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Study Material, the veritable Bible

Updated on 25 April 2021


Dear students,

I see a surfeit of PMs in my inbox and a few open comments too in the forum which have asked my opinion on various reference books, coaching materials, coaching classes, etc. A guy from Indore asking about a local coaching centre, a girl from Berhampur asking whether a local Oriya publisher giving out some book on a particular subject is ok, someone from Salem asking me about a local professor, a student from Surat cribbing about a coaching centre and asking me opinion about a coaching centre two streets away from his place!.I should be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Goddess Bharath Matha or the like to answer each and every such query set by them! Though I love to have such paranormal powers, Im unable to help you thoroughly and to your satisfaction. I did my best within my given constraints and also asked you not to panic in the reference book analysis posting if any book you follow does not come in my analysis/list and that these can be extrapolated to other courses or syllabi using a healthy dose of commonsense.


Rest is unto you to Go Figure how to work it out.


I do understand all of your angst but please understand that though Iam a CA and do manage to speak many Desi languages; I cannot personally vouchsafe anything in a localized fashion. Maybe the 4 Southindia languages, Hindi/Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali, Manageable Marathi, passable Punjabi and an OK-able Oriya of mine has created an impression that I belong to their state (luckily Im not speaking Bhojpuri, Konkani and other northeastern state languages, I would have been in a real soup with multi-vernacular requests demanding information as to some coaching centre in Nagaland or Mizoram!).Maybe I should now stick to English, the connecting language and emphasize the point that I live in Manhattan, New York, thousands of miles away from India!


Please also direct very specific queries like whether the exam can be taken in Urdu or whether the conversion from PCC to IPCC would affect student status, etc to ICAI. Im neither a reception centre nor a Student help centre established by the ICAI to have information at my finger tips and help you out instantly.


ICAI might not be your best friend but it is not a villain either.


I might point out certain defects and lacunae in them but that is for a lofty purpose and to drive positive change. Also, I used ICAI to the hilt when I was a student though I had lot of misgivings those days. Im not against ICAI in any personal manner and do not want to be too!


Emotional dialogue: "ICAI is like my mother"

Vidhyashankar's addition:"But I want the mother to be like a mother and not like a B.... well, you know what that means! And I wont leave her till she  becomes my most chweetest and purrfeeectt mummmmmyyyyyy"


Emphasized Moral: I have given a hawk's eye view, the peculiarities or specificities of which have to be taken by you w.r.t. your circumstances, aptitude, resources and with a liberal dose of commonsense of the situation.


I have dwelt in length on the matter of reference texts but lest I be misunderstood, I should say that one should be thorough first with the study materials and look into the reference books for additional support for understanding concepts.


Those who solely rely on reference books alone might face difficulty in the exam. Im not contradicting myself anywhere if you carefully read through my postings and comments everywhere. Nothing can be said about anything purely in Black and White terms. Im synergizing now my take on the issue here and crystallizing it to bring home this important point.


It will all be hunky-dory till the student finds that some questions in the exams(including theory questions) have been lifted verbatim (or just names/numbers changed a bit) from the study material. In fact, this happens regularly for subjects like Costing, Accounting, etc.


         Students are advised to work out all problems in the Study material and be conversant with the theory too for most of the subjects.


         Even the unsolved exercise problems in the study material must be solved by the student somehow either by himself or seeking guidance or attending coaching classes or from friends.


         This done, one should then finish off compiler. This wont be much of a difficulty because once something is learnt from some text; the next text becomes relatively easy. Also, compiler contains by virtue of being a collection of past exam questions, many problems from study material itself.


         However, this does not mean one "mugs up" the study material and sits for the exam. Such strategies might pale out either because sometimes they might not ask at all from the material or sometimes they might twist the questions with uneasy catches framed in it and all you can do then is twist and turn in the chair with some uneasy butterflies in your stomach!


         Study material must be ideally studied and mastered in the beginning itself(even while going for audit tours, one must have a plan to finish the study material) and then when one comes to the end and lands up in the study holidays, one should peruse reference books and work out problems from them to further strengthen the base. This is how preparation should be staggered.



 But most of the overconfident smart-alecks do thus:


1. They waste time at the start of the course.

(I was like, from day 1GO! GO! GO! It was like; I had a time-bomb ticking in my pocket. I do it for every course I take. My Success pill: Early start, incremental learning, numerous revisions, proper approach to subject and life, prime health and belief in God.)


2. They crib about how bad life is (surly auditor, audit tours, etc) and when you crib you affect what I call Prime health(which has a mental component) and then you lose energy and either sleep or booze or fag or waste it roaming about.

(Yeah, life is bad. So, what do we do about it? Do you think I was welcomed with a carpet of roses in the office by my auditor? It is plain not worth to get emotional too much and waste ones energy and time, both being limited resources in life)


3. Then they manage to get study leave and then after about a week or so of wasting it to get the engine started they dust the books and start. (Rajinikanths Punch dialogue in Kollywood films can be applied here profitably: Elephants take time to get up if they sit or fall down, Im like a Horse I get up in a jiffy!.You must start the day when you get the study leave. It is not for relaxing but for applying more effort to get you a result and up your life. Dont take your time to adjust to the new routine and waste the precious hours in lazy dilly-dally.)



