Many people consider this subject as a bug-bear.I proffer now some Tenets(principles/study-tips) for people who would like to conquer this "Paper dragon"
I would enumerate points below and am sure if these points are followed intoto then the success-rate for this exam is surely very high.Infact,one can aspire to get more than 60% easily with the following germane advices.
Tenet 1: Conceptual Understanding:
This is the most important point and sinequanon for success in this exam.At the final level, one is entreated to study with concepts in mind,not sections or section numbers in mind.
Many students are of the opinion that mere memorization of section numbers and a few caselaws are enough.
Nope! This simply is not enough.
What is needed is conceptual brasstacks.One must digest the concepts behind the legality and its application.This alone will foster a holistic learning process.Income tax at the final-level maybe an amalgam of various concepts in one problem or question.
Oft-times students are bewildered at the complexity of the question and this bewilderment can be offset only by means of bedrock conceptual understanding.Memory part comes next.
Conceptual understanding also greatly aids memory.It is not something dissonant with memory.It goes hand-in-hand with memory.The better you understand a concept the better are chances for it to retain it in your memory,better are chances for you to answer a question that has been twisted around,etc.
So, in the first reading of the text, have this at the back of your mind and read.There are some pure legal fictions too which one encounters which seem bereft of conceptual moorings,these too can be tackled it one reads actively by questioning the irrelvance of the law and the lacunae in the procedures and thus have a conceptual study here too.
Tenet 2: Regularity of study and Revision
This point cannot be said to be overemphasized even if repeated a hundred times!
One must have a regular study and revision plan .If one makes a minimum of 3 revisions for this subject one can easily clear this subject and the more number of quality revisions one makes one gets to add more marks for this subject.
Direct Taxes is a volatile subject and thus one can proclive on the side of forgetting the text in a few days and this is the main bug-bear of students more than anything else."HOW CAN I REMEMBER EVERYTHING for the exam?" is a question that torments and undermines their confidence.
The simple panacea/solution/'amrith' for this regular study and constant revsion.
A concrete plan of atleast 1 hour per day allotted for this subject from early on would greatly help the student get very high marks.Incrementality thus has great application for this subject.
Also, taking down notes for last minute revision is really a great way to study.One can form one's own pattern of revision notes.Writing it down would crystallize the knowledge of the subject within you and make you confident.
Donot be boggled down looking at the sizes of the texts or chapters.Just break them down into small sizeable chunks and start reading it.Slowly it becomes conquerable."If you get down to doing what you know slowly you will know what to do"
Tenet 3: Keeping the "ammunition" ready for war!
The war is Direct Taxes exam
The ammunition being referred here are the books to refer.
At the outset,I would like to say that many students in this forum and offline get really really confused about reference texts.Someone says this book is great and yet another says thats the worst book.Each one have their two cents worth to give for every book(more than even the author who penned those books!).
Obviously for this subject the study material is not beneficial.Lot of improvement is needed in the case of Direct Taxes study material and ICAI needs to take a look at it and to update it and make it student friendlly.
Some books which I can suggest from my experience.Since Im from Chennai the following books were found in Chennai Bookshops,encountered by me and I can give my subjective-opinion on it.This list is no means exhaustive.There might be tonnes of other books better than these books.So,please do not accost me by saying that there are books better than this.
1. VK Singhania--We all know how comprehensive this text is and how good it is as it covers all that is required for this subject.A student who truly covers this book well many times, is fully equipped to handle the battle.This I grade as a Nuclear war-head for the Direct Taxes war! You are sureshot of success in this subject if you are able to read the book.
i.e, IF you are able to read the book fully and well.The IF is a big one.Not many students have the capacity nor the inclination even if they have the capacity to spend enormous amounts of time with the fine print and the comprehensiveness of the book.This is the main drawback of the book.Else, this is UNO-PRIMO choice for students.
2. Vinod Gupta and Girish Ahuja notes/modules: These are also good.In these Vinod Gupta notes are better than Girish Ahuja Notes.Girish Ahuja notes have some mistakes and also merely explains sections and notes.Whereas Vinod Gupta has lot more illustrations.But the main book for Girish Ahuja(not the module set) is really good.Printing errors and some conceptual errors are the main drawbacks for this book.
3. Padhukas Direct Taxes: This is also good with the latest cases,amendments,RTPs,ITAT,Taxes digest information,Past question paper,Question-answer method,etc.The drawback for this book is the poor paper quality.
4. TN Manoharan's book: This book is student friendly and those who are harried for time can look at this book and prepare from it.However one must exercise some caution here.This book must be read with the latest amenedments,Caselaws,etcSome research is also needed for a few important chapters like PGBP,Capgains,etc.
5. Bangar's Books on Direct Taxes: Though Bangar is famous for Indirect Taxes.The Bangar team has also penned books for this subject also.One must buy both the main and the compiler from Aadhyas for this subject.This too contains the relevant section numbers,caselaws,ITAT,past exam questions,etc.However it is more concise than all other books in a question-answer form and it might leave some students dissatisfied regarding the quality of study.So the caveat expressed for the TN Manhoharan book must be exercised here too and one must do some extra research for a few important chapters, and then one is really good for the exam.
The above list is just an illustrative list.Any book is fine.One reference book will do.Do not get confused buying 2 or 3 reference books.You have other subjects to concentrate,my dear!
Kya padthe' ho nahin, kaise padthe ho..yehaan faraq padegaa!
What you read is not as important as how well you read it.
Tenet 4: Application-orientedness
In TamizhnAdu we have a poet-saint by name Thiruvalluvar.He had given his wisdom in couplets by name "Thirukural" in that he says:
Karka kasadara katrra pin nirka adharkku thaga
Learn what is to be learned fully and then "stand" by that learning.
Though he meant spiritually.One can also apply to this subject.
The saint has not stopped with "Karka kasadara"--Learn thoroughly.
He adds--"Kattrapin nirka adharkku thaga" After learning "stand"(worthy) by that learning.
One must not just read and understand the concepts in this subject but also apply those and be confident of tackling any question in the exam.
Tenet 5: Supreme Self-confidence
Self-confidence is self-reliance.
All the above mentioned tenets will not work if this quality is missing in the student.
Remember this: What you do and feel before the 3 hours of the exam and after the 3 hours of the exam is not as important as what you do and feel during that 3 hours.
If you feel diffident and incapacitated then it is of no use.It will show in your paper.
One can rest in Supreme confidence that human brain is really a miraculous organ.It has tremendous powers to work efficiently in crisis/tensed situations.This also has the prop of scientific research.It is also a common known fact that we use only a small portion of our brains and a big portion lies untapped and hidden beneath.
So one who is really confident can really remember more in the exam.
You can even conduct an experiement to prove this.
Read something before watching a sad and teary film and then after the film is over while still the depression lingers on you, try remembering what you read and out it on a piece of paper.
Now, take some other chapter from the same subject and this time watch another movie which is inspiring and funny(like say "3 Idiots" or the like) and try putting onto paper what you had studied before the film.
You will notice a difference and understand what Im saying.I have tried this and have noticed a difference on the lines hinted above.
If you implement these 5 Tenets for the preparation of this subject.You will not only find it easy going but also get a good score and contemporaneously evolve a deeper joy,respect and understanding for the subject.
Do comment on this article and express your feedback
My best wishes to all you,