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Girish Aswani, All India Topper (AIR-1), CA Inter, Jan 2021 in an exclusive interaction with CAclubindia

CCI Team 
on 08 April 2021

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Meet Girish Aswani - AIR-1 January 2021 CA Inter Attempt

In our conversation with Girish, he talks about the importance of learning and accepting failures as much as success. He also threw light on hardwork and determination being one's responsibility for the exams.

Here is the detailed interview of Girish with CAclubIndia:

Heartiest Congratulations to you on securing AIR-1 from the entire team of CAClubIndia

Thank You so much ma'am for having me with you

Girish Aswani, All India Topper (AIR-1), CA Inter, Jan 2021 in an exclusive interaction with CAclubindia

Has the feeling sunk in yet or are you still processing it?

It has sunk in a little bit, moreover, it is like I am still feeling the same. If I open the marksheet and the merit list again I go to that same feeling again where I saw the marksheet and the merit list for the first time and I wasn't just able to imagine how I could manage to secure AIR-1. Four to five hours after the result had been announced I couldn't realize it and it was an unforgettable moment for me. Even if I open the marksheet now I will go back to that particular moment of joy that I have secured AIR-1.

When you saw the marksheet what was your immediate reaction? What was the reaction of your parents like?

I opened the marksheet around 2:20 PM and I didn't open the merit list first. My basic criteria was to pass the exams. I opened the results and first saw passed so I was happy. Then I saw 689, I screamed and called my mother saying that I had scored 689. I was shouting and then I called my father, brother and friends respectively. My brother then asked me to check the merit list as the score of 689, I would definitely get an AIR.

I visited the merit page and there I saw that I have gotten AIR-1. I again screamed too loud and afterwards touched the feet of my mother, grandmother, grandfather. I then went to my father's shop and touched his feet and took his blessings. For 15-20 minutes I got continuous calls and I was too happy. It was an inspiring and motivating moment for me too.

 

Were you expecting a rank when you were preparing for your Exams?

Preparing for exams is very different from expecting a rank. They are two different things and I never expected a rank. Everyone used to tell me that I can secure a rank like my parents, friends and my relatives. My parents used to tell me that you are already AIR-1 for us and you will definitely score AIR-1. That kind of created pressure in me and I was scared as to what if I don't score AIR-1?

If you are expecting that I score a rank there might be 50 others too who might be expecting a rank. You might be happy that I scored a rank but there might be 49 others who wanted to secure AIR-1 but aren't happy that I secured that. ICAI had announced that there will be no merit list so I thought that I am not securing a rank and I have to prepare well for my exams.

From that particular day, I started believing that I will not secure a rank because it would definitely be helpful for me. If I am expecting AIR-1 and in my report card I don't see AIR-1 I would be disheartened that I was expecting AIR-1 and did all my hardwork and dedication but I still couldn't secure AIR-1.

 

So after that I started telling myself that you are not getting AIR-1 and you are just getting pass. Even if you are not getting pass you should move on further. I follow two rules in my life which are give your best and prepare for the worst. Once you have given your best for the examination that is all you can give. Then whatever the worst that can happen to you because of the examiners mistake or any of the mishappenings you need to accept it anyhow.

So I gave my best in the exams and I was prepared for the worst. Whatever the worst result can come be it 39 in any subject or 40 in any subject, be it 500 or 600 anything I was prepared for the worst. But I got the best out of that. I gave my best and also got my best so it was really a great moment for me.

Girish why don't you tell us something about yourself?

I am Girish Aswani and from my childhood only I have been academically strong. In my childhood I used to go for my tuitions in my neighbourhood only because my parents weren't very educated to make me study. I used to go to tuitions near my house and my parents used to tell me that you can recall everything.

You can recall all the answers word to word, you can recall the page number on which the question is. So right from the start everyone used to tell me that you can learn everything so I was too pressurized right from the starting. Due to this I made it my habit that I will show everyone that I can learn everything. Right from my childhood I can learn everything from word to word and it is not even difficult for me as it is a habit developed from the start.

In my 10th grade I scored a 10 CGPA and in my 12th grade I scored 95%. In my CPT also which I was giving in a very relaxed manner and didn't take much pressure on myself I scored 192 which was the highest all over Rajasthan. In the intermediate exams I had to hide my mischief as I was always too notorious from my childhood.

I wasn't like the other toppers continuously studying and not getting involved in any activity as such. I did everything including having fun and spending time with my relatives and family. Anyone can also visit my Instagram profile and see how we use to celebrate birthdays and have fun all the time.

More than my AIR-1 I want to dedicate my rank to what I did besides my rank and my studies and how my parents helped me, how my brother motivated me and how my friends were always in support of me. Some of my friends were even praying for my rank. They weren't sure of their own rank but they were sure of my rank and they would keep telling me to work hard towards it.