4. After this phase, they have innumerable doubts at the start itself. Which study material to study first? Which reference book to study? Should I take some coaching class now? (Most stupid decision especially if he or she is starting it out) Is the time sufficient? Which subject to concentrate? What is my plan?


 {That is why I emphasize on an early start and not postponing till the nth minute, where nth minute= Last few months of study leave (minus the week and a half of dilly-dally!)}


5. They see the study material and exclaim, God! Oh Blessed God! This is tough! Im not able to make head or tail of it. Im yawning each time I plod through these lines in the material. Better grab some easy guide to read the subject.


(There are no short-cuts to success)


6. Finally they manage to read something with lot of distractions and deviations from their original plan and if they are really very intelligent they finish it fast and then manage to do one revision at the max.


(This finishing fast and doing one revision at the max. business holds waters germane to an elite few. I would call them freaks or mavericks. But the majority of students do not even study once thoroughly!)


No wonder the results are like this for CA! But who is to be blamed? Please think hard.


Most look at the study material and find that it leads them to a state of torpidity. They become dissatisfied and thus they seek reference books and end up buying bazaar-type notes or some class notes of some Tom, Dick and Harry Professor listening to claims of an instant and easy pass from their co-peers.


Finally, on the D-day when they see the questions, they see stars and come out of the exam and rail the whole world denouncing it to be a conspiracy set to ruin them. This is really preposterous behavior on the part of the hair-brained student, when he or she had all the chances for success, in the first place.


Emphasized Lesson: No one denies you success except yourself. Do not crib on the toughness of the papers or how you lacked time. A prescient student prepares for all contingencies.



Study material no doubt has its drawbacks but I mastered it. I had no other option. PERIOD.


Then I went to the compilers (in those days there were separate suggested answers for each year and only for couple of subjects compilers were available in the Institute but these days you get compilers for every subject by private publishers) and then whatever RTPs I could manage to collect from the ICAI or my seniors and friends and finally I went into the arena of the reference books which I mentioned elaborately, like a blithe gladiator awaiting my duelist.


Reference books were used even in the start too by me, only if I did not understand a concept being laid out in the study material. I never had a muddled approach to my CA prep. Half the battle is won if one is pellucid in what one sets out to do.


 I used to make a note, next to the study material in small words in red-ink (fill that up with whatever reference book and page number you are looking, to understand that concept).Later while revising, you will find it convenient.


Have a final exam note (note book) for each subject with you and jot down concepts there in a nubbin with all sorts of references and jargons enlisted. This book will make it a breeze to do innumerable revisions for the exam.



Subjects for which, honestly, the study material is more than enough are:

1.       MICS

2.       Corporate Law

3.       Auditing

4.       MAFA Theory

5.       Accounting Theory; IAS, IFRS, AS comparison, etc

6.       Costing Theory


Any apprehensions for the above 6 are due to a play of the monkey mind of the student or very poor English and comprehension skills.


For subjects like Direct and Indirect Taxes, though I did not use the study material as I was not satisfied then with the quality (I do not know exactly where the study material stands for these 2 subjects these days), I used reference texts, mentioned in an earlier posting. However, I did go through the contents of the Study Material pertaining to these subjects once my prep with the reference books was over to ensure that I have not missed anything pertinent to the exam.


For Accounting and Auditing standards one needs to buy an additional text for lucent understanding and study it on a daily basis. I think there are 31 Acc.Stds (Im not sure) and numerous Standards on Auditing. You can work it out contemporaneously with the subject being read in Accounting or Auditing.


Emphasized metaphor: Have fun with the study material, its your buddy, play with it but dont mess with it or ignore it because unlike most buddies it wont slap or react immediately, it will extract revenge only during exam time!


 Thus, the purpose of this lengthy epistle is to ensure that you get the maximum from my postings with no bias or an inkling of misguidance.


I think I have left no stone unturned in helping you all out, at least temporarily. These postings will go a long way in helping you out with your CA exams.



If you look at our Chinese counterparts; each student there helps the other when they are out of the country, almost like a family, whether they come from the Western province of Xinjiang or the Eastern Province of Jiangsu.


This was a contrast to our Desis who used to behave most selfishly in my MBA batch as if I was going to usurp their fiefdoms. I however managed to top my class even with their reticent and retarded behaviour as I managed to garner help from foreign students. We should develop the same spirit and help each other out despite our regional and language barriers is what I earnestly feel.


Now, I can finally sigh and say, I have done some justice to what I set out to do in my friends memory at least in a miniscule fashion.


Every drop in the ocean counts, ever help howsoever small is beneficial.


I leave Dubai soon, a contended man.


I have realized of late that to help people on the sly without claiming any name and fame anonymously is a pleasure in itself, though some egoic statements and jests were displayed a bit to remove monotone and deadpan and give a persona to the otherwise anonymous scribe. Only God and I know who this Vidhyashankar is and guess, that is 'nuff and I'd let it rest at that for now.

 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.(Matthew 6:2-4) Amen!



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