Exclusive Interview: CA IPCC All India Rank 1, Shubham Malhotra, secured 100 marks in Costing and his twin brother Shivam Malhotra, secured 99 marks
In an exclusive interview with Shubham Malhotra All India Rank-1 in CA IPCC Nov 2018 we came to know about his strategies, aspirations and the recipe for his success. In addition, to achieving the AIR-1, he has also secured 100% marks in the Cost Accounting subject.
We also spoke to his twin brother, Shivam Malhotra who has secured 99 marks in Cost Accounting.
Both of them are die-hard cricket fans. While both of them gave the same attempt, it was wonderful to hear how their encouraging thoughts on competition.
Hi Shubham, Welcome to CAclubindia, how are you feeling?
Feeling amazing, never thought that I would get this. After achieving this success, I am feeling just out of the world, a feeling which I cannot express and I am just happy.
Were you expecting this?
To be honest, yes, I was expecting a rank but not rank 1. Although I was expecting a single digit rank,my teachers were very confident of me securingrank 1.
What was the reaction of your parents?
Actually, my parents were not there with me when the result was declared and when I called them to inform them about my success, they were crying.
Do you have any one person in your mind who has inspired you in this journey?
If it is one person who has inspired me, it would be Vijendra Agarwal Sir. He is my mentor who has also been an AIR 1 in CA Final and Inter rank holder.
Just one day before the result date, I was with him and he told me that I would secure AIR-1. On the result day, he shared a story on his Whatsapp of his marksheet of AIR 1 which was also declared on the same date, i.e. 8th Feb, 8 years ago.And I replied that - I hope that I may replicate the same for you.
The next conversation with Sir was that I have secured AIR-1 with the same marks that he had secured in the subjects taught by him.
So, yes definitely, he was the one who inspired me in this journey. He is more like a friend to me than a teacher.
Can you tell us about your strategy that you followed throughout the preparation of your exams?
I always focussed on practical subjects more than theory but it's not that I left the theory completely.
My focus in practical subject was that, out of 5 practical subjects, I have to score 90+ in 4 practical subjects and 80+ in one practical subject although I have scored 90+ in 3 and 80+ in 2 but I scored 100 in 1 subject so I will take that.
In theory subjects, my strategy was that to score around 60 - 70 marks so that my aggregate would be somewhere around 81-82%, such that I can get a spot in the top 3 ranks. That was my overall strategy.
What was the time table that you followed?
My coaching started 17th of Aug'17.
I started with 3 subjects - Accounts, Costs and Taxation all from IGP. Once I had some free time, I revised the subjects and law self-studied.
In February, my 1st group coaching was complete and then I started coaching of FM and ECO for Finance, and started preparing EISSM self.
In free time, I used to revise 1st group subjects so that I don't lose grip in those subjects as they were important for me - that was my strategy during the classes.
Then in June, my Audit and Advanced Accounting classes started and that was a hectic schedule for me because I had to revise group 1 as well as FM, EIS & SM and I had to revise the class work also.
So, I used to study late night till 2 am and after my classes got over in the last 2 months, I used to devote my time to studies.
I used to prepare a written plan of what I have to accomplish in the day and just stick to it. That was my overall strategy. If you plan things nicely, you won't have to face much stress. So, just make sure that you have a written plan and stick to it.
Time and again, we have heard that rankholders emphasize on making notes, so did you follow any strategy of written notes for your revision?
In some subjects, I did make my own notes. For e.g., in Taxation, Cost, Advanced Accounting, my teacher's notes were sufficient. I didn't make any notes for these subjects.
The subjects which I did self like EIS & SM and Law, I had to make the notes because in study materials, it's not given in a proper way and you cannot follow the same one day before the exam; so, I used to make my short notes, pro-charts so that I can revise the subjects just one day before the exam completely.
How important is self-study?
Self-study is very important. In coaching, they will teach you all the concepts but it's very important that you revise the subjects multiple times, you have to make sure that in practical subjects, you have a separate list of questions which you will have to revise - one day before the exam in this next revision. You cannot revise all the questions and answers in thelast revision.
In 1st revision, practice all the questions but from the second revision onwards, reduce the number of days of revision and reduce the number of questions you solve.
Any time management strategy which you followed while attempting the paper?
We all have heard that CA paper is very lengthy and people say that they are not able to complete the papers.
It is important that you manage your time very appropriately like if there is a question of 5 marks, don't invest more than 8.5 to 9 minutes on it.Just keep an eye on your watch and make sure that you are completing that question on time.
I was very good at time management and in each and every subject, I got atleast 10 to 15 minutes to revise the papers, so just practice by writing the subject, practice MTPs or past attempt questions so that your writing speed will increase and you can know that, yes, how to attempt the paper. That will help you in the exams.
Did you go for mock test papers yourself?
No, I practiced it at my home only of the theory subjects. I printed the papers and practiced it.
As you said that you were good at time management, so any strategy which you followed for this and how did you utilize that 15 minutes time which is given before the examination?
In those 15 minutes, which is given to us to read the paper, you have to make sure that you prepare a list of questions which you will attempt first.