 

I got a certain atmosphere that everyone was with me and I got a handful of lucky people. I come from a family where business is too supreme and studies were not given much importance. I live in a joint family and no one has studied and they haven't even passed 12th grade I think. Everyone is just into business.

We are the first generation which is studying like my brother is doing CA Finals currently and I am very motivated by him. The thought that this is the first generation in our family which is actually studying and leaving the business line and actually getting a professional degree was very great.

I had no pressure of studies because no one in my family had studied and no one was a chartered accountant or had a clue about the course. I had no pressure like no one ever asked me what are you doing or not doing and I was just studying with the books and they were very relaxed.

Do you believe in strategizing and if you do, what kind of a strategy did you follow for the CA-Inter preparations?

In CA course more than what you are studying, what you are studying and how you study it is important along with the strategy you are moving forward with. Strategy is very important because you have eight subjects and in total there are around 28-29 books in CA Intermediate. So in those 29 books you have to manage and there is only one gap in between the examinations. You have to be strategically strong to complete those eight books in one go and give your best in the examinations.

First you have to complete the portion of all the subjects and then revise everything. Whatever lectures you are attending daily you have to revise it that day itself and in the next week you have to take an overview of what you studied. Once you have completed the course you have to prepare for the mock tests. During exams you have to revise the entire course subject in one day but if you are doing the course for the first time it will definitely take you 9-10 days. If you're doing it in 9-10 days currently and at the end you have to manage to complete it in one day then you can't directly do that and it is not possible.

So what you can do is first complete your course in 9-10 days, then the second time try to target it by completing it in 5-6 days and for the third time you need to complete it in 2-3 days. In such a flow you will definitely be able to finish the course in one day time during your examinations. So there are alot of strategies involved which I cannot discuss today due to time constraints. If anyone wishes to know those strategies can visit my Youtube channel. I would definitely love to share how I studied during my preparations, which strategies I followed.

As a topper I just don't want to be another AIR-1. There are two AIR-1 in CA Intermediate every year already. I want to share all my strategies, I want to help the others to score the same marks. I want to guide the students who aren't getting any guidance from the others and are in need of guidance. I have also opened my Youtube channel where I came up with the first video of ‘How to become a CA Intermediate in just seven months?' which seems too tough to the foundation students who have just cleared their Foundation in the January attempt.

Any foundation student can definitely watch that video and if there is any query regarding it you can directly message me on my Youtube, linkedin or Instagram and I would solve the query on call. It is a responsibility of mine to help others and guide others who are in need.

That's actually really great that you want others to also score as much as you.

If we talk about strategy and the schedule you followed to achieve the strategy you have planned, what was your schedule like one month prior to the exams and during the exams?

Following the schedule is important but before following the schedule you need to accept that in between following that schedule you may come across situations where you are not able to complete the schedule that you have planned. You need to be prepared for it.

Everyone plans for success but no one plans for their failures. You need to prepare that if I fail to prepare according to my schedule then what will I do? Will I again come up with a new schedule? Will I reschedule whatever time-table I had made before?

What I followed one week before the exams was that I prepared myself that whatever I had given till now is everything I can give. I have given in hardwork, worked with patience and determination and done whatever I could do in my capacity. You don't have to expect anything from the examinations. You have given in your best and now whatever result it is you need to be satisfied with the outcome.

Whether you pass or fail you have given your best and at the end you need to be satisfied with the outcome. Atlast all that matters is your satisfaction. Even if I didn't score AIR-1 or I wouldn't even be in the All India Rank I would still be satisfied today because I know I gave my best. It is all God's blessing that I scored AIR-1 but even if I didn't I would still be satisfied because I gave in my best and was prepared for the worst.

What happened one month before the examination was that I was prepared to study 12-13 hours daily and 6-7 hours of my need. Whatever the need is that makes me efficient in my study hours. I am efficient if I sleep for 6-7 hours per day. For others they might require longer periods of sleep for example 8 hours to be efficient for their study period.You need to plan according to yourself and not just copy others. You need not copy me; you can just take an idea of what I am giving. The main point is that you need to be efficient in your studies whether it be 12 hours, 13 hours or so.

Even with 12 hours of study what I also like is enjoying for half an hour daily. I used to play with kids or have fun with my family by just sitting with them and relaxing. Even in that half an hour period I would forget about my studies and just relax myself at that time.

You cannot completely follow just studying. You also need to equally have fun times even if that be for 10 minutes or 15 minutes. You could take a walk in the park. I would take out half an hour or one hour daily for such activities. I would video call my friends at that time and completely forget about my studies. I enjoyed these moments completely and studies could be done again in a while. Routine is very important.

If you plan on devoting 12 hours for your studies then you must do that. In the starting it may be difficult but you need to continue doing it. If I am studying 0 hours today and plan on studying for 12 hours tomorrow then it is quite impossible. You need to increase your study hours slowly and not rush into it completely. You cannot directly jump and you need to motivate yourself at every step of life whether you give 2 hours daily or 4 hours daily.

