal to pay men more than women? Find out why it's a great example of Ethics, as discussed during your TPE and Business Ethics courses.

It’s not just the pay gap holding women back

Justine Riccomini, ICAS Head of Taxation, examines the impact that pensions, workplace policies, and new legislative measures have had on women at the senior levels of business and finance.

Monday 5 March: Financial skills dominate the C-Suite

Financial skills dominate the C-suite as research shows nearly a fifth of FTSE 100 CEOs are accountants and more than half are finance professionals.

An analysis from the Global Accounting Network has documented a trend away from the traditional sales and marketing backgrounds of many CEOs to a focus on the finance function.

The results show that 18% of the included CEOs have an accountancy qualification in their career history. Overall, 51% have a background in professional finance.

Adrian O'Connor, Global Accounting Network Founding Partner, said in a statement: "We’ve previously noted that the role of the CFO has expanded in its remit and increased in significance in recent years, and the fact that more finance professionals seem to be stepping into top leadership roles is a natural progression of this.

"With UK firms coming out of the back of a recession, it stands to reason that boards and shareholders are increasingly realising the value of strong financial expertise at the highest levels.

"CFOs have had a much greater say in the strategic direction of firms of late, with their input being widely recognised as absolutely integral to the company’s success. With this in mind, the fact that accountants are disproportionately represented at the top of FTSE 100 firms is unsurprising."

Many CAs reach the CEO level and several of the 2017 35 CAs under 35 were founders, Directors and CEOs of their own companies, using their CA skills to build career success.

Get in touch

What do you think makes CAs suited to be chief executives? How will the skills you are learning now help you towards the C-suite? Share your thoughts with @ICAS_students on Twitter or email us at

In today's blog, TPE tutor Catherine Devaney talks you through how to use your course feedback and we explore an unusual business case from New Zealand. TPS students can also utilise our one-stop glossary of common terms and abbreviations.

Making the most of your TPE feedback

TPE Level Controller, Catherine Devaney, helps you achieve value in the feedback process. During the TPE course, you will receive a face-to-face feedback session in relation to your mock 1 and mock 2 performances. The sessions are delivered by your mock marker and are entirely personal to you.

The beetle causing a stink for industry

Why will 'stink beetles' from East Asia potentially cost thousands of jobs in the car industry in New Zealand? And what can be done to help? No, this isn’t a riddle, it's in reference to a recent BBC news article and we can analyse this somewhat bizarre business situation from the perspectives of TC BM, TPS Afin and TPE.

Common terms in TPS

To help with your TPS studies and revision, we've put together a glossary of important terms to use as an aid. A more in-depth guide to common abbreviations and phrases can be found in your course materials.

Thursday 1 March: Do you still have any paper £10 notes left?

The countdown is on until paper £10 notes are removed from circulation, to be fully replaced with the newer plastic notes.

From 1 March, those easily-rippable notes will cease to crease in your pockets, and their replacements will feature tactile elements of raised dots to aid the visually-impaired.

But never fear if you miss the deadline, you can take them to a post office or your bank / building society to swap them over (note: you need to be a customer of the bank and you may need to present some form of ID, like a passport or driving licence).

As with the £5 notes, the newer versions are designed to make currency 'inclusive' as stated by the Bank of England governor Mark Carney: "The new £10 note celebrates Jane Austen's work. Austen's novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.

"The new £10 will be printed on polymer, making it safer, stronger and cleaner. The note will also include a new tactile feature on the £10 to help the visually impaired, ensuring the nation's money is as inclusive as possible."

The next change in money will occur in 2021 when a new £20 featuring JMW Turner will be launched.


Due to adverse weather conditions, Edinburgh classes are cancelled today (1 March), and Edinburgh and Glasgow classes are cancelled tomorrow (2 March) - this includes Glasgow TPE retake classes and all those currently attending TPS block release classes in these cities.

