In an exclusive conversation with Meet Anil Shah, who secured the AIR-2 in CA Inter exams 2019, we got to know that he underwent a major operation just before his exams and despite all the setbacks, he managed to not only pass but get an All India Rank-2.
In this interview, he has shared with us his journey and some tips on how to best prepare for exams in just two months.
Congratulations Meet on securing CA Intermediate AIR-2 from the entire team of CAclubindia!!
Thank you so much.
How are you feeling now?
I am very happy and excited at the same time. I wasn't expecting the rank. In fact, I was shocked when I received the call from the President who congratulated me on my success. He was delighted that someone from Mumbai has secured a rank as he is also from Mumbai.
My parents are extremely happy and excited at the same time as I have stepped into my CA finals as this is just the beginning and one of the most successful careers in the entire country.
My mom is the happiest - first time, I have seen her so happy. This is the best thing that has happened in my life.
Tell us something about your journey.
I was motivated towards it because of my mentor who was also my teacher in the coaching institute. "I was very demotivated once and actually cried. It was when I was diagnosed with kidney stones. It happened during that crucial time of a few months before the exam. I was highly disappointed. I studied hard – I used to study around 11 to 12 hours daily, I attended all the lectures and just because of this, I couldn't study for 20 to 25 days.
I had to undergo an operation for the same. Due to this, I couldn't study every day. This was a major setback for me. It left me demotivated. But during that difficult time, my mom was there beside me who constantly guided and motivated me to keep studying and now it feels so good to see that finally, all the hard work has paid off. I owe my success to my mom, my mentor and my sister whose constant support has helped me in this entire journey to achieve this success, more than my hard work which I had put in. My mom used to wake up early in the morning and prepare food and lunch on time and take care of me in every possible way – and I am really grateful to her for that.
What are the factors that one should have while selecting the coaching?
First of all, when you are planning to complete a syllabus – you should get at least 2 to 3 months for self-study. They should ask how are they conducting test series, how are they going to cover the syllabus, how are they going to clear the doubts if one approaches them for the same, how many hours of classes will they conduct, how many holidays will they get. They should also confirm regarding the qualification of the professors – in my case, all the professors were CAs. Also, they should confirm how approachable the professors are. Also, on the day of the exam, they should solve student's queries on time. That also helped me to get good marks. These are some of the major factors, according to me, which anyone should follow while selecting coaching.
Can you share your study plan with us?
I decided to study every day for 11 to 12 hours. For practical subjects, I had followed Classes ke sum (provided by the coaching classes) and the institute material. I completed all the sums from the institute's study materials at least 2 months in advance. I refrained from using any other material because ICAI's study material is the best for cracking CA exams because they can ask difficult questions but they cannot ask anything out of syllabus.
So, it's better to follow ICAI's study material and coaching material only. You need to revise everything on a regular basis so that you may not forget everything. Before the examination; in the beginning, I took all the test series. Initially, they gave us 3 and a half hours even though the actual exam duration is of 3 hours. And then they gradually started reducing it. I had planned my studies according to that. So, my major strategy was based on how my classes are offering me the test series. Test series is important because you can improve your writing practice and boost up your confidence level at the same time. You can then appear more confidently in the examination.
And any strategy for theory and practical subjects?
For theory subjects, subject like ITSM – people are not able to study only with the summary notes. For the initial stage, they should read everything and in the second time when they are trying to learn something, they should first prepare summary notes for theory subjects. That will be a lot more helpful.
For practical subjects, I didn't follow any strategy. When you are doing for the first 2 times, I would suggest practice every sum, then while doing the second revision, you should go for the important sums – it may so happen that during the first revision, you may find certain sums to be difficult, so you should practice that more and more during your second revision. Whichever sums you find to be difficult – you should concentrate more on that. Please ensure that you give more time to difficult subjects and practice more compared to the easier subjects.
Any strategy on how one should prepare notes?
You should take one book and try to cover the whole subject in one book itself. You should try to summarize the points to minimal lines so that later you can frame that into proper answers at the time of examination. You can note down all the important keywords while preparing the summarized notes. Using those keywords, they will be able to form the sentence – especially for ITSM, I will suggest that. So, for me, preparing summary notes was the strategy which I feel is important for scoring well in theoretical subjects.
What is your take on the newly introduced MCQs that came this time?
For MCQ, the basic concept should be clear because when I appeared, I realized that the difficult questions are framed from the easiest concept. Your concept should be clear enough – suppose, there is a provision in the law which you may not pay attention to otherwise since it is easy, ironically, the MCQs are framed from the easiest provisions.
And, for theory subjects like Law, amendments are most important because, in MCQ, questions are asked from those amendments. Also, on the ICAI website, there are sample questions for MCQs – I guess there are 3 to 4 tests, so people should follow that for 3 to 4 times. I found it easier to complete my paper within 3 hours because when I was at home studying, I tried solving past papers, especially theory papers and I wasn't able to complete it within 3 hours but when I tried paper with MCQ, I was able to complete it within 2 hours 45 minutes. The remaining time, I utilized in reviewing my entire paper. So, MCQs help us to complete the paper a lot faster.
And MCQs makes it scoring as well?
Yes, it is definitely scoring as there is no negative marking. Even if you don't know anything, you can attempt and write something to score some marks. So, scores basically can get improved because of MCQs.
Please share something on time management - on how to write your paper within those 3 hours of examination?
