Preparing for Final CA Direct Tax Laws & International Taxation

Everything you need to know about preparing for Final CA Paper on direct Taxation

This article is a guide on preparing for Final CA Direct Tax Laws & International Taxation (DT) paper.

About the paper

The DT paper is divided into 70 marks of subjective questions and 30 marks of MCQs. Even though, the subject has a mix of practical sums and theory, focusing on the technicalities is of prime importance. The most challenging aspect of the subject is its ocean of a syllabus.

Hence, using the correct preparation strategy is extremely important. If done right, the subject can be very scoring.

What are the examiner’s expectations?

  1. The questions are often structured and worded in a tricky manner. You may miss intricate details embedded in the questions and end up making silly mistakes. Hence, you need to be able to correctly analyse the data given in the question using the relevant concepts.
  2. Some questions are technically challenging and hence you are expected to have conceptual clarity of the various sections and provisions. This can be developed by solving papers. For theory questions you should be able to present your answers in a logical fashion.
  3. Although you do not need to memorize every section in DT however, you should try to remember sections for topics such as PGBP, Assessment Procedures, TDS and TCS provisions.
  4. Lastly, you are expected to be aware of the latest amendments as they carry more weightage in DT as compared to other subjects in group 2 of Final CA.

What should be the source of content?

  1. Content provided by your Coaching Provider should be used as the base. The Institute’s Study Material is very vast, and it is not advisable to use it as the base material for DT. However, it is advisable that quickly glance through the study material to ensure nothing is left out.
  2. Prepare a list of section numbers and a list of important case laws. This will help you during your revisions.
  3. Past Examination Papers, RTPs, MTPs and Case Study Booklet issued for MCQs.
  4. Refer ICAI’s website for Judicial updates which covers recent case laws which are relevant for the exam.

What is the ideal learning methodology & time to be invested?

RevisionDaysImportant Considerations
1st12 – 15• Do a detailed study of the entire course content from your base material i.e. coaching providers notes and ICAI Material.

Prepare the following summary notes:

• List of section numbers especially for TDS, PGBP and Assessment Procedures.

• Summary of timelines in assessment procedures and for return filing provisions.

• Charts for topics such as Business Trust, Securitization trust and Investment Fund to remember the rates.

• Tax and surcharge rates of all types of assesses along with MAT provisions and optional schemes (i.e., 115BAA and 115BAB).

• Separate list for all important points for referring during final revision.

• At the end of the first revision, practice number driven questions and multiple-choice case studies to develop analysis skills.


2nd6 – 7


• Start with covering your summary notes.

• You should be able to recollect the provisions and the section numbers.

• Practice past papers to get a hang of the exam paper.

3rd3• Stick to the summary notes.

• Check for Judicial Updates on the ICAI Website.

• Go through the recently released RTP.

Pro Tip: In MCQs you should quickly glance the question and the options before reading the case study. This helps you to identify the relevant data from the case study. Also, sometimes the question is straight forward, and you do not need to read the case study to answer the MCQ. This helps to save time.

What is the sequence in which the syllabus should be studied?

The overall portion can be divided into various buckets. Studying your DT syllabus as per these buckets will be useful in building conceptual clarity. Despite the lengthy syllabus, avoid ad-hoc selective studies; follow a method of smart studying and be thoroughly clear with all the concepts.

Visit the concept of ‘Remember, Revise, Recollect’ all throughout your study preparation.

Direct Taxation – 70 Marks
Set A


Set B

(Assessment of Entities)

Set C

(Assessment Procedures)

• Residential Status

• Scope of Income

• Heads of Income

• Clubbing & Set Off

• Deductions


• Tax Determination

• Optional Schemes


• Advance Tax


• Return Filing

• Assessment

• Scrutiny

• Re – Assessment

• Rectification

• Appeals, Revisions

• Penalties & Prosecution

• Settlement Commission

• Miscellaneous

International Taxation – 70 Marks
Set ASet BSet C
• Transfer Pricing


• Non-Resident Taxation

• Double Tax Relief

• Advance Ruling


• Equalization Levy

• Model Tax Conventions

However, ensure that the time you allocate to the chapters is in line with marks weightage distribution as specified by ICAI. Check here.

What are the writing skills that will help you ace the paper?

DT papers require a huge time investment in terms of analysing the questions. You must utilize your time in a very efficient manner.

  1. For the case law questions, if you are unable to recollect the name of the case law then you can just write the provision and the correct answer based on the facts.
  2. Quote section numbers only if you are sure about them.
  3. Ensure that you write working notes for all the important provisions in the computation sums. For example, in case of disallowances while computing the total income in Q1, specify the section as per which the expense is disallowed.

How to prepare on the eve of the exam?

It is possible to revise the entire syllabus provided you have prepared summary notes and have a thorough grip on the content.

Below is an illustrative list on how topics should be allocated between the three days you will have. You should prepare your own list based on the syllabus coverage and instructions by your coaching provider.

Priority IPriority IIPriority III
AmendmentsResidential StatusIFHP
Deemed IncomeSet OffSalaries
PGBP + CG + IFOSTDS + TCS + Advance TaxClubbing of Income
DeductionsPenaltiesReturn Filling
Assessment of EntitiesMiscellaneous
Assessment ProceduresModel Tax Conventions
Appeals & RevisionsInterpretation of Tax Treaties
Settlement Commission
Transfer Pricing
NR Taxation
Double Tax Relief
Advance Ruling
Equalization Levy

Pro Tip:

  1. Ensure that you sleep for a minimum of 7 hours sleep before your exam day.
  2. Start writing your exam with the question you are most comfortable with – it will help to boost your confidence for the paper.

What are the major challenges faced by students while attempting the Exam on the D Day & how must I prepare in advance to meet those challenges?

Recollecting and associating questions to the related sections· Ensure that you are well-versed with the sections so that you can quote them and enhance your answer quality

• Appear for at least 2 mock exams in a time bound format so that you can get an idea of how to deal with the entire syllabus

Inability to manage time in the paper• Unnecessary time should not be devoted on a particular question. In case you cannot figure out the solution to a particular question, designate some time to it at the end of the paper
Inability to understand the content expectations of the examinerRead up the past RTPs and Exam Papers to gain an understanding of the answer format. Read up Summary of examiner’s comments from past attempts on the ICAI Website.

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