We have not taken this decision lightly, but have found that many of the students and our own staff were unable to make it safely to the ICAS offices today, resulting in Edinburgh classes being cancelled today, Thursday 1 March. As the weather conditions are expected to continue to cause disruption tomorrow, we have made the early decision to cancel classes on Friday.

Although classes will not run tomorrow, we will be asking students to complete the mock exam scheduled to take place, at home and to send their scanned scripts to us for marking. All students planned to attend classes in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be informed by ICAS by email of this decision and provided with the mock exams.

We will work on an approach for addressing the lost class time resulting from the class cancellations and get back in touch once the approach is settled.

Get in touch

Have you already picked your chosen specialism or field after qualification? Share your choices with us and why on @ICAS_students or email and we'll feature you on the blog!

In today's blog, we delve into financial reporting and data, with a back to basics on non-controlling interests and six tips on how to present figures to a client or your workplace. And for those of you considering audit as a career after qualification, we hear from Kevin Reed for The CA magazine on what the future of the profession will look like.

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.

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.

What is the future of auditing?

Are you considering a career in audit when you qualify? While technology can do much to enhance audit quality, auditors still need business acumen and soft skills. Find out why Bob Dohrer, Global Leader of Quality and Risk for RSM believes 'bringing in creative minds' will be important for the future.

February 2018

Monday 26 February: Mad Max for Brexit?

One useful business lesson to take away from recent Brexit events is that if you want the public to latch on to a negative idea about your proposition, that you mention it to the press.

MP David Davis took the decision to declare that Brexit would not take the UK into a "Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction", which immediately spawned chatter that at some point there was potential for a Mad Max-style situation, which no-one is likely to ever have anticipated!

There have been a flurry of 'warnings' and statements on Brexit, including the suggestion that reducing EU safety commitments could lead to a rise in cancer after Brexit (due to carcinogen exposure in the workplace), but none have yet suggested water supplies drying up and motorbikes ruling the land!

When you represent a business (or in this case, a Government), and need to address an issue to parties outside the business, it's important to consider what you are implying by your choice of words.

Get in touch

We love to hear from you - if you would like to take part in an interview on your hopes and plans for the future (ideal LinkedIn sharing material!), then contact us at or tweet @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, we follow on from a look at Partial Exemption for TPS level, with a more in-depth look for ITP students. And for students of all levels, we have a quick guide on how to write an effective case study answer - a great skill to have for the rest of your career! Speaking of careers, how do you develop confidence and climb that ladder? We have five steps to start your journey.

Back to basics: Partial Exemption for ITP

Partial exemption is covered in-depth in the ICAS Tax Professional qualification. Input tax (being tax on purchases) can be recovered by a VAT-registered business if it relates to goods and services with a “direct and immediate” link to taxable supplies made by the business. In this back to basics guide, we look at allocations and the standard and special methods.

The key to writing an effective case study answer

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.

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.

Thursday 22 February: It's Digital Learning Day, CABLE students!

Today (Thursday 22 February) is Digital Learning Day. Originating in the US, this holiday calls upon individuals and organisations to adopt innovative ways of learning something new and embrace the technological solution to non-traditional classrooms.

As CA students, digital learning is an integrated part of your qualification. The CABLE online learning platform is an invaluable source of information and offers course materials, student resources, and opportunities for group discussion to aid your studies.

However, there are also extracurricular opportunities for you to learn and fine tune skills online. FutureLearn is an open online course platform partnered with ICAS to give students and members the chance to learn new things and develop professionally.

Here are just five of the benefits of digital learning:

  1. Engagement: The individual nature of digital learning promotes a higher level of focus and awareness. This is especially true if the course was motivated by individual interest.
  2. Self-assessment: Immediate feedback and regular knowledge testing allow learners to more accurately gauge their level of understanding.
  3. Time management: People are largely able to progress at their own pace and fit learning around other commitments.
  4. Collaboration: Most digital learning platforms include some form of discussion board or group forum, letting learners help each other and share ideas in an open environment.
  5. Specialist skills: As opposed to traditional skills courses, online lessons can be very specific in their content as they require fewer resources to run.