You have to put that strongest question in the examiner's mind. So, make a list and rank the questions you are going to attempt in order and just stick to it.
Utilize those 15 minutes very properly. These 15 minutes are very important which will help you in attempting the paper in those 3 hours.
Did you have any hobbies and how did you manage your time with that?
I am a huge fan of cricket; I do follow cricket a lot.
Even during my preparations, I used to follow cricket. I had an eye on all the updates in the national cricket but yes, you have to restrict your time; do not neglect it but restrict it.
As long as it's a hobby, it is good, it should not become your distraction.
When I was preparing, India-England series was going on, I used to watch the highlights which comes in around for 30 minutes, so that I could manage to stay updated.
CA is important but yes, follow your hobbies also, which will help you to cope up with the stress. So, this is how I balanced both my studies as well as hobbies.
And what about sleep and exercise. Did you focus on that as well?
Yes, sleep is very important. Take an adequate amount of sleep. It will help you to calm your nerves and it is very important to study next day.
You have secured 100 marks in Costing and we have Shubham's brother Shivam with us who has secured 99 marks in costing, so we would love to know what strategy you have followed to secure such good marks?
Shubham:I referred Ashish Kalra Sir's book, took classes from him and his materials are sufficient enough to secure 100 marks.
The whole paper was practical based so it gave me an edge - I can score 100 marks, I practiced the book thoroughly and as I said that you must have a separate list of questions in which you have to revise one day before the exams. Luckily, we got 3 days leave in costing paper - I utilized one day for taxation paper and 2 days for costing.
In those 2 days, I used to practice, some of the questions from all the subjects - around 3 to 4 questions from each and every subject and I used to study the theory also - so, that was my strategy 2 days before the exam.
While attempting the paper, it is very important that you make proper working notes, pen down all your assumptions so that the examiner can easily understand that you are giving your best question at the first point.
Shivam:Firstly, we maintained a healthy competition in the class. Ashish Sir used to gift us pens so there used to be like - who's going to secure more pens but that was a healthy competition.
Also make sure that which question, you are going to attempt first - make sure that you attempt the first question in which you are confident enough so that the examiner will be impressed by you and that will help you in attempting the rest of the questions.This motivates you a lot.
Was there any competition between both of you or there was a feeling that we supported each other while studying? Tell us something about your journey together?
Shubham:It's not just about our journey but a group of around 6 to 7 friends. He was also there and we all used to have a very healthy competition.
We all helped each other in whichever way we could. That word 'cooperation' instead of 'competition' was with us - that got the best out of everyone and the results are out here.
I secured AIR 1, one of my friends scored rank 6, rank 15, rank 42, rank 37, rank 38 - we all used to study together and that was the common strategy which I discussed in the earlier part.
So, make sure that you have a good company, and you have good friends who motivate you and will help you in achieving your milestones.
I really liked your point that there should be 'cooperation' instead of 'competition'. This is something which one should follow and help each other.
There are at times, when you feel dejected and there is a lot of pressure when one of your papers doesn't go well. So, anything which you would like to share on that?
Shubham: It will happen with you also. There may be a case where a paper will not go upto your expectation, it happened with me and it's very important that you focus on the next subject. That will help you. It helped me a lot in my case, where I scored 76 in EIS & SM paper, which I believe is excellent. So, focus on next subject and don't think much about what happened in your last attempted paper.
Shivam: I would like to share an example, one of our friends who secured AIR 42 - his Accounts paper didn't go well, but we lifted his spirits and kept him motivated that you have the potential of securing a rank. He was motivated and, he did secure a rank.
If he had quit at that moment, he would not have been able to secure the rank.
I get a lot of questions where the students are pressurized by the expectations of their parents, teachers; so how did you deal with that pressure?
Shubham: That was not the case with me. My parents were very supportive. They did not add any pressure on me and as far as expectations are concerned, my teacher always used to say that if someone is expecting something from you, it means you have it in you.
Just believe in yourself.
And to the parents I would like to say that - be supportive of your children, make them sure that they have a friend around them who can guide them and with whom they can share their problems and enjoy their lives.
So, make sure that you are not adding that burden on your child. Please be supportive.
Shivam: My parents were very supportive. I just believe that 50% of my score credit goes to my parents and friends because they motivated me a lot.
So, now that you are into CA Finals, what is your thought process on that?
I want to pursue my articleship in tax and regarding preparation for my finals - I haven't decided yet but I know that my mentor, Vijender Agarwal will guide me in this. I want to apply in Big 4's, not selected yet anywhere, but, yes, I want to do in Big 4's.
And any message which you have for the other students or your peers?
Shubham: Just be consistent with whatever you are doing. Make a proper written plan and don't leave any single day. Study regularly, be consistent and practice a lot. Practice is what all that matters!!
Shivam: Just - all the best, be consistent and be confident in yourself - you can achieve everything.
So, thank you guys for this wonderful conversation. It was great talking to you and I believe that this will definitely inspire the other students to prepare efficiently and excel in their exams.
Thank you, so much !!
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