Rank: 49, Batch: Nov 2016
Place: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
I initially hadn’t planned about CA but owing to accommodating college timings and the amount of seriousness I saw in the people around me in Kolkata, I figured, “What the hell, let’s give it a try”. But as casually as I had started it, I soon realised that it clearly wasn’t something to be taken lightly and gradually I become so engrossed in it that I ended up giving up almost everything I loved to be able manage CA along with college.
Once I cleared my IPCC examinations, I was lucky enough to be selected at a Big 4 firm and within a week of working there, I realised the seriousness of this course and how much there is to learn. I had also always been interested by financial management and owing to motivation from my senior article trainees, I started CFA as well which marked the end of another thing that I loved, my sleep. The next 3 years were pretty much routinely hectic with trying to juggle everything simultaneously but looking back, I think it was a great experience and I could not have hoped for a more rewarding 5 year period when I initially shifted to Kolkata.
I come from a joint family of businessmen and my mother is a teacher and I think it’s purely because of my parents guidance and trust in me that I have been able to achieve this feat.
My first reaction
I was always told that you’ll never forget the day you pass your CA exams and thanks to a website crash, I surely won’t. It had been a tumultuous day to say the least. I had a rule of never being home for any of my results and so I had gone out with my brother (my parents didn’t even know that results were due) and the website crash ensured that I’ll have to break the mojo and be home for the result this time.
Then 2 hours later came the list of people who had passed and another 2 hours later I saw how much I had actually scored without seeing my rank and I just started celebrating. That was until another 2 hours later when my friend told me about his rank and marks and I realised that even my marks weren’t that far away from a rank. Since the website had crashed, I couldn’t see the merit list and then it was the same friend who checked my rank and sent me a screenshot and that’s when I realized for the 1st time that tears of joy weren’t a myth after all.
Coming to the people to credit my success to, the first 2 are pretty obvious. Mom, dad, I’m not going to thank you because more than my success, it’s yours. I worked my backs off for the last 5 years to reach here but you’ve worked your hearts out for the last 22 years to put me here. So more than thank you, congratulations on officially being better parents than I could ever dream of. From the days of mom’s “beta padh lo nahi toh Kuch nahi hoga” to “you’re taking too much pressure and you need to take time away from your books” and dad’s “Ankit, please make clever decisions because being in a business these days is hard” to his “Beta you look tense, go out and grab a couple of beers with friends and then study with a relaxed mind”, I was somewhere caught wondering what I ever did you deserve you two.
Next of course is my brother. I know we’ve spent most of our childhood abusing the life out of each other and I’m not going to say it again so you better relish it right now, but yeah, you rock. Be it on the football field or the times you were my get-out-of-jail-free card in school while I was getting into fights, I think you’re the first person who prepared me for how tough life was gonna be. I still remember the times I scored a goal against you and the next time we were face-to-face, you would tackle me to the ground and then pick me up and tell me that this is how it’s gonna be when you play in bigger tournaments so better be prepared. I always figured that you were just being a typical mean elder brother and picking on me but now I get it, you were right!
My grandparents, uncles and aunts and my sisters, you are the people who always motivated me and told me how proud you were of me and how you wanted me to keep working hard and keep your heads held high and I’d like to think that I did justice to your faith in me and hopefully I’ve become what you wanted me to be and can continue to do so.
Next obviously are the friends (you know who you are) without whom none of this would’ve been possible. The last minute notes for the college exams, the times I was practically kidnapped away from the CA stuff, the times I was given notes to all the tuitions I missed (which were quite a few), the times I wanted to lash out because of the pressure and you came to my rescue (even when I was being a complete idiot), the uncountable tips and guidance from the people who had appeared for CA before me and the doubt-clearing and irritating-each-other sessions to calm down with the people appearing with me. I don’t think that there’s a way for me to thank you enough for trusting in me and being there for me all the way through.
Last but most definitely not the least, my office. To all the seniors, thank you for all the guidance and the faith you put in me and and motivated me to keep getting better and kept ensuring that I keep growing and also for the times you were understanding and accommodated my needs and ensured that I never had to compromise my academic and personal requirements. And to all my peers and immediate seniors, thank you for making sure that office was never ever boring and for ensuring that you would cover up for me whenever needed and for the fact that you were friends first and colleagues next.
So thank you everyone for this amazing journey and for all your combined efforts that have helped put me here today.
I did my articleship at Lovelock & Lewes which is a network firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers. I don’t think I can overstate the importance it played in preparing for my examinations. The knowledge that I had gained over the past 2.5 years before the examination definitely helped a lot and it helped me explore a whole new horizon and expand my knowledge and think the way a professional is supposed to think. Also, apart from purely the quantitative aspects, that was the place where I first learned how it is to be in the professional world and what I need to expect once I clear CA and it was also the first time I learnt how to manage pressure and manage my time and resources and utilize them in the most appropriate manner and that is also something that plays a vital role while preparing for your examinations.
I was always aware of how big a task passing CA final was going to be so I started planning for it as soon as I joined my articleship. I had set the goal that I’ll finish all coachings 5 months before the exams and so I registered for SFM as soon as articleship started. 1 year after that I registered for accounts and IDT and I could not take any tuitions except that due to paucity of time and so I started preparing direct tax and cost by myself in September ’15 with the aim of completing them before March ’16 as I would not be able to give time to CA from Arpil’16 to June’16 since I had my CFA level 3 exams in June. Once I was done with these 5 subjects by mid-march, I started preparing for CFA but I also glanced through the CA subjects side-by-side so that i had a hint of what each subject had and i could grasp the basic concepts before I started my final preparations in June.