First of all, for theory subjects everyone must start with MCQs, that is what I would suggest. Give an initial 7 to 8 minutes reading time for the MCQs so that students can score as much as they could and as soon as the bell rings, they should mark all the MCQs which they know. The difficult questions they should leave it for the end. The remaining time, they can just have a look at the descriptive part and decide which are the scoring questions for them – the ones which they know that they can write very well – should be attempted first and then proceed with the remaining questions at the end. So, don't miss out on anything which you are sure of and keep the difficult ones for later. Don't regret that I couldn't write something which I was sure of and wasted more time on something which I didn't know. So, better to attempt those questions and MCQs which you are 100% sure. And for this, they must practice the RTPs, mock tests and test papers thoroughly.
How can one revise one day before the exams?
Theory subjects as I said before, you can revise only summarized notes. For some, certain theory subjects might seem difficult and for some, certain practical subjects might seem difficult, so it's better to prepare summarized notes of them so that you can revise the important keywords or terms, at least one day before the exams.
For practical subjects – what I did was – whichever sum I found to be difficult, I used to practice that for 1 or 2 times, a day before the exam. For a vast subject like Taxation, it's not possible to revise everything, a day before the exam, so I skipped the easiest part, I emphasized more on the difficult part which I could not remember. There was a topic called Total Income Sum, where I had focused more as I found it to be a bit difficult. This portion covered some 5 to 6 topics along with it, so I had studied it in that way. I tried to solve those topics which would cover around 2 to 3 topics for each practical subjects – whether it's Accounts, Costing or Taxation. For subjects like Costing, you can note down all the important formulae and revise it so that you may not have to solve the sums based on that every time. You can save time on that.
Some students tend to study for late hours before exams, thereby compromising on their sleep. So, what is your take on that?
I would never suggest for sleepless nights – sleep is very important before exams. Even if you are able to revise everything day before the exam, you will get exhausted and may not be able to write the paper well if you don't have proper sleep. At least, get 8 hours of proper sleep, a day before the exam.
I remember I couldn't write one of my papers properly just due to lack of proper sleep which kept me exhausted. So, thereafter, I started taking proper sleep.
How did you balance your mind and all to keep yourself fresh along with your studies?
I used to study newspaper, talk to my mom and sister. I was never into social media so that never came up as an obstacle for me. I used to watch TV sometimes or some movie, sit with my family to refresh my mind.
You can't study continuously so it is definitely important to de-stress yourself. You can take some short breaks in between every 2 to 3 hours of study – like going for a short walk or talk to someone, etc. so as to rejuvenate yourself.
You can study during the afternoon time from 2 to 5 PM because usually people prone to sleep during that time and if you make it a habit of studying during the afternoon time, then that will be helpful for you while at the time of writing the paper during examination.
Now that just 2 months are left for students to appear / re-appear for their exams, what will be your tips that one can execute so as to score well and get good marks?
I hope that by now you should have completed your first revision. They should concentrate more on the difficult areas or the topics which they may not have been able to understand during their first reading. They should also try to clear all their doubts by the end of September.
For the majority of the students, theory subjects seem to be difficult, so they should read those again and again thoroughly and revise.
From Oct 1 to 15, I would suggest them to go for mock tests which will be available on the institute's website along with their solutions – so go through the paper bank tests conducted by the institute in your home itself. They can revise in the morning and solve one paper from 2 to 5 during the afternoon.
Solutions are already available on the website, so they could tell either their parents or their sibling to check their paper, so they won't even waste much time and they would have much worth of objective evaluation. What happens is, if we check our papers, we tend to overlap many of our mistakes, so it's better to ask someone else to check the papers.
From Oct 1 to 15, they have 2 mock tests, for the first 8 days, they can solve each paper and for the next 8 days, they can solve the remaining set of papers. So, in this way, you can attempt both mock tests and in turn, you can also have the writing practice.
Again, from Oct 16, you should start revising. The practice of writing will also enable them to check in which particular question they are facing the problem and focus on that particular topic. It may so happen that during giving the mock test papers, you may have some doubts so try to clear it by that time itself either from your mentors or professors with whom you are in touch with and then they can focus on the other subjects, i.e. theory.
So, by 27th October, they can be done with their second revision, mock tests, and revision papers as well. Along with the second revision, they should also go through at least 2 or 3 past attempt papers – to get a picture of what sort of question is being asked or how lengthy the paper can be or what are the main focus points that they can concentrate on. In this way, they can make an analysis from the past papers.
Can you tell me about your future plans?
Now, I want to get into a good firm and enhance my practical knowledge in all aspects. This is currently my short term plan. Then prepare well for CA Finals, get good marks and work in a good firm or some industry.
Do you have any thoughts on how you want to select the articleship?
I am contemplating in which department I need to do my articleship. I am consulting my professors on this and they are suggesting that it all depends on how the department be like. I haven't yet decided in which department I should get into as there is Audit, Taxation, I am still talking with my mentors on this and they are guiding me.
Many a time people rush to get into Big-4 and then they are not able to handle the work pressure along with your Final studies in the last 1 year. But yes, the kind of exposure that Big-4 offers no one else can offer that. So, irrespective of the firm, you should first have clarity in which do you want to do the articleship.
Did you refer to CAclubindia?
Yes, When I used to look for some information or articles to read. It would come on google search and I read a lot of articles of CAclubindia.
It was lovely talking to you Meet, thank you so much for your time. Once again, many congratulations from the entire team and best wishes for your Finals as well.
P.S. Meet is on CAclubindia. If you'd like to connect with him directly, you can visit his profile here.
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