Meet, Suryansh Agarwal, AIR-1, CA Final, Nov’19. Suryansh hails from Ayodhya. He attended regular college and completed his graduation from SRCC, Delhi University. He wrote his IPC papers while he was in college and got AIR- 27 in CA IPC. Suryansh has also completed Company Secretary Course with an All India Rank-1 in CS Professional and an All India Rank-1 in CA-Finals is another feather in his cap.
In our conversation with Suryansh, he told us about his journey from CA Foundation to CA Finals, his strategy, and planning while completing the CA curriculum. He also threw some light on how a CA student can prepare for his exams, manage his time well, and score well. The prodigy also told us that with his good results he is all motivated and inspired to work with more zeal and enthusiasm. He is a big fan of table tennis and loves listening to music.
Here is the detailed interview of Suryansh:
Many congratulations to you from the entire team of CAclubindia on securing AIR-1!
Thank you so much.
So, how is the feeling? Has it sunk in yet?
Oh no, the feeling is yet to sink in. I am really happy and extremely overwhelmed about the good result that I have got. I got a call from the President of ICAI and he informed me that I have secured the 1st rank. I did not believe that it was a genuine call because earlier I had planned to play a prank on one of my friends. So, I thought that somebody else was trying to play a similar kind of prank on me. It was actually very difficult to believe but when I checked the results myself, I believed that it was a genuine call. So, it was a very funny moment but a very happy moment after all.
So, what was the reaction of your parents when you told them that you have secured AIR-1?
I remember when I called my father, he was in the middle of a very important meeting at that point in time and I could realize it from his voice that he was finding it very hard to cover his excitement. He was very happy but could not express it at that point in time. Then, I made a call to my mother. She was also very happy and got a little bit emotional. So, the entire family was very happy as I had been living far from them since the last few years – for the job, graduation, before that so it was a very very happy moment for them.
Please tell us something about yourself?
Originally, I am from Ayodhya. I have completed my schooling from DPS, Ayodhya. Thereafter, I did my graduation from Shri Ram College of Commerce, DU and currently, I am pursuing my articleship from an EY affiliate firm. As far as my hobbies are concerned, I really like listening to music and I also play table tennis.
How has your CA journey been?
When I appeared for the CA CPT examination back in June 2014 and I really managed to score well in that as well. Thereafter, I did IPCC in Nov’15 attempt and I also managed to secure AIR 27th in that one. I started with my articleship after taking a gap of about one and a half years as I was pursuing regular graduation and I couldn’t have started with my articleship straightaway. So, thereafter completing my articleship, I sat for the CA Final examinations last November. Well, the results are out and I have secured AIR 1 which is really a good jump from the earlier results. And, I am really very happy about that.
Whom do you consider as your inspiration, Suryansh?
Well honestly, I don’t have any one particular person as an inspiration. Like every other child, I am certainly inspired by my parents about how hard they have worked for us. And I try to draw good positive energy from everybody I come across, so, I am inspired by the habits and not the people in particular.
What was your strategy to prepare for CA Finals?
The strategy was very straight and very simple and I basically used the Institute’s study material for the preparation of most of the subjects and for the remaining subjects that I took the coachings for. My preparation was based on the institute's materials only. As far as the schedule is concerned, I used to put in 14 to 15 hours of study during the last 2 to 4 months and I always used to aim at least 10 to 11 hours of effective study. So, what I used to do was I used to sit in long stretches of 3 to 4 hours because in that case, the mind gets more accustomed to sit for a longer period because in the examinations when we have to sit straight away for a period of 3 hours it gets a little difficult at that time. So, it’s better to stick to longer sitting schedules for 4 to 5 hours and then take small breaks for lunch, dinner and other refreshments.
So, when a student clears intermediate and he starts with his articleship, students find it very difficult to keep a balance between work and studies. How did you manage to keep that perfect balance?
I completely agree with the fact that it is very much challenging to manage both articleship and studies at the same point in time. But, I had one simple objective in my mind – that I have to complete all my coachings before going for the study leave. So, I can get a good 4 to 5 months of preparation period and I just wanted to ensure that I am thoroughly done with all the subjects, at least once in my coaching so that when I can go for the study leave, I can dedicate my entire time for self-study. Basically, I took coaching for 3 subjects and managed the other ones myself. So, I used to take coaching earlier in the morning 6 to 10, thereafter, I used to go to the office and I would really like to thank my team for the support because there were times when I used to get a little late in my office, I could not attend the classes the next day. But, thereafter, when the work was done, they permitted me to take a day off and continue with my coaching classes which I had missed. I think that it’s very important to maintain a balance between these two things and to prioritize what is most important at that particular point of time.
So, did you prepare with the objective of getting a rank in CA Finals?
Quite frankly, rank was always there in my mind. But, it was not more of rank but I needed to pass. So, I was never passionate about getting a rank at any cost. I wanted to pass but getting a rank was like a cherry on the top. Honestly, I never hoped that I would get AIR 1. So, this is really a very happy moment for me.
ICAI has started with the elective papers and the students are always confused when it comes to selecting one out of the 6 elective papers. So, how did you decide which subject to go for?
So, there were basically two bright criteria because of which I opted for Risk Management.
1. I found the subject really interesting because in the current scenario Risk Management is a buzzword. Everybody wants to know and talk about it and there were so many aspects that were applicable in the current scenario.
2. When I looked at the content, I found it to be very manageable because the content was short and crisp and I could have leveraged some more time for the other subjects by putting in a little lesser amount of time in this particular subject. So, that was also one of the reasons for which I chose Risk Management.