As soon as I was done with my CFA examination, I started with my CA preparation and I used to prepare a schedule for the next 2 months which was always an optimistic schedule so that even if I lagged behind the schedule, I was still doing well and studying as much as 1 realistically should. I made pairs of subjects, 1 theory and 1 practical subject together with the aim of completing 1 pair in 15 days and completing the whole course once in 2 months. I then used to divide the chapters I had to complete for each of those 15 days and during the day, I kept switching between the theory and practical subject. Whenever I felt tired because of applying my brain practically, I used to switch to the theory subject and whenever I got bored of the theory, I switched to practical.
The question of whether coaching institutes are needed is a subjective issue I guess with no straightforward answer. I think it depends from person to person and whether a person can study that diligently himself or whether he needs that push that a teacher provides.
As I mentioned, I took coachings for 3 subjects and with the exception of my accounts tuition, I didn’t remember a word of what I had learnt in tuitions (partly because I was sleeping in tuitions to the extent that everyone thought I was going to fail). But the handouts and notes provided by the teachers definitely helped in preparing for the exams and proceed in an organised and informed manner. Also, in hindsight, I feel that while attending tuitions I gained a decent understanding of the subject matter which helped me in the last 5 months of self-study and that understanding of the matter helped even though I couldn’t remember what the teacher had specifically taught.
But nonetheless, nothing can undermine the importance of self study. Coaching or no coaching, the final result is in our hands and at most the teachers can act as guides and show us the right path but it’s up to us to make the best of it. It might help to take a coaching but at the end of the day, it’s us who need to get down to work and work hard on making the best of the opportunity.
A. Study schedule
As mentioned above, I used to make my study schedule in advance and did my best to stick to it. Since I always knew that I study better at night, I changed my daily cycle and I used to sleep at around 9am and aimed to sleep for 5 hours and wake up at 2pm which obviously got extended at times of exhaustion. I always tried to keep a steady pace and keep studying for as long as I could but there were obviously times during the day when you can’t study any more so I used to take regular breaks and then there were forced breaks on the days when episodes of Game of Thrones were supposed to release. But I think it’s very necessary to take time out to relax at times as you cannot stick to a tied-up schedule continuously for several months and if nothing else, the time you take out for yourself helps in increasing the productivity for the next several hours of study.
B. Strong and Weak subjects (How did I prepared them?)
I was strong at the practical subjects (accounts, SFM and cost) and weak at the theory subjects (specifically audit and isca). I used to devote time to subjects depending on my confidence level and how comfortable I felt about a subject. Whenever I felt very underconfident about a particular subject, I used to make it a point to just glance through that subject for half and hour before going to sleep (along with the schedule I was already maintaining) in order to refresh my memory on those subjects and to maintain my confidence and morale and maintain a steady pace of study. For my weaker theory subjects, I just tried to run through them as often as I could because I felt that I’ll be able to memorize more if I kept reading them at continuous intervals.
Books and e-sources
For accounts and SFM, I referred purely to the study materials provided by my tuition teachers and I think they were more than sufficient for preparation purposes. For law and audit, I purchased books published by widely known authors and went through them but for audit I also referred to the practice manual issued by the institute for revision purposed. For cost I mainly relied on the institute’s practice manual and I think that this was sufficient given that the practice manual for cost is very elaborate. For isca, I relied on the study material issued by the institute and i believe that this is the safest bet considering the uncertainty of the papers in this particular subject. For DT, I purchased the books of a widely known tuition teacher and went through them and I feel that the level of detail in the book along with the clarifications provided and the huge question bank eliminates the need to refer to any other material. For IDT, I stuck to the coaching books primarily for preparation purposes but I also felt it necessary to refer to the practice manual of the institute for revision and for practice of practical problems and for understanding the kind of questions that will finally be asked in the examinations.
I did not specifically go out and sit for a mock test in an examination setting but once the icai published it’s mock test papers online, I used to solve them just like I would in an exam. I would give myself 15 minutes reading time and 3 hours writing time and used to attempt the whole paper as if I was sitting for the exams. I think they were very crucial in preparing for my exam because they made me realise where I was going wrong, how I needed to structure my answers, how I needed to manage time, how to maintain my nerves and most of all, they allowed me to judge for myself how well I was prepared for the examinations and where my weak points were and where I needed to work harder. Since I had taken these tests 1 month before the exams, it gave me enough time to rectify the things I was doing wrong.
Rank and preparation
No I never prepared for a rank in CA finals. To be honest, I never even thought about whether I was going to pass or not. I made it a point to stop thinking about the result and just keep giving it my best day in day out and leave the tension of the results for later. I always felt that thinking about the results will make me worry and hamper my studies so I just told myself that it doesn’t matter and even if I fail, at least I should give it my best so that I don’t have any regrets later on.
I plan on entering the corporate world. As mentioned, I have always been intrigued by financial management and I have cleared all 3 levels of my CFA examinations so I plan on entering into the service industry and maybe join a consulting firm or an investment bank or advisory where I can put my financial management knowledge to the best possible use.
For my placement interviews, I am mainly focusing on once again brushing up whatever I studied for my examinations and this time I’m focusing more on the practical side of everything and analysing how things actually work and affect the people. Also, I’m trying to keep updated on current events like demonetization and the Trump presidency and GST and the possible impacts that we might see owing to them.
Advice to fellow students
For students pursuing the CA course my advice would be to just keep giving it your best and stay focused and look at the bigger picture. The CA course really tests you at times and it tests your mettle but it also brings out the best in you and makes you stronger than you were. You might feel that it is unfair (at times it is!), you might feel that it’s too hard, that you have given up too much or that you have had to sacrifice a lot. But trust me, at the end of the day, when it’s all over and once the dust has settled, you will never doubted the fact that it was clearly worth it.