Get in touch

Have you ever sought out an online learning opportunity to aid your professional development, such as improving soft skills? Tell us by emailing or tweet @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, we help you avoid becoming overwhelmed by your workload and hear from TPE prize winners about succeeding in your studies. TPS Course Director David Young also casts an eye across the Atlantic and the impact of tax cuts on deferred tax.

How to avoid burnout

You’re studying to become an extraordinary CA, and you’re also working hard within your training firm to apply the knowledge and skills you have developed with ICAS. How well do you juggle competing priorities to avoid burnout? We’ve got simple tips to help reduce the stress.

Golden advice for students from TPE prize winners

Are you looking for inspiration ahead of the TPE exam? Alex Burden speaks to our previous TPE prize winners on their awards, what it meant to them, and what it takes to achieve top accolades.

How DT changed DT in the USA

It is unlikely that Donald Trump (DT) thought too much about the impact of his corporate tax rate reduction on the deferred tax (DT) balances of companies with US interests – there certainly have not been any tweets on the subject! Still, the subject piqued the interest of TPS Course Director David Young.

Monday 19 February: Are you saving for retirement?

The likelihood of younger generations having a comfortable amount of savings to fall back on in retirement is concerningly low.

The consensus is that young people just aren't saving and rely heavily on their pension to provide an income when they get older. Generally, this isn't enough.

Auto-enrolment in pension schemes has led to a rise in workers having a safety net for retirement. In 2016, 78% of eligible employees were enrolled in a workplace pension, up from just 55% in 2012.

However, while this is good news overall, it is estimated that people need a minimum of 70% of their current income to sustain them comfortably in their twilight years and research from Aon has suggested that most members of a direct contribution pension scheme will be £1,400 a year short upon retiring.

In an interview with the BBC's Business Daily podcast, behavioural economist Dan Ariely emphasises the importance of starting to save as early as possible and offers some practical advice.

Listen to the full podcast now.

Get in touch

Do you think you save as much as you need to? What prevents long-term financial planning for young people? Tell us by emailing or tweet @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, we cover the second part of what you need to know about costing and look at how partial exemption comes into play for TPS students. We also examine the Bitcoin market and what ethical dilemmas it presents.

Back to basics: The joys of costing pt 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 business management TC studies, or if you just need a refresh.

The ethics of mining Bitcoin

Exactly how fair is the cryptocurrency market? Is it heavily weighted in favour of those with mining resources? We explore the ethics of mining Bitcoin.

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. What you will get from this:

  • An explanation of what partial exemption means.
  • An illustration of how the rules work.
  • An outline of the de minimis calculation.

Thursday 15 February: New rules on currency manipulation

Seven European central banks, including the Bank of England, have committed to a new code of conduct designed to prevent currency manipulations.

The FX Global Code is a product of the Global Foreign Exchange Committee and outlines the principles of good practice for participants in the foreign exchange marketplace. It has been established to reassure the public's confidence in central banking bodies after the currency-rigging scandal of 2014.

Current signatories include:

  • Bank of England
  • Bank of Spain
  • Central Bank of Cyprus
  • Czech National Bank
  • National Bank of Austria
  • National Bank of Poland
  • National Bank of Romania

Dave Ramsden, Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking and the Bank of England, said in a statement: “The Bank is strongly committed to supporting and promoting adherence to these codes. We are leading by example in publishing our Statements of Commitment today and will also expect regular counterparties to commit to embedding these principles of good practice in their market activities. Fair, transparent and robust markets, underpinned by high standards, benefit all participants.”

Get in touch

Do you think the FX Global Code is a step in the right direction? Should it be underpinned by regulation? Email your opinion to or share your thoughts @ICAS_students on Twitter.

In today's blog, we are encouraging you to nominate the young CAs (and soon-to-be CAs!) that you feel are representing the ICAS standard of excellence in their work. We also return to the basics of costing and help you evaluate your current career trajectory.

