Koushal Sonthalia
Koushal Sonthalia

I am Koushal Sonthalia. I secured AIR 15 in November 2014 CA Finals. Its an amazing feeling being looked upon as a celebrity among friends and family. My father is a grocery merchant from Jamuria near Asansol and my mother is a homemaker. Its just because of my family’s consistent support and their faith in me that I did so well. It was in March 2010 after my Std 12th boards that I decided about choosing CA as my career. Being from a Marwari family, business is something that we are made for. And hence CA was something that was required to have complete knowledge about all the practical aspects required for a business. So, I was into CA.

My first reaction

I checked my results at around 11.30 a.m. First of all I was happy seeing that I passed both the groups. Thereafter I saw my grand total. Seeing my total to be 530 I thought of checking the merit list. I had a mental picture as if it would display, “Sorry your roll number is not in the merit list” but then I was shocked to find that is was AIR 15. I was literally dancing. I was delightful even more because my family was really very happy. Success should be credited to my family who supported me a lot for my exams and some friends whom I used to trouble a lot by calling them when I was tensed.


I did my articleship from Kolkata (M/s JMP Associates) for the first 15 months and thereafter I shifted back to my hometown and completed the remaining period with CA Mantu Sultania in Raniganj. Internship helped me greatly in my exam preparation as many of the things were covered practically during internship and hence the preparation efforts were somewhat reduced.


With internship you hardly get Time. So generally students opt for coaching. Its not like self study wont do. But the timing constraints due to articleship make it infeasible to go for self study. Hence I opted for coachings. I completed my coachings 3 months before exams and thereafter I was almost fully into studies.


About my study schedule, I generally studied in the morning hours and couldn’t study at night. My coaching almost begun from May 2012 and I used to study whatever was taught in my coaching the same day so as to gain a grip over what was taught. For Law, Audit and ISCA, I attended fast track batches so as to reduce the efforts required during self study. I completed my 2nd revision at least 20 days before exams. And during my last 20 days, I was just building upon the areas I found weak. For me the toughest one was Advanced Management Accounting as I was not confident in the subject. I studied AMA from my coaching notes and thereafter I solved some past papers to induce confidence. Easiest one was IDT and for the same I needed just 7 days. For IDT I did the case laws and appeals portion just before the exams as they were something I used to forget.

Books and e-sources

Recommended books shall be the Institute Practice Manuals. They are a must and are of great help, specially for theory subjects. And just solve the 2 latest RTP’s released by the institute.

Mock tests

I didn’t attend the mock tests conducted by the institute but yes I solved past papers under exam conditions that is by allotting full 3 hrs for solving a question paper. They are of great help as they make you more confident and help you in realising where you need to work upon.

Rank and preparation

Well, rank in CA exams is something that most people can never be sure of. But yes, I just had a vision, Nov 2014 should be my first and last attempt and so, I was into studies for achieving the same. Only recommendation for keeping the momentum going is to cut down on the time wastages as much as possible, as CA exams are there to test your patience too. You keep on preparing and you keep on forgetting. And hence, revision is the key. Revision won’t be possible if you waste your time. And if you waste your time, you end up pressurising yourself which backfires and you move towards failure. Just feel this, this is almost the last exam for which you are studying and see the results.

Future Plans

I intend to enter the corporate world as of now and get an experience so as to start my own venture 5-10 years down the line.

ICAI Campus

I am preparing myself for ICAI campus by browsing more and more on the latest updates in our field. Focusing, primarily, on the topics like GST, IFRS and Co. Act 2013 and also studying the changes brought in by the last budget.

Advice to fellow students

My advice to the CA students- Nothing’s tough. You just need to work hard. Hard work is the only key. No shortcut is allowed. Always go for a good CA Firm for articleship (preferably big firms). I know getting into big firms needs references too which most of us don’t have. In that case, join good mediocre firms but don’t opt for other shortcuts. If you don’t get enough exposure during the first 2 years of your articleship, join industrial training into a corporate in the 3rd year. Industrial training is unbeatable. You get a lot of exposure and for that even if you have to delay 6 months its worth it, as thereafter after qualifying your exams, you are easily absorbed by that corporate or the others.

Enjoyment is also necessary but when it comes to preparations, no compromises. Best of luck to all. Thank you.