Do you also think that there should be regular breaks in your time table as well? Do you plan your breaks or do you randomly take breaks when you get tired?

I think for this answer there is a lot of subjectivity involved in what I require and how I study. Everyone can defer to this particular question. I have a joint family as I already mentioned and there are seven-eight kids in the family. I would get easily distracted by them if they came near me. I have a habit of having fun and I cannot sit quiet. If they are coming to me I would just pick them up or I would just pull his hair. I am very mischievous and cannot keep quiet for long. I was distracted by them but you need not be distracted and you need to stay focused on your studies.

As for my breaks, I used to study for a long period of time. If I am studying then I would be completing one portion or the particular target chapters. I scheduled my time table according to the subject and course I have to complete then only I would take my break. In law I would complete three to four chapters and then only would I come out of my room. If you are preparing for 2-3 hours and then taking a break it is possible that in those hours you aren't completing what you should have. It is better to sacrifice the break for the course that you need to complete for today.

We all know that the next step is articleship in the curriculum so do you have any future plans for your articleship or any other things as of now?

Currently I am applying for the Big 4s in Ahmedabad and Mumbai and also for mid-sized firms because I am not sure for what I would be choosing because even the mid-sized firms provide exposure. The Big 4s provide a good corporate culture and I would be taking the final decision in 1-2 days. This is my last interview I think and I will be sitting idle for the next 1-2 days so I will be deciding where I need to go, what I need to follow in the future. But one thing is sure that I would not be sitting and I would be joining the articleship in Ahmedabad or Mumbai only because they provide a lot of corporate culture.

If I go in Big 4s the knowledge I would gain about the corporate culture is too important. The knowledge is very important for a CA student. The Big 4s would provide me with good culture and a mid sized firm would teach me how to deal with small businessmen. In Big 4s you only gain knowledge about a particular area or specialization but in a mid-sized firm you learn how to deal with clients, how to file returns, GST and tax returns. Both of these are important for your future but you need to prioritize according to your needs and demands.

Girish what are your views on indulging in any co-curricular activities while studying? During the exams it is not possible but during the study time like 1 month before the exams? How important do you think it is for a CA student to indulge in these activities?

It depends upon the person. If I talk about myself I would definitely do co-curricular activities for 30-40 minutes per day because it would keep me excited to study for the rest of the day. At the same time if another person gives 30 minutes for an activity besides studies might not be able to study for the whole day.

You need to understand who you are and whether you will be able to study also by doing these activities. The basic target is to study efficiently whether it be with curricular activities or not. You need to prioritize whether you can do it or not and accordingly shape your answer. If you can then you should definitely give 15-30 minutes per day because it will keep you motivated. If you keep thinking about that activity throughout the day then you need to ignore it and concentrate on your studies.

As an ending note, Is there anything you would like to share with the CA Community through CAClubIndia?

Patience, Determination and Hardwork are very important for any CA student or for any other person. If you have entered the Chartered Accountancy course you need to be responsible like 25-26 year old men. You cannot be irresponsible. What happened to me was when the exams were postponed to November directly, I wasted 1.5 months. I didn't even touch a book during that time and was involved in my phone, TV, newspapers. One day my father came to me and he has no knowledge of all this CA and everything. He just knew that I have to study as my exams are nearing.

He came to me and asked me when I will study again. I told him that 2.5 months are still left and I would be studying very soon. He told me that after the Covid period when we go to the shop again there are days when we make profit and days when we incur a loss. I have to sit there anyway. Even if there is a loss I can't just come back and say that I don't want any loss and I just want profit. I can't run from there. I have to go sit there for a specified period of time.

The same applies to me. I have to study daily for a particular period of time and it is my responsibility.

If I am pursuing any course it is my responsibility to do it. If I am not doing it, I am going away from my direction and my destination. Hardwork is a responsibility and cannot be ignored at any point in your life. Your satisfaction is dependent on how you prepare and not what you got. What you prepare should be the basis of your satisfaction. What you get should be analysed and you need to find out of what is lagging in your preparations.

All the people may see me as AIR-1 but you also need to clarify others of the attempt people are giving in the CA Course. Many give 2-3 attempts, many might be giving 10th or 11th attempt for CA Intermediate only. I have seen people fail and right from the other day they are following the same study pattern they used to follow before. They are definitely going in the wrong direction. Failing is not a problem but after failing not accepting that you have failed or not correcting your mistakes is a mistake. If you fail you need to analyze, understand your mistakes and come up with the big jump again.

That's very good. Thank You so much for the interview and it was great speaking with you and getting to know your thoughts on the CA course.

Thank You so much once again.

This interview was taken by Aishna Kukreja, Assistant Editor- CAClubIndia

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