Why you should nominate a Young CA

The ICAS Top 100 Young CAs competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest, celebrates our brightest young members. Some of 2017's 35 CAs under 35 share why you should nominate the CAs in your network.

Back to Basics: The Joys of Costing Part 1 

There are several topics that are likely come to mind when students think back to their good old Business Management (BM) Days. A straw poll of former BM students revealed that absorption and marginal costing still give some nightmares!  With that in mind, we focus on the different costing methods and modules introduced in BM and get back to basics with costing.

Is your career on a fast track?

Some people can struggle to self-evaluate their progress at work. How do you know if you're doing a good job? Are you on track to get that bonus? Here are three sure-fire signs that you are fast-tracking your career.

Monday 12 February: Seeing the whole picture

Tutor Chris Cunnane invites TPE students to consider the circumstances around failing businesses and how to spot trouble before things go bust.

When companies fail, members of the public and even some inside the business are often surprised by the seemingly sudden change of fortune. However, there are usually signs of trouble years ahead of time that CAs may be expected to pick up on.

Chris explained: "It is important to demonstrate that you can see the business, not just the numbers. TPE will test your commercial skills as well as your technical skills."

For example, this useful article from the BBC explains the warning signs that construction company Carillion was in trouble. There are four main points:

  • High margins were 'too good to be true'.
  • Late payments to suppliers.
  • Hidden debts.
  • The expected impact of IFRS 15.

These factors show where a healthy professional scepticism may have tipped off anyone watching closely enough to what was about to happen at the company.

Get in touch

Do you think Carillion's collapse could have been predicted sooner? How would you apply your skills to find the best course of action? Tweet us @ICAS_students or email to share your thoughts.

In today's blog, we look at how to manage the impact of negative brand publicity and highlight the available resources for ITP students - very handy in the lead up to Level 2 exams in April this year. We also give you our top tips for beating after-lunch fatigue in the office without touching a drop of caffeine.

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.

Stay energised at work (without caffeine!)

The afternoon slump plagues office environments around the world. If you find yourself fatigued, unfocused or demotivated after lunch, try some of these quick and easy solutions - coffee not included!

Your ITP study resources in one place

Some of you are currently studying towards your ITP (ICAS Tax Professional) Level 2 exams in April this year. We wanted to remind you about the number of resources that are available to you as you get stuck into your tax books.

Thursday 8 February: Can diversity drive innovation?

Do innovative solutions and processes for business rely on creating an environment for new ideas?

Ahead of Innovation Day on 16 Feb, we look to an exciting Ted Talk on the power of diversity and how ideas can be influenced by the breadth of voices in a discussion.

Rocío Lorenzo explains how a study of 171 companies showed a clear correlation between innovation and diversity, and you could lead in the space too!

If you have recently watched an interesting video that you think should be shared with fellow students, be sure to use our details below to get in touch and share the knowledge.

Watch the video

Get in touch

Do you think you have a diversity of opinions at work? How does it help your organisation innovate for success? Tweet us at @ICAS_students or get in touch via

In today's blog, ICAS Director of Insolvency, David Menzies explains what you need to know for GDPR regulations: the way firms handle data is about to change forever, and every business needs to start adopting appropriate measures. We also meet new ICAS tutor Emma Tollan and tell you how to get involved with the Top 100 Young CAs.

Tutor profile: Emma Tollan

Tutor Emma Tollan teaches ABS and PAR subjects and here she takes the time to explain why accountancy and teaching has always been close to her heart, and what opportunities are to be found on a training contract.

What you should know about GDPR

With under five months remaining until the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect in the UK on 25 May 2018, David Menzies looks at how firms can be preparing for GDPR and how ICAS will provide support in this area.

Five top tips for nominating a Young CA

Do you want to recognise a CA for the ICAS Top 100 Young CAs competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest? We have five tips for stand-out nominations.

