Kushal Lathia - Air 34 CA Final November 2016 - Kolkata, West Bengal
Kushal Lathia

I am born and bought up in Kolkata. I come from a business family. I have done my schooling till secondary level from Birla High School and my higher secondary level from St. Lawrence High School. I had, and still have a keen interest in economics, which is why I wanted to pursue Economic Hons. I was not able to secure a seat in a good institution, which is why I ended up pursuing my bachelors degree in the field of commerce at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. As my elder brother was pursuing CA at that time, I was inclined to give the CPT exam and this is precisely how my journey in this profession started.

I am a passionate follower of football, tennis and cricket. I am a die-hard fan of Manchester United, Rafael Nadal and the South African cricket team.

My first reaction


“Ecstasy”. The credit of this achievement would go to my family, my parents, my brother, my close friends, my teachers and my office colleagues. Without their support, sacrifice, affection and their constant belief in my abilities, this was no where close to possible.

The first step to this journey started with a conversation in April, 2015 that I had with a friend about me feeling that I can get a rank in the CA Finals. Her reply in the affirmative was something that I always reminded myself of as a goal that I needed to achieve. This had always kept the belief in me no matter what the circumstances in my life and no matter how unlikely the probability of getting a rank looked like while I was preparing for my exams. I can never thank them enough. 🙂

Articleship


I interned at Lovelock & Lewes, a PwC network firm, for a couple of years and then shifted base to ITC Limited for a year.

Whether internship helps you prepare for your exams is a really subjective question as it depends on the clientele and size of the firm, the team you work with and more importantly, your approach and how much you wish to learn from it. For me personally, it helped me a lot as it gave me an opportunity to test myself in challenging circumstances, gave me a hands on practical experience to auditing, accounting and management and helped me grow as a person. To narrow it down to an examination perspective, internship strengthens your understanding and retention of theoretical concepts and knowledge if you are able to relate and apply it to the practical day to day corporate affairs.

Preparation


I had got study leave for 3 months from my office. For the first 60 odd days, I had a very laidback and chilled out approach to studying. I was easily distracted by other things in life. I could only manage to put in 2 to 4 hours of studying everyday, which is clearly insufficient.

The last 30 days I went into complete isolation. I had no connect with the outside world, was locked up in my room, no TV, no newspapers and no smartphone. This is the time period where I gave in everything to studies. I love sleeping, so I did not compromise on that. All the time after that went into studying. Also, I used to read my coaching material/study material whenever I found time in my office and that did help a lot. Again, you are the best judge to make a wise choice as to what fits you best. So whichever studying pattern suits you, adopt that. But, keep in mind that there are no shortcuts.

Coaching does help, but it is not a necessity. If you do not have a hectic schedule during your internship, you should take coaching. Alternatively, you can try and put in hours and study at home also. What will matter is the hours you put in, whether at coaching centres or at home wont make a huge difference.

Strategies


A. Study schedule
Firstly, before I jump into this, I would reiterate the importance of Believing in yourself and Not Giving Up during the journey. The course and the syllabus is like a marathon, which sometimes feels never ending. So, keep at it, put in those hard hours, it will take time to cover your syllabus the first time round, and you may not remember a lot of it by the time you have completed it once, but do persevere and persist with hard work.

I will limit my strategy to brief pointers:

  • Plan it out as to how you would go about studying and prepare a schedule and make sure you stick to it. (the latter is easier said than done)
  • Always keep in mind that what you study during your leave days, you willl need to cover that in 2 days before the exams. So, mark out important stuff and questions that you will need to revise during those 2 days and ensure you cover each variety or topic at least once.
  • Do stress on coverage of syllabus, don’t try and predict the question paper on past trends, you can never be fully sure as to what is gonna pop up in the question paper, so that risk is probably not worth taking. Its always safe to bank on complete coverage.

B. Strong and Weak subjects (How did I prepared them?)
Everyone has their strong and weak areas. What is important is that you make your “weak” subjects strong enough that you are able to pass no matter what the standard of the question paper. So, do invest more time in those subjects and create a “buffer zone” or a “safety net” to these subjects, and yes multiple revisions help in this regard.

Also, at the same time, make sure that you maximise on your strong zones, try and lay stress on how to improve the quality of your answers, because that would add substantially to your aggregate score.

Writing an exam is not a science, its an art. A good score not necessarily reflects that you are a good student. So, keep that in mind, that what will matter is “how” and “what” you write. A lot of students are very knowledgeable, but they lack on their presentation skills. So, do take stock of that. Working notes, clarity in calculations, neatness, underlining the main points, and similar simple stuff will make a difference in your marks.

Books and e-sources


Any book that offers complete coverage is sufficient. Yes, going through the practice manuals is a must.

Mock tests


I did not give any mock tests for my exams. But, I do strongly suggest that it would be beneficial to give mock papers as they would improve your answering skills and help you analyze where you are making mistakes. For those who are not able to attempt all questions completely due to paucity of time, mock exams are really important for them.

Rank and preparation


Yes, I had a broad goal in mind to secure a rank. As regards my preparation, I wanted to remain stress free and the expectation of a rank would have added as an unnecessary baggage. My approach was simple- aim for 60 in each subject, maximise your strong zones to score well and ensure enough coverage to score passing marks in the toughest paper set.

Future Plans


I wish to enter into a job profile which is dynamic, growth oriented, value adding and creates impact on decision making.

ICAI Campus


Being aware of the changes in the general business environment and recent global developments, along with brushing up my technical skills.

Advice to fellow students


Always keep Believing in yourself. Persevere and back that up with hard work.

You will have distractions and difficult circumstances in life. It is totally possible and highly probable to manage everything and yet score well if you have a clear goal, a focused and planned approach, the dedication to persist and work hard and a bit of street smartness.
There will be tough times during the journey, but never give up and keep trying.

Success is a probably a combination of calculated, smart and subtle choices that you make over a period of time. Dont stress out and enjoy the ride.

Best of luck!! 🙂