The syllabus and curriculum of Chartered Accountancy underwent a huge change last year. The CPT (CA entrance exam) has been replaced with CA foundation. It is now descriptive, unlike the old objective format. IPCC is now replaced by CA Inter. This has created a chaos among people. The first attempt at CA Inter took place this year, in May 2018. How was it? How different is Inter CA from IPCC? Has it become more difficult? Having appeared for these exams, I am now going to answer all these questions.
Overview of CA Inter
CA Inter is an exam of 800 marks, unlike IPCC which was for 700 marks. It is divided into two groups with four papers each. In order to pass, you need 40% marks in individual papers and an aggregate of 50% marks in each group to pass that group. The portions have definitely increased. Some topics have been removed while there are significant additions. GST has been introduced for 40 marks. Costing, which was earlier for 60 marks, and clubbed with Financial management for 40 marks, has now become paper 3 for complete 100 marks. Financial management is now for 60 marks, and alongside there is an introduction of Economics for 40 marks in the curriculum. Information technology has been replaced with Enterprise Information System. These are the significant changes in the subjects.
The syllabus is vast, but also very dynamic. It takes approximately 8-9 months to complete the syllabus. Again, coaching becomes very important and your basic knowledge, gained at the entrance level is potent. It is recommended to attend the maximum number of classes, and not miss out on any topic. Keeping in touch with every subject is the key. Consistent revisions and repeated tests can make you an expert in the subject. The portions are very different from what one learns in school and college, thus practice only can help you. I will now discuss group 1 and each paper of the group, and how it was set in the May 2018 exams. If you haven’t read my article about CPT, read it to understand this course better.
Group 1 is considered to be the tougher group to study, an easier group to score. It has one theory and 3 practical subjects. The subjects of group 1 are more conceptual, hence one learns a lot and enjoys the same. The questions are not easy to crack, but once you develop the knack for it, you will enjoy it.
Paper 1 – Accountancy
Accountancy is the first paper in the course. Since it is Chartered Accountancy, many subjects revolve around accounts. But the first paper is pure Accounts. Now, it is very important to understand the theory well and not concentrate on the sums alone, as only the conceptual clarity can get you through the paper. Accounting standards are asked for a minimum of 25 marks, hence one should have a strong grip on it. There are topics which are easy, such as Departmental accounts, Hire purchase, Investment accounts, Bonus and rights issue, pre-incorporation profit or loss, and Redemption of preference shares. Now these are topics in which one must try to attain perfection. These topics do not require repeated revision and take very little time every time you revise. There are topics that are average, neither very easy nor very tough. They are insurance claims, accounts from incomplete records and redemption of debentures. They take some time to attain precision in. The other important topics, time consuming ones are partnership accounts, financial statements of companies and branch accounts. They require more practice. The paper of May 2018 consisted of 6 questions, first one being compulsory, and a choice of 4 from the remaining five questions.
Paper 2 – Corporate and Other Laws
The second paper is divided into two parts, Company law for 60 marks and other laws for 40 marks. Others laws are the Indian Contract Act, 1872, General Clauses Act,1887, the Negotiable instruments act, 1881 and interpretation of statutes. There is only a part of the Company Law, not the entire law itself. The company law is definitely more interesting, with all the case laws, but also requires a lot of precision when it comes to writing. Other laws are relatively easier to score and even easier to study. Students genially tend to ignore other laws, but that can be fatal. Whether one should write section numbers or not in law is a big question. Well, it is always preferable to write section numbers, they fetch you extra marks. However, if the quality of your answer is good, omitting the section number will not cost you many marks. The paper of May 2018 tested students on the basics. Most of them paid attention to the complicated stuff and ignored the easier topics. This must not be done.
Paper 3 – Costing
Costing is a new paper in group 1. It was earlier clubbed with Financial Management. Costing is one of the most logical and dynamic subjects. One sum can be solved in various ways, everyone has their own style. However, this subject generally seems tough on the beginning. The major reason is that we are very used to following a particular format. Every sum in costing is different, it requires an application of the concept and not any formula. Once understood, this subject can fetch you the highest marks. There are various topics, and each has its own importance and relevance. It is not possible to rank them as easy or tough, as it varies with every individual. This subject requires a lot of practice. The number of sums you do, the better it is. The paper was set in a similar pattern as accounts. Theory in costing is to be taken seriously, as it can save your paper. One complete question of 20 marks is based on theory alone, being able to attend this question can save you a lot of time, and this can be the biggest privilege for you, as this paper is generally lengthy.
Paper 4 – Taxation
This paper is divided into two parts, 60 marks for the income law, and 40 marks for indirect taxes. The only topic in indirect taxes is GST. Now, this a scoring topic. It is a very interesting topic as well and very relevant in the present. One must put in sufficient effort for GST as this can carry your paper on its shoulders, and help you pass in this paper. The topics are not very difficult, but require practice to develop the correct style of writing. Coming to the Income-tax law, this is the tricky bit, but also the very fun part. The major chunk is the second module of the ICAI, which is the five heads of income. These are the most time-consuming topics and require a lot of practice. Tax is a combination of theory and practicals, thus you will have to study the provisions and also work out any sums to learn the application of those provisions. The more you practice, the better it is, as the only practice can make you perfect. Also, it is very important to memorize the section numbers, as, without them, your provisions may appear to lose.
What to refer?
I believe that it is better to refer 1 book 10 times rather than referring 10 books one time. There is no practice manual for the new syllabus, this it is very important to have a good hold on the study module. For subjects like accounts and costing, the questions in the study material, as well as the material provided by the respective coaching classes, are to be WORKED OUT, not just once, but at least 3 times. If time permits, one can also refer to the other books available in the market. For law, the material provided by the respective coaching classes would suffice for the theory bit, but one has to refer to the questions in the module to understand the structure of the question and the manner of presenting the answer. For tax, it is advisable to refer both, the module as well as the material provided by the coaching class.
Practice is the key. One has to practice as much as possible. I strongly recommend you to take at least 2 mock tests, which will be more like prelims and will help you understand what to study, how to present your answer, how to study on the day preceding the exam day, how to handle the stress, evaluate your own performance etc. With proper planning and practice, it is definitely possible to score exemption in all subjects.