So, what study material did you refer to while studying for your exams? Did you also practice MTPs and RTPs?
Yes, MTPs and RTPs of the Institute was a great help. And not just the attempt that I was appearing in but the last 2 attempts and also I practiced previous last 2 attempts exam question papers because there are cases when the exact question has to repeat itself after a few attempts. So, it’s very important to practice from there because we are appearing for the Final examination after a gap of around 2 to 3 years from the last examination that we wrote. So, it’s very important to practice a little bit in writing, otherwise, your writing speed also gets affected somewhere down the line. Si, I think, it’s important to practice from there.
Keeping in mind, the huge syllabus of CA curriculum, a student needs to dedicate 10 to 12 hours in a day to complete the entire syllabus, so how did you use to unwind yourself by preparing for your exams?
During the last 3 or 4 months of the preparation time, when I was mainly engaged in self-study, sometimes it used to get very frustrating because all you are doing is sitting on the same place for last 14-15 hours in a day and trying to read things by yourself, so it's very important to take a small walk or talk to your family may be and I also used to watch small videos on the Youtube because I used to watch a couple of episodes of my favorite sitcom during dinner or I used to watch small motivational videos so that you get all freshened up and boosted up to get back to your studies. So, I think small breaks are very much important in between your studies.
So how did you manage those 3 hours while writing your exams?
Yeah, I agree that those 3 hours are the crucial hours and the entire preparation actually comes into effect in those 3 hours. But, what I think that the 15 minutes of the reading time allotted before attempting the paper is even more crucial. What I used to do was – I used to develop a mind map of the order of the questions that I am going to attempt, which particular option, I am going to leave out and what are the various adjustments that I need to make in the various questions – so keeping all that in place during the first 15 minutes, the next 3 hours is a very smooth way for us.
Suryansh, what was your strategy to attempt the MCQs?
For the MCQs, basically, I referred to the ones issued by the institute. Each subject, we had around 200 MCQ questions issued by the institute and I didn’t do anything else apart from that specifically for MCQ preparation because I think the MCQs are made from the entire syllabus and the entire content and we cannot practice enough of the MCQs above because if one needs to develop in MCQ, he can easily do that. So, it’s very important to just stick to the ones that the institute has issued and be thorough with the entire syllabus because I think that the other MCQs will somehow be covered when you prepare for the entire syllabus.
As we all know that the results of CA Intermediate are around the corner and before results, students deal with a great amount of anxiety and stress, so what would you like to say to those students who are waiting for their results right now?
I think this is not the time to get nervous because now, there is nothing that we can control. So, what I used to do was – I used to distract myself and not think about the results. So, I used to be the 1st person in the last 5 to 7 days to reach the office and used to be the last person to leave it because I never wanted to be alone thinking about the results and how is it going to be. SO, I think it’s very important to focus your energy elsewhere; do not think about the results and do your best.
So, how do you see your career escalating after clearing Chartered Accountancy?
Once the results are out, I think my career has just started and it’s the beginning of my career. I got a very good result to base the start of my career and once you work hard and get good results for it, you tend to be all inspired because you are motivated to work with more zeal and more enthusiasm. So, now, I would be looking at various opportunities that would come my way and I would try to apply them as well as possible.
Suryansh, students have the notion that it is very difficult to score in theory subjects, but if I talk about you, you got the highest marks in your Law paper and you also scored 77 marks in Auditing, so what was your strategy for preparing for theory subjects?
What I used to do was, I used to start my answer mentioning the provision that I am going to talk about. When I used to mention the provisions of the law, then I used to analyze the keys in the site of the given provisions and I used to end the answer with a good conclusion. So, I think that if you are framing your answer in that way, it gets very easy for the examiner to read and go through the examination and it leaves a very good impression that way.
CA students just get one day to prepare before the exams, so how do you think a CA student can utilize that one day in the best way he can?
It’s very important that when you are studying for the first time and when you are doing revision for the second time, you need to make constantly small handwritten summary notes along with it. I tell you a hack, so what I used to do was used to scribble small charts and small pointers in the side margin of the books because when you are reading through the entire things again, in those last one and a half days, those little charts and those little summary notes that you made by your own hand - it really helps a lot.
Suryansh, as you told us, you have been to regular college, you gave your intermediate exams, then you also gave your CS exams in the meanwhile, you managed to get a rank in CS, you managed to get a rank in CA Finals, so you are a perfect example of someone who manages his time really well, so how do you manage your time?
See, time management is extremely important when it comes to CA course because at all levels, if you see that, the exams that I have appeared for, I appeared most of the examinations in a gap of 5 to 6 months. Like, I gave my CS examinations, Intermediate level in June, I appeared for CA Intermediate level in the next November, so there always used to be a gap of 5 to 6 months between those periods and its very important to prioritize to do the exact thing that you need to do at that point of time. Also, when it comes to time management, sometimes you will have to compromise on some of the things like – I used to compromise a little on my sleep during those days, but in the long run, when you think about it when you get a good result out of it, so all of that doesn’t matter in the later life. So, I think it is important to start compromise in some little things and think about the broader picture and the broader result that you are aspiring for.
What is that one message which you would like to share with the CA community through CAclubindia?
I think this is really a good course and really a decorative profession and I am very happy that now I am a part of this profession in a much more comprehensive way than I was before and I think everybody who is related to this course understands that this is a difficult course but when you get the good result, all the hard work and all the sacrifices that you made, it finally pays off.
Thank you Suryansh so much, for taking out some time and talking to us.
This interview was taken by Vaishali Dhek, Assistant Editor- CAclubindia
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