Monday 5 February: The essential task of finance reviews

Do you have an interest-only mortgage? The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has voiced concerns that a fifth of UK mortgage borrowers are risking their homes if they have not arranged a capital repayment plan.

Jonathan Davidson, the FCA's Executive Director of Supervision - Retail & Authorisations, said: "We know that many customers remain reluctant to contact their lender to discuss their interest-only mortgage for a variety of reasons.

"We are very clear that people should talk to their lender as early as possible as this will give them more options when it comes to the next steps they can take. We are encouraged to see that lenders have taken positive steps to engage with and help their interest-only customers.

"However, as the number of maturities start to increase towards 2032, it is important that lenders take time to review and, where possible, improve, their own strategies."

A healthy financial life includes regular reviews of finances, including payment plans, so if you are currently sitting on an interest-only plan then it's a great idea to book a chat with an advisor.

If you are paying both interest and capital, then don't forget to revisit your mortgage advisor when any fixed rate terms come to an end - it could mean a saving and paying off your mortgage on a quicker basis!

Get in touch

Do you undertake regular health checks of your finances? We want to hear your tips and guidance to share with other students and CAs. Send them to @ICAS_students or email and we'll feature your advice!

In today's blog we start the admission ceremony countdown, when we look forward to welcoming our new fully-qualified members to the CA family! To help you prepare we've made a checklist of what you need to do to ensure you're part of this special day.

For those of you at TPS level, we also have materials to help, including the last part of our back to basics on materiality, this time looking at thresholds during audit engagement, and an introduction to using the TPS examiner report.

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.

2018 Admission Ceremony Countdown

We have started our countdown to the 2018 ICAS Admission Ceremony, held on 17 March in Edinburgh, and with less than six weeks to go it's time to checklist entry requirements!

How to use the TPS examiner report to your advantage

Find out what materials and feedback are available for retakes, and how the examiner’s report is used.

Thursday 1 February: Are you too smart to be scammed?

Have you ever had a suspicious email claiming to be from your bank? Do you think you could spot a fraudulent text alert? Apparently, only 9% of British people can.

Research from a Home Office-backed anti-fraud campaign found that just 9% of surveyed respondents could correctly identify real and scam messages from a group of examples. The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign is concerned that people consider themselves "too smart to be scammed" and are therefore not taking necessary precautions.

Phishing is one of the most common types of financial and identity fraud schemes currently affecting the UK. Usually, an email or text message that appears to come from your bank, building society, or another company that holds your personal data will ask you to follow a link or reply to confirm your details. Scammers will then use that information to access your finances and pretend to be you.

The campaign offers three main pieces of advice:

  1. Never trust a message that asks for your PIN, full password, or for you to move money out of your own account.
  2. Don't click direct links in emails - always visit your bank's site via a browser and address you trust.
  3. If you are asked for personal information, contact the supposed sender directly through a known email or phone number.

Other indicators of a fake message can be poor grammar or spelling, a non-company email address, a strange area code phone number, and unexpected claims like 'you have been locked out of your account'.

You can test your knowledge by reviewing the examples from the campaign's survey yourself.

Take the quiz

Get in touch

Have you ever been phished? Do you think you may be at risk? Tell us @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we have a handy checklist on covering methodology for capital allowances, which appears in all three levels of the CA qualification. And the knowledge you acquire as a CA is a powerful tool, but how should you use it? What are the moral issues you need to consider? We examine how to appropriately apply your skills. And finally, if you are resitting a TPS exam, we have a great guide on what you need to know by TPS level controller, Lauren O'Brien.

Capital allowances exam technique checklist

Capital allowances can come up in the TC, TPS and TPE exams. This handy checklist covers the method you should use when practicing capital allowances questions in an exam setting.

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 over the next few weeks and the resources available to help you.

How should you morally use your CA knowledge?

CAs have powerful knowledge at their fingertips, but conundrums can present themselves when asked to use that knowledge for unethical activities. We discuss how to appropriately apply your skills.


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